THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOUL AND SUPERSOUL
Generally there is a great misunderstanding about the characteristics of the individual
soul and Supersoul, or jiva-atma and param-atma.
Some transcendentalists claim that the soul and Supersoul are absolutely one and
the same whereas others claim them to be different.
The truth, however, is that the individual soul and Supersoul are two different
entities which are similar in their spiritual natures but distinct in their quantitative
Jiva-atma, or the individual soul, refers to the living entity which is embodied
in a physical form, produced by material nature.
Param-atma refers to the Supreme Lord who expands Himself as the Supersoul and
who enters into the hearts of all living entities as well as all the atoms. Thus
param-atma is the localized aspect of the supreme, situated in everyone's heart
as the transcendental witness.
This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-Gita [15.15] where
Lord Krishna says "I am seated in everyone's heart as the all pervading Supersoul
and from Me comes remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness."
The entrance of the Supreme Lord into everyone's heart as param-atma sometimes
bewilders the impersonalists, who think in terms of the equality of the living
entities with the Supreme. They think that because the Supreme Lord enters into
different bodies along with the individual soul, there is no distinction between
the Lord and the individual entities. According to them, both the Supersoul and
the individual soul are on the same level; they are one, without any difference
However, according to the Vedanta-philosophy there is a difference between the
Supersoul and the individual soul, and this is explained in Bhagavad-Gita, where
the Lord says that although He is situated with the living entity in the same
body, He is superior due to His transcendental situation. He is directing the
living entity by giving knowledge and intelligence from within.
or impersonalists, mistake the living entity for the param-atma, who in actuality
is sitting side by side with the living entity. The Supersoul acts as the
neutral observer, witness, adviser, guide and friend of the individual soul. Because
the param-atma, the localised aspect of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and
the individual living entity are both within the body, a misunderstanding sometimes
takes place that there is no difference between the two. But there is a definite
difference between the individual soul and the Supersoul, and this is also explained
in the Mundaka-Upanisad by the following example.
The individual soul and Supersoul are
compared to two birds which reside in the same tree. One of them (jiva-atma) is
eating the fruits of the tree, while the other (param-atma) is just witnessing
the activities of his friend. The witness is the Lord, and the fruit-eater is
the living entity. The fruit-eater (living entity) which is overcome by the reaction
of his enjoyment, has forgotten his real identity and is overwhelmed in the fruitive
activities of the material conditions, but the Lord (param-atma), who is always
transcendentally situated, is not affected by the material atmosphere. That is
the difference between the Supersoul and the conditioned soul. One should not
think that the Supreme Lord becomes conditioned when He incarnates on earth or
expands Himself as the Supersoul.
please also see:
EQUALITY BETWEEN GOD AND LIVING ENTITIES