Meaning of Brahman - Parmatma - Bhagvan.

Brahman Parmatma  Bhagvan ( ब्रह्मपरमात्मा और भगवान)

Who is Brahman? Who is Parmatma? Who is Bhagvan? 

Brahman Parmatma  Bhagvan ( ब्रह्म, परमात्मा और भगवान) are the three terms referred to when describing God in the Vedic system. People become confused about their meaning. They do not understand as to what is being referred to by different terms.  Some think these to be different while others to be the same.  This article will try to clear some misconceptions about the terms on the basis of scriptures. 

Example of Sun Disk to understand Brahman, Parmatma and God.

Bhagvad Puran's Perspective

A verse from Bhagwad Puran guides us in reconciling and understanding the apparently diverse views. Srimad Bhagvatam (1.2.11) says : 

वदन्ति तत्तत्त्वविदस्तत्त्वं यज्ज्ञानमद्वयम्

ब्रह्मेति परमात्मेति भगवानिति शब्द्यते  

“The Absolute Truth is realized in three phases of understanding by the knower of the Absolute Truth, and all of them are identical. Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this non-dual substance: Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan."


All the attributes of God cannot be comprehended by an individual as God has inconceivable potency. Thus it is said that seers have understood him in broadly three ways.(These are based on the path a seeker adopts.)

1.     Brahman : The all pervading consciousness, creator and controller. Sometimes individual soul is also called Brahman. Some schools of thought consider individual consciousness and all pervading consciousness to be the same but, Bhagvad Gita does not endorse it.

2.     Paramatma (Super-Soul) : The observer, guide and friend in the heart. It accompanies the individual soul in the heart.

3.     Bhagavan (God): The person who is in his own abode. The abode also called the kingdom of God, that is beyond birth and death. Also called Vaikunth 

Brahman - Parmatma - Bhagvan


Bhagvad Gita's Perspective

The Bhagvad Gita also describes all the three aspects of Him at different places. We present here a few verses from Srimad Bhagvad Gita as they describe all the three features of Brhaman, Parmatma & God. The verses describe either of the features of Absolute Truth.


1. God, who is greater than all, is attainable by unalloyed devotion. Although He is present in his abode, He is all-pervading, and everything is situated within Him. BG 8.22

2. By Me in My un-manifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them. BG 9.4

3. And yet everything that is created does not rest in me. Behold My mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities and although I am everywhere, I am not a part of this cosmic manifestation, for My Self is the very source of creation. BG 9.5

4. Understand that as the mighty wind, blowing everywhere, rests always in the sky, all created beings rest in me. BG 9.6

5. At the end of the millennium all material manifestations enter into My nature, and at the beginning of another millennium, by my potency, I create them again. BG 9.7

6. The whole cosmic order is under Me. Under my will it is automatically manifested again and again, and under My will it is annihilated at the end. BG 9.8

7. I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable OM. I am also the Rg, the Sama and the Yajur Vedas. BG 9.17

8. I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge, and the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed. BG 9.18

9. I am the Super-soul, O, Arjun, seated in the hearts of all living entities. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings. BG 10.20

10. You should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its knower is called knowledge. That is My opinion. BG 13.3

11. Everywhere are his hands and legs, His eyes, heads and faces, and He has ears everywhere. In this way the Super-soul exists, pervading everything. BG 13.14

12. The Super-soul is the original source of all senses, yet he is without senses. He is unattached, although He is the maintainer of all living beings. He transcends the modes of material nature, and at the same time He is the master of all the modes of nature. BG 13.15

13. The Supreme Truth exists outside and inside of all living beings, the moving and the nonmoving. He is beyond the power of the material senses to see or to know. Although far, far away, He is also near to all. BG 13.16

14. Although the super-soul appears to be divided among all beings, He is never divided. He is situated as one. Although He is maintainer of every living entity, it is to be understood that He devours and develops all. BG 13.17

15. He is the source of all luminous objects. He is beyond the darkness of matter and is un-manifested. He is knowledge, He is the object of knowledge, and He is the goal of knowledge. He is situated in everyone’s heart. BG 13.18

16. Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer, who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Super-soul. BG 13.23

17. One who sees the Super-soul accompanying the individual soul in all bodies, and who understands that neither the soul nor the Super-soul within the destructible body is ever destroyed, actually sees. BG 13.28

18. One who sees the super-soul equally present everywhere, in every living being, does not degrade himself by his mind. Thus he approaches the transcendental destination. BG 13.29

19. And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal, imperishable and eternal and is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness BG 14.27

20. The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.BG 15.7

21. The Supreme lord is situated in everyone’s heart, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy. BG 18.61

22. Surrender unto Him utterly. By his grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode. BG 18.62

Different Processes Lead To Different Realisation and Understanding


In the above picture, the impersonalist yogi on the left is meditating in the attempt to merge with Krishna’s bodily effulgence. The yogi on the right is meditating on the Paramatma or Lord in the heart. And above them is the Supreme Person, who is the source of Brahman and Paramatma, and who enjoys loving pastimes in His spiritual abode. So, the Vedic yoga texts describe the Absolute Truth, or God, as having these three distinct features, which may be realized by transcendentalists with different degrees of spiritual realization.

We should not be like the blind men in a famous story trying to describe an elephant.

Six blind men trying to understand an elephant

More Pictures To Describe The Three Aspects.

Bhagvan As A Person

Parmatma In Everyone's Heart

A Yogi Sees The Same Parmatma In Everyone's Heart

Atma & Parmatma (Soul & Super-Soul) Seated in the Heart Like Two Birds on the Same Tree 


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