I have understood the concept of jiva as the reflection or manifestation of paramatma in the body-mind complex. Paramatma energises the limited buddhi through this bandwidth. In death, does the body-mind complex lose the capability to be energised, and so stop interacting with the world? What happens to the stored impressions which had till now been bounded by the sense of identity? How is this storage preserved to go forward into the next birth as prarabdha? If the jiva was a manifestation (like a reflection) and not an existence by itself, why do we hear of "jiva travelling after death to another birth"? What can travel? Isn't death like the bulb being switched off and the light vanishing? The light does not go anywhere, isn't it? Maybe some of my understanding is incorrect, so please illuminate the same.

Dear Rajat,


Jiva is the mistaken notion of one's identity and mixing it up with the body-mind complex. You could also say that the One Brahman is reflected in jiva. In death, this ignorance does not go away, only the body loses its capacity to function or the karma which could be exhausted through that particular body gets exhausted. So, death does not mean liberation and the mind remains. This mind contains all the impressions or samskaras which produce further births. So, the ignorance or the binding and the impressions are all carried forward.

It is precisely because Jiva is ignorance incarnate that it can travel from birth to birth because the Atman cannot travel because where will it travel to? The Atman does not travel. Only the jiva which thinks it is the body and mind, travels and will continue to do so till the ignorance lasts.

Death could be compared to the switching off of the bulb. True, the light does not go anywhere, but because of ignorance death makes us believe that one can actually 'switch off' the bulb and make the light vanish. Actually, this can never be done, because Atman can never be 'switched off'. That is why death is illusory.

With best wishes,
Swami Narasimhananda  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Swami Narasimhananda


Any question on the philosophy or practice of Hinduism and Vedanta.


A Hindu monk of the Ramakrishna Order. Writes and speaks on Hinduism, Gita, Upanishads, Vedanta, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Sarada Devi.

Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission.

Prabuddha Bharata.

Graduate from a reputed university.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.