It is mentioned in Gita ch. 13 verse 22, that the supreme purusha (paramatma) is a upadrashta (witness), anumanta (permitter), bharta (supporter) and bhokta (experiencer).

I agree that It is a witness, but how can It be at the same time, a permitter and experiencer? 

If paramatma is actionless and simply remains as a witness, (as per advaita) then how does it permits and experiences? 

Swami ChidbhavaNanda (an advaitin) mentions in his gita commentary, that the paramatma witnesses the activities of the jivatman, knows them in their true perspective and permits those activities which are good for the progress of the jivatman.

But according to advaita, the paramatma IS the jivatman, then why would IT permit ITSELF? ...  Also being an actionless entity why would the paramatma experience or feel the world?

Can someone please explain these things to me. Thanks.


The paramatma is the witness. However, it may be thought of as permitter, supporter and experiencer because a jiva experiences everything due to the presence of the atman in him.

Thus the transmigratory existence of the Purusha is due to want of discrimination with respect to Prakriti, and not by itself. To bring this out the essential nature of the Purusha is being set forth: The supreme Purusha, etc. Though the Purusha resides in this body, which is a product of Prakriti, yet it is supreme, quite different from it, that is to say, it is not associated with its qualities. The reasons are: Because it is called the Onlooker, being a distinct entity, it only watches as a bystander, i.e., a witness; similarly the Permitter, it helps by the mere presence like one who approves. .............

Srimad Bhagavad Gita 13.22 with the gloss of sridhar Swami translated by Swami Vireswarananda

  • I understand that when this paramatma forgets its true eternal nature, and instead identifies Itself with the body, IT becomes a bhokta (experiencer). But I'm having trouble understanding the fact that its a permitter too ... I mean whom does IT permit? ... It can't permit ITSELF ... IT must be permitting another entity. So, If IT permits the jivatma, then there comes duality. Dont you think so? – The Crimson Universe Aug 24 '20 at 15:17
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    Gita is not an Advaita Vedanta text. So it will have many verses that are dualist in nature. This existence of many verses of different character has enabled many different schools to interpret it the way they want it. You are right that calling the Atman permitter is dualistic. That is how dualistic schools will interpret that verse. However, an Advaita interpreter will interpret the same line in the manner given by Sridhar Swami. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Aug 25 '20 at 12:33
  • if you follow advaita leave gita.. simple word drived from PG @TheCrimsonUniverse – Prasanna R Sep 25 '20 at 10:50

This verse is very important for an understanding of how the living entities transmigrate from one body to another. It is explained in the Second Chapter, "vasansi jiranani yatha vihaya...", the living entity is transmigrating from one body to another just as one changes dress. This change of dress is due to his attachment to material existence. As long as he is captivated by this false manifestation, he has to continue transmigrating from one body to another. Due to his desire to lord it over material nature, he is put into such undesirable circumstances. Under the influence of material desire, the entity is born sometimes as a demigod under mode of passion, sometimes as a saintly human under influence of the mode of goodness, sometimes under the influence of mode of ignorance as a beast, as a bird, as a worm, as an aquatic, as a bug. This is going on. And in all cases the living entity thinks himself to be the master of his circumstances, yet he is under the influence of material nature of three modes.

How he is put into such different bodies is explained here. It is due to association with the different modes of material nature. One has to rise, therefore, above the three material modes and become situated in the transcendental position. That is called God consciousness. Unless one is situated in God consciousness, his material consciousness will oblige him to transfer from one body to another because he has material desires since time immemorial, before the material creation, when he was fallen to the clutches of tri-mode material existence from his original eternal position. But he has to change that conception. That change can be effected only by hearing and/or acquire holistic eternal knowledge from authoritative sources. The best example here is; Arjuna is hearing the science of God from Krishna. The living entity, if he submits to this hearing process, will lose his long-cherished desire to dominate material nature, and gradually and proportionately, as he reduces his long desire to dominate God's nature (as explained in Gita 7.27 as "ichha-dvesha" cause), he comes to enjoy spiritual happiness. In a Vedic mantra it is said that as he becomes learned in association with the Supreme Eternal Authority and he proportionately relishes his eternal blissful life, back to his original eternal realm.




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