Ātman (Hinduism)

Ātman (ən/; Sanskrit: आत्मन्) is a Sanskrit word that means inner self, spirit or soul.[1][2][3] In Hindu philosophy, especially in the Vedanta school of Hinduism, Ātman is the first principle,[4] the true self of an individual beyond identification with phenomena, the essence of an individual. In order to attain liberation (moksha), a human being must acquire self-knowledge (atma jnana), which is to realize that one's true self (Ātman) is identical with the transcendent self Brahman.[2][5]

The six orthodox schools of Hinduism believe that there is Ātman (soul, self) in every being. This is a major point of difference with the Buddhist doctrine of Anatta which holds that there is no unchanging soul or self.[6][7][8]

Etymology and meaning

"Ātman" (Atma, आत्मा, आत्मन्) is a Sanskrit word which means "essence, breath, soul."[9][10] It is derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *h₁eh₁tmṓ (a root meaning "breath" with only Germanic cognates: Dutch adem, Old High German atum "breath," Modern German atmen "to breathe" and Atem "respiration, breath", Old English eþian).[9]

Ātman, sometimes spelled without a diacritic as atman in scholarly literature,[11] means "real self" of the individual,[1][10] "innermost essence",[12] and soul.[1][13] Atman, in Hinduism, is considered as eternal, imperishable, beyond time, "not the same as body or mind or consciousness, but is something beyond which permeates all these".[14][15][16] Atman is a metaphysical and spiritual concept for the Hindus, often discussed in their scriptures with the concept of Brahman.[17][18][19]