From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Anātman literally means ‘the not-self’ or ‘the non-self’.

The two of the important questions posed by philosophical inquirers are :

  • ‘Who am I?’
  • ‘Whence did this world originate?’

The Vedānta system of philosophy posits the view that the world has evolved out of the Ātman (the Self) and it is the same Atman that is our real nature. Everything else is included under the term ‘anātman.’

Though literally the external world with its myriads of objects is also anātman, the word is used more particularly to denote the body, the sense-organs and the mind which forces us to identify ourselves with them and forget our real nature.


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