Talk:Ātman (Hinduism)

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See also: Talk:Atman


The distinctions between pantheism and panentheism have been the subject of debate both jhere and elsewhere for some time, but I will carefully point out the most obvious and pertinant fact in this matter: By the most widely agreed apon definition of Pantheism (God=Existence) and every description of Brahman I have found, Brahman is the sum total of all things, existence personified, the breath of live within us, Immanence. Finially I sternly rebuke your notion that Brahman is distinct from the monotheistic God, that is an opinion which I have only heard from Christians Jews and Muslims, and one which I am glad to have never heard before from a Hindu. Sanatana Dharama is an inclusivist faith, and does not seek to divide the religions of truth, but rather to enlighten others of the underlying unity. Sam [Spade] 12:12, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Dude stop being a pedantic preacher. YOur readings were obviously full of lacunae because the Upanishads speaks about saguna and nirguna brahman, the latter, and more primordial aspect, being without form and hence transcendant. This was seen even in the Nasadiya Hymn of the tenth Mandala of the Rig Veda in which hiranyagarbha is pre-empted by a formless, non-space bound supra-conscious nothingness. The idea is not to confuse, but to imply that there is both unmanifest and manifest Brahman. Now note, the Upanishads did not advocate an illusory Maya, on the other hand... this interpretation was forwarded by the Advaitists, the first of the Vedanta schools, under Adi Shankaracharya. It was only a couple of centuries following that a cogent and influential proposition regarding Brahman was formed by the Dvaitists and Vishisthadvaitists. Lastly, you don't even have a clue as to Hinduism if you view it as one big homogenous blob. There are many major movements of thought that often view God differently... you need to start reading the debates recorded in Sanskrit in which proponents of different sects (like in the aforementioned Vedanta sects) would have it out in philosophical debates as to the nature of the ultimate Brahman, or the nature of being, etc. Pantheism is a crude form of everywhere-godness while panentheism understands God as being existence but also not being limited by it, which you're supporting. "From fullness, fullness." read that mantra inthe Upanishads and you'll understand. Hindus for centuries before your birth have embraced many different philosophies and are not limited to your reductive and totalitarian, normative view of how your ideal Hinduism should be. Hinduism allows for different views of the same truth. Peace --LordSuryaofShropshire 19:22, Sep 19, 2004 (UTC)

Well we generally agree, as helpful as that is. I understand and appreciate the diversity of thought within Hinduism, as I understand the philosophical intricacies which likely exist between the two of us on this very subject. I'm sure we could have a lengthy debate on God being limited by existance (a pointless question, since existance itself is infinate) as well as the unmanifest (something I would suggest might already exist, since God is "outside" time). All of this is in addition to the debate about the definition of pantheism and and panentheism, and the usefullness of distinguishing between the two (see a long debate here).

In summary, I find you to be an educated (I will wager you are better versed in the vedic literary tradition than I) yet opinionated individual. I myself am an opinionated preacher, perhaps even totalitarian, reductive, normative etc. I am not however pedantic, and fully accept the limitations of any sources when compared to God's direct word. Indeed my views and statements are not based on some single "lacunae" reading, but rather on careful meditation, deep prayer and intensive life experience (for example I find the gita a most agreeable book, having personally come to many of the same conclusions and observations previous to having read it). Regardless of source, an opinion is just that, a POV, and should not be stated as a fact within the article. If you can find a expert source stating that Brahman is panentheistic, I will find one stating that he is pantheistic. Until then, shall we allow the reader to make up his own mind? ;) Sam [Spade] 12:17, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I see where the disagreement is here. I'm not stating that brahman is panentheistic or pantheistic... I'm stating that certain schools of Hinduism view or understand atman as being panentheistic and others as a pantheist creator god. If you read the article it doesn't claim that Atman or Brahman is one thing and in fact traces the philosophical evolution of the term (though not exhaustively). I wasn't saying that it is, nor am I equipped to handle a philosophical debate on that level. Advaitists view it as panentheistic, Dvaitists tend to view it as a single Creator.--LordSuryaofShropshire 00:03, Sep 21, 2004 (UTC)

oh.. The way I read the article it appeared to be taking a stand. I reworded it to make it more clear that this view is an opinion, not a presentation of one position as correct. I'm sorry I misunderstood where you were coming from, and hopefully you like my new wording. If not, feel free to do what is necessary ;) Cheers, Sam [Spade] 15:27, 21 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I think you've done a fine job... later on this week, I think we can clarify and actually section the page according to different schools, preferably chronologically, and end with a summary paragraph intimating the common-ground and differences. --LordSuryaofShropshire 21:54, Sep 21, 2004 (UTC)

Not synonyms[edit]

This article has an inacuracy. Atman is not "synonymous" with Brahman. Rather, Adi Shankara arrives at the conclusion that in fact atman is Brahman -- that atman is one with and absolutely identical with Brahman. But this does not mean the words are mere synomyms. If they were simply synomyms then this would not have required his arguments. In western style language atman is what we would call the soul or self, the individual witness. But Brahman is the Over-soul, the unified indivisible eternal Self. Adi Shankara arrives at the discovery that the two are one and the same. But they are not simply symantic synomyms. Synomyms are words that are simply interchcangable in any sentence like "rich" and "wealthy." How to express this slight shade of explanation will be difficult and I may attempt it at some later date unless someone else sees how to do so. Chris 12:30, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

This has since been rectified. Ys, GourangaUK 13:28, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
Great! Chris 03:16, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Not a forum[edit]

Just a reminder to all that this talk page, and Wikipedia in general, is not a forum for general discussion of this subject. Discussion here is specifically for improvement of the article Atman, its structure and references. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:49, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

sounds like...[edit]

It seems this page tries to justify how Dvaita is better than Advaita? you quote from the Srimad Bhagavatam, hardly much from other sources... Stick to the topic!Domsta333 (talk) 06:06, 21 February 2008 (UTC)


Is there any link between the atlas bone supporting your head, atman in your head - and then of course atlantis being the pineal gland submerged by brain fluid? (talk) 12:23, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

history, etymology, translation[edit]

When did Europeans "orientalists" beginning translating the sanscrit word atman as self? The world self doesn't come into wide usage in English until the 17th century; the german word "selbst" (via English) a bit later. Scholars of Indian religion and philosophy should be attentive to the superimposition of the the word self into translations of Sanscrit literature (which probably occurred during the 18th and 19the centuries), and which may have distorted the subtly and nuance of atman as not equating perfectly with what Europeans of the time understood by the word self. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mwd123 (talkcontribs) 21:06, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

I came here to ask the exact same question, due to the exact same dismay. (talk) 21:54, 9 August 2016 (UTC)

Speaking of which, the etymology section is self-contradictory. The way it is written now, it seems to indicate that the Sanskrit word atman is derived from the Latin word anima. I'm not strong with Indo-Iranian languages, so I'm not sure if that is or can be true. But, then it goes on to say that the Sanskrit word anilah is a cognate with anima but that anilah and atman are not etymologically related. If, however, two words are cognates then they should be derived from the same word or one should be borrowed from the other. And if atman is derived from animus, and anilah and animus are derived from the same source, then they would all be etymologically related. (talk) 12:56, 13 April 2013 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done removed the paragraph. It was uncited since September 2012. Correct Knowledge«৳alk» 18:28, 13 April 2013 (UTC)

Yoga subsection[edit]

The "Yoga" subsection, under "Schools of thought" has been challenged as not being an accurate description of yoga or the views of yoga about Atman. That implies that it needs to be re-written, or removed, since the source is not representative of yogic thought generally. Sunray (talk) 01:00, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

I have rewritten the section after having a look at the reference. The underlying concept of there being many infinite selves (Purushas) is a part of Samkhya philosophy. And, since Yoga is based on Samkhya, I don't think the idea in the subsection is entirely inaccurate.CorrectKnowledge (talk) 13:14, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
I like the way you have rewritten that. The reference is one way of looking at yoga. There are others. While the foundation of Yoga is Samkhya, there were many developments in yoga through time. Raja Yoga, which originated in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali diverges from early Samkhya with the addition of the principle of Isvara (represented by the mystical syllable OM. (see this section of the WP article). Sunray (talk) 15:39, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
I read up the link you referred to and it has confused me even more. For one, it does not mention how Isvara ("distinct consciousness") is linked to the many Purushas (consciousnesses). Furthermore, there is no mention of Yoga being either dualistic or monistic. I will try reading Yoga from other sources to clarify this.CorrectKnowledge (talk) 18:40, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The question you pose: dualistic or monistic? is key, IMO. The source suggests it is dualistic, yet Raja Yoga is generally described as monistic (i.e., beyond dualism). Here's a source we might use:

"The action of breaking, or removing the walls that contain human consciousness so as to bring about a “union” of the individual self (jivatman) with the supreme self (paramatman), is the goal or purpose of the practice of yoga, and, it would seem, this is only possible through the body. The body becomes the mediating vehicle, or mesocosm, which stands between the individual, human world order (microcosm) and absolute, cosmic reality (macrocosm). This monistic vision implies a boundless unity between the individual and the world, or the microcosm and the macrocosm. This monistic philosophy, which became known as Vedanta (lit. “The end of the Vedas), transformed the dualistic Vedic worldview..."

"... the dualist, metaphysical framework from which Patanjali’s yoga emerged, namely the Samkhya school of philosophy, has caused many students and scholars of yoga to distinguish between it and later, and especially tantric developments of yoga.[7] Upanisadic speculation into the nature of the universe and the relation of the individual soul to it inspired new forms of yoga (e.g. jnanayoga, bhaktiyoga, etc.), which had monistic metaphysical frameworks as their basis. Tantric metaphysics carried this to its logical conclusion: imploding body (microcosm), individual soul (mesocosm), and divine soul (macrocosm), into one. It also developed concrete and coherent methods, like Laya, Kundalini and Hatha yoga..." —from "Patanjali’s Yoga Darsana – The Hatha Yoga Tradition," InfoRefuge.

It seems to me that the source in that section is over-generalizing about yoga based on early (Samkhya) texts. Patanjali, essentially bridged the development between dualistic views and the now more prevalent monistic ones. Sunray (talk) 00:24, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

{{Edit conflicted twice}} While Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali mention Isvara, liberation (Kaivalya) is still understood as Purusha abiding in its own nature, free from connections with Prakriti.(Cowell & Gough, p. 271)
Moreover, Yoga sutra, 3.56 further clarifies this — "With the attainment of equality between the purest aspect of sattvic buddhi and the pure consciousness of purusha, there comes absolute liberation, and that is the end."
So maybe a line giving the monistic interpretation of Yoga should be added without removing any existing material since both interpretations seem equally valid.CorrectKnowledge (talk) 00:34, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. We would need some adjustments of wording to clarify which school(s) of yoga we are referring to. Sunray (talk) 00:46, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
The latter quote might be useful in that regard. Sunray (talk) 00:48, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I replaced "which school" with the school of Patanjali. But on second thought, further rewording might be required since Patanjali does not explicitly oppose monistic interpretation. In fact, there would be no debate such as this if he had made dualism absolutely clear like Sankhya.CorrectKnowledge (talk) 00:53, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I have reworded the statement as "Yoga school of Patañjali, according to some commentators,[13] disputes the monism of Advaita...". You can add your bit after the completion of this statement with a "However...".CorrectKnowledge (talk) 00:59, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I adjusted the wording slightly. The view is widely held, IMO. Patanjali's Sutras were very influential in shaping the direction of modern yoga.Sunray (talk) 01:06, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I assumed you wanted to add monistic interpretations of Yoga in the subsection too. In any case, the new wording is fine by me.CorrectKnowledge (talk) 01:09, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

Dualistic Vedic world view[edit]

The Samkhya and Yoga section of the article refers to Vedic worldview as dualistic. While, Vedic worldview has been called Pantheistic[1], Panentheistic[2] and even Agnostic[3] calling it dualistic is novel way of describing it. Since, such a description is rare, further citation should be provided (other than the InfoRefuge one) or the word "dualistic" should be removed from the sentence.CorrectKnowledge (talk) 01:22, 2 June 2012 (UTC)


I removed an image from the lead section as it did not appear to be related to the topic. If an image is added there, please make sure it is helpful to the topic and its relation to the topic is made clear to the reader. Hoverfish Talk 17:38, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

The Self[edit]

The article states that:

Buddhism has defined nirvana as that blissful state when a person realizes that he or she has "no self, no soul".

This seems far too simplistic. I am well aware that there are Buddhists who think like this, and of course there is the obligatory reference, which seems satisfactory enough, but it has been my experience that those knowledgeable about the issue of the Self in Buddhism will often take a much more nuanced view than the one provided here.

Perhaps someone with more expertise could clarify? (talk) 22:12, 6 June 2016 (UTC)

@ We need to stick to summarizing scholarly sources, per wiki content policies. I have added a few more sources and embedded quotes, to the many that the article already had. If you have a reliable scholarly source that explains the "nuanced view" of the Self, please share. We must ignore experience/ wisdom/ prejudice/ opinion – those may be better for a blog, not an encyclopedia article. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 23:29, 6 June 2016 (UTC)