Atman (आत्मन्)

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Upanishads state that the inmost core of every person is not the body, nor the mind, nor the ego, but Atman – "Soul" or "Self". Atman is the spiritual essence in all creatures, their real innermost essential being. It is eternal, it is ageless. Atman is that which one is at the deepest level of one's existence.

Here when परमात्मा || Paramatama is addressed as Atman (आत्मन्), a confusion arises with regards to whether the chapter is discussing a living being or the supreme consciousness?

Brahma sutras, by vedavyasa, (1-4-19 sutras) explain this as वाक्यन्वयत || vakyanvayat. "The word आत्मा || atma here has to be seen here as परमात्मा || Paramatama".

Kenopanishad of Samaveda, gives collective instructions;

तद्ध तद्वनं नाम तद्वनमित्युपासितव्यं स य एतदेवं वेदाभिहैनँ सर्वाणि भूतानि संवाञ्छन्ति ॥ ६॥ (Kena. Upan. 4.6)[citation needed]

Meaning : He has the name vana (every one want to have Him, love Him and desire Him) He should be worshiped (considered as dear), one who understand this, will also be loved by all.

Taittiriya Upanishad says,एसःयेव नन्द्याति || esahyeva nandayaati meaning He gives bliss to all (that is परमात्मा || Paramatama) .

Yajnavalkya explains, during the highest stage of yoga, जीवात्मा || jivatama is drowned in the bliss of embrace of the परमात्मा || Paramatama, this परमात्मा || Paramatama bliss is described with an analogue;

"तद्यथा प्रियाय स्त्रिया स्त्रियासंपर्ष्वक्तः ||"

"tadyatha priyaya striya striya samparshvaktah ||"

Meaning : When the husband and wife enjoy the union as if they are one, without the duality of outside or inside. (IV-3-21).

Brhadaranyaka Upanishad explains, आत्मा || atma (परमात्मा || Paramatama) is more lovable than son, friend and everything and everyone else. Without this understanding if some one loves other things then the paramatma, will inspire him by creating opposition. Therefore it is explained that one should love the परमात्मा || Paramatama as the only lovable person. आत्मानमेव प्रिय मुपसिता || atmanameva priya mupasita such love will never be exhausted, it is eternal and gives rise to अम्रत्व || Amratva (immortality) (1-8)

Bhagavad Gita quotes Sri Krishna,

प्रियो हि जननिनोत्यार्थं अहम् स च मम् प्रियः || (Bhag Gita. VII-17)

priyo hi jananinotyartham aham sa ca mam priyah || (Bhag Gita. VII-17)

Meaning : Just like for the jnani i am lovable beyond measure, similarly he is very dear to me.

With this background He also declares, with great pride that such jnani is my very soul, without him I sustain no life air.

Vishnupurana, talks about Prahalada, who was bhakta with wisdom, who even after being bitten by snakes expresses thus;

सत्त्वसक्तमतिः कृष्णे दह्यमनो महारोगैः | न विवेदात्मनो गत्रम् तर्तत्यल्हद संस्तितः || (Vish. Pura. VII-18)

"sattvasaktamatih krsne dahyamano maharogaih |"

"na vivedatmano gatram tartatyalhada samstitah || (Vish. Pura. VII-18)"

Prahalada’s deep love removed the awareness of even the snake bite.

This is one of the very illustrious examples for loving the परमात्मा || Paramatama as most dear. The lord being conquered by such भक्त || bhakta (with wisdom) has declared them as most magnanimous (VII-18 of Vishnupurana). In other words, anyone for my cause receives even little, it is like giving everything of mine and showing great kindness. This is the proof of greatest and unlimited compassion and kindness.

Hence He is सकलफलप्रदात्रः || sakalphalapradartrah,(one who awards all kinds of fruits) and endowed with magnanimity. A प्रतिग्रहिता || pratigrahitra (seeker) if is not present, then the most important of quality of paramatama, will be destroyed being unable to exhibit magnanimity. Hence the devotee facilitates the परमात्मा || Paramatama to display this quality, he is called as greatly magnanimous.


(2015). Shrimad Bhagvadgita. Gorakhpur:Gita Press.