Jiva, jivātman

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Jiva or jivātman literally means ‘individual soul’. Jiva is derived from the root-verb ‘jīv’ which means ‘having life’ and means any living being. However, in the philosophical systems the words jīva and jīvātman represent the individual soul in bondage, subject to the cycle of transmigration.

Contrasting Views of Philosophical Systems[edit]

There are different opinions about the nature and number of the jīva-s among the various systems. If the advaita system considers the jīva as vibhu or all-pervading and ultimately identical with Brahman, other systems consider it as aṇu or atomic in size, infinite in number and completely different from Brahman.

Content of Jīva[edit]

In the state of bondage, the jīva has:

  1. Three śariras (bodies)
  2. Five kośas (sheaths)
  3. Three avasthās (states of consciousness)

Types of Śariras[edit]

Jīva is made of three types of śariras. They are:

  1. Sthulaśarira (gross body)
  2. Liṅga or sukṣmaśarīra (subtle body)
  3. Kāraṇaśarīra (causal body)

Types of Kośas[edit]

Jīva is also made of five kośas. They are:

  1. Annamayakośa
  2. Prāṇamayakośa
  3. Manomayakośa
  4. Vijñānamayakośa
  5. Ānandamayakośa

Types of Avasthās[edit]

The body is made of three kinds of avasthās. They are:

  1. Jāgrat
  2. Svapna
  3. Suṣupti


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore