Atma- analysis of Self


Then, you have to put things in context:

For him who sees this, who thinks this and who understands this, life-breath springs from the self (Atman), hope from the self, memory from the self, ether from the self, heat from …
ChUp 7.26.1

Everything comes from the Atman then.
Atman is not just “breath”.


Why construct it in that particular way?

Ātmā, ātmānam, ātmanā, ātmaṇe, etc.

Do you consider the second (and possibly third) syllable(s) of all of these mutations to be a seperate root/stem?

For instance, let us pick a different Sanskrit word, one without a great deal of doctrinal bias behind it:


Do you parse this as

√ha + √ri + √var + √man?

Obviously I myself do not consider this parsing to be correct, but it matches the precedent you have set with

√āt + √man


I do not say Atman is “breath”. I am thinking about what we called “energy” which is the only thing (that I know of) that may fit to that definition. Energy has no beginning and no end. It cannot be destroyed. However, it is not permanent. I hope that we can agree about that. It is everywhere, in a rock, a tree, a cell, a person…heat is energy, when we are angry, we feel hot, matter is energy… Without energy we may not be able to breath, to remember…

However, this is just my own speculation when I read that definition…


I hope that I am not making a fool of myself, but in case that was directed at me, not at freedom, I didn’t mean to say that ātman “meant” breath. I just meant to say that that is its history. A history of meanings that, when one goes far back enough, starts to relate moreso to breaths than intellectual self-conceptions.


I suppose you could call cause and effect and kind of energy! How to dissipate this energy is the question. No more causal energy, no more suffering.

With metta


आत्मन् ātman or atman ?

The problem is how some lexicographers interpreted अट्/अत् .
√ अट् aṭ
√ अत् at (linked to aṭ)
आत् āt

If आत्मन् ātman is breath, it would come from the root √ अन् an (as in the MW dictionary !?!)
Why not atman without the diacritic?
Why the root √ अन् an ?
Where does etme fits into that.

Now the declensions of atman/ātman? would have nothing to do with its meaning.

We take ātman (with the diacritic) for granted. But the Sanskrit shows another possible meaning. A meaning far closer to what it should be.


But isn’t that the exact same thing you are doing when you treat an inflection of ātman as if it were comprised of two different roots?

(It seems) you are treating declensional endings as if they were their own roots.

I’m not going to be the one to say this is silly, perhaps its right, after all, there is precedence in Munster Gaelic for declensional endings being “words” in their own right.

This is off-topic, but for the sake of explaining the above, I am talking about

Creidimid (“You believe” in polite register) in Muster Irish transforming into creid imid (note: two words) in Ulster Irish


Might it be आत्मन् ātman, or आत्मन् atman the declensions would be the same.

The diacritic would just disappear.

Masculine Singular Dual Plural
Nominative ātmā ātmānau ātmānaḥ
Vocative ātman ātmānau ātmānaḥ
Accusative ātmānam ātmānau ātmanaḥ
Instrumental ātmanā ātmabhyām ātmabhiḥ
Dative ātmane ātmabhyām ātmabhyaḥ
Ablative ātmanaḥ ātmabhyām ātmabhyaḥ
Genitive ātmanaḥ ātmanoḥ ātmanām
Locative ātmani ātmanoḥ ātmasu
Compound ātma-
Adverb -ātmam


The inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent, over time, seem to get more “creative” with their spellings.

For instance, there is an Aḍhyāṭmopaniṣad. A terrible mispelling.

One possibility.


It is not the Indians, but how we, westerners, westernized their language.

Why आत्मन् ātman, and not आत्मन् atman.
And how we interpreted it from that.
Brahmins are having fun, in their usual silent way.

बृह् bṛh - √ मन् man and
ध dha (or √ dhā) - √ मन् man [धर्मन् dharmán]
fit much more with an at- man than an ātman.


AFAIK it appears in manuscript as अढ्याट्मोपनिषड्

Usually Westerners correct errors they see in Sanskrit, in my experience, meagre as it may be.

Such as bodhisatva --> bodhisattva

Or āryya --> ārya (note the bizarre geminated Y in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit vs the Pāṇini norm)

I should credit @Jayarava for this, since this is not my own research that resulted in that knowledge.


If you are so willing, you will have to do some educating of myself for us to continue this dialogue.

My devanāgarī is worse than my Russian, which is to say it is very, very, very poor.

The two words you showed:

Look completely the same to me as far as their spelling goes. Surely the macron must be indicated in the devanāgāri? Or is it implied from context?

Am I missing something in the Indic script?


For the matter, my own quoting of devanāgari appears to lack diacritics over the a.

Interesting. I know next to nothing about devanāgari script though.

Are these dots beneath D’s and T’s not indicated generally?

Is an a with a macron exclusively inferred by readers?

Surely not.


Nevermind, that was just a product of my own ignorance regarding devanāgāri.


I know it is not easy to grasp if you haven’t mused a bit over it before, but what is at stake is that आत्मन् in devanagari could be atman and not ātman.
In western dictionnaries, आत्मन् is devanagarized as ātman. But it could also be devanagarized as atman (see below).
In which case the compound at-man would be possible.

Again, the problem is how some lexicographers interpreted अट्/अत् .
√ अट् aṭ
√ अत् at (linked to aṭ)
आत् āt

√ अत् at, is linked to √ अट् aṭ.
So आत्मन् atman is also possible.
At-man as the thoughtful wandering Spirit/Self, roaming thoughtfully incessantly.

अत् at = to go constantly RV.
अट् aṭ = to roam , wander.

Which explains better the compounds Bṛh-man & dhar-man

See ?

Also, The external sandhi of at and man is anman
अत् | मन् = अन्मन्
NB. Other sandhi solutions may be allowed

The internal sandhi of at and man is atman
अत् | मन् = अत्मन्
NB. Other sandhi solutions may be allowed

The external sandhi of āt and man is ānman
आत् | मन् = आन्मन्
NB. Other sandhi solutions may be allowed

The internal sandhi of āt and man is ātman
आत् | मन् = आत्मन्
NB. Other sandhi solutions may be allowed


They are both exactly the same, with a long ā:
आ = ā, अ = a
we add a vertical line to to turn the short ‘a’ into a long one.

Many readers here are not familiar with Devanagari, nor Sanskrit. Maybe you could mark which etymologies are traditionally accepted and which are your personal interpretations. I like the your creative approach, but many are not ‘standard’ as far as I can tell.


Yes I know. That is why I specifically mentioned आत् āt, as seen below:

It is just that, as I added before, “other sandhi solutions may be allowed”.

However an-man अन्मन् - or - ānman
आत् | मन् = आन्मन् is a very different thing than आत्मन्

My “creative approach” might not be “standard”; but it approaches a bit more the true meaning of the words in question.

Also, if ever Atman was breath (or breathless) ; it would be of it’s own nature (RV. 10.129), and not of the nature of the dharman he produces (like paticcasamuppada).

What about the Ajo ?


I would like to add another aspect to the discussion of how ‘fundamental’ anatta is to ‘Buddhism’. From the anatta-ists among us it might appear as if it is absolutely essential.

If that was so, we should find anatta in the thematically structured Samyutta Nikaya 1. in its own samyutta and/or 2. all over the place.

Neither is true. While we have several doctrinally completely irrelevant samyuttas, apparently nobody saw it necessary to collect a separate ‘anatta-samyutta’.

This is quite in contrast to the other central themes. The Four Noble Truths have their SN 56. The Paticcasamuppada has SN 12. The Khandhas SN 22. The Salayatanas SN 35. The Dhatus SN 14.

Guess in how many of the 56 Samyuttas ‘anatta’ is basically mentioned at all. 10? 20? 30? - it’s 2, yes, two! 98% of all anatta-occurrences appear in SN 22 Khandha and SN 35 Salayatana.

SN 23.7-8 only repeat SN 22. There is one other sutta SN 12.66, a non-revealing SN 46.77, and SN 55.3. That’s it.

Anicca for example is much more spread out - which is why I consider it more core-doctrinal than anatta. Why is there not a big fuss about anicca??


This reminds me of debates concerning “personal” vs “phenomenal” selflessness.


I suppose that it is because anatta was an obvious correlate of anicca, for the people at the time of Buddha.
Something people seem to have a hard time to understand nowadays.
Impermanent, not continuous, and therefore not blissful. Therefore not self, or what belongs to a self.