The Soul Cluster: Reconsideration of a Millennia Old Concept (cont.)
By Ede Frecska, Levente Móró and Hank Wesselman
Swedish Sanskritist Ernst Arbman (1926/1927) analyzed the Vedic beliefs in India and found that the concept of the soul (atman) was preceded by a duality. In his analysis, Arbman separated the soul inhabiting the body and endowing it with life and action from the free soul, an unencumbered soul-aspectembodying the individual’s nonphysical mode of existence not only after death but also in dreams, trances, and other altered states of consciousness (ASCs). According to his classification, the free soul doesn’t have any physical or psychological attributes; it simply represents the immortal spiritual essence of the individual.
In this regard, Arbman addressed the issue of duality, but implicitly wrote about tripartition since he combined two soul parts for which different cultures have separate names for (see Table 1). In addition to the free soul, the physical soul or body-soul is often divided into several components. Usually it falls into two categories one of which is the 'life-soul', the vital force, frequently identified with the breath, while the other is the 'ego-soul', the source of thoughtful action and decision-making. In the Vedic tripartite soul concept, the free soul incorporated the psychological attributes of the body-soul, a development that occurred among a number of other cultures.
One of Arbman’s most gifted pupils Åke Hultkrantz (1953) followed his master’s lead while studying North American Indians and took the same stance, speaking about dualism while describing a trinity. Bremmer (1983), has addressed how multiplicity can be obscured by the focus of interest and the concepts of the soul held by the field investigators themselves. In this regard, Arbman and Hultkrantz were clearly more interested in the free soul and in its evolution over time and accordingly paid less attention to the 'life-soul' and 'ego-soul' as independent entities. Their predecessors and contemporaries were also more interested in the myths of afterlife than in tribal psychology.