Originally appeared on Quora: http://qr.ae/TUNZ5B

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Let’s take a look at a scenario.

There are two similar glasses. One is filled with clear water and another with muddy water.

Now, someone wants to separate out the mud from muddy water so he/she uses alum to let the mud settle down.

After some time, the mud settles at the base of the glass like this:

The person removes the mud slowly and gets clear water now:

Some points to consider here:

  • Was the muddy water actually affected by mud?
    No, because it can be separated from the mud with some procedure. The mud can’t change the properties of water even after thousands of years.
  • Is there any difference in the clear water and muddy water in terms of properties?
    No, they have the same properties. While muddy water has the same properties as the clear water, it can’t be used this time because of its contact with mud.

Voila! If you agreed upon the above points, then you just got the answer to the question about Aatma and Paramatma.

The muddy water is Aatma who has karma bind to it. The clear water is Parmatma who are free from any type of karma.

In terms of qualities, there is no difference between Aatma and Paramatma. Since the Aatma is bind by karma in the present state, it cannot experience the real happiness that is achieved by Parmatma.

As the water can be separated from the mud using alum, Aatma can be separated from the karma by Bhed-Gyan(seeing the soul different from worldly things and body) to become Parmatma.

If you take two different muddy glasses, you may see that they have different amount of mud in them. One is more or less than the other. Similarly, there are infinite souls with different karmas in this world.

That’s how Jainism explains the concept of Aatma and Parmatma.