From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Adhyātma literally means ‘pertaining to the ātman’.

The Upaniṣads and the Bhagavadgitā frequently use the three words adhibhuta, adhidaiva and adhyātma. The word ‘adhi’ denotes the sense of ‘ruling over’ or ‘pertaining to’. The word ‘ātman’ is often used for the body. Hence ‘adhyātma’ indicates the Self within the body. It is the ātmā (Self) which resides in it and rules over the body.

It is also used to indicate Brahman or the Supreme Self.

The word is also used as an adjective and in combination with other words. For instance: adhyātmavidyā (knowledge of the Self), adhyātmayoga (yoga or meditation on the Self).


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore