JIVATMA AND PARAMATMA
Man is half animal and half God! The inveterate ‘arishadvargas’—inner enemies prevent him from becoming fully divine. It is an open challenge for man to prove his worth by rising above these stumbling blocks to his spiritual progress. The very purpose in creating man is to allow him to realize himself as a chip of the same block namely GOD! Modern man, in his ignorance and arrogance thinks that he has nothing to do with God. He blows his own trumpet, glorifies himself for every achievement and condemns god for his failure. He does not realize the subtle and inconceivable part God plays in every aspect of man’s life. Providence has gifted us with the karmendriyas, Jnanendriyas, pancha pranas, manas, buddhi,chitta,and ahankara without which there is no existence at all for man. Still man fails to recognize God but defies him and questions his very existence! The indweller of all creatures is the ATMA or SOUL—‘ekah paratma bahu deha varthi’
In Vedantic and spiritual parlance, the soul, in every person in existence is called JIVATMA or the Individual soul. This is the chaitanya or the awareness that moves the human body. It is just a spark of that eternal Absolute Brahman of which the whole range of the Upanishads extol in wonderful language. What is the relationship between man and God? The digit one can increase to any value with the addition of zeros after it. The number loses its value if the digit one is removed. In short, Jiva the individual soul is zero . It has no value if it does not attach itself to God who is the number one! If he neglects the valuing figure all his efforts and achievements are in vain. It is impossible to live in the world without God. God is the largest magnet and man the iron or base metal. Why does God not attract man? It is because the iron is embedded in many impurities and the Jivatma is engulfed in dense maya or illusion. When the persistent maya is wiped away from the Jivatma by prayer and repentence, it is soon attracted by the Lord to Himself!
Sri Ramakrishna explains the relationship between the Jivatma the individual soul and Paramatma the Absolute soul in this practical and beautiful simili. “ The union between the Jivatma and Paramatma is like the union of the hour and the minute hands of a watch once in every hour! They are interrelated and interdependent and though usually separate they may become united as often as favorable opportunities occur.” There is absolutely no difference between the Jivatma and the paramatma. Due to the limitation of maya it appears to be two like a current of water when a plank of wood is placed against it. Water and a bubble on it are not at all different. The bubble is born in water, floats on it and finally merges into it. Though the Jivatma and the Paramatma are one there is a degree of difference. Paramatma is infinite while the Jivatma is finite. The former is independent while the latter is dependent. The individual soul is shorn of its limited existence when it falls into the ocean of the Absolute like a piece of lead thrown into a basin of mercury.
Can the finite Jivatma grasp or understand the Paramatma? Like a doll made of salt attempting to fathom the ocean, it finally dissolves and gets lost! Jivatma loses its separate entity and merges into the Paramatma as He is playing in the form of man. Sri Ramakrishna says, “ He is the great juggler and this phantasmagoria of Jiva and Jagat is His great jugglery! The juggler alone is true, he jugglery is false.” It is the power of the Paramatma or Brahman that activates the various organs of the body, the mind ,the intellect and the senses to perform their functions. When that ceases to act all other functions of the body and senses stop. ” Brahma Satyam Jagan mithya”: Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna