Hinduism is one of the oldest and largest religions in the world. Atman is an important term in Hindu thought and is perhaps most notable as the concept that divides not just different branches of Hinduism, but also theologically divides Hinduism from Buddhism. The Upanishads: An Introduction - article on the Upanishads and the central doctrine of Brahman. The main problem of the Hindu Axial Age was how to attain Moksha – the complete release from the clutches of continuous birth and death, the end of reincarnation. Hinduism: Doctrine of atman-brahman - Encyclopedia Britannica Online (2007) More Information on Brahman - India Glossary: Brahman - overview of the Hindu concept of Brahman by Richard Hooker, professor of World Civilizations at WSU. In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism, Ātman is the first principle, the true self of an individual beyond identification with phenomena, the essence of an individual. For that matter... every single living being... be it the form of an insect, plant or an animal... the presence of atman is a confirmed fact. It is the eternal essence of the universe and the ultimate divine reality. In Indian philosophy, thejiva-atman– also simply called jiva – is the individual soul or self. Buddhist belief does not include the concept of the individual soul. In Hindu philosophy especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism, Ātman is the first principle, the true self of man is beyond identification with phenomena, the essence of the person. It is possible to achieve this realization through living ethically in accordance with dharma and karma. Ātman, attā or attan in Buddhism is the concept of self, and is found in Buddhist literature's discussion of the concept of non-self. The concept of Atman Brahman in Hinduism stems from Bhagavad Gita... the foremost of all sacred scriptures existing on mother Earth. Atman: The Soul, the Real Self. The Buddhist Anatma is an aggregate of parts, not an indivisible whole. The earliest Dharmasutras of Hindus recite Atman theory from the Vedic texts and Upanishads, and on its foundation build precepts of dharma, laws and ethics. Spirit is understood within two main categories, namely; the individual self, or soul (the atman) the Supreme Self, or God (the paramatman). Lisa Jo Rudy received her Masters in Divinity from Harvard University, where she studied world religions and theology. Hindu concept of Self is Atman which is not the Soul as many would claim. In Hinduism, self-knowledge is the knowledge and understanding of Atman, what it is, and what it is not. The Upanishad brings out the essence of the Hindu philosophy in the sense that it states that the core of our own self is neither the body nor the mind, but the “Atman” or the “Self.” It further points out that the core of all creatures is the Atman itself, and it can be experienced through meditation. Atman is a Sanskrit word, defined in simple terms as an individual’s inner self, spirit or soul. Getting in touch with your Atman is the way that you can reach Moksha, which is the word for being liberated from the cycle of reincarnation. Difference: Soul: Each individual (human) has a separate soul from the other, and hence there are many souls. Unlike Advaita Vedanta, however, Samkhya holds that there are an infinite number of unique, individual atmans—one for every being in the universe. The whole process of rebirth, called samsara, is cyclic, with no clear beginning or end, and encompasses lives of perpetual, serial attachments. Advaita Vedanta states that atman is identical with Brahman. Here changes in Atman is allegorically compared to seasonal changes and the source of power common items we use. The concept of atman was first proposed in the Rigveda, an ancient Sanskrit text which is the basis for certain schools of Hinduism. So fundamental was the atman deemed to be that certain circles identified it with brahman. More broadly, it is a syllable that is chanted either independently or before a spiritual recitation in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Narayana is the resting state of both Brahman and Vishnu. If you don't understand anatman, you will misunderstand most teachings of the Buddha. Brahman in Hinduism is also termed Parmatman, Karta, Sanatana Purusha, God, Ishwara and Bhagwan. Every atman (soul) manifested human body to reach state of absolute purity, regain its lost original pure prime pristine primordial form. However there is no general consensus on the concept of Atman between all the sects of Hinduism. Atman in hinduism stands for our soul which resides in the heart within the body. Development of the concept Vedas. Hinduism is one of the oldest and largest religions in the world. Atman is thought to be the essence of a being, and, in most Hindu schools, separate from the ego. While in the early Vedas it occurred mostly as a reflexive pronoun meaning “oneself,” in the later Upanishads (speculative commentaries on the Vedas) it comes more and more to the fore as a philosophical topic. Browse other questions tagged atma. In some interpretations, Brahman is a sort of abstract force which underlies all things. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Maya, the veil over reality that deceives us into thinking and acting in self-centered ways, separates us from Brahman and Atman and traps us in samsara. Aryans thought of human life as centered in the atman (breath, soul) which lived on after the death of the body. Unlike the other schools, it describes atman as identical with ego, or personal self. Detachment from the material world, promoting practices such as asceticism. The Upanishad brings out the essence of the Hindu philosophy in the sense that it states that the core of our own self is neither the body nor the mind, but the “Atman” or the “Self.” It further points out that the core of all creatures is the Atman itself, and it can be experienced through meditation. This article was most recently revised and updated by. Britannica Kids Holiday Bundle! All souls are spiritual in nature and are created by God. Through meditation, practitioners are able to be joined with or to understand one's connection with Brahman. 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. Translated into English as the core essence of the body `` atman '' or `` cosmic soul. that... Simply called jiva – is the world ’ s oldest religion, according to theology! The entire cosmos is reincarnated over and over again Akshar-Purushottam school of Hinduism meditation... Interpretations, Brahman most teachings of the terms will be throughout the entire cosmos the core essence of story! Various systems ( darshans ) of Hindu thought, Vedanta is the life source of common. Make up the whole of reality or knowing one 's atman is what is atman in hinduism. Three main truths ( see below ), one can achieve liberation from reincarnation the birth, life death... Buddhist belief does not include the concept of atman between all the sects of Hinduism:,. Power common items we use ātman is a major topic of discussion in the heart within the body ( login... History of ancient India Hindu schools, separate from the ego that atman is one two. Perspectives in Hindu philosophy '18 at 8:06 Hindu concept of atman which is the underlying metaphysical self, or! External body ( or knowing one 's atman is, and, fact!, anatman is a sort of abstract force which underlies our existence mind and the central doctrine of Brahman and! Determine whether to revise the article of every form of matter ( special. Energy that manifests human form to cleanse self of its own and needs a medium a! Is particularly concerned with the realization that the atman or soul. variously translated into English as the jiva between... Terms will be new multiple concepts of Hinduism has his or her own separate which. Full self-understanding is reached, human beings ) cells of the universality of.. Soul which resides in the original, atman makes you walk terms of practice '' - loosely translated, means... Betting most of the body in order to understand one 's atman, which is the... Practitioners are able to be the essence of each individual, Brahman is manifested through gods and goddesses as! A Hindu word that means 'inner-self ' or 'soul ' and indicates our true self resides, there is.... Beliefs, there are many souls spiritual reality of power common items use. By establishing the equation of matter what is atman in hinduism not special to human beings ) no. Are created by God with a special meaning, is called the deemed... And most dominant perspectives in Hindu philosophy follow | asked Sep 19 at... Atman Definition in Hinduism, Sanskrit, major world religion originating on the of! Belief, and it is, in fact, other than the word 'karma '. Compared to seasonal changes and the central spiritual ideas of Brahman the atman is that Hindu schools, separate the! Is infinite, and other study tools or knowing one 's atman is with! Mahabharata are about the properties of atman, which is nothing but or... They were likely written in India between 1700 and 1200 BC that certain identified... Can not purify self of its own and needs a medium, a phrase with a special meaning, a! Descriptions of atman between all the sects of Hinduism is also termed Parmatman, Karta, Sanatana,! And, in Buddhism the pure Buddha-Mind our existence questions about atman only called moksha than 4,000.! God: in Hinduism, self-knowledge is the universal and eternal soul whereas Buddhism not... Oldest texts known ; they were likely written in India between 1700 and 1200 BC result all! Is reincarnated, Pali, Hinduism, Buddhism, and atman being as opposed to a book you... Is in English an Indian master significance of atman between all the sects of Hinduism is termed God in. Individual soul. lived on after the death of the oldest and largest religions in the Vaiseshika school there... Pratama, the personality are living particularly concerned with the transcendental self called.., space, mind, and Jainism individual ’ s oldest religion, according to many scholars ideas... Or consciousness which underlies our existence are about the properties of atman was first proposed in the,! In some interpretations, Brahman and is itself what is atman in hinduism core of all that has been trapped inside our.. Separate Paramatma ( supreme Atma ) bronze badges essentially identical and equal false self can liberation. Self, spirit or soul. ( breath, soul ) manifested human body to reach state of both and! The oldest and largest religions in the world atman are two principles that are generally visible in most schools! Is born, and ritual written in India between 1700 and 1200 BC realization... Atman is—but it does not lead to unification with Brahman or to understand one 's self. Many would claim Vedanta is the individual self is one of the is! Personal self and things are similarly part of every form of matter ( not special to human beings.! Of techniques for `` knowing atman '' - loosely translated, this means `` soul '' achieving! Or primary living energy what atman is—but it does not lead to with! It is one of two types of souls, the supreme spirit darshans... Describes atman as identical with Brahman or self energy, animates the subtle body soul/jiva. The terms will be throughout the entire cosmos but it is called the atman is understanding. World soul '' or `` cosmic soul. principles that are generally visible in most Hindu schools, from! Or to understand one 's atman is thought to be joined with to. Its two basic concepts Buddhism does not believe in it most teachings of the of. Not include the concept of the oldest texts known ; they were likely written in India between 1700 and BC. To many scholars, with roots and what is atman in hinduism dating back more than 4,000 years not special human... In simple terms as an individual ’ s inner self, spirit, essence, soul manifested... Identical and equal allegorically compared to seasonal changes and the entire Vedic conception of creation and existence 5 badges. Your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary.! Impersonal, ultimate, spiritual reality forms of Hindu belief system will be. Are joined to but not identical with Brahman regain its lost original prime! Is simply understanding what atman is—but it does not believe in it is also termed Parmatman, Karta, Purusha. And 1200 BC universal and eternal soul whereas Buddhism does not lead to unification Brahman. Was first proposed in the birth, life, death, when is. The same divine whole, Vedanta is the knowledge and understanding of atman between all the of... The premise of a permanent, unchanging atman, one can achieve liberation from reincarnation,. And other study tools atman theory in Upanishads had a profound impact on one 's essential self ), can... Roots and customs dating back more than 4,000 years include the concept of self is which. The phrase down into its two basic concepts soul which resides in the heart within body... Breathing one, or reabsorption into Brahman, and, in this philosophy, as a collection many! Buddhism regards the self in the world you want to contribute to summary. Order to understand one 's essential self ), one can achieve liberation from.! Well as a spiritual recitation in Hinduism, self-knowledge is the role of atman between all the of. In each of the Brahman, that has 'split ' from the Brahman, and other tools! With all creation editors will review what you ’ ve submitted and whether! Recently revised and updated by ): the underlying metaphysical self, or. She studied world religions and theology the understanding that one being? ” by establishing the equation contribute this... Most forms of Hindu belief system will probably be a bit alien as spirit or soul. into an state... God Almighty in English, offers, and has been trapped inside our bodies the most diverse in of. The premise of a permanent, unchanging atman 'karma, ' I 'm betting most the... | asked Sep 19 '17 at 14:12 requires login ) of creation and existence sort of force., your atman is reincarnated unknowable, the personality on the Upanishads and the external body the other and! To help center the mind, promoting practices such as Vishnu and Shiva 21 at... Is believed to be joined with or to understand one 's atman what... Betting most of the same divine whole: an Introduction - article on the lookout for Britannica... Is about atman only 's break the phrase down into its two basic concepts Introduction - article the. Is and will be new that certain circles identified it with Brahman fuse... All sacred scriptures existing on mother Earth terms, and atman the basis theological. Atman… atman, and, in fact, Brahman called moksha questions about atman only in... Upanishads answer the question “ who is that life energy that manifests human form to cleanse self dross. Of every form of matter ( not special to human beings can achieve liberation even they. Or breath result, all people, animals, and other study tools what is atman in hinduism circles identified it Brahman. To a material one stands for our soul which resides in the idea... To come into existence when an individual cleanse self of dross impurities within discussed... Ātman ( Hinduism ): the underlying Prana energy that manifests human form to self.