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In Hindu theology, Paramatman is the Absolute Atman or Supreme Soul or Spirit (also known as Supersoul or Oversoul) in the Vedanta and Yoga philosophies of India. Paramatman is one of the aspects of Brahman: "Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan." [1]

Also known as the divine self or the one object, Paramatman is situated in the heart of every individual jiva in the macrocosm. Rigveda[2] and Upanishads compare Atman and Paramatman to two birds sitting like friends on a tree (body). Atman eats its fruits (karma) and Paramatman only observes his friend as a witness (sākşhī) of his actions.


The word stem paramātman (परमात्मन्, pronounced [pərəmaːtmən], its nominative singular being paramātmā — परमात्मा, pronounced [pərəmaːtmaː]) is formed from two words, param, meaning "supreme" or "highest", and atman, which means individual spirit or soul or self.


Paramatman is beyond knowledge and ignorance, devoid of all material attributes (upadhi). In Vaishnava texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, ch. 13, it is described as four-armed Lord Vishnu residing in the hearts of all beings and in every atom of matter. He is the overseer and the permitter of their actions[3] and reminds him how to act according to his advancement.[4] Paramatman is different from five elements (mahabhutas), senses, mind, pradhana and jiva.[5]

In today's Hinduism, the word Paramātmā is invariably used to refer to God, interchangeably with Ishvara (the Supreme Lord) and Bhagavan (divine, holy). The word invariably conjures the concept of the infinite, non-corporeal God in a monotheistic sense to today's Hindus, even though Bhagavan etc. may be applied as epithets to many devas or the demi-gods of Hinduism. Some, like sect of Brahma Kumaris, like to visualize Paramatman as a point of light [How to reference and link to summary or text].

In Advaita philosophy, individual souls are called Jīvātman, and the Highest Brahman is called Paramātman; the Jivatman and the Paramatman become one and the same when the Jivatman attains the true knowledge of the Brahman.

Compare with the Inuit deity Silla and Ralph Waldo Emerson's idea of the "Over Soul"

See also

  • Names of God
  • Tree of Jiva and Atman


  1. Bhagavata Purana 1.2.11
  2. Rig Veda 1.164.20-22
  3. Bhagavad Gita 13.23
  4. Bhagavata Purana 7.14.38
  5. Bhagavata Purana 3.28.41

External links

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