Definition - What does Jiva-Atman mean?
In Indian philosophy, the jiva-atman – also simply called jiva – is the individual soul or self. It is one of two types of souls, the other being the paramatman or atman, which is the universal and eternal Soul. Jiva-atman is trapped in the earthly body until death, when it is reincarnated.
The term, jiva-atman, comes from the Sanskrit jiv, meaning “to breathe,” and atman, meaning “self.” Therefore, it may be translated to mean “living being.”
The path of yoga can unite jiva-atman (the personal self) with atman (the cosmic Self) by creating and expanding the practitioner's awareness of the oneness of all creation.
Yogapedia explains Jiva-Atman
Vedic scriptures contain a metaphorical story about jiva and atman becoming separated from each other. Using the image of two birds in a tree, the texts describe jiva's separation from atman and it's subsequent fall to the earthly world of birth, death, disease and old age.
The ultimate goal of the jiva-atman varies among the Hindu traditions, but is one of the following:
- Moksha - liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth
- Bhakti - obtaining pure, divine love
- Jivanmukta - Self-knowledge that provides liberation while living
Regardless of tradition, the practice of yoga can help a dedicated individual come closer to one of these three states by expanding their consciousness and creating a sense of harmony with the universe.