Atman, aka: Ātman; 13 Definition(s)

Introduction

Atman means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit. 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

Ayurveda (science of life)

The Ātman (आत्मन्), or jīva, is the third factor required for the proudction of the foetus, besides the union of the male seed and female blood. It accounts for the individual and mental characteristics. It is carried by the subtle body and manas, under the influence of the law of karman, into contact with a particular embryo. Only when this union is effected, does the embryo start to develop.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany
Ayurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

Advaita Vedānta (school of philosophy)

Atman is only another name of Brahman. Whenever we perceive a thing, from any mental impression, it must be the Atman and nothing else that we perceive. Only in our ignorance we fail to grasp the real nature of the thing experienced (the Atman), and call it under various names and forms. So, our egoism, our intellect, and all mental slates are manifestations of the Atman and Atman alone.

(Source): archive.org: Vivekachudamani
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Advaita Vedānta (अद्वैतवेदान्त) refers to a sub-school of Vedānta, a school of orthodox Hindu philosophy (āstika). Advaita Vedānta advocates non-dualism and emphasizing that the path to spiritual realization (mokṣa) is achievable in this life. Literature in this school teaches the importance of terms such as Brahman (ultimate reality), Ātman (real self), Māyā (illusion) and Avidyā (ignorance).

Vaiśeṣika (school of philosophy)

Ātman (आत्मन्, “self”) is one of the nine dravyas (‘substances’), according to the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras. These dravyas are considered as a category of padārtha (“metaphysical correlate”). These padārthas represent everything that exists which can be cognized and named. Together with their subdivisions, they attempt to explain the nature of the universe and the existence of living beings.

(Source): Wikipedia: Vaisheshika
Vaiśeṣika book cover
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Vaiśeṣika (वैशेषिक, vaisheshika) refers to a school of orthodox Hindu philosophy (āstika), drawing its subject-matter from the Upaniṣads. Vaiśeṣika deals with subjects such as logic, epistemology, philosophy and expounds concepts similair to Buddhism in nature

Kośa (encyclopedic lexicons)

Ātman (आत्मन्).—The term ātman is of crucial significance in Indian thought. Basically it denotes the essence of anything that is all-pervading. At the seconday level ātman (self) is also identified with body, mind, intellect, vital force and so on. As such there are the concepts—Supreme Self, individual self. Kalātattvakośa (Vol. I) elucidated the many dimensions of the concept.

The etymology of the word ātman is uncertain. It is variously derived from the roots an-‘to breath’ (cf. prāṇa), at-‘to move’, or -‘to blow’.

(Source): Google Books: Kalātattvakośa, volume 3
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Kośas (कोश, kosha) are Sanskrit lexicons intended to provide additional information regarding technical terms used in religion, philosophy and the various sciences (śāstra). The oldest extant thesaurus (kośa) dates to the 4th century AD.

Āraṇyaka (vedic rituals and philosophy)

Ātman (आत्मन्, “self, body”) refers to one of the dravyapañcaka (fivefold substances), defined in the Taittirīya-āraṇyaka 7.7.1. The dravyapañcaka, and other such fivefold divisions, are associated with the elemental aspect (adhibhūta) of the three-fold division of reality (adhibhūta, adhidaiva and adhyātma) which attempts to explain the phenomenal nature of the universe. Adhibhūta denotes all that belongs to the material or elemental creation.

The Taittirīya-āraṇyaka is associated with the Kṛṣṇa-yajurveda and dates from at least the 6th century BCE. It is composed of 10 chapters and discusses vedic rituals and sacrifices (such as the mahāyajña) but also includes the Taittirīya-upaniṣad and the Mahānārāyaṇa-upaniṣad.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Āraṇyaka
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Āraṇyaka (आरण्यक, aranyaka) denotes a category of vedic literature relating the philosophy behind vedic rituals and ceremonies. They are Sanskrit commentaries further explaining the four Vedas (ṛg, yajur, sāma and atharva-veda) from various perspectives.

Yoga (school of philosophy)

Ātman (आत्मन्, “lower self”).—The duality involved in this conception of a friend and a foe, of conqueror and conquered, of an uplifting power and a gravitating spirit, naturally involves a distinction between a higher self (paramātman) and a lower self (ātman). It is only when this higher self conquers the lower that a self is a friend to itself. In a man who has failed to conquer his own passions and self-attachments the self is its own enemy. The implication, however, is that the lower self, though it gravitates towards evil, has yet inherent in it the power of self-elevation.

(Source): archive.org: A History of Indian Philosophy (yoga)
Yoga book cover
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Originally, Yoga is considered a branch of orthodox Hindu philosophy (astika), but both ancient and modern Yoga combine the physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga teaches various physical techniques also known as āsanas (postures), used for various purposes (eg., meditation, contemplation, relaxation).

Vyākaraṇa (Sanskrit grammar)

Ātman (आत्मन्).—Agent or Kaṛtr as in the terms आत्मनेपद (ātmanepada) or आत्मनेभाषा (ātmanebhāṣā), cf. सुप आत्मनः क्यच् (supa ātmanaḥ kyac) III. 1.8.

(Source): Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
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Vyākaraṇa (व्याकरण, vyakarana) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedāṅga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyākaraṇa concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Atman is the soul. It is believed to be indestructable and immutable. The Advaitha (not-dual) principle (this was propounded by the great philospher Adi-Sankara), states that the Soul is the only one, it is the truth and all else is Mithya (illusion). As per this theory, Moksha (salvation) is attained when illusion is dispelled by self-realization. It states that Karma (deeds) is the basis of the cycle of life and birth. Likes and dislikes spring from attachment. To attain Moksha, it is necessary to be free from Likes and dislikes.

The counter principle Dvaitha states that Atman is separate from the universal spirit that is Brahman. The soul is constantly trying to achieve unity with the universal spirit from whence it sprang. Salvation is attained when this union takes place.

In the Katha Upanishad, which is associated with the "Black" Yajur Veda, Nachiketa asks Yama to explain the nature of Atman (soul). Yama says,

"The soul is devoid of beginning and an end. It is infinite and is devoid of cause and effect. It is free from life and death. It is one, it is flawless. The body is merely a transitory home for the soul. The body ceases to exist at death, but Atman is indestructible."

(Source): Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Ātman (आत्मन्).—According to Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XIV).—Ātman is non-existent (anupalabdha); it is only a designation (prajñaptipat). It exists as a result of diverse causes and conditions, but only nominally and conventionally (nāmasaṃketa). Thus when a magician (māyākāra) kills himself, the spectators see him dead, and when a trick resuscitates him, the spectators see him alive; but his life and his death have only nominal existence (prajñaptisat) and are not real (dravyasat).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

N (Self inherent entity). That which rests upon itself. Self inherent existence of a thing.

(Source): Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary

'self, ego, personality,

is in Buddhism a mere conventional expression (vohāradesanā), and no designation for anything really existing; s. paramattha-desanā, anattā, puggala, satta, jīva.

(Source): Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines
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Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

General definition (in Buddhism)

The individual self or the soul in Brahmanic thought.(Source): Buddhist Door: Glossary

Atman or Atta (Pali) literally means "self", but is sometimes translated as "soul" or "ego". The word derives from the Indo European root *et men (breath) and is cognate with Old English aethm and German atem In Buddhism, the belief in the existence of an unchanging atman is the prime consequence of ignorance, which is itself the cause of all misery and the foundation of samsara. The early scriptures do, however, see an enlightened being as one whose changing, empirical self is highly developed.

Some Mahayana Buddhist sutras and tantras present other Buddhist teachings with positive language by strongly insisting upon the ultimate reality of the atman when it is equated with each beings inborn potential to become and future status as a Buddha (Tathagatagarbha doctrine).

(Source): WikiPedia: Buddhism

Relevant definitions

Search found 158 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Atmaja
Ātmaja (आत्मज).—m. Derivable forms: ātmajaḥ (आत्मजः).Ātmaja is a Sanskrit compound consisting o...
Atmarama
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Atmastuti
Ātmastuti (आत्मस्तुति).—f. self-praise, boasting, bragging. Derivable forms: ātmastutiḥ (आत्मस्...
Atmaghataka
Ātmaghātaka (आत्मघातक).—1) a suicide, a self-destroyer; K.174; व्यापादयेद् वृथात्मानं स्वयं योऽ...
Atmananda
Ātmānanda (आत्मानन्द).—a. Rejoicing in the soul or Supreme Spirit; आत्ममिथुनः आत्मानन्दः (ātmam...
Atmasamyama
ātmasaṃyama (आत्मसंयम).—m Self-restraint, self-control.
Atmaupamya
Ātmaupamya (आत्मौपम्य).—Likeness to self. आत्मौपम्येन सर्वत्र (ātmaupamyena sarvatra) Bg.6.32. ...
Bhutatman
Bhūtātman (भूतात्मन्).—1) one whose soul is purified. 2) composed of the five elements (as the ...
Aniyatatman
Aniyatātman (अनियतात्मन्).—a. not self-possessed, whose soul is not properly controlled. Aniyat...
Atmasad
Ātmasad (आत्मसद्).—a. Ved. dwelling in oneself; आत्मसदौ स्तं मा मा हिंसिष्टम् (ātmasadau staṃ m...
Atmapurana
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Aprameyatman
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Tyaktatman
Tyaktātman (त्यक्तात्मन्).—a. despairing. Tyaktātman is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the t...
Atmaprabhava
Ātmaprabhava (आत्मप्रभव).—1) a son; यः स वासवनिर्जेता रावणस्यात्म- संभवः (yaḥ sa vāsavanirjetā ...
Atmadana
Ātmadāna (आत्मदान).—self-sacrifice, resigning oneself. Derivable forms: ātmadānam (आत्मदानम्).Ā...

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