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Atman Cannot Be One – How This Statement Is Refuted?

If the same Atman resides in everyone, then there can be no difference amongst people. If one is happy then everyone should be happy. If one is sad then everyone should be sad. If one knows, then everyone should know. If one is born or dead then everybody should be born or dead. If one is in bondage or liberated then everybody should be in bondage or liberated. But we don’t see such a thing. Therefore, Atman cannot be One.

Padmanabha Swamy Temple Sculpture - Thiruvananthapuram - Kerala

Hastamalakiyam Third Shloka Answers

‘The reflection of the face seen in the mirror has no separate existence apart from the reflected face. In the same way, Jiva or Consciousness reflected in the intellect has no separate existence apart from the Consciousness. I am that Atman which is of the nature of eternal Consciousness or Knowledge.’

Though there is no real entity called the reflected face, still, because of differences in the adjuncts, i.e. mirrors of various hues and forms, the reflected faces are seen as different from each other, and as well as different from the original face. Again, because of dirt etc. that is on the different mirrors, the reflected faces also seem to possess dirt etc. Similarly, the Atman reflects in different intellects. The reflected Atman or the ‘Chidabhasa’ is the Jiva or the individual. Because of differences in the intellects, the reflecting medium, in terms of happiness and miseries the Jivas are perceived as different from each other and from the Atman Itself. I am that Atman whose reflection is seen in different intellects, and who am of the nature of the eternal Knowledge. (Swami Suprajnananda)

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Explains

Sri Ramakrishna says, ‘Man experiences three states of consciousness: waking, dream, and deep sleep. Those who follow the path of knowledge explain away the three states. According to them, Brahman is beyond the three states. It is also beyond the gross, the subtle, and the causal bodies, and beyond the three gunas – sattva, rajas, and tamas. All these are maya, like a reflection in a mirror. The reflection is by no means the real substance. Brahman alone is the Substance and all else is illusory.

‘The knowers of Brahman say that it is the identification of the soul with the body that creates the notion of duality. In that state of identification the reflection appears real. When this identification disappears, a man realizes, “I am He; I am Brahman.”’ (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna 699-700)

Source – Vedanta Kesari – April 2017 issue