Paramatman (Sanskrit: परमात्मन्, IAST: Paramātmāṇ) or Paramātmā is the Absolute Atman, or supreme Self, in various philosophies such as the Vedanta and Yoga schools in Hindu theology, as well as other Indian religions like Sikhism. The Paramatman is the "Primordial Self" or the "Self Beyond" who is spiritually practically identical with the Absolute, identical with the Brahman. Selflessness is the attribute of Paramatman, where all personality/individuality vanishes.[1]


The word stem paramātma (परमात्मन्, pronounced [pɐɽɐmaːtmɐn], its nominative singular being paramātmā — परमात्मा, pronounced [pɐɽɐmaːtmaː]) is formed from two words, parama, meaning "supreme" or "highest", and ātma, which means individual self.

The word "Ātman" generally denotes the Individual Self, but by the word "Paramatman" which word also expresses Boundless Life, Boundless Consciousness, Boundless Substance in Boundless Space, is meant the Atman of all atmans or the Supreme Self or the Universal Self. The word "Atman" which literally means non-darkness or light, is Brahman the subtlest indestructible Divine existence. The word "Paramatman" refers to the Creator all.[2]

Paramatman in Jain theology

In Jainism, each atman or individual self is a potential Paramatman or God, both are essentially the same. It remains as atman only because of its binding "karmic" limitations, until such time as those limitations are removed. As Paramatman, the atman represents the ultimate point of spiritual evolution.[3]

Even though Jain mysticism centers around Atman and Paramatman because it believes in the existence of soul, in Jainism, which accepts neither Vedic authority nor Monism, all enlightened souls are referred to as Paramatman and regarded as gods. Jainism honours the soul of each man as its own eternally distinct savior.[4] Since the Paramatman of Jainism is unable to create and govern the world, there is no place of God as a creator and bestower of fortune.[5]

Paramatman in Buddhism

Buddhism rejects a metaphysics of "ground" such as the paramatman.

Description of Paramatman in the Upanishads

The sage of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.4.2, though not using the word "Paramatman", explains that at the time of release the portion (aspect) of the Paramatman and the portion (aspect) of the Jiva presiding in the right eye become unified with the Paramatman and the Jiva presiding in the heart, then the Jiva does not see, smell, taste, speak, hear, feel, touch and know; when Paramatman goes out, the Chief Prana goes out after Him, followed by the Lower Prana. Paramatman goes out riding on the Jiva following consciousness and work, knowledge of former life or natural capacity. In the Prashna Upanishad IV.11 the word "Atman" cannot refer to Jiva because the Jiva cannot of its own accord throw off its body or understand avidya, therefore, it refers to Paramatman.[6] The Jiva attains Moksha when he actually knows the Paramatman, the Asarira Prajnatman, to be thousand-headed, to be the governor of all and to be superior to all.[7] Thus, Paramatman is one of the many aspects of Brahman and has all attributes of Brahman.[8] Atman (Spirit) and Paramatman (God) are one, some say they are distinct as well as one, they are one with reference to Shakti but distinct with reference to that power.[9]

Parable of the Two Birds

The word, Paramatman, is not to be found in the Rig Veda but through allusion referring to Paramatman as Isha. This distinction is made because all of its mantras which in the form of prayers are addressed to gods. In its great Riddle Hymn (Sukta I.164) is the famous mantra - R.V.I.164.20, that was revealed to Rishi Deergatamaah Auchathyah and borrowed by Mundaka Upanishad III.1.1-3, which belongs to Atharva Veda, to weave the parable of the Two Birds:-Two birds.

Two birds, beautiful of wings, close companions, cling to one common tree: of the two one eats the sweet fruit of that tree; the other eats not but watches his companion. The self is the bird that sits immersed on the common tree; but because he is not lord he is bewildered and has sorrow. But when he sees that other who is the Lord and the beloved, he knows that all is His greatness and his sorrow passes away from him. When, a seer, he sees the Golden-hued, the maker, the Lord, the Spirit who is the source of Brahman, then he becomes the knower and shakes from his wings sin and virtue; pure of all stains he reaches the supreme identity.

-Translation of Verses 1-3 of Third Mundaka Upanishad by Sri Aurobindo.

Here at, Aurobindo makes the Spirit or Purusha as the Source of everything, including Brahman. He makes Purusha more fundamental. Thus, he does not have to say Brahman to be the source of inferior Brahman, and he also dismisses the sense of Reality revealed in imaginative and emotional build-up.[10]

Case of Two souls

The Dualistic School of Philosophy initiated by Anandatirtha draws its support from the afore-cited passage as well as from the passage of Katha Upanishad I.3.1 of an earlier Upanishad that speaks about two souls which taste the fruits of action, both of which are lodged in the recess of the human heart, and which are different from each other as light and shade, that carried the flaw – how could the Universal soul be regarded as enjoying the fruits of action? The followers of Madhava draw their support from the Bhagavad Gita XV.16 that speaks about two persons in this world, the Mutable and the Immutable; the Mutable is all these things, while the Immutable is the one who exists at the top of them, one is the Jivatman and the other, Paramatman.[11] Jivatman is chit, the sentient, and Paramatman is Isvara, both have the same attributes; they are inseparably present together on the tree which is achit, the insentient, or the gross Avidya component of existence. Jivatman and Paramatman are both seated in the heart, the former is driven by the three modes of nature and acts, the latter simply witnesses as though approving the former's activities.[12] The relationship between Paramātmā, the Universal Self, and 'ātma, the Individual Self, is likened to the indwelling God and the soul within one's heart. Paramatman is one of the many aspects of Brahman. Paramatman is situated at the core of every individual jiva in the macrocosm. The Upanishads do compare Atman and Paramatman to two birds sitting like friends on the branch of a tree (body) where the Atman eats its fruits (karma), and the Paramatman only observes the Atman as a witness (sākṣin) of His friend's actions.


In Advaita philosophy, individual souls are called Jīvātman, and the Highest Brahman is called Paramātman. The Jivatman and the Paramatman are known to be one and the same when the Jivatman attains the true knowledge of the Brahman (Skt. Brahmajñāna) . In the context of Advaita, the word Paramatman is invariably used to refer to Nirguna Brahman, with Ishvara and Bhagavan being terms used to refer to Brahman with qualities, or Saguna Brahman.

Brahman and Isvara are not synonymous words, the apparent similarity is on account of similar looking attributes imagined with regard to the impressions these two words activate. According to Advaita, Isvara is Brahman associated with Maya in its excellent aspect, as the empirical reality it is the determinate Brahman; Isvara has no reality apart from Brahman. The Svetasvatara Upanishad developed the conception of a personal God. The Katha Upanishad states that never has any man been able to visualise Paramatman by means of sight, heart, imagination or mind. The Anandamaya-kosha is the Isvara of the Upanishads. Gaudapada called duality Maya, and non-duality, the only reality. Maya is the Cosmic Nescience that has in it the plurality of subject and object and therefore, Isvara is organically bound with the world. Beyond the Prana or Isvara is the state of the Infinite limitless Brahman[13] which is why in the Bhagavad Gita VII.24, Krishna tells Arjuna – "not knowing My unsurpassable and undecaying supreme nature the ignorant believe Me to have assumed a finite form through birth."

With regard to the cause of Samsāra, as to where it resides and the means of its removal, Adi Shankara in his Vivekachudamani.49. instructs that the individual self is the Paramatman in reality, the association of the individual self with ajnana i.e. with avidya, which he terms as anatmabandhah, bondage by the anatman or non-atman, makes it to identify itself with gross, subtle and causal bodies and from that arises Samsāra which is of the form of superimposition of qualities of sukha, dukha etc., on itself, the atman.[14]


Paramatman is beyond knowledge and ignorance, devoid of all material attributes (upadhi). In Chapter 13 of the Bhagavad Gita, Paramatman is described as Krishna residing in the hearts of all beings and in every atom of matter. He is the overseer and the permitter of their actions.[15][16] Paramatman is different from five elements (pancha mahabhutas), the senses, mind, pradhana and jiva.[17]

Vaishnava sects maintain that attaining knowledge of Brahman and identification of Atman with Brahman is an intermediate stage of self-realization, and only Bhakti Yoga can lead to the next step of Paramatman realization as the indwelling God, ultimately leading up to liberation (Mukti) by God-realization.

The Viṣṇu or the deity of the quality of goodness in the material world is the puruṣa-avatāra known as Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu or Paramātmā.[1]

In Bengal, Vaishnava Krishna is viewed as one endowed with his essential svarupa-shakti, he is Bhagawat in full manifestation endowed with Jivasakti and Mayasakti, he the Paramatman and Brahman. Brahman, Paramatman and Bhagavan are 3 gradations of the ultimate reality.[18]


Time is described in Vedas:

My Lord, I consider Your Lordship to be eternal time, the supreme controller, without beginning and end, the all-pervasive one. ... Eternal time is the witness of all our actions, good and bad, and thus resultant reactions are destined by Him. It is no use saying that we do not know why and for what we are suffering. We may forget the misdeed for which we may suffer at this present moment, but we must remember that Paramātmā is our constant companion, and therefore He knows everything, past, present and future. And because the Paramātmā feature of Lord Kṛṣṇa destines all actions and reactions, He is the supreme controller also. Without His sanction not a blade of grass can move.[2]

See also


  1. ^ T. Depurucker. An Occult Glossary:A Comendium of Oriental and Theosophical Terms. Kessinger Publishing. p. 130.
  2. ^ "Atman and Paramatman".
  3. ^ Encyclopaedia of Oriental Philosophy, Global Vision Publishing House, p. 245
  4. ^ Selwyn Gurney Champion, The World's Great Religions:An Anthology of Sacred Texts, Courier Dover Publications, p. 149
  5. ^ Arvind Sharma, A Jaina Perspective on the Philosophy of Religion, Motilal Banarsidass, p. 4
  6. ^ Baman Das Basu. The Sacred Books of the Hindus, Vol. 15. Part(2). Genesis Publishing (P) Ltd. p. 522,527.
  7. ^ B.D.Basu, S.C.Vasu. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Genesis Publishing (P) Ltd. p. 130.
  8. ^ Swami Tejomayanand. Dhanyashtakam. Chinmaya Mission.
  9. ^ Annie Wood Besant. Theosophist Magazine February-March 1909. Kessinger Publishing. p. 553.
  10. ^ Ry Deshpande. "The Parable of Two Birds". Archived from the original on 15 April 2013.
  11. ^ Ramachandra Dattatrya Ranade. A constructive survey of Upanishadic philosophy. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 151.
  12. ^ "Two birds in a tree - Soul and Supersoul".
  13. ^ Ramachandra Dattatrya Ranade. A constructive survey of Upanishadic philosophy. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. pp. 189–197.
  14. ^ Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati of Sringeri. Sri Samkara's Vivekacudamani. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 65.
  15. ^ Bhagavad Gita 13.23 Archived 12 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Bhagavata Purana 7.14.38 Archived 12 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Bhagavata Purana 3.28.41 Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Sandhu Santidev. Traditions of Mysticism in Bengal. Genesis Publishing (P) Ltd. p. 101.

External links


Abhava means non-existence, negation, nothing or absence. It is the negative of Bhava which means being, becoming, existing or appearance.

Adhyatma Upanishad

Adhyatma Upanishad (Aḍhyāṭma) or Adhyatmopanishad is one of the 108 Upanishadic Hindu scriptures, written in Sanskrit. It is one of the 19 Upanishads under the Shukla Yajurveda or White Yajurveda. It is classified as a Samanya (non-sectarian) Upanishad. It is also known as Ṭurīyāṭīṭa Avaḍhūṭa Upanishaḍ. The Upanishad expounds on the nature of Brahman.

Atma Upanishad

The Atma Upanishad (Sanskrit: आत्मा उपनिषत्), is one of the minor Upanishadic texts of Hinduism, written in Sanskrit language. It is one of the 31 Upanishads, associated with the Atharvaveda. It is classified as a Samanya (general) and Vedantic Upanishad.The Upanishad describes three types of Self (atman): the external self (body), the inner self (individual soul) and the highest self (the Brahman, Paramatma, Purusha). The text asserts that one must meditate, during Yoga, on the highest self as one's self that is partless, spotless, changeless, desireless, indescribable, all-penetrating.The text has also been referred to as Atmopanishad. In the Telugu language anthology of 108 Upanishads of the Muktika canon, narrated by Rama to Hanuman, it is listed at number 76.


Avyakta, meaning "not manifest", "devoid of form" etc., is the word ordinarily used to denote Prakrti on account of subtleness of its nature and is also used to denote Brahman who is the subtlest of all and who by virtue of that subtlety is the ultimate support (asraya) of Prakrti. Avyakta as a category along with Mahat (Cosmic Intelligence) and Purusa plays an important role in the later Samkhya philosophy even though the Bhagavad Gita III.42 retaining the psychological categories altogether drops out the Mahat and the Avyakta (Unmanifest), the two objective categories.

Brahmavidya Upanishad

The Brahmavidya Upanishad (Sanskrit: ब्रह्मविद्या उपनिषत्, IAST: Brahmavidyā Upaniṣad) is a Sanskrit text and one of the minor Upanishads of Hinduism. It is one of twenty Yoga Upanishads in the four Vedas.Two major versions of its manuscripts are known. One has fourteen verses that is attached to Atharvaveda, while another larger manuscript exists in the Telugu language which has one hundred and ten verses and is attached to the Krishna Yajurveda.The Upanishad mainly explains the structure of Om, aspect of its sound, its placement, its beginning and end, and the significance of the Laya (fading away of its sound). Om is Brahman (ultimate reality), asserts the text. The text is notable for stating that gods live inside human body as five Atmans, with Vishnu in the throat, Rudra in the middle of the palate, Shiva in the forehead, Sadashiva at the tip of nose, and the Brahman in the heart. The innermost Atman, states the text, is same as the all transcendent Paramatman, the Brahman pervading everywhere.It is also called as Brahmavidyopanishad. It is listed at number 40 in the serial order of the Muktika enumerated by Rama to Hanuman in the modern era anthology of 108 Upanishads.


Jivatva (Sanskrit: जीवत्व) means – the state of life or the state of the individual soul. Jivatva is the state of life of the Jiva (transmigratory individual soul), the living entity, which is a particular manifestation of Atman, the embodied being limited to psycho-physical states, and the source of avidya that suffers (repeated) transmigration as result of its actions. Until ignorance ceases the Jiva remains caught in experience of the results of actions bringing merit and demerit, and in the state of individuality (jivatva) (Brahma Sutra I.iv.6), and so long as the connection with the intellect as conditioning adjunct lasts, so long the individuality and transmigration of soul lasts (Brahma Sutra II.iii.30).

Jīva (Jainism)

The Jīva or Atman (; Sanskrit: आत्मन्) is a philosophical term used within Jainism to identify the soul. As per the Jain cosmology, jīva or soul is the principle of sentience and is one of the tattvas or one of the fundamental substances forming part of the universe. The Jain metaphysics, states Jagmanderlal Jaini, divides the universe into two independent, everlasting, co-existing and uncreated categories called the jiva (soul) and the ajiva (non-soul). This basic premise of Jainism makes it a dualistic philosophy. The jiva, according to Jainism, is an essential part of how the process of karma, rebirth and the process of liberation from rebirth works.

Kasaya (attachment)

Kasaya is attachment to worldly objects and is an obstacle in the path leading to Nirvikalpa Samadhi: it is overcome through viveka, discrimination.

Kumara Swamy Devasthana, Bangalore

Kumara Swamy Devasthana, is a Hindu temple located in Hanumanthanagar, in the city of Bangalore, Karnataka, southern India. It is dedicated to Lord Kumara Swamy, also known as Lord Subrahmanya or Murugan.


Mahaganapati (Sanskrit: महागणपति), (Kannada: ಮಹಾಗಣಪತಿ), mahā-gaṇapati, literally "Ganesha, the Great"), also spelled as Maha Ganapati is an aspect of the Hindu god Ganesha. He is the representation of Ganesha as the Supreme Being Paramatman and is the most important deity of the Ganesha-centric Ganapatya sect. He is one of the most popular of the thirty-two forms of Ganesha,worshipped as the ultimate truth Para brahman.


Parameshashakti in Hinduism is the power of Parameshwara or Ishvara, the conditioned Brahman. It is Maya, the anadyavidya (the beginningless avidya) that has no reality in the absolute sense but is superior to its effects and inferred by them, hence, also called, avyakta. It is established by ikshana ("seeing", "thinking"), by samkalpa ("purposing") and parinama ("transformation"). Parameshashakti gives birth to this entire world. Therefore, it is Prakrti.(Vivekachudamani.110)

Pashupatabrahma Upanishad

The Pashupatabrahma Upanishad (पाशुपतिब्रह्म उपनिषत्), also called Pasupathabrahmopanishad, is a minor Upanishadic text written in Sanskrit. It is one of the 31 Upanishads attached to the Atharvaveda, and is classified as one of the 20 Yoga Upanishads.In the Telugu language anthology of 108 Upanishads of the Muktika canon, narrated by Rama to Hanuman, it is listed by Paul Deussen – a German Indologist and professor of Philosophy, at number 77. The text is a relatively later era Upanishad.The text is structured in two khanda (sections). The opening verses are in the form of questions addressed to Hindu creator god Brahma by his son Vaishravana. The text discusses soul as Hamsa, yoga, meditation, the uselessness of external rituals and the need for inner reflection with the help of Om, and how a man of true wisdom should behave.The Upanishad repeatedly uses Hamsa for its concepts. The text asserts that the supreme soul (Brahman) is of the nature of Hamsa, it migrates. Om, states the text, is the true sacred thread, and that there is no difference between Om and the Atman (soul). In AUM, asserts the text, "A" represents the past, "U" represents the present, "M" represents the future. The realization of "hamsa-so'ham" (I am he, he is I), is equivalent to completing all yajna, and this realization destroys "anger, self deception, hatred, infatuation" states the Upanishad.In verses 19 to 22 of Purva-khanda, the Pashupatabrahma Upanishad asserts that the Hamsa, the Paramataman, is the internal sun that radiates within, and one in quest of Brahman must meditate within, through Pranava (Om) and the knowledge that the Brahman is within oneself. One must abandon all external ritual sacrifices and worship, instead meditate within, asserts the text in verses 27–30. The Dharma-yoga that leads to freedom and liberation is non-violence against others, states the Upanishad. One's soul is the conductor, Pashupati is the Paramatman within.

The second section (Uttara-khanda) of the text discusses yoga and meditation, asserting the goal of yoga is inner liberation, the realization that the Brahman is within oneself. The Upanishad is notable for asserting in verses 32–33 that the Highest Truth is within one's own body.The knowledge of Atman, asserts the text, comes to the Jivanmukta through his own efforts and on his own accord. Once he reaches this state, he sees everyone as himself, he sees no Ashramas, no Varnas (social classes), no good, no evil, no prohibitions, no mandates. He lives by his own accord, he is the liberated, and he is the one free from distinguishing and discriminating others. He is beyond the appearance, he is beyond the self, he is one with Brahman.The text is also notable for asserting that the one who knows his inner soul and thus the Brahman, there is nothing whatever that is prohibited as food, because the entire universe is just food for each other, and everything is he himself in various manifestations of Brahman. The liberated person knows, "I am the food always, I am the eater of the food" too. And yet, the liberated person moderates, caring for everything, seeing the world of his perception always, translates Ayyangar, but never in any way apart from his own soul.The Upanishad presents the Advaita Vedanta doctrines.


Purusha (Sanskrit puruṣa, पुरुष) is a complex concept whose meaning evolved in Vedic and Upanishadic times. Depending on source and historical timeline, it means the cosmic man or Self, Consciousness, and Universal principle.In early Vedas, Purusha meant a cosmic man whose sacrifice by the gods created all life. This was one of many creation theories discussed in the Vedas. The idea parallels Norse Ymir, with the myth's origin in Proto-Indo-European religion.In the Upanishads, the Purusha concept no longer meant a being or cosmic man. The meaning changed into an abstract essence of the Self, Spirit and the Universal Principle that is eternal, indestructible, without form and is all pervasive. The Purusha concept is explained with the concept of Prakrti in the Upanishads. The universe is envisioned in these ancient Sanskrit texts, as a combination of the perceivable material reality and non-perceivable, non-material laws and principles of nature. Material reality (or Prakrti) is everything that has changed, can change and is subject to cause and effect. Purusha is the Universal principle that is unchanging, uncaused but is present everywhere and the reason why Prakrti changes, transforms and transcends all of the time and which is why there is cause and effect. Purusha is what connects everything and everyone according to the various schools of Hinduism.

There is a diversity of views within various schools of Hinduism about the definition, scope and nature of Purusha.

Ramakrishna Math

Ramakrishna Math is a religious monastic order, considered part of the Hindu reform movements. It was set up by sanyasin disciples of Ramakrishna pramhansa headed by Swami Vivekananda at Baranagar Math in Baranagar, a place near Calcutta (now Kolkata), in 1886. India. The headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and its twin organisation, Ramakrishna Mission is at Belur Math (in West Bengal, India).

Although Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are legally and financially separate, they are closely inter-related in several other ways and are to be regarded as twin organizations. All branch centres of Ramakrishna Math come under the administrative control of the Board of Trustees, whereas all branch centres of Ramakrishna Mission come under the administrative control of the Governing Body of Ramakrishna Mission.As of 2016, the Math and Mission have 182 centres all over the world:

136 in India

13 in USA

13 in Bangladesh

2 in Russia,and one each in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. Besides, there are 33 sub-centres attached to some of these centres.

Besides these branch centres, there are about one thousand unaffiliated centres (popularly called ‘private centres’) all over the world started by the devotees and followers of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.

Sadananda (of Vedantasara)

Sadananda Yogendra Saraswati, the exponent of the Advaita Vedanta as taught by Adi Shankara and the renowned author of Vedantasara which is one of the best known Prakarana Granthas (text-books) of the philosophy of the Upanishads, was the son of Anantadeva, and probably lived in mid-15th century A.D. He is also reputed to have written - Vedantasiddhanta-sarasangraha, Bhavaprakasa on Bhagavad Gita and Brahmasutra-tatpryaprakasa – which are works of equal repute and importance. Not much is known about the life of this acharya. Hiriyanna states that Sadananda of Vedantasara is different from the Sadananda of Advaitbrahmansiddhi the text that was published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal.In his works Sadananda stresses the liberated being’s freedom from bondage, detachment from the body, and constant goodness, although being beyond virtue. The liberated being after having lived out his prarabdha karma merges with Brahman.Advayananda was the Guru of Sadananda.

Silap Inua

In Inuit mythology, Silap Inua ('possessor of spirit', ᓯᓚᑉ ᐃᓄᐊ) or Silla ('breath, spirit', ᓯᓪᓚ) is similar to mana or ether, the primary component of everything that exists; it is also the breath of life and the method of locomotion for any movement or change. Silla was believed to control everything that goes on in one's life.

The Over-Soul

"The Over-Soul" is an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, first published in 1841. With the human soul as its overriding subject, several general themes are treated: (1) the existence and nature of the human soul; (2) the relationship between the soul and the personal ego; (3) the relationship of one human soul to another; and (4) the relationship of the human soul to God. Influence of Eastern religions, including Vedantism, is plainly evident, but the essay also develops ideas long present in the Western tradition, e.g., in the works of Plato, Plutarch, and Neoplatonists like Plotinus and Proclus – all of whose writings Emerson read extensively throughout his career – and Emanuel Swedenborg.

The essay attempts no systematic doctrine, but rather serves as a work of art, something like poetry. Its virtue is in personal insights of the author and the lofty manner of their presentation. Emerson wishes to exhort and direct the reader to an awakening of similar thoughts or sentiments.

With respect to the four themes listed above, the essay presents the following views: (1) the human soul is immortal, and immensely vast and beautiful; (2) our conscious ego is slight and limited in comparison to the soul, despite the fact that we habitually mistake our ego for our true self; (3) at some level, the souls of all people are connected, though the precise manner and degree of this connection is not spelled out; and (4) the essay does not seem to explicitly contradict the traditional Western idea that the soul is created by and has an existence (?) that is similar to God, or rather God exists within us.

The Over-Soul is now considered one of Emerson's greatest writings.

Tree of Jiva and Atman

The Tree of Jiva and Atman appears in the Vedic scriptures concerning the soul.

The Rig Veda samhita 1.164.20-22, Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1-2, and Svetasvatara Upanisad 4.6-7, speak of two birds, one perched on the branch of the tree, which signifies the body, and eating its fruit, the other merely watching.

Rig Veda samhita says:

1.164.20 Two birds associated together, and mutual friends, take refuge in the same tree; one of them eats the sweet fig; the other abstaining from food, merely looks on.

1.164.21 Where the smooth-gliding rays, cognizant, distil the perpetual portion of water; there has the Lord and steadfast protector all beings accepted me, though immature in wisdom.

1.164.22 In the tree into which the smooth-gliding rays feeders on the sweet, enters, and again bring forth light over all, they have called the fruit sweet, but he partakes not of it who knows not the protector of the universe.

The first bird represents a Jiva, or individual self, or soul. She has a female nature, being a shakti, an energy of God. When the jiva becomes distracted by the fruits (signifying sensual pleasure), she momentarily forgets her lord and lover and tries to enjoy the fruit independently of him. This separating forgetfulness is maha-maya, or enthrallment, spiritual death, and constitutes the fall of the jiva into the world of material birth, death, disease and old age.

The second bird is the Paramatman, an aspect of God who accompanies every living being in the heart while she remains in the material world. He is the support of all beings and is beyond sensual pleasure.


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