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Atman: Upanishads and Historic Vedic Conception of Creation & Existence

I like to read and write Indian Philosophy, Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, etc. are vast concepts to learn how to live a good life by its teaching

Atman-the concept of 'self' or individual soul' found in Indian philosophy.

Atman-the concept of 'self' or individual soul' found in Indian philosophy.

Who am I?

I often ask myself, who am I? What is the core of me? Why I feel the void at the center of my chest? There must be something which needs to be filled. It is craving for some sacred and intangible touch. These questions are like a puzzle. I wanted to solve it so that I can be happy and complete. So, I begin to learn about Atman, a sacred topic of Hinduism. What I learned by reading this philosophical subject? By reading my article, you will learn about Atman, the core—self, like me.

What is Atman?

Atman is a Sanskrit word that means self, breath, spirit, or soul. It is one of the most sacred concepts in Hinduism. Atman is the universal self. It is an identical one that remains with the eternal core of every personality, alive or dead. It transmigrates to a new life after the previous body dies or attains Moksha (release) from the cycle of life and death, the bonds of existence.


In Vedas, it is a reflexive pronoun with a meaning of oneself.


The texts of Upanishad state that the core of every individual self is not the body, nor the mind, nor the ego, but it is the Atman, soul. It is the spiritual essence, the innermost being that connects us to the truth. It remains in all creatures. It is eternal. It is ageless. It is the real self beyond the physical body. It makes a human realize that there is the deepest level of one existence.


In Vedanta, the school of Hinduism, Atman is recognized as the first principle. The true self of an individual is beyond identification. It is the essence of oneself. It believes that if a human wants to attain Moksha (liberation), he must acquire Atma Gyan (Self-knowledge).

Other thoughts on Atman

Additionally, for the different schools of thought, self-realization is the process of knowing one true self (Jivatman), the ultimate reality (Brahm Gyan). It is also known as the Advaita (Non-Dualist).

Hinduism also believes that there is Atman in every living being, called jiva in Sanskrit.

The path of immortility

The path of immortility

How Atman Helps Us to Function

Atman or spirit makes the other faculties and organs function so that living beings can do activities, as Brahman (the absolute). It is a part of the universal Brahman.

Generally, people in this fast-paced world do not want to know how all functions. What is the essence that helps you connect with that unseen sacred value that we undervalue? Philosophy helps us to know ourselves, and it all begins with the Atman.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad depicts Atman as the one on which everything exists. It is the highest value, which allows and permits everything. It is the essence of all, bliss, and beyond.

In hymn 4.4.5, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is associated with everything and can make one free from desire. It is beyond good and evil.

Atman is indeed Brahman. It identifies with the intellect, the Manas (mind), the breath, the eyes, and ears. It is with earth, water, air, and ākāśa (sky). It is with fire, desire, anger, righteousness, and unrighteousness, and everything known and unknown. It is with what we, perceiving, and with what is inferring. Ātman does act. It becomes good by doing good, and evil by going bad. Other scriptures say, the self is identified with the desire alone.


Atman is Brahman

Atman, soul, and self of oneself, every person, every being is the same as Brahman, the absolute one.

Additionally, the Upanishads describe the difference between I and You. It is the ultimate source of Moksha (liberation), and even gods cannot prevail over a liberal man.

Whoever knows the eternal secret that “I am Brahman” becomes the entire universe. If the gods try to prevail against that human, he takes a back because the man gets enlightenment. Now, if a man prays another god, thinking he is the ultimate one. He does not know the Brahman. He is similar to an animal to the gods.

Katha Upanishad

Brihadaranyaka, the earlier and middle Upanishads discuss Atman or spirit as they build their theories to answer how a man can get Nirwana, freedom, or bliss.

The Katha Upanishad explains that spirit is the transcendent innermost essence of every living being, human or a living creature that manifests in different forms and others.

Katha Upanishads also says Atman as a chariot for the relation of spirit to body, mind, and senses.

Sanskrit-an ancient language which originated in India.

Sanskrit-an ancient language which originated in India.

The Translation by Stephen Kaplan

Stephen Kaplan translates the Upanishads hymns, which are in the Sanskrit language. He describes Upanishads are very important to understand. It helps us know the philosophy of human existence and drive our lives towards it, rather than wandering behind the tangible or unworthy things or pleasures.

You should know the intellect as the charioteer and the mind as the reins. The senses are the horses, and sense objects are the paths around them.- Stephen Kaplan

Chandogya Upanishad

The Chandogya Upanishad explains Atman is separated from its other part (as Shiva-Shakti). It is the essence and innermost, true, radiant self of oneself that connects and unifies all.

Hymn 4.10.1 to 4.10.3 explains:

It is like rivers, some of which flows to the east and some to the west. However, ultimately, all merge into the ocean and become one.

In the same way, every soul is a pure being. An individual soul is pure truth, and the soul is a manifestation of that great ocean of one universal soul.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Archana Das


Archana Das (author) from New Delhi, India on January 03, 2021:

Thank you so very much for liking my piece of work.

manatita44 from london on January 03, 2021:

You have done an excellent job here, Archana. Good on ya! More merits to you.

Your poem asks the eternal question? Charming!!

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