Self effulgent Atma

Updated - July 29, 2019 07:40 am IST

Published - July 28, 2019 10:00 pm IST

In Vedanta, the term jnana means Knowledge but is also synonymously used as Consciousness and it is always associated as the source of illumination or awareness in beings. One is able to recognise the external world and its myriad forms and aspects only owing to the light of Consciousness. Adi Sankara explains this fundamental truth in the Dakshinamurthy Stotra through the analogy of a pot with many holes in which a lamp is placed allowing the rays of light to pass through, pointed out Nannilam Sri Rajagopala Ganapadigal in a discourse. The presence of the self effulgent atma enables comprehension in beings, though undoubtedly it is owing to the indriyas, the sense organs, the eye, ear, skin, tongue, and nose that one is able to see, hear, touch, taste and smell. But unless each of these sense impressions that gets imprinted on the mind screen is illumined by the atma chaitanya these cannot be translated as experience. Just as any object in darkness can be perceived only in the presence of light, awareness of the world of creation is present in beings owing to the atma chaitanya.

On a macro level, this is explained in the Upanishads such as the Katopanishad and the Mundaka where it is made very clear that the Supreme Brahman alone is the only source of illumination and awareness. No light can shine on its own. Even the obvious sources of light such as the sun, moon, stars, fire, etc, derive their power to illumine owing to the Supreme Brahman. Fire or jyoti owes its peculiar qualities to God. Also when one says ‘I know the pot,’ the ‘I,’ or the ‘Aham sabda,’ is the ever existing and self effulgent atma chaitanya and is one and the same with the jnana. There are no three entities, namely the ‘I’, the pot and the act of seeing or knowing that the object perceived is a pot.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.