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Jiva (Samskrit: जीवः), literally means a living being, in Indian philosophical thought it is a technical term closest to what is called “person” in contemporary psychology. It is commonly conceived as a knower (jñātā), enjoyer/sufferer (bhoktā), and agent (kartā). Jiva is studied in various dimensions such as biological, physiological, intellectual, psychological and metaphysical levels. A Jiva has a distinct psychological identity different from the concepts of purusha and brahman simply because of the vrittis of the manas and the buddhi, both of which are unique to him, a human being. Human motives, attitudes and aptitudes, desires, wishes and longings, which are also sources of behavior, have roots beyond physiological factors. In addition to the psycho-physical side, humans have a psycho-spiritual side. Human functioning is a product of the two and not an exclusive outcome of one or the other. 
परिचयः ॥ Introduction
In the Upanishads, we find that in the Indian concept self, the ātman appears to be closely associated with the concepts of purusha and jiva variously designating the individual person. Sometimes the term ātman is used in conjunction with other words that indicate the main features of the person:
- as a living self (jīvātmā)
- as embodied self (śārīra ātmā)
- material self (bhūtātmā)
These ideas provide the basis for the model of the person as a composite of body–mind–consciousness.
The Chāndogya Upanishad, uses the term jīva to designate a human being as an integral part of the cosmic order. A human being is not merely confined to the appearance it projects, that is, the physical contours and aspects of the body. It is a collection of three bodies (sthula, sukshma and karana shariras) encompassing the gross elements to the subtle layers of the mind (panchakoshas) that act as encasements for the true Self. The Taittiriya Upanishad presents the Vedic conceptualization of the mind-body complex, i.e., jiva. Put differently, a human being is defined based on the mind-body complex, which is not distinct, and exists on a continuum from gross to subtle levels.
व्युतपत्तिः ॥ Etymology
According to the Dhatupatha of Maharshi Panini, Jiva (जीव) is used in the sense of प्राणधारणे । bearing life. Thus all living beings are called Jivas, having the six characteristics (shad-bhavavikaras) such as being born, growth etc.
In the Darshana shastras, Jiva is described as Vibhu (विभुः) or all pervading by the Sankhya, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Yoga and Advaita Vedanta philosophies, while Ramanujacharya and others describe Jiva to be of the size of Anu (अणुप्ररिमाण) or of atomic size.
स च जीवो विभुरिति साङ्ख्यनैयायिकवैशेषिकपातञ्जलवेदान्तिनः । अणुप्ररिमाण इति रामानुजादयः । Vachaspatyam 
In the Shabdakalpadhruma, the following shlokas defining Jiva are mentioned from Brahmavaivarta Purana
जीवः कर्मफलं भुङ्क्ते आत्मा निर्लिप्त एव च ।। १३ ।। आत्मनः प्रतिबिम्बं च देही जीवः स एव च ।। पाञ्चभौतिकरूपश्च देहो नश्वर एव च।।१४।। प्राणदेहादिभृद्यो हि स जीवः परिकीर्त्तितः।।२२।।
Summary: A person has to experience the fruits of his karmaphala, while the Atman remain detached from the same. A Jiva is the reflection of Atman as well as embodied. The body consists of the five elements and is perishable. The one who bears the life and the body is called the Jiva.
Defining Characteristics of Jiva
The ātman/self concept in the Upanishads permits three basic interpretations,
- Self - Atman as in Brahman, the Universal or Supreme Self.
- self - Atman as the sentient principle, consciousness-as-such (or pure consciousness) that enables one to be conscious, to know, feel, enjoy and suffer but has no agentic function attributed to it. It is the witnessing self. Jīvasākṣin in AdvaitaVedānta and puruṣa in Sāṁkhya-Yoga system approximate to this use.
- self - Atman as in the empirical sense of Jiva (some call it as Jivatma), refers the individual agentic self, the one who knows, feels and does things.
Jiva is synonymous with Dehi, Purusha, Kshetrajna etc., based on usage in different texts.
In Prashnopanishad, Maharshi Pippalada describes the self as Purusha with sixteen parts. The activities of a Purusha are explained
एष हि द्रष्टा स्प्रष्टा श्रोता घ्राता रसयिता मन्ता बोद्धा कर्ता विज्ञानात्मा पुरुषः । स परेऽक्षर आत्मनि सम्प्रतिष्ठते ॥ ४.९॥ (Pras. Upan. 4.9)
Verily this seer (द्रष्टा । one who sees), toucher (स्प्रष्टा), hearer (श्रोता), the smeller (घ्राता), the taster (रसयिता), the thinker (मन्ता), the knower (बोद्धा), the doer (कर्ता), the conscious self (विज्ञानात्मा), this person (पुरुषः - here refers to the instantiation of Jiva) - becomes established in the imperishable Supreme Self (the Brahman or Paramatman) (4.9).
Here the qualities of Purusha may be looked at two levels - the individual level of instantiation (Jiva) and the cosmic level of creator Parabrahman (Hiranyagarbha, Ishvara etc).
It is commonly discussed in Vedanta, Ayurveda and Yoga that the Jiva is credited with
- Sharira traya: The three bodies, the Karana (causal), Sukshma (subtle) and Sthoola (gross) bodies. The three bodies are where the five sheaths reside.
- Four states of Consciousness: Jagrut, Svapna, Sushupta and Turiya
- Pancha koshas: The five koshas are viz., Anandamaya (ananda), Vijnanamaya (buddhi), Manomaya (manas), Pranamaya (pranas), and Annamaya (anna). These koshas are not distinct sections; instead they coexist and interact with each other.
|1||Annamaya (physicality)||Body and material existence||Sthula sharira (gross body) made of Anna or food.|
|2||Pranamaya (vitality)||Flow of energy||Sukshma sharira or Linga Sharira (subtle body) Includes five sense organs, organs of action, five pranas, Manas, and Buddhi (17 tattvas)|
|3||Manomaya (emotionality)||Information processing, emotions and engenders the egoistic strivings, dualities, and distinctions|
|4||Vijnanamaya (cognition)||Ratiocination and cognition and involves ideas and concepts to know the world|
|5||Anandamaya||Pure joy and wellbeing, profound relaxation||Karana Sharira (causal body)|
अङ्गुष्ठमात्रो रवितुल्यरूपः सङ्कल्पाहङ्कारसमन्वितो यः । बुद्धेर्गुणेनात्मगुणेन चैव आराग्रमात्रोऽप्यपरोऽपि दृष्टः ॥ ८ ॥ (Shve. Upan. 5.8)
That Self (आत्म) which is of the size of the thumb (अङ्गुष्ठमात्र) subtle as the tip of a goad (आराग्रमात्र - tip most point of goad), pure and self effulgent like the Sun (रवितुल्यरूपः), and is associated with desires and egoism (सङ्कल्पाहङ्कारसमन्वित), as also with the qualities of intellect (बुद्धेर्गुणेन) and with those of the body (आत्मगुणेन) is perceived as though different (from Brahman as the individual form - Jiva). Further, the text explains - that Jiva is to be known as subtle as a hair point divided and subdivided hundreds of times. Yet he is potentially infinite.
नैव स्त्री न पुमानेष न चैवायं नपुंसकः । यद्यच्छरीरमादत्ते तेने तेने स युज्यते ॥ १० ॥ सङ्कल्पनस्पर्शनदृष्टिमोहैर्ग्रासांबुवृष्ट्यात्मविवृद्धिजन्म । कर्मानुगान्यनुक्रमेण देही स्थानेषु रूपाण्यभिसम्प्रपद्यते ॥ ११ ॥ (Shve. Upan. 5.10-11)
This is neither female, nor male, nor neuter. Whatever body is assumed, the Jiva becomes identified with that. Next the question - why does one adopt the bodies - is explained. By pouring in of food and drink comes about the growth of the body. Through the process of sankalpana- sparshana-drishti-mohaih (सङ्कल्पनस्पर्शनदृष्टिमोहै), i.e., through thought, touch, vision each leading successively to delusion, are undertaken actions (karma) good and bad. From that, in accordance with the actions, dehi (देही) the embodied one, the mortal, assumes different forms in succession (depending on the fruits of karma).
स्थूलानि सूक्ष्माणि बहूनि चैव रूपाणि देही स्वगुणैर्वृणोति । क्रियागुणैरात्मगुणैश्च तेषां संयोगहेतुरपरोऽपि दृष्टः ॥ १२ ॥ (Shve. Upan. 5.12)
The embodied one adopts gross and subtle bodies as also many others through its own tendencies formed by the experiences of sanctioned and prohibited things.
Jiva is thus one with a sense of self or ego and a capacity for imagination (saṁkalpa-ahaṁkāra-samanvito), endowed with an intellect (buddhi), an agent of his deeds (karma-kartā), and enjoyer of their fruits (upabhoktā).
Jiva and Indian Psychology
Indian psychology involves the study of the Jiva (जीवः) referred to in Vedanta (sometimes as Jivatma), as a composite human being. As per Vedanta, a jiva is conceived as a multilayered living entity, consisting of body (Sharira), mind (Manas), and consciousness (Atman). A summary of the features of Jiva is as follows
- Jiva is an embodied one having three shariras
- is made of five sheaths
- has different states of consciousness (jagrat, svapna, sushupta and turiya)
- a knower (jñātā) (cognition)
- an enjoyer/sufferer (bhoktā) (volition)
- and agent of action (kartā)
- one who can follow the paths of unattached karma, jnana, bhakti
- one who goes through the cycles of birth and death
- one who has the faculty to realize the True Self.
- Body refers to the nervous system, the senses (Indriyas), and associated structures connected with the brain. Body is the source of natural appetites, which translate themselves into desires, urges, cravings, and longings in the mind.
- Mind (manas) is the hypothetical cognitive instrument related to the body at one end and consciousness at the other.
- Consciousness is conceived to be irreducibly distinct from body and mind. It constitutes the nonphysical aspect of the person. It is the source of subjectivity and the very base of one’s experience of being, knowing, and feeling.
From the functional point of view a person functions at three different levels using the above three parts of the composite.
- A person is capable of processing information from the sense-organs through the instrumentalities of the body. This may be called the level of observation. Thus the sense organs are data collection points situated in the gross aspect of Jiva, namely the body.
- A person is capable of thinking, feeling and acting based on the mind's processing of information received from the sense-organs. This level of understanding is facilitated by the functioning of the mind. The mind is the data processor situated in the subtle aspect of Jiva.
- A person's mental faculties after appropriate sadhana, participate with the consciousness as-such (the Atman) relatively, if not absolutely, free from the bodily processes or their influence. This level is transcognitive realization of truth. In such a state, a person experiences the consciousness as-such, becomes aware of the truth, self, and of what is real.
The concepts of shravana (literally hearing, but can be equated with observation in general), manana (thinking/understanding), and nididhyasana (meditative realization) roughly correspond to the three levels of knowing. At the level of shravana and manana, observations and understanding, there is a basic distinction between subject and object and thought and action. Knowing and being are dissociated. In meditative realization, a state achieved by nidhidhyasana, the distinction between subject and object disappears; thought and action, knowing and being blend into each other.
Body, mind, and consciousness are not only conceptually distinct, but are also mutually irreducible in the human context. Consciousness is qualitatively different from the body and the mind with which it may be associated. For this reason, though it is associated with a mind at a given time, it does not interact with it. The body and the mind, unlike consciousness, are physical; and they can interact with each other and are influenced by each other. However, it is important to note that a mind cannot be reduced into its physical constituents and a body cannot be transformed into a mind even though they influence each other within a person. They function differently. From this perspective, the body is conceived as gross matter that permits disintegration. However, mind being a subtle form of matter is not constrained by spatiotemporal variables in the same manner as the gross body does. The body disintegrates irretrievably at death. The mind, however, has the potential to survive bodily death.
Jiva in Various Texts
Ishvara and Jiva ॥ Rigveda
The concept of death and punarjanma (rebirth) is found to be expressed in the Rigveda (5.1.16). And the words which denote soul in the Rig Veda are manas, atman and asu according to Dr. S. N. Dasgupta. These are the foundational thoughts which developed later into siddhantas in the darshana shastras and came to represent the transcendental concept in the Upanishads. Earlier texts discussed consciousness as a unit of "collective selves" of the beings which later came to be attributed to the "individual self." In the Rigveda, the rudimentary tattvas corresponding to both Advaita and Dvaita siddhantas are described. Dyava-prthvi originated from the One Supreme Paramatma, yet the same one entity became many-fold in beings and matter as the reflection of Paramatma, applying the analogy of Bimba- pratibimba (reflection of one into many), owing to Maya. Thus, the Vedas propound both the unity of Ishvara and Jiva and the existence of a difference between them. The famous mantra in Rigveda poetically and esoterically depicts the relationship of Jivatma and Paramatma in a profound way.
द्वा सुपर्णा सयुजा सखाया समानं वृक्षं परि षस्वजाते । तयोरन्यः पिप्पलं स्वाद्वत्त्यनश्नन्नन्यो अभि चाकशीति ॥२०॥ (1.164.20)
Summary- Two birds of beautiful plumage, who are inseparable friends, reside on the same tree. Of these, one relishes and eats the fruits of the tree while the other looks on without eating.
The two birds referred to in this highly poetic passage are the individual soul (Jiva) and the Supreme Soul (Paramatman). They are said to be inseparable friends, as the Advaitins would interpret the passage, the Jiva is only an image of the Paramatman thrown upon the mind; or, the Dvaitins may interpret it in the dualistic sense, as the relationship of love existing between God and the soul, and the dependence of the latter on the former, are eternal. The fruits of the tree are the results of one’s Karma, or past actions, which are performed with the help of the body. Out of attachment the individual soul clings to these fruits of actions, and suffers the consequences, good as well as bad, in successive embodiments ; but the Lord, its companion bird on the tree of this body, remains non-attached to actions and their fruits, being the mere witness of this cosmic play.
Characteristics of Jiva ॥ Jiva in Upanishads
The nature of Jiva - nityata (नित्यता), ajanma (अजन्मा) and amrtyu (अमृत्यु) have been laid down in the Chandogya and Katha Upanishads.
जीवापेतं वात किलेदं म्रियते न जीवो म्रियते। (Chan. Upan. 6.11.3)
The body devoid of life force (Jiva) undergoes death and not the Jivatma. Kathopanishad expounds that the intellectual form of Jivatma is neither born nor dies. One that is never born, which is always present and exists does not perish when the physical body disintegrates.
न जायते म्रियते वा विपश्विन्नायं कुतश्चिन्न बभूवकश्रित। अजो नित्यं शाश्चतोऽयं पुराणो न हन्यमानो शरीरे।। (Kath. Upan. 1.2.17)
Jivatma is described as the eternal consciousness, and is a hence called a knower.
जीवब्रह्मैक्यं ॥ Goal of Jiva in Advaita Siddhanta
Panchadasi by Swami Vidyaranya outlines the concept of Jiva as presented in the Advaita Siddhanta.
The bliss-nature (Ananda-svarupa) of the Atman is not fully or clearly comprehended, (though there is apprehension) by all, because there is an impediment in the way. Avidya (nescience), which is an aspect of prakrti, hides the real nature and clouds its apprehension.
Prakriti - The three gunas, sattva, rajas and tamas, in a state of equipoise united with the reflection of Brahman, is called Prakrti (चिदानन्दमयब्रह्मप्रतिबिम्बसमन्विता).
चिदानन्दमयब्रह्मप्रतिबिम्बसमन्विता । तमोरजःसत्त्वगुणा प्रकृतिर्द्विविधा च सा ॥ १५॥ (Panc. 1.15)
When the equilibrium is disturbed the empirical world (Jagat) is produced. Prakriti is called pure when the sattva is predominant, and impure when the sattva is obscured by the other two gunas. The potential condition of matter is postulated as Prakriti. When creation takes place it becomes kinetic, differentiating itself into the Gunas, the constituents of primordial matter.
सत्त्वशुद्धाविशुद्धिभ्यां मायाऽविद्ये च ते मते । मायाबिम्बोवशीकृत्य तां स्यात्सर्वज्ञ ईश्वरः ॥ १६॥ (Panc. 1.16) अविद्यावशगस्त्वन्यस्तद्वैचित्र्यादनेकधा । सा कारणशरीरं स्यात्प्राज्ञस्तत्राभिमानवान् ॥ १७॥ (Panc. 1.17)
Ishvara - The pure-sattva-predominant prakrti is called Maya and the reflection of Brahman in Maya is known as Ishvara, who has Maya under his control and is Omniscient.
Jiva - The impure-sattva (mixed with rajas and tamas) predominant prakriti is called Avidya, and the reflection of Brahman in Avidya is termed Jiva. Dependent on the different degrees of admixture of Rajas and Tamas with Sattva, there arise different grades of Jivas (e.g., devatas, men, lower animas etc.,). Avidya is also spoken of as the karana-sharira, the causal body - causal because of its being one of the states of Prakriti and body because of its liability to destruction when there arises the knowledge of the reality of Brahman. When the Jiva identifies himself with the karana sharira and develops Abhimana (egoism - identification with something that is not himself) he is known as Prajna. Maya is the causal body (karana-sarira) of Isvara, whereas avidya is the causal body of the jiva which because of its affection for avidya, is designated prajna (as it is the illuminator of individual ignorance).
Origin of Jiva/Jivas - According to the will power of Isvara, all five elements combine with one another in a fixed ratio to make themselves perceived in the phenomenal world as living beings. Ordained by Ishvara, Prakriti with Tamas predomination, gives rise to the Panchamahabhutas (the five gross elemental principles namely, akasha, vayu, agni, jala and prthvi) to evolve Prajnas (Jivas) in a subsequent stage of evolution to experience pleasure and pain. From the Sattva part of these principal elements, there arose the five subtle sense-organs of hearing, sight, taste, and smell. From the sattva aspect of all elements is derived the internal organ, Antahkarana which owing to a difference in function, is divided into two - Manas (mind) which deliberates (vimarsha) and Buddhi (intellect) which decides. All embodied beings have their senses naturally directed outwards and are devoid of the true knowledge of their inner self. When Pragna and Ishvara form attachments with the Sukshma sharira (subtle-body), it comes to be called Taijasa (single subtle body) and Hiranyagarbha (all subtle bodies). It is through this subtle body, that Jiva experiences the emotions, joys, sorrows, pleasure and pain etc. Again Taijasa becoming attached to individual gross body is known as Vishva and Hiranyagarbha attached to the collective gross bodies is designated as Vaishvanara. Thus are formed the Vishva (Jiva) and the Vaishvanara (Ishvara) who controls the Jiva.
Relationship of Jiva and Atman - In Advaita a clear distinction is made between ātman not encumbered by the mind and the embodied consciousness in jīva. The former is called sākṣin or witness consciousness. Jīva is seen as distinct and different from sākṣin (witness consciousness). Whereas the jīva goes through the illusory experiences enacted by the mind, sākṣin is a mere witness. The sākṣin is not a product of experience. It is the continuing witness of the changing mental life of the embodied being. There are slightly different views among the Advaita thinkers about the relation between jīva (individual consciousness) and sākṣin (witness consciousness). The essential difference between the two appears to be that the mind (antaḥkaraṇa) is the attribute of individual consciousness (jīva), whereas it is merely a limitation (upādhi) of witness consciousness (sākṣin). It is important to note that in Advaita the individual person is neither part of, nor different from, nor a modification of the Brahman (supreme consciousness). It is the Ātman itself shrouded in avidyā or ignorance. The upādhis, the mental processes within us, limit the understanding of the Ātman.
Course of life of a Jiva - The jiva, deluded by avidya and identifying itself with the sharira-traya, thinks that it is the enjoyer of the sweets and bitters of empirical life. It acts in order to enjoy and enjoys in order to act. Like the worms which are carried away in the current from one whirlpool to another the jiva is driven from birth to death and from death to birth in the cycle of empirical existence. An escape from this vicious circle is effected by the light of wisdom. When the jiva tears open the sheaths of ignorance, the inner reality is realized. Individual Jivas, the many selves/beings are to be realized as the reflections of sun and moon on water, as mere appearance, and are reflections of the one reality, Brahman. A jiva is given the options to choose the path of attaining Ananda. Thus moksha is a conscious effort oriented path to be undertaken by a Jiva.
The goal of a Jiva as per Advaita Vedanta can be summarized as follows from Vedantasara
विषयः जीवब्रह्मैक्यं शुद्धचैतन्यं प्रमेयं तत्र एव वेदान्तानां तात्पर्यात् ॥ २७॥ (Veda. Sara. 27)
The subject (of vedanta) is the identity of Jiva and Brahman, which is of the nature of Pure Intelligence and is to be realized.
जीवगणाः हरेरनुचराः ॥ Jivas and Lord Vishnu in Dvaita Siddhanta
Madhavacharya's Dvaita philosophy considers the Jiva to be a real entity unlike the Advaita philisophy. According to Dvaita, Lord Vishnu is the all-knowing and possessed of all adequate and unrestricted powers in regard to the chit and achit (sentient and insentient reals) which are of different nature from Him. It asserts that the Jiva and Atman are real and are not identical.
Nature of Jivas - The Dvaita philosophy advocates two cardinal doctrines about Jivas along with the basis of Bheda which is another fundamental concept explaining the material world and its relationship with Jiva and Brahman.
- जीवगणाः हरेरनुचराः - The manifold embodied Jivas are all dependent on Lord Visnu
- जीवगणाः नीचोच्चभावं गताः - The embodied Jivas are inherently graded as higher and lower (mainly three-fold)
- तत्त्वतो भेदः - The five-fold difference is fundamental.
Brahman - Brahman exists by Himself and is independent, is the ground of the world of chetana and achetana. Chit and Achit are dependent on Brahman for their form and function. The Supreme Being, enters into various stages of evolution of matter and brings about each and every manifestation of things, Himself.
तत्र तत्र स्थितो विष्णुतत्तच्छक्तिप्रबोधकः। एक एव महाशक्तिः कुरुते सर्वमंजसा।। (Madhava Brahmasutra Bhashya, 2.3.11)
Universe is real - The firm foundation on which the ultimate reality of this material world depends, is the anubhuti of consolidated human experience and on the evidence of logical reasoning. Madhavacharya quotes as follows
- विश्वं सत्यं - Rigveda (2.24.6) - the universe is real
- यच्चिकेत सत्यमित्तन्न मोघं - Rigveda (10.55.6) God's creation is all real, not false.
- कविर्मनीषी परिभूः स्वयम्भूर्याथातथ्यतोऽर्थान् व्यदधाच्छाश्वतीभ्यः समाभ्यः ॥ Ishopanishad (8) God is omniscient, the controller of all minds, omnipresent and independent. He created real things in their proper forms eternally. The world is the creation of Ishvara.
It is therefore to be given an indisputable reality in the sense of being 'anaropitam' (non superimposed as against Advaita Vedanta) and pramitivishayah (being an object of valid experience), although impermanent and subject to change and modifications. The reality of the material world is naturally based on the concept of 'difference' which in its five-fold aspect, constitutes the "pra-pancha."
भेदः or Difference - Difference is one of the pivotal concepts of Madhavacharya's ontology. There is a five-fold difference or panchabheda, namely, the difference between
- Brahman and the Jiva
- Brahman and the Jada
- Jiva and Jiva
- Jiva and Jada
- Jada and Jada
Plurality and Eternity of Jivas - Madhavacharya psychology posits an infinity of eternal Jivas which are viseshas and not viseshanas, each having its own existence due to its yogyata or disposition. On their basis of yogyata, they are classified into muktiyogya, tamoyogyata and misra jivas. The first are the satvic jivas that are eternally free. The second type is tamasic or evil-minded, and they choose the way of sin and eternal damnation. The third type is intermediate, and though they do evil, they can choose the satvika path and attain mukti.
Dvaita philosophy has its fruition in the religious realisation of God and the attainment of Visnuloka. Though mukti is freedom from the ills of samsara, there are differences in the enjoyment of the bliss of Brahman, determined by the peculiarity of each jiva. The idea that mukti connotes the identity of the jiva and Brahman or similarity between the two is opposed to the eternal difference between the creator and the creature. The means of attaining mukti includes physical, moral and spiritual disciplines based on the Upanisadic injunctions of sravana, manana and nididhyasana. They have their consummation in bhakti which has its completion in divine grace.
Jiva in Visishtadvaita Siddhanta
Shri. Ramanujacharya's Visishtadvaita siddhanta, asserts that the self (Atman or consciousness-as-such) is different from the body-mind-sense complex and that it is real and eternal. While Advaita advocates the identity and unity of Atman and Brahman, Ramanujacharya emphasizes that the relationship between the self (Jivasakshin in Advaita) and Brahman is not that of identity. Any assertion of such absolute identity amounts to complete ignorance of the individual person according to this siddhanta. Inasmuch as pain and pleasure afflict different persons differently, he asserts, there must be different selves among different individuals. Though the self is similar to Brahman, it is not the same because the latter comprises of all the selves collectively. The all encompassing Brahman, the one Supreme Reality, comprises of all the individual selves as well as the material objects in the universe, which are equally real. The selves and the material things are related to Brahman as attributes to a substance. Ramanujacharya agrees that the individual selves suffer limitations due to ignorance and lack of correct knowledge (Avidya). Brahman is identified with God. The self in the person is neither independent of nor identical with God. It is a manifestation and transformation of God. The self is the subject as well as the object of knowing. Consciousness, however, is not the same as the self. 
Visishtadvaitic psychology has a metaphysical basis, and refers to a plurality of eternal and immutable jivas having jnana as their essential attribute. The jiva is an atomic or infinitesimal entity, but its intelligence is infinite, though limited or circumscribed by karma. Selfhood is presupposed in the mental process consisting of cognitive, affective (moods, feelings and attitudes) and conative (pertaining to effort, endeavors or Karma) factors, and it alone gives meaning to the unity and continuity of the psychic complex in all its normal and abnormal states.
The Jiva is substance-attribute. As the logical self, it derives its substantiality from Brahman, and is called its aprthaksidda visesana, upadeya, and amsha. As the ethical self, the jiva has moral freedom but dedicates itself to the service of the Lord who is the Svami. As the aesthetic ego, it is made of beauty which is a joy for ever and which is imparted to it by the absolute beauty of Brahman. The atman derives its form and function from Brahman, depends on His redemptive will and exists for His aesthetic satisfaction, and is therefore His sharira. It is different from Brahman in the denotative aspect as it is a unique individual. 
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