According to Advaita, the individual self (Atman) is nothing but Brahman (only one). But due to avidya/maya there are many individual selves (Atmas) appearing.

Now, According to Vishsishtadvaita, individual selves (Jivatmas) are different from each other and actually not the Brahman (only one). And (only one) Brahman dwells in Jivatmas.

And these Jivatmas are eternal i.e Jivatma doesn't emerge and dissolve into Brahman.

Now, I want to know whether the there are infinite number of souls (Jivatmas) or there is finite/fixed number of souls (Jivatmas)?

  • 1
    Welcome to Hinduism.SE! No, the number of atmas on Earth isn't constant, because there are also atmas in other worlds. But if you add the total number of atmas in all the worlds (plus those who have attained Moksha), that number will be constant. Sep 8, 2015 at 11:29
  • @KeshavSrinivasan- how and why do you think so? As bramhan is infinite it can create any number of atmans effortlessly and as he is governing body there is no need of making it constant.
    – Yogi
    Oct 8, 2015 at 17:18
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    @Yogi It's a well-established doctrine of the Brahma Sutras that it's impossible for new souls to ever be created. Here's what Adi Shankaracharya says in his commentary on Adhyaya 2 Pada 2 Sutra 42 of the Brahma Sutras: sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe34/sbe34218.htm "It is not possible ... for if such were the case, there would attach to the soul non-permanency, and all the other imperfections which belong to things originated. And thence release, which consists in reaching the highest Being, could not take place; for the effect is absorbed only by entering into its cause." Oct 8, 2015 at 20:38
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    So why is there a goal for atman?? if ataman is truly infinite then it can be without goal or any support or association with bramhan
    – Yogi
    Oct 8, 2015 at 20:48
  • 1
    There is an infinite number which means that the number is constant. Infinite is Infinite. Constant. Feb 23, 2017 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


There is only one Atma from the standpoint of Atma. It is only through Maya, that the Atma, which is also called as Brahman, assumes various bodies and various forms. The jiva and the ishwara are both Atma itself that has become associated with different limiting principles called Upadhi.

Only from the standpoint of the world, there are innumerable number of jivas. From the standpoint of Brahman or Atman, Atman alone exist.

In Isha Upanishad (Verse 4), Atman is described as being "Ekam/One". In Aitereya Upanishad (1.1.1), it is said, "in the beginning, all these (the whole universe of multiplicity) was only Atman." Similarly, in Chandogya Upanishad (6.2.1), it is said: In begining, all this was non-dual Atman, the one without a second. Mandukya Upanishad describes Turiya (Atman) as being Advaitam/ Non-Dual. Non-dality means absence of two. Hence, Atman is one indivisible infinite whole.

  • Question is edited.
    – Pandya
    Feb 23, 2017 at 3:49
  • @NithnSridhar, Great answer buddy. Few ignorant ones use the word atman to address the individual self, thinking that each of us possess a distinct atman. But as per advaita, Atman is One. It is the totality of everything that exists. So the individual self should be the jiva and not Atman. Dec 25, 2018 at 11:31

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