Central Being (Jivatman)

The Atman or the Universal Divine puts out many projections of itself in order to support manifestation.  The portion of the Divine which supports the  individual Self is called the Central Being or Jivatman.

This Central Being can be called the unborn individual self – it is neither born nor evolves but is immutable and remains one with the Divine.   It presides over the individual manifestation by putting forth a mental, vital and physical Purusha (Being) which support the evolving man.

Sri Aurobindo in a conversation with Pavitra

Pavitra: What is the difference between the psychic being behind the heart-centre and the central being above the head? Are they two beings or one single being ?

Sri Aurobindo: Naturally, from one point of view, they are one. But your being, though one, is composed of many distinct beings. Just as your mental being is different from your physical or vital beings, so the psychic being, the soul, is different from the central being.

The psychic being is the transmitter which receives the light and transmits it to the lower personality. It is that which remains at the back and governs the personality. The psychic being is in direct communica­tion with the truth, which it organises and transmits to the outer being. The central being cannot organise the truth: it is above all evolution. It is the psychic being which develops spiritually through the different personalities

Pavitra: You spoke of two ways. One direct to the the supermind through the mind, the other by the opening of the psychic being. Are they really two different paths ? And what are their characteristics ?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, there are two movements. Sometimes the mind opens first to the light and the supermind works then through the mind and uses the machinery of mind. Sometimes the psychic being, which is always behind — without a psychic aspiration nothing in this Yoga is possible — comes forward. There is then no mental illumination, but a burning fire which turns the whole being upwards. It makes then the progress easy. Afterwards of course the whole machinery of nature is also directed from above, but the mental movement is not the chief one.

[Pavitra. Conversations with Sri Aurobindo]

Jivatman, Spark—Soul and Psychic Being

The Jivatman, spark-soul and psychic being are three different forms of the same reality and they must not be mixed up together, as that confuses the clearness of the inner experience.

The Jivatman or spirit, as it is usually called in English, is self-existent above the manifested or instrumental being—it is superior to birth and death, always the same, the individual Self or Atman. It is the eternal true being of the individual.

The soul is a spark of the Divine which is not seated above the manifested being, but comes down into the manifestation to support its evolution in the material world. It is at first an undifferentiated power of the divine consciousness containing all possibilities which have not yet taken form, but to which it is the function of evolution to give form. This spark is there in all living beings from the lowest to the highest.

The psychic being is formed by the soul in its evolution. It supports the mind, vital, body, grows by their experiences, carries the nature from life to life. It is the psychic or chaitya purusha. At first it is veiled by mind, vital and body, but as it grows, it becomes capable of coming forward and dominating the mind, life and body; in the ordinary man it depends on them for expression and is not able to take them up and freely use them. The life of the being is animal or human and not divine. When the psychic being can by sadhana become dominant and freely use its instruments, then the impulse towards the Divine becomes complete and the transformation of mind, vital and body, not merely their liberation, becomes possible.

The Self or Atman being free and superior to birth and death the experience of the Jivatman and its unity with the supreme or universal Self brings the sense of liberation, it is this which is necessary for the supreme spiritual deliverance: but for the transformation of the life and nature the awakening of the psychic being and and its rule over the nature are indispensable.

The psychic being realises its oneness with the true being, the Jivatman, but it does not change into it.

The bindu seen above may be a symbolic way of seeing the Jivatman, the portion of the Divine; the aspiration there would naturally be for the opening of the higher consciousness so that the being may dwell there and not in the ignorance. The Jivatman is already one with the Divine in reality, but what is needed is that the rest of the consciousness should realise it.

The aspiration of the psychic being is for the opening of the whole lower nature, mind, vital, body to the Divine, for the love and union with the Divine, for its presence and power within the heart, for the transformation of the mind, life and body by the descent of the higher consciousness into this instrumental being and nature.

Both aspirations are essential and indispensable for the fullness of this Yoga. When the psychic imposes its aspiration on the mind, vital and body, then they too aspire and this is what was felt as the aspiration from the level of the lower being. The aspiration felt above is that of the Jivatman for the higher consciousness with its realisation of the One to manifest in the being. Therefore both aspirations help each other. The seeking of the lower being is necessarily at first intermittent and oppressed by the ordinary consciousness. It has, by sadhana, to become clear, constant, strong and enduring.

The sense of peace, purity and calm is brought about by the union of the lower with the higher consciousness. It is usually either intermittent or else remains in a deeper consciousness, veiled often by the storms and agitations of the surface, it is seldom permanent at first, but it can become permanent by increased frequency and endurance of the calm and peace and finally by the full descent of the eternal peace and calm and silence of the higher conscious- ness into the lower nature.

(Letters of Sri Aurobindo, 1947, The Central Being and the Soul)

18 thoughts on “Central Being (Jivatman)

  1. pankaj mehta

    This is very important site we found,it was forwarded by my friend Tushar Bhavsar,we have a study circle in NJ,this is very useful to us for referance & study Sri Aurobindo/Mother.

    1. gopal gopinath

      Hi Sri Pankaj Mehta,

      I live in rockville, maryland. does your study circle allow teleconferencing? Or, by chance, do you know of any maryland study circles?


  2. Pingback: Ways of navigating this blog | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  3. Ashwin N

    From my understanding of three of your posts:Constitution,Pyschic Being and this one, the true eternal individual ‘I’ is the Jivatman or Central Being.
    Am I right about ‘I’?

  4. Stav

    The Jivatman the true eternal individual..? The same amount of Jivas eternally without increase or decrease..? If you take it and trace it to the Source either it is Multiple One or a Singular One manifesting multiplicity of Jivas and the rest of Causal, Astral and physical. some say even the Jivas have a beginning as particular individuals and end; while the general movement is generated again and again!

  5. Vijay dave

    The following I am not understanding:

    “The Self or Atman being free and superior to birth and death the experience of the Jivatman and its unity with the supreme or universal Self brings the sense of liberation, it is this which is necessary for the supreme spiritual deliverance: ”

    Here the mention of ‘The Self or Atman’ words are used for ‘Jivataman’ or the ‘spark-Soul’?

    1. Sandeep Post author

      I think it means the “spark-soul”. Somebody has to experience the unity and that is the “spark-soul”. The Jivatman is always free and is above manifestation.

  6. arya

    A question out of curiosity. Since SA speaks a lot about physical transformation, did his body (or mother’s) change radically towards the end?

    1. Sandeep Post author

      It is best that you eventually find the answer to such questions based on your growing intuition. Often, people tend to answer these questions by repeating what SA/Mother had said or someone had reported. This just makes the person asking the question more cynical.

      I haven’t bothered to know the answer but sometimes I have gotten partial answers to this question. I have the shraddha to wait for the full answer.

  7. Bits

    I came across these lines by Kireet Joshi:
    ” First of all the soul is not really intangible as many people believe it to be, the soul is not abstract, the soul is not something that cannot be seized, or that which cannot be grasped. To talk in positive terms the soul is concrete. In fact, when the soul is experienced, you feel that even the solidity of a substance such as a table is not as solid as that. When you really experience the soul, its concreteness is so great that the ordinary idea that the soul is abstract is found to be fundamentally incorrect. It is abstract only in the sense that in our ordinary life we take only material substance to be solid and everything else to be abstract, but actually speaking this matter is less concrete than the soul itself. When you really experience it, you feel the solidity and the stuff of it to be so powerful that it will be even much more solid than a heavy pillar of steel. It is true that it is above all that we know at present but it is also in everything that we know.”

    Is there any source where Sri Aurobindo or Mother mentioned something like this?

    1. Sandeep Post author

      I dont have time to find all, but here is one

      Sri Aurobindo in the Synthesis of Yoga
      ” Now we come to realise with a very living force of reality, normal and continuous, what the sages meant when they spoke of the soul carrying the body or when they said that the soul is not in the body, but the body in the soul. ”

      One also feels a burning fire in the heart which gradually expands and purifies the being


  8. Felix

    I am a new aspirant to Integral Yoga. With no study circle in my country; Nigeria, I truly appreciate this site, and I am grateful to the admins. I am learning from all the comments. I still want some opinions regarding the difference between the psychic being behind and the central above. I have read about this but still have need for more clarity. Please who can share their opinion and understanding .

    1. Sandeep Post author

      You can ask your questions here. we will try to answer

      btw, how did you come across Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo ?

      1. Felix

        Thank you. About how I came to know of Integral Yoga? It’s a rather long winding journey which took me through many other formal systems of yoga. But to cut it short, my aspiration for greater truths, led me searching online continuously until I stumbled across the name of Sri Aurobindo as a Maha Yogi. This caught my fancy and I rigged deeper to realise His teachings.

  9. mike

    Hi felix.
    As it happens there are a lot of youtube vids on lntegral Yoga at lntegral studies.tv by sraddalu. His last few vids on the psychic being and the higher-self above have been covered extensively. He talks about everything related to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’s yoga. Links below:

    The list of videos – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-tLCSvVed5jFge6678oiyw/videos

    He’s also done many interviews at the site below [with narad].:

    Good Luck.


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