We are frequently perplexed by the terms Atma and Brahman. What are the similarities and differences between these two concepts? Atma is a part of the broader awareness, or Brahman, according to Sanatan Dharma. Unlike Abrahamic beliefs, our souls are designed to achieve moksha and become one with greater energy. What does it mean to be a Brahman or an Atman, and how can we get on the path to authentic spirituality?
Brahman is the Absolute or Eternal Truth. Knowledge, eternality, and happiness are the three spiritual parts that make it up. Brahman is, in essence, the ultimate cause of all things. It’s the source of everything, as well as a source of ongoing maintenance and post-dissolution absorption. Simply defined, Brahman encompasses all aspects of spirituality. It goes beyond all forms of comprehensive materialism. Diverse spiritual schools have different philosophies. Some believe Brahman to be an impersonal and abstract energy, while others believe Brahman to be God’s highest and original personality. Because Brahman is everlasting and unchangeable, human minds cannot comprehend it.
The spirit soul of a living entity, on the other hand, is known as atma. We can think of atma as a form of Brahman. Although Atma is thought to be a component of the same spiritual nature as Brahman, it is only a fraction of it. Realizing Atman, or one’s basic self, is regarded to be the path to Moksha. According to Hindu beliefs, a person’s atman is their essential nature, which is distinct from their ego. Like a drop of water and a wide river, atma is a part of your bigger consciousness. Even though the qualities of that drop of water are similar to those of river water, it cannot be regarded the entire river. Individual atmas are similarly numerous and different.Some schools think that Atma is eternal, while others believe that Atma merges with the eternal Brahman and loses its identity.
The Upanishads contain metaphorical descriptions of Atma and Brahman. The Rig Veda is the first to mention Atma. The Rigveda is one of the world’s earliest written manuscripts, with sections produced between 1700 and 1200 BC. The concept of Atma is also discussed in the Upanishads. The Upanishads were written between the eighth and sixth century B.C. Teachers and pupils converse about metaphysics, the universe, and other issues in Upanishads. The Upanishads are chock-full of knowledge regarding Atman and Brahman. According to the Upanishads, there is no distinction between Atman and Brahman.The atman returns to Brahman after being freed from the cycle of birth and death. The re-absorption of Atma into Brahman is known as Moksha.
Metaphors are used in the Upanishads to describe the concepts of Atma and Brahman. For example, there is a line in the Chandogya Upanishad about Atman and Brahman in which Uddalaka enlightens his son Shvetaketu:
All beings lose their separateness when they merge at last into pure Being, just as the rivers running east and west combine in the sea and become one with it, forgetting they were separate rivers.
There is nothing that he does that isn’t his own.
He is the inmost Self of everything.
He is the Self-supreme; he is the truth.
You are Shvetaketu, you are Shvetaketu.
Indian Schools’ of thought
Vaisesika, Yoga, Nyaya, Vedanta, Mimamsa, and Samkhya are some of Hinduism’s major schools of philosophy. They all acknowledge the Atman’s truth, but they highlight the need of understanding the Atman (self-realization). What distinguishes them is how they apply the concepts.
1. Vaiseshika School
Space, time, mind, and atman are the four eternal substances believed by Vaiseshikas. The Atman, according to Hindu philosophy, is a collection of eternal and spiritual things. To comprehend what atman is, one must first comprehend what it entails. It does not, however, lead to union with Brahman or eternal happiness, according to their views.
2. Samkhya School
According to the Samkhya School, a person’s atman is his essence, whereas his ego is the source of his suffering. According to Samkhya, there are an endless number of atmans, each one unique – one for each kind of life in the universe.
3. Mimamsa School
The ego, or personal self, according to Mimamsa, is identical to the Aman. It emphasises the importance of ethics, morals, and good deeds, because good deeds have a favourable impact on an individual.
4. Vedanta School
It has a number of sub-schools of thought about Atman, which may or may not be mutually exclusive: It has a number of sub-schools of thought about Atman, which may or may not be mutually exclusive:
According to Advaita Vedanta, Atman and Brahman are the same thing. They consider all living and non-living things to be a part of a larger divine whole. Even while alive, humans can reach liberation or Moksha by gaining complete self-awareness.
Dvaita Vedanta’s ideas are diametrically opposed to Advaita Vedanta’s, making it a dualistic system of philosophy. There are distinct atma’s and a supreme Atma in Dvaita Vedanta (Paramatma). Liberation is said to occur only after death.
5. Nyaya School
Consciousness, according to Nyaya philosophy, is an essential component of the atman. They support the presence of Atma as an individual soul with rational reasoning.
6. Yoga School
In terms of philosophy, Samkhya School is identical to Yoga School. There are multiple atmans, rather than a single universal atman, according to the Yoga school. Yoga also contains ways for realising the atman or achieving self-knowledge.
As a result, it is clear that the Atma is a part of the broader awareness, or Brahman. The spiritual journey of a creature ultimately leads to Brahman, which is a source of eternal vitality. According to Sanatan Dharma, man’s ultimate objective is to achieve Moksha and become one with Brahman.
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