I know Atman is self aware but I don't know why that Atman lost his self awareness that he is unlimited and beginning-less and instead acquiring limited body awareness.

Even though I am a Muslim, Charles Darwin changed me into an atheist hence my question. I really like Hindu and how they allow you to ask difficult questions, even in Buddhism they don't allow you to ask difficult questions because they think those are unimportant.

  • I know that buddhist's analogy and that is why I am not a Buddhist , I want to clear my doubt first ,maybe that beginningless ignorance is Maya :) but why ,how and when did Maya affect the pure atma ?
    – user646989
    Nov 18, 2019 at 14:32
  • 4
    Its answer u get in enlightenment. Not from scriptures. It won't satisfy you. In reality you're not in the body but rather body is in your awareness. Nov 18, 2019 at 14:37
  • 1
    Ignorance itself is mithyA (neither real nor unreal nor both nor neither). You can call it mAyA if you are more comfortable with the word.
    – user16581
    Nov 18, 2019 at 15:20
  • 1
    Just like a helpless child is born from a mother, so does an Atman(Soul) is born from infinite Paramatma(Supersoul). A child doesnot know how to speak, write or walk, it needs to be trained by its mother and in school for several years, similarly earths are created by Supersoul to train infinite souls in righteousness Dharma through cyclic births and deaths. hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/36045/16530
    – user16530
    Nov 18, 2019 at 15:47
  • 1
    @srimannarayanakv IMO, no amount of bounty is sufficient for this. Would have offered a 5000 bounty, if that was available, and if I had that much rep.
    – user16581
    Jan 1, 2020 at 11:46

7 Answers 7


Short Answer

Atman never loses its self awareness. You have the wrong idea. There's no material body in first place, then how can Atman acquire body consciousness?

न निरोधो न चोत्पत्तिर्न बद्धो न च साधकः ।

न मुमुक्षुर्न वै मुक्त इत्येषा परमार्थता ॥ ३२ ॥

There is no dissolution, no birth, none in bondage, none aspiring for wisdom, no seeker of liberation and none liberated. This is the absolute truth.

-Mandukya Karika, verse 2.32

Detailed Analysis

I know Atman is self aware but I don't know why that Atman lost his self awareness

Atman never ever ever ever loses its self awareness, no matter what's the situation. If there's one thing you should take away from Vedanta, it should be this one. Its the basic principle.

अमात्रश्चतुर्थोऽव्यवहार्यः प्रपञ्चोपशमः शिवोऽद्वैत एवमोङ्कार आत्मैव संविशत्यात्मनाऽऽत्मानं य एवं वेद ॥ १२ ॥

Mandukya Upanishad - 12

That which has no parts (soundless), incomprehensible (with the aid of the senses), the cessation of all phenomena, all bliss and non-dual Aum, is the fourth and verily the same as the Ātman. He who knows this merges his self in the Self.

This view that Atman gets overcome by ignorance and starts to see this world is utterly wrong. Your question itself is wrong, how can you expect an answer?

You are probably misled by the notion since it is said that "I am Atman", and since I see this world, it must be the case that Atman is in illusion. This is not the case.

When scriptures say "I am Atman", or "This world is Atman", or "You are Atman", it means that substratum of me, you and this world is Atman only like a Gold bracelet, Gold ring is nothing but Gold. To conclude that Gold has forms like bracelet, ring etc. is a wrong conclusion. Similarly concluding Atman gets overcome by ignorance is not correct.

एष एव जगद्.रूपम् जगद्.रूपम् तु न_ईश्वरे ।

हेम_एव कटक.आदित्वम् कटकत्वम्न हेमनि ॥३।६१।५॥


World is Ishwar only but there is no world in Ishwar like Gold bracelet is Gold only but there's no bracelet in Gold.

  • 1
    You did not write this message and I did not downvote it.
    – user16581
    Jan 4, 2020 at 2:05
  • Nor did I appreciate your sarcasm :-) Jan 4, 2020 at 2:08
  • @user16581 why did u downvote it ? Is the verse wrong ?
    – user646989
    Jan 10, 2020 at 13:29
  • @user646989 Updated my answer.
    – Lokesh
    Jan 26, 2020 at 12:27
  • Thanks I vote this as the answer 😍😍
    – user646989
    Feb 1, 2020 at 15:39

The following is an excerpt from the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi.

D.: How shall I reach the Self?

M.: There is no reaching the Self. If the Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not now and here, but that it should be got anew. What is got afresh, will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So I say, the Self is not reached. You are the Self. You are already That.

The fact is that you are ignorant of your blissful state. Ignorance supervenes and draws a veil over the pure Bliss. Attempts are directed only to remove this ignorance. This ignorance consists in wrong knowledge. The wrong knowledge consists in the false identification of the Self with the body, the mind, etc. This false identity must go and there remains the Self.

A woman, with her necklace round her neck, imagines that it has been lost and goes about searching for it, until she is reminded of it by a friend; she has created her own sense of loss, her own anxiety of search and then her own pleasure of recovery.

Similarly the Self is all along there, whether you search for it or not. Again just as the woman feels as if the lost necklace has been regained, so also the removal of ignorance and the cessation of false identification reveal the Self which is always present - here and now.

This is called realisation. It is not new. It amounts to elimination of ignorance and nothing more.

Rig Veda X.72.3 says as follows:

Existence, in the earliest age of Gods, from Non-existence sprang. Thereafter were the regions born. This sprang from the Productive Power.

Translation of H.H. Wilson (p.130) is also on similar lines.

We have to remember that even the Rig Veda, which is called apaUrushEya and composed by Sages, is silent on how the Existence, came into being.

Then how can we can to know the root of mysterious thing called Body consciousness?

In my humble opinion, it is next to impossible to know this.

  • Thanks I have upvoted u , but how did that atma falsely identify with the body ? Atma is always pure so it must be "something" that force him to lose his self conciousness/awareness ,the question is can atma be affected by that "something" ?
    – user646989
    Nov 18, 2019 at 16:29
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    @user646989:Atma or Self does not identify falsely with anything. It is our false identification with the body, that led to rise of EGO "I", which itself an ignorance. That is what Sri Maharshi was saying. Nov 18, 2019 at 16:31
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    Who is "our" here ?
    – user646989
    Nov 18, 2019 at 16:36
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    @user646989: You can go through this answer. Rig Veda, which emphasises on worshiping formless God, indicates that Other than SELF (God), there is another thing in everyone. That 2nd one - some call it Jiva, perhaps , identifies itself with body, instead of SELF. Nov 18, 2019 at 16:41
  • Can u add source that Veda believes in jivatma ? But what about adi sankara's advaita ? , without adi sankara you will be Buddhist now can you add source that Veda believes in reincarnation ?
    – user646989
    Nov 18, 2019 at 17:03

Atman is not SELF AWARE! Atman is SELF. SELF is even beyond awareness as said by Nisargadatta maharaj.

How does atman get into this business of body consciousnesses? Just as you loose your sense of identity in your dream and create a false identity, Atman too does the same. But the dream cannot affect the dreamer. Yoga vashishtha, asthavakra geetha or any adwaithic scripture would say the very same thing that life is a dream.

Why and when?

Swami vivekananda in chapter 6 of jnyana yoga has answered all your questions. He says that you cannot ask why. Atman has created causation and hence it is the cause of causality itself! You cannot ask why to the cause of all causes else it is an effect of some other cause and hence becomes self contradictory! You cannot ask when because it is not bound by time rather it has created time.


in Kashmir shaivism,infinite I consciousness is all powerful and blissfull.due to its bliss it creates a kind of internal motion or spanda wich results in playfulness and the desire to multiply due to its inherent playfulness.Samsara is the theatre/lila of Shiva.that is partially the why and how. Maya in this system is not some superimposed external thing that has bounded the allegedly pure brahman like in advaita vedanta rather it is Paramashiva itself transmutating itself due to his inherentely dynamic nature thru his shakti. it is also all powerful,so it can limit itself and such through various tattvas,and this 'ahamkara' stage tattva is what creates the limited I consciousness of limited bonded beings.

so the absolute becomes the limited.

though brahman has absolute freedom,it is somewhat and relatively necassery to be all abstract things or brahman would be limited,the pervaded instead of the pervader and limited by objects that are different to itself.

since Brahman cannot be absolutely limited it must limit itself relatively in order to not be limited absolutely and holistically.that is the why.

Hope this helps.



  • Add citation from authentic source.
    – user30612
    Apr 16, 2021 at 14:26

I know Atman is self aware but I don't know why that Atman lost his self awareness that he is unlimited and beginningless and instead acquiring limited body awareness

I take it you're asking why the Jivatma first entered a body? If so, the answer is that there was never a first time; the Jivatma has eternally been in samsara.

From the Brahma Sutras:

The fact of the souls being without a beginning is observed, viz., to be stated in Scripture,'The intelligent one is not born and dies not' (Ka. Up. I, 2, 18); so also the fact of the flow of creation going on from all eternity, 'As the creator formed sun and moon formerly.' Moreover, the text, 'Now all this was then undeveloped. It became developed by form and name' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 7), states merely that the names and forms of the souls were developed, and this shows that the souls themselves existed from the beginning. Smriti also says, 'Dost thou know both Prakriti and the soul to be without beginning?' (Bha. Gî. XIII, 19.)

  • Thanks but i mean why didn't atma realize that he is atma instead he believes he is the body. ,this may happen to animals too may not this ?
    – user646989
    Nov 18, 2019 at 14:38
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    @user646989u r literally asking what made Atma to take first birth? Nov 18, 2019 at 14:40
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    @user646989 The answer is similar; the Jivatma has eternally been in Avidya (ignorace), and has thought that he is the body and not the Jivatma. When he attains self-realization, then he is liberated.
    – Ikshvaku
    Nov 18, 2019 at 15:26
  • 1
    @user646989 Yes exactly, avidya is beginningless.
    – Ikshvaku
    Nov 18, 2019 at 15:29
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    @user30612 Ok I understand his question now.
    – Ikshvaku
    Apr 16, 2021 at 15:17

I have answered similar questions earlier also. No doubt, Atman is infinite and beginnless, so Can there be any beginning or ending of infinite?

Chandogya Upanishad 5.1.1

ॐ । पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पूर्णमुदच्यते । पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥ ॐ खं ब्रह्म । खं पुराणम्; वायुरं खम् इति ह स्माह कौरव्यायणीपुत्रः; वेदो'यं ब्राह्मणा विदुः; वेदैनेन यद्वेदितव्यम् ॥ १ ॥ इति प्रथमं ब्राह्मणम् ॥

  1. Om. That (Brahman) is infinite, and this (universe) is infinite. The infinite proceeds from the infinite. (Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe), it remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone.

Chandogya Upanishad 7.23.1

  1. Sanatkumāra said: ‘That which is infinite is the source of happiness. There is no happiness in the finite. Happiness is only in the infinite. But one must try to understand what the infinite is.’ Nārada replied, ‘Sir, I want to clearly understand the infinite’.
  2. Sanatkumāra said: ‘Bhūmā [the infinite] is that in which one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, and knows [i.e., finds] nothing else. But alpa [the finite] is that in which one sees something else, hears something else, and knows something else. That which is infinite is immortal, and that which is finite is mortal.’

A person trying to understand Aatma should practice righteousness first like Yama, Niyama that are like non-violence, non-stealing, non-lying, continence, Satvik diet etc.,. Because Aatma is not some third person nor some bookish theory, but the first person, the Self. How can the Aatma, which is pure truth can establish in a person who is egoistic, liar, sensuous and atheist person? For a satvik deserving sadhaka even the Mahavakya 'Aham Brahmasmi", "I am Brahman/God" is enough for self-realization, but for a tamsik fool entire Vedas, Vedanta, Puranas, Geeta etc., and even eternity is insufficient hence reincarnation or resetting of jiva by Prakriti is needed and renunciate Sanyassa Ashrama and Brahmin Varna devoted in understanding Aatma were formed in the ancient Vedic society. That was the difference between a Asura Virochana and Deva Indra when both tried to understand Brahmgyan from Prajapati.

Chandogya Upanishad 8.7-12

Once Prajapati, the creator of the universe announced, “The Self is the sinless, ageless and deathless One; it has no sorrow nor hunger nor thirst. The goal of all its desire is the Truth, Truth is the one thing worthy of its resolve. It is this Self that has to be sought after, it alone one should seek to know. And one who seeks after the Self and knows it, gains possessions of all the worlds, wins all that is desirable.”

Both the gods and the demons heard this announcement and thought, “We must know this Atman or Self and seek this knowledge that promises all worlds.” Hence, Indra, the king of the gods and Virochana, the leader of the demons, approached Prajapati with all the humility of a disciple and requested him to impart this knowledge to them. Prajapati accepted them as his disciples and asked them to stay with him for thirty-two years.

Both, Indra and Virochana, stayed on living the life of a Brahmachari. At the end of that period, Prajapati called both of them and said, “Dear ones, the person visible in the pupil of the eye is Atman. This Atman is the Brahman, the immortal and fearless. Go and see yourself in a pan of water and then tell me what you saw.”

Next day when Prajapati asked both of them to narrate their experience they both said, “Lord, we saw the Self entirely as we are, the very image even to the very hairs and nails.”

“Go and adorn yourself and then look into the pan of water and tell me about your experience” said Prajapati to both of them.

Happy, they went and adorned themselves, looked into the pan of water, came back and replied to Prajapati, “Revered Sir, we saw ourselves well dressed, well groomed and well adorned.”

“Very good, this is Atman, the immortal and fearless, the Brahman” thus confirmed Prajapati to them.

Both Indra and Virochana, went happy and very much satisfied in their heart. Prajapati saw them going away and exclaimed to himself, “Whether they are gods or demons they will inevitably perish if they are satisfied with the mere reflection of the Reality.”

> Virochana went to the demons and taught them this knowledge by saying that this bodily self is all that we need to know and serve and glorify. This is the supreme knowledge by which one obtains the world here and hereafter.

Indra was different from Virochana. He realized that something is wrong with what he has just learnt about the Atman. He felt uneasy. He thought to himself that as the water reflects a well adorned body so does it reflects a blind man if he is blind, a defective man if he is defective. If a body is destroyed or dead, then there is no reflection of a living body. How then could the body or its reflection be said to be the deathless Atman?

He went back to Prajapati and said, “Lord, I see really nothing worthy in this body or in its reflection. Please give me the true knowledge about the Atman.” Prajapati was happy with Indra and asked Indra to stay with him for another thirty-two years. At the end of that period Prajapati called him and said, “That which moves about in dreams is Atman.”

Indra seemed to be satisfied and made his way to the abode of gods. But as he went along, again doubt crept into his mind and he thought, “How can the dream self be Atman? In dreams one suffers, one is wounded, one weeps when afflicted. The fearless and sinless Atman cannot be subject to such happenings. This does not seem to be the truth. Even this time also something again is wrong with what I have learnt.” He came back and prostrated himself before Prajapati requesting him to explain the truth of Atman.

As usual, Prajapati told him to stay with him for another period of thirty-two years. Indra was all prepared. At the end of this period, Prajapati called Indra and said: “The self who is full pleased and is in a happy mood in deep sleep is the Atman.”

Indra was satisfied and went home. But before he reached his place, again doubt overwhelmed him and he said to himself, “In a dreamless sleep, the self does not know itself. It is not conscious of its own existence. How then can the unconscious self be Atman when it is described as the ever luminous one, ever conscious one?” He came back again to Prajapati and reported to him about his difficulties. This time Prajapati was more pleased with Indra and told him to spend five more years with him.

After the period was over Prajapati called Indra beside him and said: “O Indra, you have deserved the knowledge of the highest truth by your persistent effort and intense inquisitiveness.” Saying this Prajapati revealed that part of the highest knowledge to Indra for which he was ready at that point of time.

“This body is subject to death yet it embodies the deathless and bodiless Atman. This embodied Self falls into the trap of all dualities like pleasure and pain, but the bodiless Atman is not touched by any duality. So long as the Atman resides in the body and attaches itself to them he seems limited and restricted, but again when freed from the body becomes one with the infinite spirit. When the Atman leaves the body, goes wandering freely in the infinite worlds. The eye, the ear, the senses, the mind are there only in order that the Atman may see and hear and think. It is on account of Atman and in the Atman that the things and beings exist. He is the Truth and the final repository of all existence.”

This time when Indra went back to impart this knowledge to the gods, he had no doubt. The gods received the true knowledge and therefore live in the full knowledge of their Self. And because Virochana was satisfied with the knowledge of body as self, the Asuras, even today live in the ignorance taking body as Self.

What one thinks one becomes, thats why King Bharata had to take an extra birth of deer despite becoming an ascetic, because of constant thinking of deer at the time of death. Thats why Ramkrishna Paramhans inherited feminine traits because of constant thinking and worshipping of Devi. A jiva thinks itself to be body made of matter and doer and enjoyer of actions in false ego thats why he undergoes reincarnation. One who realizes "Aham Brahmasmi", "I am that" alone is eventually freed.

  • "but for a tamsik fool entire Vedas, Vedanta, Puranas, Geeta etc., and even eternity is insufficient" Can you tell me who is the fool here? The Atman? Or someone else? There is no someone else in advaita. Shankara says there is no conscious entity other than brahman in brihadaranyaka upanishad bhashya.
    – user16581
    Jan 1, 2020 at 16:17
  • The jiva and its ego en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_Jiva_and_Atman Advaita is the source which Shankara told, infinite forms are born from the One.
    – user16530
    Jan 1, 2020 at 16:19
  • If infinite forms are really born from one, then each form cannot be brahman by itself and aham brahmAsmi is violated.
    – user16581
    Jan 1, 2020 at 16:23
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    @Iwillcloseyourquestion Instead of arguing with me try to understand yourself and develop Satva first. Brahman is not some words or some logic of right or wrong, its the self, its the whole, the source of your arguments. You think of differences because of your own ego.
    – user16530
    Jan 1, 2020 at 16:37
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    @Iwillcloseyourquestion thats why Bhakti is made mainstream in Tamsik Kaliyuga and the usual fights of dvaita and advaita. I am not here to convince you, you can understand according to your own limits and efforts as its your own individual journey, I only summarized the highest advaita Vedanta again.
    – user16530
    Jan 1, 2020 at 16:42

"I know Atman is self aware but I don't know why that Atman lost his self awareness that he is unlimited and beginning-less and instead acquiring limited body awareness."

The Bh.Gita has universally answered these types of questions. The Scripture can answer many questions in the same verse, like for example in verse #7.27 He describes that:

इच्छाद्वेषसमुत्थेन द्वन्द्वमोहेन भारत|सर्वभूतानि सम्मोहं सर्गे यान्ति परन्तप||

ichchhā-dveṣha-samutthena dvandva-mohena bhārata sarva-bhūtāni sammohaṁ sarge yānti parantapa.

The eternal existence has no beginning and no end. Since, the Supreme Brahman is only energetic in the absolute sense, else every existence is (differently energized part) energy of the Brahman. So, Brahman and the part/parcel energies, i.e. Jiva and Maya are all timeless and eternal who have no end or start.

Nevertheless, there is starting time of the material creation, the very first "sarga". The material creation, however, is transformation of material (external) energy of the Brahman, "Maya" into its tangible and intangible components, so that "Jiva", the marginal potency of Brahman, could transmigrate into different body stages influenced by it.

Why, when and how the jiva (originally from the spiritual domain) gets material body consciousness has been rooted in explanation of phrase "ichchha", the jiva's desire (material), to enjoy like Supreme Brahman which leads to "dvesha", envy, detachment thereafter. Here jiva forgets its eternal identity (spiritual body consciousness) and starts transmigrating into material bodies of lower or lowest spiritual consciousness. The jiva gets two intangible body stages, i.e. causal body and subtle body and one tangible gross body. We get to identify ourselves as a material body because of our tangible and intangible material (imperfect) senses.

While jiva/atma with intangible bodies transmigrates into different tangible material body cycles there comes a turning point, when jiva once again gets human body, a body supporting somewhat higher spiritual consciousness (conditioned) than other material bodies. The forgotten supremacy of Brahman is initially realized by the jiva while suffering the biological human body formation in the mother's womb. After taking material birth, jiva starts getting material sense gratification as temporary happiness and develops material body consciousness. When in this body, jiva is however, very close to recognize the real eternal identity and eternal relationship with Brahman. When jiva starts thinking, "who am i", "what is mine", " why i am suffering", "why i want permanent bliss".

In this material domain when we say its our something, that means its our belonging, which is our temporary possession, its not forever and its not our true self. Even when you say its my hand, my eye, my ear, my nose, its something different than you, the part of your body is not you. If one ear is not there you are still there. Even when the body is not there "I" still exists. "I" is eternal, even when "I" ovecomes (liberates) all the three material body (tangible and intangible) stages, "I" still has an identity, the true eternal identity which is beyond the cause and the time of the material transit.

Please refer to the purport and discourses of Bh.Gita, verse# 27 of chapter# 7.


  • userabcdef, whatever that abcdef may be.
    – user16581
    Jan 2, 2020 at 12:55
  • kilkinchita, mottaita, kuttamita....a few sanskrit phrases which have no english words for them
    – user30612
    Jan 2, 2020 at 15:56
  • One of your suggestions seems to have english meaning - wisdomlib.org/definition/kuttamita
    – user16581
    Jan 2, 2020 at 17:30
  • 1
    @Thecrowandthecoconut you should first discuss with OP.
    – Pandya
    Jan 3, 2020 at 14:37
  • 1
    @Pandya Can you cancel the bounty so that I can restart it with the required remarks?
    – user16581
    Jan 3, 2020 at 14:51

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