Athma (Soul) and Paramathma (Supersoul)- Differences!
Yashoda Devi Dasi asked like this:
“I dont understand then why the Supersoul looks like Visnu? And Paramatma is a person with four hands?
(i) Śyāmasundara: And Paramātmā—is Paramātmā a person?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Paramātmā is a person. Every expansion—just like we are also expansion, atomic expansion of Kṛṣṇa. So we are persons. Every individual soul is a person. But we are expansion of Kṛṣṇa. Paramātmā is another expansion, viṣṇu-tattva. Rāmādi mūrtiṣu. That is another expansion, different kinds of expansions.
(ii) The Supersoul, the Paramatma, has legs and hands everywhere, but the individual soul does not. (The purport for BG, 13.23)”
Let us discuss in detail about Athma (Soul) and Paramathma (Supersoul) in this Post. After reading, you can understand how the mayavadic concept of “Athma (Soul) and Paramathma (Supersoul) are the same” is baseless and false.
The above mentioned quote in the question comes in the 13th chapter that speaks about the Supreme enjoyer, Nature, Consciousness, etc.
(WORSHIPING KRISHNA AS A PERSON AND AS PARAMATHMA – READ THE DIFFERENCE HERE!)
Actually, Krishna mentions Himself, ie, Supreme Person as Paramathma or supersoul here.
Paramathma is a person, but, He is pervading like a Formless Person inside our hearts. We mention Paramathma as formless because He is so subtle that He can not be seen by our eyes. Nothing else.
Since He can not pervade as Krishna Himself, He has spread in a subtle form as Paramathma inside our body. He is existing as a Person in His kingdom.
The major doubt here is that Paramathma is said to have hands and legs, but, Jeevathma does not have.
This is to be seen as explained below:
Athma (Soul) has limited potency and freedom.
(Why Krishna does not correct us if He is within our hearts? READ HERE!)
Paramathma (Supersoul) has unlimited potency and freedom that can pervade everywhere.
The God, ie, The Absolute Truth exists in three Phases:
Brahman, Paramatama, and Bhagavan.
Out of these three, Paramathma and Bhagavan are the Persons.
(When Krishna instructs a person to help others, how can we say that Krishna does not direct us as Paramathma from heart? Read Here!)
Paramathma is the form of Krishna who is living along with the athma, ie, individual soul, inside the heart of every living being. That is, Paramatma is the Krishna’s expansion as the Supersoul within our heart.
Bhagavan is the form that we call as Krishna who is living in His kingdom.
Brahman is not a person. It is Nirguna, ie, No Gunas. It is the space of light coming from the body of Krishna. So, it is clear that Brahman does not have any interactions with the athma, ie, soul, ie ourselves.
Since Paramathma and Bhagavan have forms and live within our heart and Goloka Vrindavana, there is a difference between athma and Paramathma (or) Soul and Supersoul.
Bhagavan can be directly seen by us when we are qualified to go to His kingdom.
Whereas, the form of Paramathma of the Supreme Person exists within us just as a sakshi, ie, witness for all our actions.
Krishna simultaneously exists both in Goloka Vrindavana as bhagavan as well as our heart as Paramathma (Supersoul).
(HOW KRISHNA’s GOLOKA VRINDAVAN AND VAIKUNTA WILL BE? A DESCRIPTION HERE!)
So, Paramathma is a person though invisible for our eyes. He is closely watching our activities and remaining as a witness for all our activities.
He is encouraging and expecting every individual soul to think of coming back to Himself.
But, since the individual soul has some limited freedom to decide his course of actions, getting induced by maya, ie, material elements, he conditions himself in materialistic enjoyments to have limited pleasures and pains.
When he feels pains, he is longing for pleasures. When he feels pleasures, he forgets the pains. Thus, he is wasting this rare opportunity to think of the highest eternal status he can achieve as a servant of Krishna in His own Kingdom.
So, Krishna, as Paramathma gives him from within what he wants to enjoy this material pleasures and pains.
When that soul thinks of Krishna after facing the reality of this material life, Krishna takes him to Himself by helping him to get prepared to think of Krishna all the time.
(Nature Of Athma (Soul): Can the athma (Soul) feel, see, speak and work? READ HERE!)
Krishna, while describing about the Supreme Person, He calls Himself as Paramathma (Supersoul).
Even while describing the vishvarupa darshan of Krishna, Sanjaya too saw so many legs, hands, etc in the in the fearful darshan of Krishna.
In Bhagavad Gita 13.14 also, Krishna Himself says the same thing that the Paramathma has legs, hands, etc EVERYWHERE, whereas, the individual soul does not have any leg or hands that can be spread all over. Literally this verse means that the Supersoul can expand His potency all over the creations by being in a place like the sun spreads rays all over.
Individual soul can not exist as Paramathma. So, an individual soul can not spread his hands or legs all over. Its features are limited.
Paramathma (Supersoul) is unlimited in his capability and features. He is pervading everywhere including in the living beings like Brahma deva and small ants.
Krishna, who is the Paramathma (Supersoul), spreads His many features all over.
This is what mentioned in this chapter of Bhagavad Gita.
An individual soul can not have legs, hands, etc that pervaded everywhere.
(If Krishna directs us as Paramathma from our heart as per Gita, does He direct our bad deeds also? READ HERE!)
A soul can accept a body from the material elements according to his needs and the purpose for which he has been given birth. A soul can not act himself as a body.
But, Supersoul can ACTIUALLY SHOW Himself as Paramathma as well as an acting person. He does not require a material body like we have.
Ok, individual soul is visible when it accepts a body of material elements.
Why don’t the supersoul appear for our eyes?
Interestingly, in this same 13th chapter, Krishna says in the verse 16:
“The Supreme truth exists outside and inside of all living beings, the moving and non moving. Because He is subtle, He is beyond the Power of the material senses to see or to know. ALTHOUGH FAR FAR AWAY, HE IS ALSO NEAR TO ALL”
(My father being a sunyavadi discourages me from Krishna Consciousness. What to do? READ HERE!)
Interesting. The Paramathma (Supersoul) is far far away from us, ie in Goloka vrindavana. At the same time, He is near to all as Paramathma who is living in our hearts.
This establishes that Krishna and Paramathma (Supersoul) are the same. He is Paramathma (Supersoul) when He is within our body itself. He is Krishna when He is residing in Goloka Vrindavana.
This differentiates Paramathma from Brahman.
Simply, Brahman is not a person.
But, Paramathma is Krishna Himself who has pervaded within our hearts.
Paramathma (Supersoul) can pervade His hands and legs everywhere; Athma, the soul can not.
That’s all. Simple.
Hope you enjoyed the analysis of the 13th chapter of Bhagavad Gita and knew the differences between Athma (Soul) and Paramathma (Supersoul).
(Krishna, Paramathma and Brahmam – Who is the Origin? A-Z Details! READ HERE!)