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It is said that Atman is one's true Self. It remains in existence after we die, for Atman never takes birth nor does it die.

My question is : does Atman hear, speak, taste and see after we die? If yes how? Does it have eyes, ear, mouth?

  • Your Qn is unique. :-) The Atman or self is said to be beyond senses. How will that have sense related consumption. Atma is not some 'thing'. But it's -- what remains after one negates (neti neti) everything. After negating everything only the Negator remains. Who is the Negator -- "Me"! – iammilind Sep 20 '17 at 9:21
  • Does that 'me' has the faculty of listening , speaking and taste? – Dheeraj Verma Sep 20 '17 at 9:54
  • Are u meaning the Self or the Paramatman? – Rickross Sep 20 '17 at 10:07
  • Basically I am interested is knowing about Atman or the self. If I understand correctly Atman is the true self of any being. – Dheeraj Verma Sep 20 '17 at 10:18
  • From Atman's Prakruti the 3 modes are born and everything pervades with those 3 modes. So Atman ("Me") is the source of everything. It may have faculty to listen, speak, taste. However, it doesn't have any need to do so. I have tried to explain in the answer. – iammilind Sep 20 '17 at 11:05
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Hearing ,seeing , touching etc. are the functions & activities of gross organs ( Sthula indriyas) of human body.

But soul is without a (subtle) body) , without muscles (a gross body). So soul is just a witness , he is free from all the material pleasures or businesses of the world. It is just the sustainer of the activities of living beings.

Here in Isha Upanishad-8th Mantra it is described that soul is not made up of Subtle or gross body or Indriyas.

स पर्यागच्छुक्रकायमव्रणस्नाविरं शुद्धमपापविद्धम् ।
कविर्मनीषि परिभूः स्वयम्भूर्यथातथ्यतोऽर्थान् |
व्यदधाच्छाश्वतीभ्यः समाभ्यः ॥8||

sa paryāgacchukrakāyamavraṇasnāviraṃ śuddhamapāpaviddham |
kavirmanīṣi paribhūḥ svayambhūryathātathyato'rthān
vyadadhācchāśvatībhyaḥ samābhyaḥ ||

He, the self-existent One, is everywhere-the pure one, without a (subtle) body, without blemish, without muscles (a gross body), holy and without the taint of sin; the all seeing, the all knowing, the all-encompassing One is He. He has duly assigned their respective duties to the eternal Prajapatis (cosmic powers).’


Here is the The Prashna Upanishad mantra which tells us that after death the soul enters into another body with the senses clinging to the mind.

तेजो ह वा उदानस्तस्मादुपशान्ततेजाः ।
पुनर्भवमिन्द्रियैर्मनसि सम्पध्यमानैः ॥9॥

tejo ha vā udānastasmādupaśāntatejāḥ |
punarbhavamindriyairmanasi sampadhyamānaiḥ || 9 ||
9. The external fire têjas verily is udâna. Therefore the fire being extinguished, one again enters another body with the senses clinging to the mind.

Shankara’s Commentary: - Therefore, when a man’s natural fire is extinguished, then one should know that his life is spent, i.e., that he is dying; he enters another body. How? along with the senses such as speech, etc., clinging to the mind.

This means in subtle organs (Sukshma Sharira) still remains after death , but they are clinging to the mind. That means they are fully merged with mind and unlike gross organs can’t actively function . Like organs function in living beings i.e. hearing ,seeing ,touching etc.

Conclusion – So by looking at the above verses we can say that even the sukshma indriyas still remain attached with soul after death , but because they are completely merged in mind do not function as human organs generally function when alive , and because they are in subtle form and not in gross can’t hear, speak, taste and see.

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No. Because, Atman is devoid of senses, it's merely a witness.

Atman (or Param Atman) doesn't have any requirement to hear, speak, taste, listen. Whatever happens with the gross body with mind & senses, it just witnesses it. Formless Atman (Nirguna Brahman), when seen from the lenses of mAyA, appears as formful (Saguna Brahman).

BG 13.14 - That (Brahman), which has hands and feet everywhere, which has eyes, heads and mouths everywhere, which has ears everywhere, exists in beings by pervading them all.
BG 13.15 - Reflecting through the senses, [yet] devoid of all the senses; disinterested; the sustainer of all; Without 3 modes, and the consumer of 3 modes
BG 13.16 - Existing outside and inside all beings; moving as well as non-moving, It is incomprehensible due to subtleness. It is far away, and yet near.

Atman is beyond senses, mind and intellect.


However, after the death of the body, the Mind which is the controller of senses would tend towards a body with senses, which it still wants to consume. Refer below:
According to Hinduism, what do we carry into afterlife and next birth?

  • Atman is witness of what? Is it witnessing this conversation ? If yes how? In order to witness this conversation one must be able to see and understand. – Dheeraj Verma Sep 20 '17 at 11:58
  • @DheerajVerma, OK. So, Atman is not some'thing'; in fact it's no'thing'. We have a philosophy of "neti neti" (not this, not this). Whatever remains after applying "neti neti", is Atman. If we say "Atman is not this, also not this, and also not that, ...", then finally "nothing" will remain. So in Buddhism, people call this ultimate reality as Shunyata (zeroness, nothingness). In Gita, Krishna told it Atma or "Me". Both are same. -- Now Atma is witness of all. Witness = With respect to whom everything takes place. "Everything/Anything/Something" happens with respect to "Nothing". – iammilind Sep 20 '17 at 12:05
  • @DheerajVerma, try to imagine from where this world came out? May be the whole world was concentrated in a dot. From where that dot came out? May be a smaller dot! From where that smaller dot came out? Even smaller dot ... Ultimately if we go deeper, to put a stop to this dots, we will say "the smallest dot came out of nothing" [BG 13.16 -- subtleness]. This nothing was always there and will always be there. Our conversation happened. With respect to what? -- It happened with respect to "Nothing". It was not there before sometime and will not be there after sometime. That's "witness"! – iammilind Sep 20 '17 at 12:09
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I guess I have found an entirely different answer to the question. It is from Kaivalya Upanishad Verse 21:

Without arms and legs am I, of unthinkable power; I see without eyes, and I hear without ears. I know all, and am different from all. None can know me. I am always the Intelligence.

Therefore Atman can see without eyes and hear without ears.

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Are you referring to subtle physical body? because as @iammilind said -"Aatman is mere witness - साक्षी"

Quantum mechanics has taken this witness concept into modern science - http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130812-physics-schrodinger-erwin-google-doodle-cat-paradox-science/

So your mind, ego, thoughts all exists because there is something that witnesses their existence. In deep sleep, mind, ego, emotions shut down, and aatman witnesses nothing, which we refer as deep sleep.

If you are referring to life-after-death experience, then we need to go through different body types. Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism is name coined by others to refer civilization east of Sindhu river) points of three primary bodies / शरीर . 1. स्थूल - your physical body 2. सूक्ष्म - subtle physical 3. कारण - astral body (not 100% sure on English name)

When you die, Aatman stops witnessing your current physical body. It starts witnessing subtle physical body. Abilities of subtle physical body depends on how you have developed it. Just like all human physical bodies are not the same, subtle bodies also differ in their capabilities. Santana Dharma points our various spiritual experiments (साधना) through which you can develop capabilities into subtle physical.

Also श्राध्द विधी is performed with the same goal, to give abilities and energy source for subtle physical body.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Your answer seems proper, but the scientific source may not be allowed. Try to put some philosophical sources, which are related to scriptures. – iammilind Sep 20 '17 at 14:20
  • @iammilind thanks for your response. I am wondering why modern science links are not allowed? Isn't Vedas are the most evolved science? I'll try you put philosophical sources too as you have suggested. – k_page Sep 21 '17 at 15:58

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