Shankara in one of his verses gives the definition of jiva -""When the omnipresent Atman is limited or embodied by the mind,ego of subtle body, it is called jiva"". I think what he means is, once the omnipresent atman is embodied by the subtle body, it becomes a fragment called jiva. {{Fragmental Atman = jiva}}.

A question seems to be troubling me for quite some time now. Advaitians believe that Atman is omnipresent and therefore doesn't travel after death. Only the subtle body does the travelling. But what about the fragmental embodied atman known as jiva, does that travel along with the subtle body?

  • Yes. It travels Oct 16, 2018 at 12:04
  • Which scripture says that? Oct 16, 2018 at 12:37
  • 1
    It would be better if you provide information in which of his work has Adi Shankara given that definition of Jiva.
    – Pandya
    Oct 16, 2018 at 16:36
  • It was an ebook i found on the web. Oct 16, 2018 at 19:28

1 Answer 1


Nothing happens after death to the atman which is merely a witness. It is the subtle body that is affected by death. Check Gita 2.17-2.22 for the answer to your question. For example, Gita 2.22 says,

'Just as a man gives up old garments and puts on new ones, so the embodied self abandons decrepit bodies and assumes new ones.'

Gita 2.22

What happens immediately after death? The answer is given in Gita 15.8 which says,

When he gets a new body or abandons an old one, the Jiva, the lord of the body, moves, carrying them (the mind and the senses) with him, as the wind carries smells from their seats (in flowers and the like).

Gita 15.8

What this means is that the physical body dies but the mind and the senses of the jiva leave the physical body.Persons who have not attained moksha are part of the life-death-life.... cycle. They may also have to stay in heaven or hell for some time if they have done a particularly good thing or a heinous crime, respectively. After the merit of their particular good karma or the demerit of their particular bad karma is exhausted, they will again be born into the Earth plane.

  • Hello, are you sure that nothing happens to the atman. A group of advaitians hold on to the belief that it gets embodied or trapped inside our material bodies. Like air would get trapped in a jar. So if it actually gets embodied then it eventually becomes a fragment. Isn't it? Oct 16, 2018 at 13:23
  • The next thing is, what is jiva? If its the embodied atman trapped or limited in subtle body, as Shankara says, then it too must travel along with subtle body. The gita verses above aren't clear whether jiva is the embodied fragmental atman or is it the subtle body. In some verses of the Gita, words like Naraha, Purusha, Dehi are also used which makes things more confusing. Oct 16, 2018 at 13:27
  • Atman means consciousness in Advaita Vedanta. It is not like air trapped in a jar. So Atman trapped in a body simply means body is conscious. So some kind of consciousness is there in the subtle body even after the death of the physical body. Oct 16, 2018 at 13:35
  • Allright. So this consciousness which is present in the subtle body, if its not trapped or embodied, in other words, if its not an unique alotted portion of consciousness given to each subtle body, then the avaccheda vada people used the word 'embodied' as a metaphor?? Oct 16, 2018 at 20:19
  • 1
    Avacched vada is a theory. You can't take it so literally. Your model of subtle body travelling within the infinite field of the Atman (=Brahman in Advaita) is what is meant. Oct 17, 2018 at 10:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .