Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 13
“The body is not the Self because, like a jar, it has a form and so forth and because, like an earthen pot, it is a modification of the five great elements smarting with ether”.
It is a grievous mistake to think that the body is the Self. This error is at the root of countless dangers and endless mischief and harm. The holy Acharya demolishes this error in a characteristic manner by showing how distinct the body is from the Self.
The Self is formless, is not composed of the physical elements, and does not have the attributes of a physical object. If it were otherwise, you could not attribute immortality or consciousness to it.
Soon after the death of one whom we love, we want to dispose of the body by cremation or otherwise.
In order to be immortal, eternal and all bliss, the Self must be distinct from the body which, like a pot, is an object of the senses, is composed of many elements and has qualities of form and so forth. The Self being the subject, nay the witness-self, must be different from the object. If it were an object, then it would be just like an earthen pot and could neither be an object of our utmost endearment nor the receptacle of consciousness.
This line of argument is incontestable. It establishes the immateriality of the spiritual nature of the Self, and should be reflected upon again and again by those who want to know the truth. How mistaken it is to take the body for the Self and to worship it and care only for it.’ It changes every minute and it will one day perish entirely. To consider the body to be the Self will sooner or later cause very great grief.