Teaching Brahman

Introduction

This activity helps students think more deeply about the important Upanishadic claim "Atman is Brahman."

Background Information

Motivation

"Atman is Brahman" is likely the most central and most difficult claim in the Upanishads. This activity helps students think more deeply about it.

Logistics

This is best done as a group activity, but could easily be done as a solo or pair activity. It should be done only after at least one or two lectures on the Upanishads and the claim that "Atman is Brahman."

Texts / Connections

Relevant texts:

Upanishads

Courses and Topics

  • Introduction to Philosophy, Metaphysics, Self and Identity

Activity Plan

Give student groups the following prompt:

Your best friend is an 8th grade social studies teacher who is now teaching her students about the culture of India. Having discovered that you are an expert in Indian philosophy, she asks you to come be a guest speaker in class and talk about the idea that “Atman is Brahman.” What is the best way to approach this challenge?

Once groups come up with their answers, have them share their ideas with the class.

Discussion Questions

  • How did you adjust your explanation for the audience (8th graders)?

  • What concepts or ideas did you need to present first in order for the students to understand the idea that Atman is Brahman?

  • Did you figure out any good strategies for explaining what Atman or Brahman is?

Authorship

Seth Robertson (University of Oklahoma)
sethrobertson@ou.edu