Jiva -soul

In this and future posts, I will deal with some important concepts in Indian philosophy. today, we shall begin with Soul/ Jiva/ Aatma


Generally the popular notion of jiva is inspired from the Orthodox school ( Vedanta). In it, the jiva is eternal, conscious, perfect being. In its awakened form, it is identical to Brahman. Sankhya philosophy believes in a soul which is eternal and conscious but not perfect. It is called purusha.

But this is just one notion of soul. There is also a heterodox school which challenged the vedantic soul. It contains buddhist, Jainism , carvaka , nyaya philosophy.

Carvaka goes to the other extreme of the spectrum.they believe in materialism.so, soul is matter which perishes when one dies. Buddhism considers a middle path where the soul is permanent and changeable like a stream with shows oldness and movement too. Jain thinkers consider soul as having ignorance, pain , pleasure and also consciousness. Nyaya philosophy considers consciousness to be a trait that comes from the object outside.

Soul is important for ethics in Indian philosophy. A unawakened soul is in the state of ignorance, envy,clinging. It is caught in cycle of life and death which causes klesha ( suffering ). For liberation( mukti), the devotee has to undertake ethical conduct( not stealing, celibacy, speaking truth, sacrificing), knowledge ( of freedom and bondage), physical exercises( asanas), devotion( bhakti ) and constant meditation of mind. The liberation paths also vary as per the schools. Carvaka fails in this aspect as it believes in a perishable soul. it promotes hedonism which can degrade into narrow individualism, selfishness and bondage to the world.

India has celebrated its diversity, not just in popular culture; but even in ancient philosophy.


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