The current understanding is that that brahman/paramAtma/bhagawAn is that universal, inter-galactic & inter-multiverse consciousness. But is sentience ALSO an attribute of that paramAtam/brahman/bhagawAn? sentience is awareness (consciousness + ability to perceive & feel).

  • probable duplicate question. You are making some assumptions in your question. Consicousness = Sentience =Awareness = Perception is true. It does not imply the perception to feel. Feeling implies awareness of the sensual world. Parabrahman is not aware of the sensual world. Aug 16, 2020 at 5:04
  • You said duplicate question - can you share link to which other question you felt this one is a duplicate of? Aug 16, 2020 at 17:04
  • Sentience about Prakriti and count of Karma are part of Atman which is confined to an individual body and without which any body is declared dead. Immortal omnipresent pure consciousness or true Self Purusha is merely the witness of divisions like several Atman, senses, worlds etc., as long the creation of Brahma is existing or an individual attain en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaivalya Moksha(separation of Purusha from Prakriti) through Self-realization.
    – user22687
    May 16, 2021 at 8:20

3 Answers 3


"Perception" and "feeling" are functions of the mind, not Ātman. That is why the Ātman is also called "sākṣin", the witness or the observer. It is pure self-aware knowledge, nothing else.

Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.11:

एको देवः सर्वभूतेषु गूढः सर्वव्यापी सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा । कर्माध्यक्षः सर्वभूताधिवासः साक्षी चेता केवलो निर्गुणश्च

The one deity, hidden within all creatures, all-pervasive, the inner Ātman of everything. The overseer of activities, the home of everything, the witness, the knower, purely without attributes.

Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 2.4.12:

इदं महद्भूतं अनन्तमपारं विज्ञानघन एव

This great existence, infinite and boundless, is pure consciousness only.

However, when this Ātman is conjoined with the mind and senses, that conglomerate is called the Bhoktā (the experiencer, the enjoyer, the sentient, etc.).

Katha Upaniṣad 1.3.4:

आत्मेन्द्रियमनोयुक्तं भोक्तेत्याहुर्मनीषिणः

The Ātman conjoined with the mind and senses, is called the Experiencer.

So it's not the pure Ātman, but the conglomerate which we perceive as ourselves, who experience emotions, feelings, etc.

  • An "observer" must "observe" in some way. How does the Atman observe, if it cannot perceive in any way?
    – user17987
    Sep 11, 2020 at 18:04
  • @idolworshipper Because the Atman is svayamprakAsha, i.e. self-luminous. Do you need somebody else to tell you that you exist? It is your own deepest knowledge that you exist. That deepest knowledge of pure self-awareness is Atman. For perception of other things, you need senses and sense organs. But even then, your own knowledge of your own existence is the substratum, the foundation for perceiving other things.
    – RamAbloh
    Sep 11, 2020 at 22:12

Brahman as pure consciousness is not a being in Advaita Vedanta and so cannot have feeling. Atman which is Brahman in us is also simply witness consciousness. Saguna Brahman in Advaita Vedanta or Narayana/Vishnu of Vishistadvaita/dvaita has feeling.

Consciousness is the immutable Self which is the witness-consciousness, unchanging, flawless and eternal. This witness-consciousness manifests all things, viz, the ego, the intellect, and the objects, and continues to shine even when they are non-existent. Consciousness in Advaita is often compared to a canvas on which the world-picture is painted. Just as the canvas is where the various painted figures appear, both of inanimate things like mountains and animate beings like men and animals, so also on the consciousness which is the immutable Self, the variegated world appears. Advaita is not saying that the universe is conscious.

Pancadasi of Sri Vidyaranya translated by Swami Swahananda introductory remarks

  • Thank you for the answer. What about intelligence? I have heard some gurus say brahman is intelligent-consciousness. If intelligence or sentience are not attributes of the paramAtma/bhagawAn/brahman, then we cannot say that God is an enforcer of karma of humans, i.e. how can Sri Krishna tell Arjuna in BG that all those adharmic warriors are already killed by him and Arjuna just has to do the final act? If bhagawAn is only consciousness, then God will not interfere in human lives on this planet in anyway (either to enforce karma siddhAnta or to answer devotee's ardent prayers) no? Aug 16, 2020 at 17:08
  • You are mixing up the concepts of Bhagawan and the nirguna Brahman of Advaita Vedanta. Nirguna Brahman is all (there is nothing else) and one cannot associate it with any duality, i.e., one cannot think of the universe and its jivas when thinking of Brahman. Bhagavan is another matter. Brahman is thought of as Ishvara or Bhagavan when one considers the universe and jivas. Sri Krishna is speaking from the point of view of Bhagavan and not nondual Brahman when talking to Arjuna. It is Bhagavan who distributes the fruits of karma and not nirguna Brahman. Aug 17, 2020 at 9:39
  • Ok. But which of these is reality - saguna brahma/bhagawAn or nirguna brahman? i.e. when they say 'brahman satyam jagan mithya', which of these two are they referring to? If they are referring to nirguna brahman, then bhagawAn is also part of mithya and thus whatever Sri Krishna said as a bhagawAn in BG is useless, no? Aug 17, 2020 at 16:12
  • 1
    Brahman when experienced by a person with ego is called Saguna Brahman or Bhagawan. Brahman when experienced by a person who has gone beyond ego is called Nirguna Brahman. Bhagawan and scriptures are for persons with ego. Mithya is simply a way of saying that experience of persons who have gone beyond ego is different from those of us with ego. Aug 18, 2020 at 11:29
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    Yes, you are right. Aug 19, 2020 at 3:35

An "observer" must "observe" in some way. How does the Atman observe, if it cannot perceive in any way?

Observer does not mean just observing. When we say the observer is shiva (or athma/brahman) and the observed is shakhti (or the intelligent energy of thoughts/body/world), it means, shiva and shakhti always exist together for the perpetual duality cycles to happen. eg wake/dream, dream/deep sleep, deep sleep /turiya (samadhi or moksha), energy/matter, wave/particle, birth/death, creation/destruction, manifestation/concealment, freezing/melting, summer/winter, man/woman etc


Inanimate also has the conscious observer (shiva). But self awareness is limited to human vehicles and some animals like elephants, dolphins and some monkeys which pass the mirror test.


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