Jivatman as Reflection of Paramatman, and Transmigration

Srikrishna Ghadiyaram srikrishna_ghadiyaram at YAHOO.COM
Thu Feb 21 21:09:52 CST 2002

Hari Om !!

I was reading a book titled, 'May I answer that ?', which has questions of
devotees and answers of Swami Sivananda. I wanted to write two of them
which meet our previous discussion.

1. (Page 74) What is the difference between Jivatman and Paramatman ?

Jivatman is the individual soul, a reflection of Brahman in Avidya or the
mind. Paramatman is the Supreme Soul, Brahman or the Atman. From the
emperical viewpoint, the Jivatman is a finite and conditioned being, while
the Paramatman is the infinite, eternal, Sat-chit-ananda Brahman. In
essence, the Jivatman is identical with Paramatman when Avidya is destroyed.

2. The Atman is different from the body and is not affected by the latter's
doings. The body is reborn a number of times and accoding to its Karma and
goes through life and death as per the Supreme Will. If this is so, then
who goes to hell or heaven ?

The real experiencer of anything, in an individualistic way, is neither the
Self nor the physical body. It is the mind that is the center of
individuality, that individualizes and imprisons a ray of the Atman in what
is called the individual soul. And it is this mind, as embodied in the
subtle body, that undergoes the pleasure of heaven or the pains of hell, or
for that matter, any experience through a gross or a subtle body.

The mind appears to have consciousness on account of there being a ray of
the Atman in it, in the form of a reflection, very much limited by its own
constitution. Hence it will be clear that the individuality of a person is
as much real or unreal as a reflection of a real object.

Though every thing happens according to the Supreme Will, the Karma of the
individual determines the form or shape of the experience that is to be had
under the dispensation of this will. It is not the Atman or the body that
has any type of relative experience, though the body is a gross means of
experience; it is the mind that has all this.

Also the following sentences from 'Vedanta for Beginners' are relevant.

(Page 105)

Example of the reflection of a face in a mirror

The reflection of a face in a mirror is different from the face; the
reflection imitates the mirror in as much as it possesses the property of
being in the mirror and the quality of the mirror. The reflection depends
on the mirror for its existance. But, the real face does not. So, the real
face is different from the reflection. Similarly, the reflection of the
Self in the ego is different from the Pure Self.

In the case of the face, the face is real but not its reflection in the
mirror. The reflection is not always there. But at the same time, the
reflection is not totally unreal since it is seen at times. Hence, the
reflection is indescribable and the face is different from it. In the case
of Pure Self and its reflection, in fact however, both of them are devoid
of any real distinction. In the case of the face and the mirror, the mirror
has an existance independent of the face. But, in the case of the Pure
Self, the intellect which is the reflecting medium is not having an
independence existance all by itself, apart from the existance of the Pure
Self. Therefore, the distinction between the Pure self and Its reflection
is only apparent and not real. Owing to a non-discrimination due to
ignorance between the Pure Self and Its reflection, the Self is regarded as
an individual suffering transmigratory existance.

It may be said that the reflection of the Self in the ego, as distinct
from  the Pure Self, is the individual soul experiencing and acting in this
universe, on the authority that the individual soul is a real entity having
its own properties like the shadow of a tree having the property of
refreshing any one coming under it on a hot midday. That can not be so. The
refreshing property can not be attributed to the shadow, for it is the
effect of refraining from the warm things, say, the hot sun. Further,
because of that, it cannot be said that the refreshing property that is
seen in the shadow is an ample proof for accepting the reality of the
shadow. One is not refreshed by sitting close to a burning hearth under its

Hope these quotes throw more light on the topic of our discussion.

Om Namo Narayanaya !!


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