This is a major point of difference with the Buddhist doctrine of Anattawhich holds that there is no soul or self. Atman is that which one is at the deepest level of one's existence. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad describes Atman as that in which everything exists, which is of the highest value, which permeates everything, which is the essence of all, bliss and beyond description.
That Atman self, soul is indeed Brahman. It becomes virtuous through good acts, and vicious through evil acts. Others, however, say, "The self is identified with desire alone. What it desires, so it resolves; what it resolves, so is its deed; and what deed it does, so it reaps. The Upanishad asserts that this knowledge of "I am Brahman", and that there is no difference between "I" and "you", or "I" and "him" is a source of liberation, and not even gods can prevail over such a liberated man.
For example, in hymn 1. I am Brahman, therefore it became all.
What Is Atman in Hinduism?
And whoever among the gods had this enlightenment, also became That. It is the same with the sages, the same with men. He is like an animal to the gods.
As many animals serve a man, so does each man serve the gods. Even if one animal is taken away, it causes anguish; how much more so when many are taken away? Therefore it is not pleasing to the gods that men should know this.
The Katha Upanishadfor example, explains Atman as immanent and transcendent innermost essence of each human being and living creature, that this is one, even though the external forms of living creatures manifest in different forms, for example, in hymns 2. As the one fire, after it has entered the world, though one, takes different forms according to whatever it burns.
Katha Upanishad, in Book 1, hymns 3. Know the intellect as the charioteer, and the mind as the reins. The senses, they say are the horses, and sense objects are the paths around them".
In hymn 4. In the same way, the individual souls are pure being, states the Chandogya Upanishad ; an individual soul is pure truth, and an individual soul is a manifestation of the ocean of one universal soul. Jainism too accepts this premise, although it has its own idea of what that means. In Hinduism, self-knowledge is the knowledge and understanding of Atman, what it is, and what it is not.
Hinduism considers Atman as distinct from the ever-evolving individual personality characterized with Ahamkara ego, non-spiritual psychological I-ness Me-nesshabits, prejudices, desires, impulses, delusions, fads, behaviors, pleasures, sufferings and fears.
Human personality and Ahamkara shift, evolve or change with time, state the schools of Hinduism; while, Atman doesn't. In contrast, devotional sub-schools of Vedanta such as Dvaita dualism differentiate between the individual Atma in living beings, and the supreme Atma Paramatma as being separate. Advaita Vedanta philosophy considers Atman as self-existent awareness, limitless and non-dual.Most Upanishads take the form of dialogues between teachers and students.
They explore speculative questions about the origin, basis, and support of the universe. What is Brahman?
Whence are we born? Whereby do we live? On what are we established? The teachers of the Upanishads point the way to a profound realization: Atman, the inmost soul or breath of life, is also Brahman, the ultimate reality that pervades the entire universe.
Reality beyond is also within. The teachers of the Upanishads teach by example and analogy. One asks his student to bring him a fig. What do you see there? That is Reality. That is Atman. That art Thou. Brahman underlies the whole universe. It is the life-force which is the subtle essence of everything. One cannot see Brahman, as one cannot see the inside of the tiny seed of a fig.
But Brahman is there and gives life to all, as the seed produces the fig tree. Whether inside the fig seed or inside oneself, it is the same living source. Other teachers take a different teaching strategy in pointing to Brahman. Skip to main content. Main Menu Utility Menu Search. See also: Hinduism.The atman is variously translated into English as the eternal self, spirit, essence, soul, or breath.
It is the true self as opposed to the ego; that aspect of the self which transmigrates after death or becomes part of Brahman the force underlying all things. The final stage of moksha liberation is the understanding that one's atman is, in fact, Brahman.
The concept of the atman is central to all six major schools of Hinduismand it is one of the major differences between Hinduism and Buddhism. Buddhist belief does not include the concept of the individual soul. While the atman is the essence of an individual, Brahman is an unchanging, universal spirit or consciousness which underlies all things.
They are discussed and named as distinct from one another, but they are not always thought of as distinct; in some schools of Hindu thought, atman is Brahman.
Atman is similar to the Western idea of the soul, but it is not identical. One significant difference is that Hindu schools are divided on the subject of the atman. Dualistic Hindus believe that individual atmans are joined to but not identical with Brahman. Non-dual Hindus, by contrast, believe that individual atmans are Brahman; as a result, all atmans are essentially identical and equal.
The Western concept of the soul envisions a spirit which is specifically linked to an individual human being, with all of his or her particularity gender, race, personality. The soul is thought to come into existence when an individual human being is born, and it is not reborn through reincarnation.
The atman, by contrast, is according to most schools of Hinduism thought to be:. Brahman is similar in many ways to the Western concept of God: infinite, eternal, unchanging, and incomprehensible to human minds. There are, however, multiple concepts of Brahman.
In some interpretations, Brahman is a sort of abstract force which underlies all things.Introducing Hinduism: Atman and Brahman
In other interpretations, Brahman is manifested through gods and goddesses such as Vishnu and Shiva. According to Hindu theology, the atman is reincarnated over and over again. The cycle ends only with the realization that the atman is one with Brahman and is thus one with all creation.
It is possible to achieve this realization through living ethically in accordance with dharma and karma. The first known mention of atman is in the Rigvedaa set of hymns, liturgy, commentary, and ritual written in Sanskrit.
Sections of the Rigveda are among the oldest texts known; they were likely written in India between and BC.Atman is that which makes the other organs and faculties function and for which indeed they function; it also underlies all the activities of a person, as brahman the Absolute underlies the workings of the universe.
Atman is part of the universal brahmanwith which it can commune or even fuse. So fundamental was the atman deemed to be that certain circles identified it with brahman. Of the various systems darshan s of Hindu thought, Vedanta is the one that is particularly concerned with the atman.
Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Atman Hindu philosophy. See Article History. Read More on This Topic. Leaving the Charvakas aside, all Indian philosophies concern themselves…. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:.
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Most Hindus believe in brahmanan uncreated, eternal, infinite, transcendent, and all-embracing principle. Brahman contains in itself both being and nonbeing, and it is the sole reality—the ultimate cause, foundation, source, and goal of all existence. As the All, brahman either causes the universe….
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More About. Indianetzone - Indian Philosophy - Atman.It becomes virtuous through good acts, and vicious through evil acts. What it desires, so it resolves; what it resolves, so is its deed; and what deed it does, so it reaps. For example, in hymn 1. I am Brahman, therefore it became all. And whoever among the gods had this enlightenment, also became That.
It is the same with the sages, the same with men. He is like an animal to the gods. As many animals serve a man, so does each man serve the gods. Even if one animal is taken away, it causes anguish; how much more so when many are taken away? Therefore it is not pleasing to the gods that men should know this.
As the one fire, after it has entered the world, though one, takes different forms according to whatever it burns. Katha Upanishad, in Book 1, hymns 3. Know the intellect as the charioteer, and the mind as the reins.
In hymn 4. In Hinduism, self-knowledge is the knowledge and understanding of Atman, what it is, and what it is not. Advaita Vedanta philosophy considers Atman as self-existent awareness, limitless and non-dual. Dvaita school, states Graham Oppy, is not strict monotheism, as it does not deny existence of other gods and their respective Atman.
Within Mimamsa school, there was divergence of beliefs. The Upanishadic discussion of Atman, to them, was of secondary importance. Time and space are indivisible reality, but human mind prefers to divide them to comprehend past, present, future, relative place of other substances and beings, direction and its own coordinates in the universe.
Nyaya methodology influenced all major schools of Hinduism. Nyayasutra, a 2nd-century CE foundational text of Nyaya school of Hinduism, states that the soul is a proper object of human knowledge.Today, with about million followers, Hinduism is the third-largest religion behind Christianity and Islam. A swastika symbol featured on a tile at Hindu temple on Diu Island, India. The symbol is one of good luck and good fortune. There are two primary symbols associated with Hinduism, the om and the swastika.
The word swastika means "good fortune" or "being happy" in Sanskrit, and the symbol represents good luck. The om symbol is composed of three Sanskrit letters and represents three sounds a, u and mwhich when combined are considered a sacred sound.
The om symbol is often found at family shrines and in Hindu temples. The primary sacred texts, known as the Vedas, were composed around B. This collection of verses and hymns was written in Sanskrit and contains revelations received by ancient saints and sages. Most scholars believe Hinduism started somewhere between B. But many Hindus argue that their faith is timeless and has always existed. Around B. Rituals, such as sacrifices and chanting, were common in the Vedic Period. Hindus began to emphasize the worship of deities, especially Vishnu, Shiva and Devi.
The concept of dharma was introduced in new texts, and other faiths, such as Buddhism and Jainism, spread rapidly. Hinduism and Buddhism have many similarities. Buddhism, in fact, arose out of Hinduism, and both believe in reincarnation, karma and that a life of devotion and honor is a path to salvation and enlightenment.
The Medieval Period of Hinduism lasted from about to A. New texts emerged, and poet-saints recorded their spiritual sentiments during this time. In the 7th century, Muslim Arabs began invading areas in India. During parts of the Muslim Period, which lasted from about toIslamic rulers prevented Hindus from worshipping their deities, and some temples were destroyed.
Indian statesman and activist Mahatma Gandhi, Hindus generally accept the doctrine of transmigration and rebirth and the complementary belief in karma.
The whole process of rebirth, called samsarais cyclic, with no clear beginning or end, and encompasses lives of perpetual, serial attachments.
A - Definitions
Desire motivates any social interaction particularly when involving sex or foodresulting in the mutual exchange of good and bad karma. In one prevalent view, the very meaning of salvation is emancipation moksha from this morass, an escape from the impermanence that is an inherent feature of mundane existence. In this view the only goal is the one permanent and eternal principle: the One, God, brahmanwhich is totally opposite to phenomenal existence.
People who have not fully realized that their being is identical with brahman are thus seen as deluded. Fortunately, the very structure of human experience teaches the ultimate identity between brahman and atman. Hindus acknowledge the validity of several paths marga s toward such release. These ways are regarded as suited to various types of people, but they are interactive and potentially available to all.
The Bhagavadgita states that because action is inescapable, the three paths are better thought of as simultaneously achieving the goals of world maintenance dharma and world release moksha.
The designation of Hinduism as sanatana dharma emphasizes this goal of maintaining personal and universal equilibriumwhile at the same time calling attention to the important role played by the performance of traditional religious practices in achieving that goal.
Because no one person can occupy all the social, occupational, and age-defined roles that are requisite to maintaining the health of the life-organism as a whole, universal maxims e.
These four categories are superseded by the more practically applicable dharmas appropriate to each of the thousands of particular castes jati s. In principle then, Hindu ethics is exquisitely context-sensitive, and Hindus expect and celebrate a wide variety of individual behaviours.
The polarity of asceticism and sensuality, which assumes the form of a conflict between the aspiration for liberation and the heartfelt desire to have descendants and continue earthly life, manifests itself in Hindu social life as the tension between the different goals and stages of life.
For many centuries the relative value of an active life and the performance of meritorious works pravrittias opposed to the renunciation of all worldly interests and activity nivritihas been a much-debated issue.
While philosophical works such as the Upanishads emphasized renunciation, the dharma texts argued that the householder who maintains his sacred fire, begets children, and performs his ritual duties well also earns religious merit.
This concept was an attempt to harmonize the conflicting tendencies of Hinduism into one system. It held that a male member of any of the three higher classes should first become a chaste student brahmacharin ; then become a married householder grihasthadischarging his debts to his ancestors by begetting sons and to the gods by sacrificing; then retire as a vanaprasthawith or without his wife, to the forest to devote himself to spiritual contemplation; and finally, but not mandatorily, become a homeless wandering ascetic sannyasin.
The situation of the forest dweller was always a delicate compromise that was often omitted or rejected in practical life.