--> Skip to main content

Ekajivavada In Hinduism – The View That There Is Only One Soul

Ekajivavada, a school of thought within Advaita Vedanta, offers a unique perspective on the nature of the individual soul (jiva) and the concept of avidya (nescience) in Hindu philosophy. Adi Shankaracharya, the influential philosopher of the 8th to 9th century CE, laid the foundation for Advaita philosophy, emphasizing the non-dual nature of reality.

While Shankaracharya provided the main principles of Advaita in his writings, later scholars felt the need to address certain gaps and complexities within the philosophy. One such development is the ekajivavada, attributed to Prakashananda, a philosopher from the 15th or 16th century CE. This school is elaborated in his renowned work Vedanta-siddhanta-muktavali.

According to ekajiva vada, there is only one individual soul (jiva), and this singular soul is bound by a single avidya. Avidya, in this context, refers to ignorance or nescience, which obscures the true nature of reality. Liberation occurs when this avidya is eradicated, and the individual soul realizes its true nature. What makes this view distinctive is the assertion that all other entities, including the world and other individual souls, are mere illusions created by the singular jiva's avidya.

In simpler terms, the 'eka jiva vada' posits that the entire world and other individual souls are manifestations of the singular jiva's imagination, all stemming from its ignorance. The liberation of the singular jiva is significant because, according to this perspective, there is no separate existence for other souls or entities. It suggests a monistic understanding where the apparent diversity in the world is considered illusory.

Interestingly, in some interpretations, the singular jiva in ‘ekajivavada’ is sometimes identified with Hiranyagarbha, the world soul or the cosmic mind. This connection implies that the entire universe is an expression of the singular jiva's consciousness.

Despite its interesting conceptual framework, the ‘ekajiva vada’ school did not gain widespread popularity within Advaita Vedanta. Jnanottama Bhattarrka, a later scholar, is one of the few who supported this view in his work Vidyashri, a sub-commentary on the Brahmasutras. The limited acceptance of ‘eka jiva vada’ highlights the diversity of thought within the Advaita tradition, with other schools providing alternative interpretations and clarifications on the nature of reality and liberation.