Here's an youtube video on the analogy of Two Birds, by Swami Sarvapriyananda (an advaitin monk).

Two birds by Swami Sarvapriyananda

Here, he compares the tree with our physical body, and the two birds as our atmans. He says that there's actually one bird/atman within us and not two as the dualists claim.

By using the two bird analogy + the pratibimba theory, he explains our true nature in this video.

He says that -

• The higher bird, is our original 'bimba' consciousness.

• The lower bird on the other hand, includes all of these 3 things -

a) the reflected 'pratibimba' consciousness.

b) the causal body.

c) the subtle body.

Both the original and the reflected dwells in the physical body called tree, says the swami.

Question -- Which is the jiva aka jivatman here? The original one or the reflected one?

The Avaccheda vada theory is not that hard to understand, since it clearly speaks of a portion of space inside the pot, which is our jivatman or individuated self. But the reflection theory is a bit confusing. If i take the jiva/jivatman to be the reflected consciousness ((i.e. if the space inside the pot/gross body of avaccheda theory ----->> equates to reflected consciousness of pratibimba theory)) ... then the original consciousness must be dwelling outside the gross body, like the space that remains outside the pot. But here the swami says both dwells in the body called tree. Can anyone here clear things up for me. Thnx.

  • Bimba-Pratibimba-Vada has varying interpretations depending on the Dualist and Nondualist Schools Of Vedanta, In the respective Former especially in Madhvacharya's Case Bimba alone is Vishnu as Swatantra rest all except him are Pratibimba as Paratantra, While in the latter there are variegated notions and there respective Philosophical concepts such as Chida-abhasa, Swami Sarvapriyananda Amalgamates Chida-abhasa with Bimba-Pratibimba-Vada Sep 9, 2018 at 8:26

3 Answers 3


Jivatman is the reflected consciousness.

Consciousness as one with dual aspect is Transcendent and Immanent. The Transcendental Consciousness is called the Paramatma. The Consciousness which is embedded in Mind and Matter is the Jivatma. In the first case Consciousness is formless and in the second it is with form.

The Serpent Power the secrets of tantric and shaktic yoga by Sir John Woodroffe

Sir John gives an excellent summary of Sankhya and Vedantic view on Jivatma in this book between pages 49 to 82.

The Transcendent Consciousness is the majestic bird that only watches. Advaitists say that the consciousness rays of the Transcendent Consciousness enliven the mind and the matter of the jiva. It is the consciousness of the mind and matter of the Jiva that is called reflected consciousness. In reality it is the same as the Transcendent consciousness.

An analogy that is useful to understand this is the moonlight that is seen by all of us for 15 nights. The moonlight is known to be reflected sunlight. The point is that the light emanating from the Moon is not intrinsic to the Moon. Similarly the consciousness associated with forms like Jiva is not intrinsic to the Jiva but merely reflected consciousness.

  • 1
    What has Tantra got to do with philosophical theories like Pratibimbavada?! Tantras never advocate such theories..You shd be quoting from Advaita related texts.. I can answer this from YogaVashishta for example.
    – Rickross
    Sep 11, 2018 at 14:13
  • Where did you get Tantra from the quote that I presented? The book discusses Advaita Vedanta also even though it is named Tantra. Sep 12, 2018 at 13:10
  • Don't tell me that book is a Advaita Vedanta book which it is not...
    – Rickross
    Sep 12, 2018 at 13:13
  • 1
    Don't judge a book by its cover. Sep 12, 2018 at 14:09
  • I am not doing so.. But if that book by A.Avalon is a book on AdvaitaVedanta then Panchadasi, Naishkarma Siddhi etc are also books on Tantra, Shaktism and Kundalini Yoga.
    – Rickross
    Sep 12, 2018 at 14:24

In Pratibimba VAda, the Jiva is the reflection of the Brahman Consciousness (Brahma Chaitanya) in attributes (Upadhi) like Buddhi (intellect).

See the following verse from YogaVAshitha:

Yena samyak parijyAtam heyopAdeyamujhjhatA |
ChittasyAnte stitham chittam jivitam tasya shobhate ||

The life of one, who being devoid of -- "this is acceptable and this is not" -- kind of thinking, and who is genuinely aware of the Jiva as the reflection of the Brahmachaitanya in Buddhi, is truly blessed.

YogaVAshishta SAra 1.20

Yet another verse, from the same text, is the following:

manitoyaghritAdarsheshvekamapyAnanam |
BhAtynekamivatmApi tathA dhishvanubimbitah ||

Just as the same one face, upon being reflected on gemstones, water, Ghee and mirrors etc appears to be many, likewise that one AtmA appears as many upon being reflected on Buddhi like UpAdhis.

YogaVAshishta SAra 9.10

So, it is obvious that the Jiva is the reflection of the AtmA. And, the mirror here is Buddhi.

  • 1
    Thanks. May i know who's the translator here? Sep 12, 2018 at 8:40
  • 1
    Yes sure.. Translator is Swami Dhireshananda.. But the commentary of Mahidhara is also given for each verse. So, the translation is being influenced by Mahidhara as well.. @TheCrimsonUniverse
    – Rickross
    Sep 12, 2018 at 10:09
  • Thanks man. Here according to the scriptural verses, the reflection itself is the jiva/jivatman ............... and yet the advatins say that ""reflection + the medium(subtlebody)"" is both considered jiva/jivatman. Sep 12, 2018 at 11:21
  • 1
    OH Im not sure what u r talking about.. IMO most of such confusions arise if we read the texts in only English.. If it's possible try to always read alongwith the Sanskrit original verses..@TheCrimsonUniverse
    – Rickross
    Sep 12, 2018 at 13:16
  • @Rickross, Is jiva the same as subtle body? Jan 15, 2019 at 7:50

Jivatman is reflected. Brahman is the truth. The fact that we identify ourselves with the body itself shows duality. In reality we are the creators of physical body, causal body and subtle body. It is due to our distorted sense of perception that we are unable to view the reality.

Coming to reflection dwelling within the body. First of all, a reflection is itself virtual. It must hence not exist. So the point that the reflection resides in the body and reality outside is false, as there is no inside or outside. It is all one. We perceive it as 2 as we establish the false sense of body.

  • Hello. Welcome to [hinduism]. Answers on our site should contain references. So, please add citations for what you have written in the answer. Answers without any references might get deleted after some days.Read How to Answer and visit help center. Sep 11, 2018 at 18:42

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