Atma, aka: Ātma, Ātmā; 10 Definition(s)

Introduction

Atma means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Pancaratra (worship of Nārāyaṇa)

Ātma (आत्म) refers to an aspect of nṛsiṃha (‘man-lion’), according to the Vihagendra-saṃhitā 4.17, which mentions seventy-four forms (inlcuding twenty forms of vyūha). He is also known as Ātmanṛsiṃha or Ātmanarasiṃha. Nṛsiṃha is a Tantric deity and refers to the furious (ugra) incarnation of Viṣṇu.

The 15th-century Vihagendra-saṃhīta is a canonical text of the Pāñcarātra corpus and, in twenty-four chapters, deals primarely with meditation on mantras and sacrificial oblations.

Source: Wisdom Library: Pāñcarātra
Pancaratra book cover
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Pancaratra (पाञ्चरात्र, pāñcarātra) represents a tradition of Hinduism where Narayana is revered and worshipped. Closeley related to Vaishnavism, the Pancaratra literature includes various Agamas and tantras incorporating many Vaishnava philosophies.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

1) Ātma (आत्म).—Has no guṇas. Twelve characteristics of.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa I. 18. 50; VII. 1. 7-9; 7. 19-20.

2) Ātmā (आत्मा).—That which is attained, which is taken away and that which is, and hence the ever present bhāva.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 5. 34-5.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Nyaya (school of philosophy)

Ātmā (आत्मा, “self”) refers to one of the twelve prameya (“objects of valid knowledge) according to the first chapter of Gautama’s Nyāyasūtra (2nd century CE). Prameya in turn represents the second of the sixteen padārthas (“categories”). Accordingly, regarding ātmā it is said: “desire, aversion, volition, pleasure, pain and intelligence are the qualities of ātmā and abide in it”.

According to the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika, ātmā is a unique substance because of its guṇas like desire, aversion, volition, pleasure, pain and cognition. Naiyāyikas accepts the existence of the ātmā (self) through anumāna (cf. Gautama’s 2nd-century Nyāyasūtra 1.1.10). Ātmā is the inherent cause of cognitions. It is an object of mental perception.

According to Jayanta Bhaṭṭa, the self (ātmā) is also pratyakṣa. He states that the object of the conception of ‘I’ is perceived as self (cf. Nyāyamanjarī). Radhakrishnan states that “The soul exerts itself to gain or get rid of objects by means of the body, which is the seat of the senses, mind and sentiments. We cannot identify the body with either consciousness or the self which possesses it. Nor can we identify consciousness with the vital processes. Vitality is a name for a particular relation of the self to the body”.

Source: Shodhganga: A study of Nyāya-vaiśeṣika categories
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Nyaya (न्याय, nyaya) refers to a school of Hindu philosophy (astika), drawing its subject-matter from the Upanishads. The Nyaya philosophy is known for its theories on logic, methodology and epistemology, however, it is closely related with Vaisheshika in terms of metaphysics.

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Vaisheshika (school of philosophy)

Ātmā (आत्मा, “self”) refers to one of the nine substances (dravya) according to the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika school of philosophy (cf. Vaiśeṣikasūtra 1.1.5, Saptapadārthī, Tarkabhāṣā and Bhāṣāpariccheda). The Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas accept the reality of an eternal self (ātmā) which is not material. Radhakrishnan mentions that “According to the Nyāya, the universe has certain elements which are not corporeal. These are our cognitions, desires, aversions, volitions and feelings of pleasure and pain. All these modes of consciousness are transitory and so are not themselves to be identified with substances. They are viewed as qualities of the substance called the soul”.

Gautama includes ātmā in the list of prameyas, rather it is the first prameya. He describes ātmā as that which causes desire, aversion, volition, pleasure, pain and intelligence in his view. These qualities are the signs or marks of the self. Thus according to Gautama the self is not perceptible; it is inferred by these signs. Kaṇāda also agrees with Gautama and says that ātmā is not perceptible but inferred. Kaṇāda lists eight inferential signs or liṅgas in order to proof the existence of the ātmā. Praśastapāda describes some of the liṅgas enumerated in the Nyāyasūtra as the qualities of the self. He says buddhi (knowledge), sukha (happiness), duḥkha (pain), icchā (desire), dveṣa (aversion), prayatna (volition), dharma (merit), adharma (demerit), saṃskāra (tendency), saṃkhyā (number), parimāṇa (magnitude), pṛthaktva (distinctness), saṃyoga (conjunction) and vibhāga (disjunction). From these it is cleared that Praśastapāda has included both the special qualities and the common qualities here.

Annaṃbhaṭṭa also discusses about the size of the self (ātmā) in his Dīpikā. There are three views prevalent in Indian philosophical surcles. Some philosophers uphold the view that the self is atomic in size. The Jaina says that the self is of medium size that is the size of the body. The Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas on the other hand says that the self is all-pervasive. Annaṃbhaṭṭa refuse the first view of the atomic size of the self on the ground that the self then will not be able to feel pleasure or pain through the each whole-body. It is also not possible to accept the self as of medium size because in that case the self would be non-eternal and in that case there will be happened kṛtanāśa (destruction of what is down) akṛtābhyāgama (enjoyment of what is not down). Thus at the end the self must be regarded as all-pervasive

Source: Shodhganga: A study of Nyāya-vaiśeṣika categories (vaisesika)
Vaisheshika book cover
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Vaisheshika (वैशेषिक, vaiśeṣika) refers to a school of orthodox Hindu philosophy (astika), drawing its subject-matter from the Upanishads. Vaisheshika deals with subjects such as logic, epistemology, philosophy and expounds concepts similar to Buddhism in nature

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Ātma (आत्‍मा): The underlying metaphysical self, sometimes translated as spirit or soul.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

General definition (in Buddhism)

Ātma (आत्म) or Ātmadhāraṇī refers to “the rentention of oneself” and represents the “four retentions” (dhāraṇī) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 52). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., ātma). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Ātma (आत्म).—How many categories of sentients/ soul / jīva / ātma are there? There are two main categories of soul, namely: empirical (saṃsārī) and pure or liberated (mukta). (see Tattvārthasūtra 2.10)

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 2: the Category of the living
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

ātmā (आत्मा).—m (S) The vivifying principle; the animal soul or life. 2 The soul of the universe, brahma (anima mundi); or the immaterial and immortal spirit of man considered as identical with it. 3 The self, the abstract person or individual. 4 The nature or constitution; the natural temperament or disposition. 5 This word is further used to express--The intellect or understanding; the faculty of reason; wind or air; the body. Note. Countless compounds are formed with ātma after the assumption of क. See क.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

ātmā (आत्मा).—m The soul; the self; the nature; the intellect.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Atma (अत्म).—semi-MIndic for ātmā, self: LV 419.8 (verse); see § 3.35.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Relevant definitions

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