Atman or Jivatman (the human soul), is an individual manifestation of Brahman. It is characterized as an impersonal force or as the godly part within one, and has as its goal the recognition of identity with Brahman. As long as the individual remains bound to the world of the flesh and desires, the atman cannot become one with Brahman. The atman is destined for continuous rebirth, until it receives conducive circumstances to achieve oneness with the Universal Soul. This fundamental concept of the transmigration of atman, or reincarnation after death, is a significant one in Hinduism.

Atman is the hidden, immortal aspect of the mortal existence. It is the microcosm, representing the macrocosm in each of us. Atman is none other than the very Self which descends down into the elements of nature through self-projection and gets involved in the perennial game of self-induced illusion and pure delight. Bound by the senses and sensory objects, we do not perceive the immortal self in us. It is not easy to describe the true nature of atman which defies any proper definition. Liberation, or release (moksha), from the limited world of experience and realization of oneness with God or the cosmos is the ultimate aim of the atman. In order to achieve this release, the individual must pursue a kind of discipline that is appropriate to one's abilities and station in life. The Hindu scriptures outline various ways to achieve this moksha from worldly bondage.

Updated on 7th June, 2005


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