Talk:Ātman (Hinduism)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search


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)

 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)


It seems to me that the Buddhism-section is too simplistic. Theravda-orthodoxy rejects the notion of Atman, yet Mahayana Buddhism has plenty of similar ideas, with Buddha-nature and the Dharmakaya. There's more to Buddhism than "no Atman." See also Precanonical Buddhism. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:35, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

@JJ: Atman (Atta) and Anatta concepts are related opposite concepts. But Anatta/Atta and Buddha nature are different ideas, though interlinked. There has been, and continues to be a debate on this within Mahayana (even Theravada too). See the two disputes-related section in Anatta article. This article should keep its focus on Atman (Hinduism), but yes, adding the wikilinks is a good idea. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 13:22, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
The concepts are different, but the underlying "experience" is not, I think. The difference in concepts is due to the interpretative context. See also Shentong. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:08, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for the addition. Leesa S. Davis, Advaita Vedanta and Zen Buddhism: Deconstructive Modes of Spiritual Inquiry, may be a relevant source in this regard. See, for example, p.xvii-xviii, where she gives "eigth non-dual characteristics of non-dual meditative awareness." I'm looking for other sources which take a phenomenological approach, looking at the content of 'Atman-experience' c.q. sunyata etc.
This quote is also interesting:
"... the key non-dual characteristics of meditative awareness and the phases of heuristic inquiry are considered separately for analytical purposes;in the actual practice situation they are interlinked and presuppose each other." (p.xviii)
In other words: the experience may be the same, but the meaning/interpretation given to it may vary considerably. Advaita is committed to the Vedic tradition; it has to interpret this "non-dual awareness" in a Vedic/Upanishadic context. That's why Atman/anatman seems to be such a basic divide, I surmise: because the interpretative schemes differ. But the experience/awareness may be the same.
This article, Bijoy H. Boruah, Atman in Sunyata and the Sunyata of Atman, follows the same approach:
"What needs to be examined closely is what really is affirmed when the Vedantin affirms the existence of the self. What is the content of the self involved in Vedantic self-liberation?"
I don't know how reliable the source is, but it's the approach which is interesting. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 10:38, 31 January 2017 (UTC)
@JJ: The pages xvii-xviii of Davis are interesting. She states that there are similarities in the spiritual practice, meditative approaches and experiential modes in Advaita Vedanta and Zen Buddhism. But it is unclear how that is relevant to this article. The more relevant pages from her book are elsewhere such as pages 3-4, where she explicitly mentions and states "inner core or soul (atman)" is a part of the core ontology of Advaita Vedanta, versus the denial "of substance (atman)", "of such an immutable and identical inner core" that of the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism. Please see both the Murti quote and her own comments that start in the second last para of page 3 and thereafter. Are you suggesting we clarify this 'difference in ontology yet the similarity in spiritual practice' aspect in this article? Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 00:54, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
I noticed the Murti-quote; I think his statement draws a contrast which is too strong, yet has been highly influential. But treating the similarities in practice (and experience/awareness) may be undue, and/or crossing into Perennialism. On the other hand, I think that many practitioners, at least in the west, see strong similarities between Advaita and Zen/Mahayana. It's interesting, in this regard, that Nakamura, with his Buddhist background, had such a deep and respectfull interest in Advaita. And thinking of Zen, I can't help but notice that Zen has a strong touch of Buddha-nature, and in some respects does seem to come close to some sort of (unpersonal) Atman "theory." 'Seeing nature', after all, is about seeing your true nature. Again, the theoretical/theological/textual considerations may be different, but the experience/awareness seems to be quite the same. See also Dzogchen. So, I don't know for the moment. If we treat it, maybe along the line that "The concepts of Atman and anatman/sunyata/Buddha-nature differ, but many modern practitioners, but/and also some scholars, have noticed similarities in the phenomenological aspects of these concepts. While anatman and sunyata refer to codependent arising, which denies an unchanging essence, sunyata and Buddha-nature are related to meditative awareness, in which consciousness has a central heuristic role." Nay, this is vague, and unsourced, and yet, somehow it hinges on "centerless consciousness," "consciousness an sich," as central to both traditions. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:21, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
PS: Arvind Sharma, Experiential Advaita p.xiv, makes a distinction between "doctrinal Advaita" (Shankara) and "experiential Advaita" (Ramana Maharshi). That's an interesting distinction; it also seems to point to this intuition that "Atman" is an experiential quale (thanks, Javier), "self-luminous consciousness." Davis seems to be following Sharma in this distinction, when she elaborates on Ramana Maharshi in her treatment of Advaita Vedanta. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 07:08, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @JJ: Davis agrees with Murti, but they both are just acknowledging what is in the Buddhist canons and what the vast majority of Buddhism scholars have published. Harvey, Williams, Bronkhorst, Gombrich, King, Trainor, Plott, Gethin, Conze, Collins, Buswell, and so on. Atman/soul/self is a metaphysical concept, it is not sublatable, it is not qualia (to allege so is strange OR). On Arvind Sharma, pages 55-57 has a discussion on "self versus no-self" positions of "Hinduism versus Buddhism" respectively, in this same vein. I will take another look at Sharma's book and see if there is something else we could summarize here. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:09, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

Not so strange. I'm influenced by Carl Jung, who, despite his own metaphysical tendencies, took a Kantian approach and stated that experiences are not a proof of metaphysical entities. See also atrribution theory and cognitive science of religion; attribution, in the psychology of religion, asserts that we humans create a meaningfull world by attributing meaning to events. In the case of Advaita Vedanta and Atman: Atman is described as pure awareness, a description that is akin to similar descriptions in Buddhism, especially zen and Dzogchen. They may all point to similar meditative states of awareness, which are nevertheless explained (attributed) in quite different frameworks. Shankara's eternal Self is a theoretical construct, based on his reading of the Upanishads, which he couldn't dicard, being the Brahman that he was. But, if his Atman also has an experiential component, I think it's this meditative awareness, and this "experience," c.q. quala, of centerless awareness and unity. Which can also appear due to the use of drugs and as a side-effect of epileptic insults. So, the concepts may differ, but the experiences may be quite similar. But indeed, that's what I think. Though I'm not alone in that idea. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 12:56, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Ātman (Hinduism). Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 17:46, 4 June 2017 (UTC)