Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pankaj Jain, Rita Sherma, Madhu Khanna

Ātman, Hinduism

  • Arpita Mitra
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_172-1



The way ātman is predominantly understood in Hindu spirituality is derived from the Upaniṣads. It is an ontological principle that represents the human “essence” at the microcosmic level, the true and everlasting being in a living person, the true human self, distinct from the body and identical with the cosmic principle brahman. While the body dies and is subject to pain and pleasure, the ātman is immortal and unaffected by pain, pleasure, etc.


The concept of the ātman is perhaps the crest jewel of Hindu spiritual philosophy. This concept occupies such an important place in Hindu theology that being a Hindu is almost synonymous with believing in the doctrine of the ātman. Belief in this doctrine in fact constitutes the cornerstone of difference between Hinduism and nāstika schools of thought such as Buddhism or Cārvāka.

The concept of the atman as we understand it today was articulated in the Upaniṣads. The discourse on the self...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced StudyShimlaIndia