As stated in this answer, Many of the Non Vedantic Astika school such as Samkhya, Nyāya etc. Held to the belief that the soul is all pervading/omnipresent.

My question is do these darshanas offer any argument to logically justify the existence of multiple all pervading atmans?

  • Multiple Purusha isn't same as Multiple Atman!, former is a term in sankhya and later in Advaita.
    – user29449
    Mar 20 at 6:37
  • You can ask the same question for Dvaita Vedanta.
    – ruben2020
    Mar 20 at 8:05
  • 1
    @ruben2020 Dvaita doesn't believe souls to be omnipresent/all-pervasive though.
    – user34062
    Mar 20 at 8:19

2 Answers 2


The properties of the soul are a product of scriptures and are usually assumed. But in my opinion, shankyavaadis, like Kapila do give the best description using reason for it.

Soul as Omnipresent?

In Shankhya philosophy, the soul is considered absolute, not bound to any particular place. This is evident from our experiences, which aren't confined to specific locations, whether they are subtle experiences like dreams or physical ones. Through inquiry into the basis of experience, one realizes that for every experience, there must be an experiencer. Kapila illustrates this with the analogy of plant roots, which, inferred from their experiences, must either be bounded or terminate at a point. However, since experiences aren't bound, the roots must ultimately end at a point, analogous to the concept of a number line extending to infinity. This endpoint, omnipresent, absolute, and infinite, is termed as the soul or "Purusha" in Shankhya. It's important to note that Shankhya acknowledges the existence of multiple "Purushas," explaining the diversity of the universe as real. In contrast, Advaita Vedanta considers this multiplicity as illusory (or mithia), ultimately leading to the realization of the oneness of the Atman, the individual soul, with Brahman, the ultimate reality, which is the only truth.

Kapila's Shankhyasutra, Book 1, Chapter -1

Aph. 8. Since an essential nature is imperishable, unauthoritativness, betokened by impracticableness, (would be chargeable against the Scripture, if pain were essential to humanity).

Aph. 9. There is no rule, where something impossible is enjoined: though it be enjoined, it is no injunction.

Aph. 10. If (some one says) as in the case of white cloth, or of a seed, (something essential may be not irremovable, then he will find his answer in the next aphorism).

Aph. 11. Since both perceptibleness and (subsequent) non-perceptibleness may belong to some power (which is indestructible), it is not something impracticable that is enjoined, (when one is directed to render some indestructible power imperceptible).

Aph. 12. Not from connexion with time (does bondage befall the soul); because this, allpervading and eternal, is (eternally) associated with all, (and not with those alone who are in bondage).

Aph. 13. Nor (does bondage arise) from connexion with place, either, for the same (reason)

Aph. 14. Nor (does the bondage of the soul arise) from its being conditioned (by its standing among circumstances that clog it by limiting it); because that is the fact in regard to (not the soul, but) the body.

Aph. 15. Because this soul is (unassociated with any conditions or circumstances that could serve as its bonds, it is) absolute.

Aph. 17. If it were the property of any other, then there could not be diverse experience.

Aph. 18. If (you say that the soul's bondage arises) from Nature, as its cause, (then I say) 'no;' (because) that, also, is a dependent thing.

Aph. 19. (But) not without the conjunction thereof (i.e., of Nature) is there the connexion of that (i.e., of pain) with that (viz., the soul,) which is ever essentially a pure and free intelligence.

Aph. 20. Not from Ignorance, too, (does the soul's bondage arise); because that which is not a reality is not adapted to binding.

Aph. 21. If it ('Ignorance') be (asserted, by you, to be) a reality, then there is an abandonment of the (Vedntc) tenet, (by you who profess to follow the Vednta).

Aph. 22. And (if you assume 'Ignorance' to be a reality, then) there would be a duality, through (there being) something of a different kind (from soul; which you asserters of non-duality cannot contemplate allowing).

Aph. 24. (To the suggestion that 'Ignorance' is at once real and unreal we say) 'no;' because no such thing is known (as is at once real and unreal.)

Aph. 25. (Possibly the Vednt may remonstrate) 'We are not asserters of any Six Categories, like the Vaiśeshikas and others.'

Aph. 26. Even although this be not compulsory (that the categories be six, or sixteen), there is no acceptance of the inconsistent; else we come to the level of children, and madmen, and the like.

Aph. 27. (The bondage) thereof moreover, is not caused by any influence of objects from all eternity.

Aph. 28. Also (in my opinion, as well as in yours, apparently), between the external and the internal there is not the relation of influenced and influencer; because there is a local separation; as there is between him that stays at Srughna and him that stays at Pṭaliputra.

Aph. 29. (It is impossible that the soul's bondage should arise) from an influence received in the same place (where the object is; because, in that case), there would be no distinction between the two, (the bond and the free).

Aph. 30. If (the heretic, wishing to save his theory suggests that a difference between the two cases (see 29) does exist) in virtue of the unseen, (i.e., of merit and demerit, then he will find his answer in the next aphorism).

Aph. 31. They cannot stand in the relation of deserver and bestower, since the two do not belong to one and the same time.

Aph. 32. If (the heretic suggests that) the case is like that of the ceremonies in regard to a son, (then he will find his reply by looking forward).

Aph. 33. (Your illustration proves nothing;) for, in that case, there is no one permanent soul which could be consecrated by the ceremonies in anticipation of conception, &c.

Aph. 34. Since there is no such thing as a permanent result (on the heretical view), the momentariness (of bondage, also, is to be admitted).

Aph. 35. No, (things are not momentary in their duration); for the absurdity of this is proved by recognition.

Aph. 36. And (things are not momentary;) because this is contradicted by Scripture and reasoning.

Aph. 37. And (we reject the argument of this heretic;) because his instance is not a fact.

Aph. 38. It is not between two things coming simultaneously into existence, that the relation of cause and effect exists.

Aph. 39. Because, when the antecedent departs the consequent is unfit (to arise, and survive it).

Aph. 40. Moreover, not (on Theory of the momentary duration of things can there be such a relation as that of cause and effect); because, while the one (the antecedent) exists, the other (the consequent) is incompatible, because the two keep always asunder.3

Aph. 41. If there were merely antecedence, then there would be no determination (of a substantial or material cause, as distinguished from an instrumental cause).

Aph. 42. Not Thought alone exists; because there is the intuition of the external.


Aph. 65. (The knowledge of the existence) of Nature is (by inference,) from that ('Intellect,' 64).

Aph. 66. (The existence) of Soul (is inferred) from the fact that the combination (of the principles of Nature into their various effects) is for the sake of another (than unintelligent Nature, or any of its similarly unintelligent products).

Aph. 67. Since the root has no root, the root (of all) is rootless.3

Src: https://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscripts/hinduism/kapila/kapila.asp


According to the Shankhya Sutras of Kapila, the essence of things is imperishable, and impossible tasks cannot be considered authoritative commands. While perceptibility may change, the soul's limitations aren't tied to time or place; they are eternal and absolute. Bondage isn't caused by nature or ignorance, as they are dependent or unreal. The soul remains pure and free, unaffected by external conditions or limitations, with diverse experiences reflecting its individuality.

The Shankhya Sutras of Kapila refute the assertion of 'Ignorance' as a reality (NOTE: This is against Advaita of Shankara and different!), as it contradicts the Vedantic tenet and implies duality, which goes against the principle of non-duality. The idea of 'Ignorance' being simultaneously real and unreal is dismissed because such a concept is unknown. Despite the Vedantic assertion of not adhering strictly to categories, inconsistency is rejected to avoid intellectual immaturity. Bondage is not eternal and doesn't arise from the influence of objects. The relation between external and internal factors doesn't imply influence due to spatial separation. Influence received in the same place as the object wouldn't create a distinction between bondage and freedom. The notion of merit and demerit doesn't explain the distinction either. The relationship between deserver and bestower doesn't hold due to temporal misalignment. The analogy of ceremonies in anticipation of conception fails to establish a permanent soul. The momentariness of bondage is admitted due to the absence of permanent results. However, things are not truly momentary as proven by recognition, scripture, and reasoning. The heretic's argument lacks empirical evidence. The relation of cause and effect doesn't exist between simultaneously arising entities, nor can it exist when the antecedent departs before the consequent arises, as they are incompatible.

Existence of the soul

Knowledge of imperceptible things is inferred, like inferring fire from smoke. The existence of the five 'Subtle Elements' is inferred from the 'Gross Elements'. Self-consciousness is inferred from external and internal organs, as well as from the Subtle Elements. Intellect is inferred from self-consciousness, and Nature is inferred from intellect. The existence of the soul is inferred from the fact that the combination of natural principles serves a purpose beyond unintelligent nature. The root of all things is considered rootless since any succession ultimately halts at a certain point. Whether discussing Nature, Soul, or both, the argument for their uncreated existence remains the same. There's no necessity for everyone to arrive at the truth, as those privileged to engage in inquiry are of three descriptions.

Salutations to the great sage Kapila 🙏

  • Added an intro paragraph, now one can understand the whole passage much better.
    – user29449
    Mar 20 at 8:48

जन्मादुव्यवस्थातः पुरुषबहुत्वं

janmāduvyavasthātaḥ puruṣabahutvaṃ

From the several allotment of birth, &c., a multiplicity of souls [is to be inferred]. - Sāṃkhya Sūtra 1.149

It says that there is a multiplicity of birth, growth, death etc. If there is one soul, then when one is born, all must be born, which is ridiculous! That is why Samkhya does not accept the single soul concept.

Vedantin raises the point that the soul is one and there is just a difference of Upadhis. For example, there are many pots, but the space inside those pots is the same. When the pots break, there is just one space, not many. In reply to that Samkhya says

उपाधिर्भिद्यते न तु तद्वान्

upādhirbhidyate na tu tadvān

The investment (Upadhi) is different, [according to the Vedantins], but not that to which this belongs; [and the absurd consequences of such an opinion will be seen]. - Sāṃkhya Sūtra 1.151

It basically says, that if we believe in one soul that will lead to an illogical deduction. In this world, one man can be released and another man can still remain bound to the Samsara. This situation will lead to liberation and bondage simultaneously existing in the one and the same soul, which is absurd.

एवमेकत्वेन परिवर्तमानस्य न विरुद्ध धर्माध्यासः

evamekatvena parivartamānasya na viruddha dharmādhyāsaḥ

Thus, [i. e., by taking the Sankhya view,] there is no imputation of contradictory conditions to [a Soul supposed to be] everywhere present as one [infinitely extended monad]. - Sāṃkhya Sūtra 1.152

If we accept the Samkhya view there won't be any such contradiction.

References -

  1. The Samkhya Aphorisms of Kapila - James Ballantyne
  2. The Samkhya Philosophy - Nandalal Sinha

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