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Dvaita School On The Concept Of Atman – Soul

The Dvaita school, one of the major philosophical traditions within Hinduism, provides a unique perspective on the concept of Atman (soul) and the ultimate reality. Founded by Madhvacharya in the 13th century, the Dvaita school, also known as Dualism, posits a distinct separation between the individual soul (Atman) and the supreme divine entity (Brahman). Let's delve into the key tenets of the Dvaita school concerning the Atman:

Nature of Atman: In the Dvaita philosophy, the Atman is considered eternal, atomic in size, and possesses consciousness as its essential nature. Each individual soul is distinct, separate, and retains its unique identity throughout existence.

Multiplicity of Souls: According to Dvaita, souls are innumerable. They are not only different from the divine, which is represented by Vishnu or God, but also distinct from each other. The diversity among souls is emphasized, and they are classified into three main categories based on their fate.

Three Classes of Souls: 

  1. Bound Souls: These souls have the potential for liberation but are currently entangled in the cycle of birth and death (samsara). Liberation is possible through spiritual knowledge, devotion to Vishnu, and divine grace.
  2. Eternally Confined Souls: Some souls are destined to remain in the cycle of transmigration perpetually. They do not have the opportunity for liberation but continue to undergo various life experiences.
  3. Doomed Souls: This category represents souls condemned permanently to the misery of hell. They are believed to have strayed far from the path of righteousness and face eternal suffering.

Path to Liberation: Liberation (moksha) in the Dvaita school is achieved through a combination of knowledge, unwavering devotion to Vishnu, and the divine grace of God. The ultimate goal is to reside in Vaikunta, the divine abode of Vishnu, and be in eternal communion with the supreme reality.

Persisting Differences in Liberation: Even in the state of liberation, Dvaita philosophy asserts that individual souls maintain their distinctiveness. While liberated souls exist in the divine presence in Vaikunta, differences among them persist, emphasizing the eternal uniqueness of each soul.

In summary, the Dvaita school offers a distinctive perspective on the Atman, emphasizing the eternal individuality of souls, their multiplicity, and the pathway to liberation through knowledge, devotion, and divine grace, ultimately leading to the eternal presence of God in Vaikunta.