Jiva and Iswara are understood in different ways according to the methodology we accept. There are three major methodologies in Vedanta.
- avaccheda-vada – Jiva is ‘avidya avacchinna caitanya’ – Avidya Associated Consciousness and Iswara is ‘maya avacchinna caitanya’ – Maya Associated Consciousness
- pratibimba-vada – Jiva is ‘ajñana pratibimbita caitanya’ – Avidya Reflected Consciousness and Iswara is the Consciousness.
- abhasa-vada – – Jiva is ‘avidya + abhasa + caitanya’ – Avidya + reflected Consciousness + Substratum Consciousness and Iswara is ‘maya + abhasa + caitanya’ – Avidya + reflected Consciousness + Substratum Consciousness.
The difference between the 2nd and 3rd is the reflection is accepted to be real in 2nd and illusory (shadow) in the 3rd. This is because, the shadow faces the same direction as the person, whereas the reflection faces the opposite direction of the person. This knowledge of reflection is gained, when the thought function which travels to the mirror, gets reflected to the face and grasps the face, which is real. The thought function does not get reflected from the stone, therefore, we only gain the knowledge of the stone. And in the water or eye-glasses, the thought function passes through to the other side, therefore we gain the objects of the other side.
And the abhasavada is what is primarily accepted in Vedanta, though the avaccheda-vada is famous. All the three are given place in Brahma Sutra Bhashya, still in Upadesa-sahasri etc. text Bhashyakara gives utmost importance to abhasavada as Vedanta methodology. In this book too, Author follows the avaccheda-vada in the 1st chapter, pratibimba-vada in the 3rd chapter and abhasavada in the rest of the chapters..
Though there are different schools, here, in the end, all accept the non-dual Self, and whoever finds whichever system to be useful and easy to understand, should follow that as his path.