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Thread: what is Paramatma?

  1. #1
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    what is Paramatma?

    I used to know the answer and could probably look up some good descriptions, but I think this would benefit others.

    Once I had confused 'paramatma' with 'jivatma' because of some modern philosophy.

    However, Paramatma means the exact same thing as Parashakti, Parashiva, Maha-Vishua, and (Para)brahman, right? It seems slightly different definitions are given to each, but that they all really mean The Absolute and each other. So, is Paramatma the fairest way to say it or is it not actually The Absolute? I hope it is, because it is also 'whatever is beyond spirit' and it fits the definition. Also, is it really accurate to call this idea 'supreme' or is it beyond anything including anything that can be called anything--like 'supreme.'

    Paramatma - supreme/beyond spirit
    Parashakti - supreme/beyond Shakti
    Parashiva - supreme/beyond Shiva
    Maha-Vishnu - great (transcendent/impersonal) Vishnu
    Parabrahm - supreme/beyond Divinity

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    Re: what is Paramatma?

    hari o
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté Davidc,

    It would seem to me the answer to your question can be (better) appreciated by taking apart the words i.e. paramātman परमात्मन् , is param + ātman. If we look to paramātman परमात्मन् it is defined as Supreme Spirit, all well and good. Yet if we dissect this:
    • param परम् is highest , supreme , chief ; far , distant , beyond , extreme ; also means 'an excessive hundred , a hundred with a surplus', but for now we can leave this 100 concept for another post.
    • ātman आत्मन् is a beautiful word as it is derived from an = to breathe ; at = to move ; vā = to blow hence the breath. We are familiar with it to mean the soul , the principle of life and sensation. Yet I gravitate to this meaning of essence. The essence of being.
    Hence this combination ( a class of words that are called tatpuruṣa-s) gives us the Supreme essence, the Supreme soul. The Supreme that breathes life or being (bhūta existence, becoming) in to all.

    I also would apply param परम् highest , supreme to the other words you have offered. Yet for me and IMHO I do not see it as 'beyond' e.g. śiva or śakti from the standpoint of being beyond them.
    I see it as the ultimate , anuttara अनुत्तर- chief, principle. The wise define this anuttara as 'that which cannot be surpassed' ( so says Abhinavagupta-ji).

    Then the conversation becomes 'where else can śiva or śakti be used , if not as Supreme?' Śakti is effortlessly used as energy - even electricity.
    Śiva has been used as silence, auspiciousness, etc. This is due because of its root (√) auspicious , propitious , gracious , favourable , benign , kind , benevolent and aptly so. Used in a masculine gender it ( śiva ) is also a post for cows to which they are tied to.

    So, by using parameśvara we can again apply tatpuruṣa rule and look at it as param + eśvara . We know the meaning of param. This eśvara is īśvara - ruler, Lord, the Divine with form - saguṇa-brahman.
    Hence we can combine the words and have a greater overall appreciation (IMHO) of parameśvara.

    If there is interest, let me offer 108 names of this śiva at this HDF post: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=3411


    Those are my views, perhaps others will offer their insights and POV's.

    praṇām
    Last edited by yajvan; 28 October 2009 at 03:35 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: what is Paramatma?

    I look at it this way.

    Atma - means self (like atma-gyan means self knowledge). It is the "I" within us.

    Param - means the higher level

    Paramatma - will be higher self.

    What might be that ?

    As we realise that this "I" factor is same all through out. Though erronously identified with the body which is enlivened.

    Now the body is enlivened by the presence of mind - which brings in the feeling of "I".

    This "I" is the jivatma.

    The paramatma can be seen in two ways - the superset of the jivatmas and the rest. Or the state which is beyond the mind and is beyond "I". The pure superset of the nirvana state.

    Love and best wishes

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    Re: what is Paramatma?

    Then Purushottama is another synonym for Paramatma?

    Here is mighty Jnanadeva commenting on Gita 15:17 -

    Please know, O Partha, that the term Supreme Self suggests this Supreme Person (536-540). That state where not to talk is to talk, not to know is to know, nothing happening is happening, is the Supreme Self. In that state, even the notion 'I am Brahman' ceases, the teller becomes what is told, and the seer vanishes along with object to be seen.


    Why this state is called Supreme "Person" when it sounds so very impersonal, is a puzzle to me.

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    Re: what is Paramatma?

    Quote Originally Posted by Skull View Post
    Then Purushottama is another synonym for Paramatma?

    Here is mighty Jnanadeva commenting on Gita 15:17 -

    Why this state is called Supreme "Person" when it sounds so very impersonal, is a puzzle to me.
    Namaste Skull

    As per Upanishads, as far as I comprehend, Purushottama is synonym of Paramatma. Shri Krishna identifies Himself with both these terms and also with 'unborn mahesvara'.

    I think, the confusion of person has to do with the perspective. We understand 'Person' as a man of limbs etc,. In Sanskrit, the original word is Purusha, which in modern parlance means a male person, but in Upanishads, Purusha is defined as one who has burned up all that was before Him. Purusha is thus split as Purva (before) Usha (dawn-light).

    In Gita, there is a distinction between Atman, which is ever untainted and Purusha, which can be of three levels: destructible, indestructible and Purushottama. Aiterya Up. says that Atman, after creating regions and elements, gives shape to/brings up Purusha from waters. Supreme Self (Paramatman) is not different from Supreme Person (Purushottama).

    Om Namah Shivaya
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

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    Re: what is Paramatma?

    Quote Originally Posted by atanu View Post
    Namaste Skull

    As per Upanishads, as far as I comprehend, Purushottama is synonym of Paramatma. Shri Krishna identifies Himself with both these terms and also with 'unborn mahesvara'.

    I think, the confusion of person has to do with the perspective. We understand 'Person' as a man of limbs etc,. In Sanskrit, the original word is Purusha, which in modern parlance means a male person, but in Upanishads, Purusha is defined as one who has burned up all that was before Him. Purusha is thus split as Purva (before) Usha (dawn-light).

    In Gita, there is a distinction between Atman, which is ever untainted and Purusha, which can be of three levels: destructible, indestructible and Purushottama. Aiterya Up. says that Atman, after creating regions and elements, gives shape to/brings up Purusha from waters. Supreme Self (Paramatman) is not different from Supreme Person (Purushottama).

    Om Namah Shivaya
    Thanks for your views atanu. But I was focusing on Jnanadeva's description of the state of "mind" of purushottama.

    That state where not to talk is to talk, not to know is to know, nothing happening is happening, is the Supreme Self. In that state, even the notion 'I am Brahman' ceases, the teller becomes what is told, and the seer vanishes along with object to be seen.
    When both the seer and the object "vanish" I do not see how, psychologically, any "person" can be.

  7. #7

    Re: what is Paramatma?

    Quote Originally Posted by Skull View Post
    When both the seer and the object "vanish" I do not see how, psychologically, any "person" can be.
    This is how I've have learned it:
    Purusha is the one who "fills" the three puras. Pura means a "city" or "town" and means here the 3 worlds: gross, subtle and causal. Humans also have three bodies...

    From Shankara Gita comment:
    "puruṣaḥ means the Person, derived in the sense of he by whom all things are pervaded, or, he who lies in every heart"

    I dont think it literally means "person". Perhaps someone else will fill in more...
    There is a Guru in each of us. It is the Atma principle. It is the Eternal Witness functioning as Conscience in everyone. With this Conscience as guide, let all actions be done. (sss20-15)

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    Re: what is Paramatma?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ekanta View Post
    This is how I've have learned it:
    Purusha is the one who "fills" the three puras. Pura means a "city" or "town" and means here the 3 worlds: gross, subtle and causal. Humans also have three bodies...

    From Shankara Gita comment:
    "puruṣaḥ means the Person, derived in the sense of he by whom all things are pervaded, or, he who lies in every heart"

    I dont think it literally means "person". Perhaps someone else will fill in more...
    Then the use of "who" & "he" is a mistake - perhaps "which" and "it" are more correct?

  9. #9

    Re: what is Paramatma?

    Its often called:
    "idam", "enam", "ayam" (this) or "tat" (That) etc. I guess its to avoid attributing characteristics to it. But words are words... they are used in many ways.
    There is a Guru in each of us. It is the Atma principle. It is the Eternal Witness functioning as Conscience in everyone. With this Conscience as guide, let all actions be done. (sss20-15)

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    Re: what is Paramatma?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté


    Perhaps this may add some value to the conversation?

    puruṣa (some spell pūruṣa) is initially defined as a man , male , human being ; pumān puruṣaḥ is considered a male person .
    Also known as puruṣaka, this brings us back to man, but also 'standing on two feet like a man'.

    From puruṣa we are most familiar as the Supreme, as it is used as the the the first amoung all beings, the soul and original source of the universe and some call nārāyaṇa
    ( nāra +āyaṇa is key here and can bring this up at another time).

    If we were talking the sāṃkhya philosophy then this puruṣa is that Supreme but passive spectator of prakṛti, or creative force.


    Now there is one anther way to view this word that I am most fond of and is found in the bṛhadaraṇyaka upaniṣad - puruṣavidha-brāhmaṇa, 1st śloka.
    I will only quote one part of the śloka that says, before all this ( as the ṛṣi is talking about ' in the beginning' ) He was the first who burnt all evils therefore (he became known as ) puruṣa.
    This puruṣa if we do a little digging is etymologically connected to pūrvam uṣā - pūrvam = former , prior , preceding , previous to , earlier than + uṣā = burning , scorching and a list of other things like daybreak, early moring as the sun burns off the night. Hence from pūrvam + uṣā we arrive at pūruṣa , and the appropriateness of this used in the śloka that was offered.

    For me there is also a nice connect to pūṣan we know from the ṛg ved as He is originally connected with the sun , and therefore the surveyor of all things. I see a nice etymological connect of pūruṣa and pūṣan, but will leave it for another time.

    What do we know of this pūruṣa ?

    oṁ sahasra̍śīrṣā puru̍ṣaḥ sahasrākśaḥ sahasra̍pāt
    sa bhūmi̍ṁ viśvato̍ vṛtvā atya̍tiṣṭaddaśāṅgulam ||

    What is called out in this śloka is sahasra = 1,000 . So this says puruṣa has 1,000 heads, a 1,000 eyes and 1,000 feet. Now does He really have this?

    It is another way the seer (ṛṣi nārāyaṇa) of this great hymn tells us puruṣa is everywhere and even beyond that . He says this in the hymn by saying beyond the span of 10 (daśā) fingers (aṅgula). When people say 'beyond' is also can mean transcend.

    Not only is this puruṣa everywhere ( some like to say, there is no-where He is not) He also is beyond and transcends all that there is, beyond the span of 10 fingers. You will read some say 10 inches. This is not what the śloka says but is understood at times people use the width of a finger to suggest 1 inch.

    So , what does this imply ? If He is everywhere, there is no need for any movement of puruṣa because there is no place for Him to go that He is not there already, no?
    And if he is everywhere, He has feet and arms and legs and fingers everywhere, is He not your fingers, arms , legs of all beings?

    praṇām
    Last edited by yajvan; 06 July 2010 at 07:11 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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