Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 15, Verse 17

उत्तम: पुरुषस्त्वन्य: परमात्मेत्युदाहृत: |
यो लोकत्रयमाविश्य बिभर्त्यव्यय ईश्वर: || 17||

uttamaḥ puruṣhas tv anyaḥ paramātmety udāhṛitaḥ
yo loka-trayam āviśhya bibharty avyaya īśhvaraḥ

uttamaḥthe Supreme; puruṣhaḥDivine Personality; tubut; anyaḥbesides; parama-ātmāthe Supreme Soul; itithus; udāhṛitaḥis said; yaḥwho; loka trayamthe three worlds; āviśhyaenters; bibhartisupports; avyayaḥindestructible; īśhvaraḥthe controller

Translation

BG 15.17: Besides these, is the Supreme Divine Personality, who is the indestructible Supreme Soul. He enters the three worlds as the unchanging controller and supports all living beings.

Commentary

Having spoken about the world and the souls, Shree Krishna now speaks of God, who is transcendental to both the worlds and the perishable and imperishable living beings. In the scriptures, he is also designated as Paramātma, meaning Supreme Soul. The epithet of Param highlights that Paramātmā is different from the ātmā, or the individual soul. This verse clearly disproves the claim of the non-dualistic philosophers who state that the individual soul itself is the Supreme Soul.

The individual soul is tiny and only pervades the body that it resides in. However, the Supreme Soul resides in the hearts of all living beings. He notes their karmas, keeps an account of them, and gives the results at the appropriate moment. He accompanies the soul from lifetime to lifetime into whatever body it receives. If the soul is given a dog’s body in a particular lifetime, the Supreme Soul accompanies it there as well, and bestows the results of past karmas. Thus, there is such a difference between the fortunes of dogs. Some are stray dogs living wretched lives in the streets of India, while others are pet dogs living in luxury in the United States. This stark difference takes place as a result of their stock of karmas, and it is the Supreme Soul who hands out the reactions of karmas, while accompanying the soul life after life, into whatever species it goes.

The Supreme Soul who resides in the heart of all living beings also exists in the personal form as the four-armed Kshirodakshayi Vishnu (more commonly known as “Vishnu”). There is a popular saying in Hindi: mārane vāle ke do hāth, bachāne vāle ke chār hāth [v15.1]“The person coming to kill has two arms, but the Protector sitting within has four arms.” This four-armed personality being referred to is the Paramātmā, or the Supreme Soul.