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" The word Jiva has two meanings in the Sanskritic tongues - "living creatures"
[note by Sri Aurobindo In Bengal when one a about to kill a small animal, people often protest saying, "Don't kill - it is Krishna's Jiva (his living creature).]

and the spirit individualised and upholding the living being in its evolution from birth to birth. In the latter sense the full term is Jivatma - the Atman, spirit or eternal self of the living being....

An elaborate description of the Jivatma would be: "the multiple Divine manifested here as the individualised self or spirit of the created being."

The Jivatma in its essence does not change or evolve, its essence stands above the personal evolution; within the evolution itself it is represented by the evolving psychic being which supports all the rest of the nature. "
Letters on Yoga p.268

In Advaita Vedanta the term Jivatma refers to the "illusory" (see Two truths) reincarnating self - it has no real existence, as only Atman-Brahman is real. A radically contrary position (represented by dualistic Vedanta) has the Soul (Chit or Jiva) as one of the three fundamental metaphyiscal principles - the other two being God and Matter.

"By Jivatma we mean the individual self. Essentially it is one self with all others, but in the multiplicity of the Divine it is the individual self, an individual centre of the uni- verse - and it sees everything in itself or itself in everything or both together according to its state of consciousness and point of view."
Letters on Yoga p.268

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
Text by Sri Aurobindo © Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1971
page uploaded 24 July 2004