Almost all concepts in non-dualism(advaita-siddhanta), it is believed that Human body is unreal or "maya" and only atma is real. Their claim is that without atma body is nothing. In my personal opinion, that is completely illogical concept. Because, if we think vice-versa, atma is nothing without the body. The identity of atma is only in living bodies else it is nothing, even weaker than an atom.

Are my thoughts right? If not, please explain with clarifications. Is body really unreal and weaker than atma?

  • who said you that atman is an atom. It is more than atom have you heard about Brain as a neurocomputer, and atman as a quantum consious in it's physical form in body? see this article for more details quantumconsciousness.org/documents/cogscipub.pdf
    – Yogi
    Jul 22, 2014 at 16:09
  • @creator - i didn't told like that. Please read again my question.
    – Kiran RS
    Jul 22, 2014 at 16:22
  • What do you mean by liking truth is truth if you believe that anu atom is the eternal one believe it but actually atman is a conscious part of Supreme Consciousness.
    – Yogi
    Jul 22, 2014 at 16:25

4 Answers 4


No your thought is not right, Atma(soul) is part of parmatma(the supreme soul), hence it is pure. Atma is unborn, it can't be killed and Eternal. Atma is free and unbound, it gets a new body in every life.

Body is made of five Tattvas i.e. Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether and is bound to all these. Your body dies after death which is not true for atma.

Posting following shloks from Bhagwat Geeta Adhyay 2 for reference

  • BG 2.17 : That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.

  • BG 2.20 : For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

  • BG 2.21 : O Pārtha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and immutable kill anyone or cause anyone to kill?

  • BG 2.22 : As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.

  • BG 2.23 : The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.

  • BG 2.24 : This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.

  • BG 2.25 : It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.


No, that's not the sole view in Hinduism. As you have stated, that is the view of the Advaita Vedantins, the school of thought preached by Shankaracharya. As per them, the whole of our existence including the body, atma (individual soul), etc. are illusion and unreal; Brahman alone is only real. They do not even acknowledge that jiva is different from Brahman. So their tenet is:

brahma satyam jagat mithya, jivo brahmaiva naparah
-Brahman is real, the world is unreal. Jiva is Brahman itself, not different.

But as per other schools of thought, the world and the body are not unreal, but temporary. And soul is the ever existing permanent entity. Because body is subject to birth and death, but the soul is not, the soul is considered as the actual identity of a jiva and given more importance.

Atma is nothing without the body?

The view that atma is nothing withou the body is incorrect. It is because the body has a dependent existence, but the atma does not. You said this because you feel atma has no identity without the body. But the truth is, atma has no identity irrespective of whether it is in the body or not. Atma itself is devoid of material name, form and quality. So doesn't matter whether it stays in the body or not, it always maintains its true identity of no identity. It means, even if the body doesn't exist, atma will not lose any of its inherent quality and existence. Cessation of body doesn't have any impact upon atma. It is because atma stays in the body untouched by it just like the all pervading sky:

yathā sarva-gataṁ saukṣmyād ākāśaṁ nopalipyate
sarvatrāvasthito dehe tathātmā nopalipyate
[BG - 13.33]

Like the all pervading subtle space doesn’t mix with anything, so also the soul situated throughout the body doesn’t get mixed.

But if the atma ceases to exist, then the body will become dead and lose all its features like liveliness, growth, activity, etc. So because body is depended upon the atma, but not atma on the body, it is the atma which is superior.

Now the thing is, neither the atma, nor the body can alone give rise to any sensible meaning. Both has to be present together for existence to exist. But existence is not eternal, it will dissolute one day. Hence, all meaning will be gone. There will be no one else to ponder over whether body or the atma is greater. In that state when nothing existed, it is atma alone that existed:

ātmā vā idameka evāgra āsīt [Ait. Up. - 1.1.1]
- Atma alone was present in the beginning.

For these reasons, atma being independent, is superior. And body (product of prakruti) being necessary for a meaningful existence is real but temporary.

  • @@behappy- Even, advaitins cant/dont say atman is illusion. Can, you provide any proof from Shankaras prasthatraya where he explicitly states, that Atma is Illusion
    – user808
    Apr 18, 2015 at 10:20
  • @Krishna If you see I have "individual soul" in brackets beside atma, so I mean individual souls are unreal, there is only one atma.
    – Be Happy
    Apr 18, 2015 at 11:00

You seem to have very gross misunderstanding. Body, material body specifically is not the real identiy of atma or soul. In fact whole teachings of Hinduism primarily focus on how to develop lesser attachment with our material bodies and more on the real self, the atma, which is the essense of an individual because attachment to the material bodies keep us earth bound and we will never be serious about liberation from this existence of pain and suffering. The physical body is iving because it is made animate by atma. As soon as the soul leaves the body it is no better than mound of dust.


Let me tell you something. Please pay attention. We are here from the beginning of the universe. Our Atma is eternal or Amar. Our body is like a dress that we wear. Every birth, we wear a dress and when we die, we leave the dress or open the dress. Now, you would be thinking what happens after death. Well, all our karma is counted, bad or evil, good or bad etc. The Atma never ever dies. When we have enough good karma or we have realised the purpose of our birth, the Atma gets promoted to a higher dimension or what many say heaven. We get mukti or moksha


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