What Is Atman

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Atman or Brahman is Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute. It is different from the gross, subtle and causal bodies. It transcends the five sheaths (Pancha Koshas). It is the witness of the three states: waking, dreaming and deep sleep. It is the support of the twenty-four Tattvas. It is distinct from Jiva and Ishvara who are associated with Avidya and Maya respectively.

The Self appears to be finite on account of Avidya. But when the ignorance is dispelled, that one Atman shines by its own light, like the sun when clouds are dispelled. This Samsara which is filled with love, hatred, etc., is really like a dream. It appears to be all real, so long as one is involved in it, but when one awakes by acquiring true knowledge, it becomes unreal. Just as bubbles rise from, exist and dissolve in the water, so also the Supreme Lord who is the material cause for everything, the pure Atman, by the contact with the five sheaths, etc., appears to put on their respective qualities. Just as we attribute blue colour to the sky, so also we attribute on account of indiscrimination, the qualities and activities of the body and the organs to the pure, Satchidananda Atman. Passion, desires, happiness, misery, etc., exercise their functions only during waking and dreaming states when the intellect is present and are not present in the deep sleep, when intellect is absent. They, therefore, belong to the intellect and not to the Pure Nirvikara Atman. Egoism and the idea "I know" crop up by indiscriminately mixing up the Satchidananda aspect of Atman with the functions of Buddhi.

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