Atman and Brahman


1)    Jnanamarga – the way of mystical knowledge.  First appears in the Upanishads

a)     Respected throughout Indian society at all levels

b)    A new form of religious life that doesn’t center on ritual and social duties

c)     Jnana (or “mystical knowledge”) implies a religion based on secret wisdom – taught by sages, based in mystical experience, esoteric sources

2)    The Upanishads = “secret teaching,”  “sitting at the feet of,” “connection or equivalence”

a)     100s of Upanishads, 13 principle Upanishads = shruti

b)    Reaction against tradition, criticism of priestly trads.

c)     A stratified caste system in place, supported by notions of karma and rebirth.

3)    Moksha

a)     Heaven is temporary, no permanent refuge

b)    Suffering pervades human existence: the endless cycles of suffering, death, rebirth

c)     The Solution = moksha.  Liberation from the endless round. 

d)    A new concept of the ultimate reality

4)    Brahman: A single pervasive power and essence, source of all things

a)     “That from which these beings are born; on which, once born, they live; and into which they pass upon death – seek to perceive that?  That is brahman!”

b)    Totality of sacred words in the Veda; gives unlimited power to sacrifice; Essence of the entire world; the power that reside s in all beings, including the gods

c)     Svetaketu (boy) and Uddalaka (his father): Sve hasn’t heard of world soul

d)    Fleeting names and forms outside (nama-rupa or “names and forms”), one underlying reality

e)     Brahman is the essence and source of the whole phenomenal world

5)    Atman: the reality that is the lasting and indispensable basis of one’s being

a)     Self as identical with Brahman

b)    Tat tvam asi – “you are that”!