It is emphasised in Advaita Vedanta that "I am neither the mind nor the body, I am the Atman which is in fact the same as Brahman" (not a quote but my understanding).

I would like to know in what sense the mind and Atman are different. What makes decisions? The mind or the Atman? What gives rise to consciousness? The mind or the Atman. Is my personality a result of my mind or the Atman?

  • Atman is the only conscious entity. This consciousness gets reflected in the antahkarana or internal organ (roughly the mind). Mind by itself is inert. It is part of prakruti. Mind makes decisions. Personality is the result of mind, not Atman. Same Atman is there in everyone, but manas or mind differs.
    – user16581
    Feb 4, 2019 at 11:03
  • 2
    The screen on which movie runs is Atman and the movie is mind. Screen is completely unaffected by movie.
    – Pinakin
    Feb 4, 2019 at 12:02
  • If the mind makes decisions and personality is also the result of the mind then Karma theory makes no sense. The mind is the one that suffers the fruits of Karma but the mind that is suffering now has nothing to do with the mind that commited the sin that resulted in the suffering. Feb 4, 2019 at 12:30
  • @Jaikrishnan If current state of your mind is different from your past state of mind that performed bad karmas, you are free to remove your suffering by performing good karmas. This life and past life karmas fight among one another and one who is stronger wins.
    – Lokesh
    Mar 3, 2019 at 20:59
  • @Lokesh Thank you your clarifications! To me the whole edifice of Karma now seems patently unfair and unjust. So long as I mistakenly identify myself with the body and the mind, my suffering is real to me. It is evil on the part of Brahman to let the billions of Jivatmas suffer this way for no apparent reason. To say that the suffering is an illusion and the Atman is eternal, blissful and unaffected shows apathy at best and Schadenfreude at worst. Mar 4, 2019 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


Nirvanashatkam says:

"[Real] I am not mind,intellect, heart or ego. I am Atman".

That which is thinking and roaming always is the mind. The sense of ego-centric 'I' and 'My'is caused by the functioning of mind.

Atmaa is All-pervading and ever changeless.

Gita says:

न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचि

न्नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूयः।

अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो

न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे।।2.20।।

2.20 Never is this One born, and never does It die; nor is it that having come to exist, It will again cease to be. This One is birthless, eternal, undecaying, ancient; It is not killed when the body is killed.

But mind is born and it dies when Atman is realised in Nirvikalpa-samadhi.


इन्द्रियाणि पराण्याहुरिन्द्रियेभ्यः परं मनः।

मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्यो बुद्धेः परतस्तु सः।।3.42।।

3.42 They say that the organs are superior (to the gross body); the mind is superior to the organs; but the intellect is superior to the mind. However, the one who is superior to the intellect is He.

Our brain controls our mind and intellect. Atmaa is beyond these. In fact Atmaa is the Knower and mind is its instument. Atmaa is realised at the Nirvikalpa-Samadhi samadhi state where there is no functioning of body, mind, intellect and so of brain.

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