What is the difference between Atma gayan(the knowledge of Self) and the the knowledge of upanishad.

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    I think knowledge of upanishads is atma gyan only. Just that in atma gyan one realises it himself and experience it while in knowledge of upanishads, it depends. Some who are receptive enough, gets atma gyan just by reading upanishads. While for other it will be just like theoretical knowledge without practical experience.
    – Rudra
    Commented May 4, 2021 at 1:54
  • First, Atma is generally translated as Self, with a capital 'S' to refer to the Pratjagatman, or Brahman or Supreme Person at the core of every jiva. A small 's' refers to the Sthula Sharira, the gross body including the mind, intellect, and egoism. Second, the translation of Jnana (or Gnana) as 'knowledge' whether knowledge of the upanishads or knowledge of Atman depends upon the context of the exact verses you are referring to. You need to give verses that you are asking about. Your question is too broad as it stands. Commented May 4, 2021 at 12:30
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    Atman Gyan or Self-realization simply means realizing one's real or true Self through means like en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neti_neti. Body, ego, job, wife, children, wealth etc., will disappear with body's death and are temporary. Upanishads are collection of some experiences of ancient enlightened beings. ramanuja.org/sri/BhaktiListArchives/…
    – user22687
    Commented May 5, 2021 at 5:56

1 Answer 1


Knowledge of the Upanishads is intellectual knowledge. Atmajnana which is the same as Brahmajnana is anubhuti (direct experience) of Brahman and not simply intellectual knowledge. They are different.

Brahmajnana or Atmajnana

The Vedanta system of philosophy posits Brahman as the origin of the entire universe including the inanimate nature and the living beings. The universe evolves out of it, it is sustained in it and involves back to it. Its essential nature is 'sat-cit-ananda', existence-consciousness-bliss. It is uncaused and eternal. It is also the very essence of the human beings. Since the human beings do not know this Brahman that is in them or behind them, they are undergoing a lot of suffering caused by the vicious circle of birth-death-rebirth, technically called 'samsara'. Moksha or liberating oneself from the bondage of this samsara, is the ultimate goal of life. This moksha can only be achieved by brahmajnana.

Though the word 'jnana' means 'knowledge, 'brahmajnana' does not mean an intellectual understanding of Brahman. It is anubhuti or direct experience of Brahman, not only as the substratum of the entire creation, but also as the innermost core of oneself. Once this direct experience comes, there will no more be any identification with the body-mind complex which alone was responsible for samsara.

A concise encylopaedia of Hinduism by Swami Harshananda

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    Thanks for the answer Commented May 4, 2021 at 7:11
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    FYI, A Concise Encyclopaedia of Hinduism by Swami Harshananda is available on the website of RK Math Bangalore: eoh.rkmathbangalore.org. So in future you can directly quote from there. E.g., here's the link to the article on: brahmajñāna Commented May 4, 2021 at 18:38
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    I didn't know that. Thanks. Commented May 5, 2021 at 3:54
  • @Pradip Gangopadhyay is spot on. In addition, Atma Jnana involves transcending the mind while gaining knowledge from the Upanishads is an intellectual exercise where the mind is necessary. This is more a scholarly exercise and for it to turn into real experience, the guidelines read must be implemented within. Therefore in terms of authenticity, the former holds a much higher value than the latter.
    – Siv
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 7:03

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