Paramatman

Definition - What does Paramatman mean?

In Hindu philosophy, Paramatman is the universal or eternal Soul. It is one of two types of souls -- the other being jiva-atman, which is the individual soul or self. The term comes from the Sanskrit parama, meaning “highest” or “supreme,” and atman, meaning “self,” “soul” or “individual spirit.” In English, it is roughly translated to mean “primordial self” or "the self beyond."

Practicing yoga can unite jiva-atman with Paramatman by helping the practitioner become more aware of oneness with the universe.

Yogapedia explains Paramatman

Depending on the specific tradition, Paramatma may be called the Supreme Self, the Supersoul, the Collective Consciousness, Absolute Reality, Absolute Truth, God and/or Brahman. When the individual self – often referred to as simply atman – reaches unity with Brahman, it becomes Paramatman and all worldly individuality vanishes. Selflessness takes over.

In Vedic scriptures, there's a story of jiva-atman's separation from Paramatman and the soul's subsequent fall into the world of earthly birth and death/decay. Among Hindu and yogic traditions, the ultimate goal of human existence is union with Paramatman to end this life-death cycle.

Depending on the specific Hindu tradition, Paramatman can be described as reaching one of the following states:

  • Moksha - liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth
  • Bhakti - obtaining pure, divine love
  • Jivanmukta (jivamukti) - Self-knowledge that provides liberation while living

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