Soul (Jiva), its Composition & Attributes
God, the universal consciousness along with Souls, the individual consciousness and Matter form an organic whole of the Universe. According to the karma, Jivas get material embodiments as per divine will.
Every thought (मनसा, Mansa), every word (वचना,vachna) and every action (कर्मणा, Karmna), good or bad, just goes down and becomes fine, and is there stored up as Samskaras, the impressions and create Karmic account. These impressions of past Karmas cause tendencies and desires. The fulfilment of desires leads to enjoyment and lack of fulfilment leads to sufferings. The cycle of pleasures & pains goes on and Jiva is caught in cycle of birth and death, to reap the fruits his own actions through enjoyments and sufferings. Hence, we become slave of situations. In case, we take decisions based on qualities of soul viz. Love, peace, Happiness, Knowledge, Power, Purity and Bliss and believe the situations are creation of past karma, negative decision and behaviour shall be avoided as a result karmic account or samskara will not be formed.
Composition of Jiva:
Jiva in bondage is composed of three bodies’ viz. Causal Body (Karan sarira, innermost), Subtle Body (Sukshma sarira or Linga-sarira, middle) and Gross Body (Sthula sarira, outermost). The details are as under:
Attributes of Jiva:
According to Madhva, gradation and the classification each Jiva results from the uniqueness of each Jiva. As a reflection of Brahman every Jiva has in him a modicum of Brahman’s essential features – Sat-Chit-Ananda. But due to their own intrinsic capacities, they share these characteristics in varying degrees only. They all alike have a dependent existence, but their capacity to know vastly varies and their joy much more so. In the state of bondage, the differences in nature of Karma clouding them can easily account for this variation in their intelligence, joy and misery. Madhva classified Jivas in three types viz.
According to Vallabhacharya system, the classification of the Jivas is according to their varying capacities. The main classes are: Maryada, Pusti and Pravahini, and these have distinct goals to attain at the end of their evolution.
According to the Advaita system of Shankaracharya, Jivas are all similar in their nature and realize their identity with non-dual Brahman ultimately. Ignorance is the cause of bondage, and liberation is attained when ignorance is removed irrespective of whether the body is alive or not. There is no necessity of physical body for attainment of liberation. The body will fall only when the prarabdha karma of the current body is exhausted. But Ramanujacharya does not accept that an embodied person can be liberated. For, according to him, the cause of embodiment is Karma.
When jiva is suppressed by ignorance, its Dharmabhuta-jnana is contracted. When Jiva is liberated, he continues to maintain his individuality, his Dharmabhuta-Jnana expands and becomes merged in that of God.
Reference: Bhakti Schools of Vedanta – by Swami Tapasyananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.