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Ramana Maharshi, the Paramatman and the Jivatman

Ramana Maharshi

Q: I have a few questions related to the Teachings of Śrīpada Ramaṇa Maharshi. I heard from some of the followers of Śrī Ramaṇa Maharshi that He used to say that jīvātman is Paramātmā. And one’s own Individual Self is the Absolute Reality and We are God. Is this True?

Yes and No. What the adherents of a great master claim are/were his teachings are not always what he really taught. For example, Anandamayi Ma more than once told me things that her “devotees” hysterically claimed she would never say–that she always said the opposite. But when I referred them to those who were there and heard her words to me and confirmed that I was speaking the truth, they became even more upset and were very displeased with me, although they were Ma’s words I had repeated to them.

What you have been told is a classical example of wrong-headed “Advaita”–which is not Advaita at all, but a misinterpretation.

Of course the jivatman is not the Paramatman–that is why we have two different terms. However, the jivatman is one with the Paramatman, which its its very Self. But the jivatman is finite while the Paramatman is infinite. And the jivatman undergoes many births and has to find enlightenment and the resulting liberation. The Paramatman does not.

The individual Self has Brahman as its Ultimate Self. They are one, but they are not the same, because one is finite and the other infinite. Only the enlightened person truly knows this and understands it in a manner beyond words.

Bhagavan underwent intense sadhana and recommended sadhana to those who consulted with him. The Paramatman never needs to engage in sadhana, but the fact that the jivatman has that need demonstrates their difference.

Claiming to follow a great master, especially one who has been out of the body for over seventy years, is extremely easy. But to understand his teachings requires the same state of consciousness that the master attained.

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