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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 the human body.

But the soul is without a (subtle) body, without muscles (a gross body). So the 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 the 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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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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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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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.

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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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Atman/Purusha is the witness but what is seen, said, heard, tasted are with the Maya/Prakriti.

Geeta Chapter 13

Bhagavad Gita 13.1 Arjun said, “O Keshav, I wish to understand what are prakṛiti and puruṣh, and what are kṣhetra and kṣhetrajña? I also wish to know what is true knowledge, and what is the goal of this knowledge?

Bhagavad Gita 13.2 The Supreme Divine Lord said: O Arjun, this body is termed as kṣhetra (the field of activities), and the one who knows this body is called kṣhetrajña (the knower of the field) by the sages who discern the truth about both.

Bhagavad Gita 13.3 O scion of Bharat, I am also the knower of all the individual fields of activity. The understanding of the body as the field of activities, and the soul and God as the knowers of the field, this I hold to be true knowledge.

Bhagavad Gita 13.4 Listen and I will explain to you what that field is and what its nature is. I will also explain how change takes place within it, from what it was created, who the knower of the field of activities is, and what his powers are.

Bhagavad Gita 13.13 I shall now reveal to you that which ought to be known, and by knowing which, one attains immortality. It is the beginningless Brahman, which lies beyond existence and non-existence.

Bhagavad Gita 13.14 Everywhere are His hands and feet, eyes, heads, and faces. His ears too are in all places, for He pervades everything in the universe.

Bhagavad Gita 13.15 Though He perceives all sense-objects, yet He is devoid of the senses. He is unattached to anything, and yet He is the sustainer of all. Although He is without attributes, yet He is the enjoyer of the three modes of material nature.

Bhagavad Gita 13.16 He exists outside and inside all living beings, those that are moving and not moving. He is subtle, and hence, He is incomprehensible. He is very far, but He is also very near.

Bhagavad Gita 13.17 He is indivisible, yet He appears to be divided amongst living beings. Know the Supreme Entity to be the Sustainer, Annihilator, and Creator of all beings.

Bhagavad Gita 13.18 He is the source of light in all luminaries, and is entirely beyond the darkness of ignorance. He is knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the goal of knowledge. He dwells within the hearts of all living beings.

The combination of Nirguna Purusha/Aatma and Triguna Prakriti/Maya leads to 3 states of Jagrati, Swapna and Sushupti and Turiya is when an Aatma goes into itself i.e. thoughtless Samadhi. These 4 states also became the 4 ashrams to be followed during Vedic human life.

Nirguna Purusha = Turiya = Consciousness in Soul = Sannyasa/old age

Satva = Jagrati/Waking = Consciousness in Intellect = Vanaprastha/middle age

Rajas = Swapna/Dreaming = Consciousness in Mind = Grihastha/adulthood

Tamas = Sushupti/Deep Sleep = Consciousness in Body = Brahmcharya/childhood

Kaivalya Upanishad

To him the Great Father (Brahma) said: know (that supreme knowledge) by faith, devotion, meditation and yoga. Neither by works, nor by offspring, nor by wealth, but only by means of renunciation can the life eternal be attained.

Higher than the heaven, hidden in the cave, it shines. Those who make strenuous effort enter into it.

The ascetics who through renunciation and with pure minds strive to affirm the truths of the Vedanta become liberated in the end because of the supreme state of immortality they attain.

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The Sruti declares that Jiva and Iswara are both reflections of Brahman in Maya. (Pancadasi VIII.60)

Brahman by nature is pure consciousness; With Maya He is called the in-dwelling spirit; In relation to the subtle bodies, He is the totality of souls, identifying Himself with them; and in relation to the gross bodies, He is again, the one identifying Himself with their totality. (Pancadasi VI.4)

The Self as consciousness absolute is spoken of as Kutastha, Brahman, Jiva, and Isvara, just as (for instance) Akasa (ether) is called 'pot Akasa', 'all embracing Akasa', 'Akasa conditioned by water', and 'Akasa conditioned by a cloud'. (Pancadasi VI.18)

Brahman who is satchitananda is the Reality. Its being Iswara and Jiva are mere superimpositions by the two illusory adjuncts (Maya and Avidya, respectively).

Therefore, Atman continues to 'experience' (through the uphadi of Maya) as Iswara. Atmans eyes are 'all' eyes within maya, Atmans ears are 'all' ears within maya.

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