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No.3: Atma is actionless and immutable

Here, Swami Dayananda is explaining the nature of atma (Self/awareness associated with all individuals) and how it is never effected by anything that occurs in the field of experience. Atma is like the sun which shines on the activities of the world but doesn't participate in them. It is actionless and immutable. Vedanta often starts by describing the Self to the student as the "knower," but this isn't meant to be taken literally.

See if you can follow the logic (comments in brackets):

"Though ātmā [Self] knows the kṣetra [field], it is only a figurative knowing, aupacārika-jñāna. Because it cannot undergo any change, there is no act of knowing for ātmā. The svarūpa, nature, of ātmā is changeless consciousness and simply by nature it illumines the kṣetra. It does not perform the action of illumining. Śaṅkara says, it is like fire burning. Fire does not perform the action of burning but because it is hot by nature, it burns. If it were an action it could sometimes burn, sometimes not. But an object that comes into contact with fire invariably is burned or at least heated. Wherever there is fire there will be heat. Saying that fire burns, is what we call upacāra. [Meaning...] The expression is relevant but not literal. Just as how fire burns without performing an action, ātmā illumines the entire kṣetra that includes the I-thought. It does not decide to illumine and then do it; it just illumines because its nature is consciousness. So when we say that ātmā is knower, it is important to understand that it is the knower’s svarūpa. We call it knower [figuratively] because it illumines, but since it undergoes no change, it therefore performs no action nor does it have any response to what it illumines.

"Bhagavān [Lord; Krishna as God's avatar] has shown elsewhere in the Gītā that ātmā has no action, has none of the factors necessary for performing an action and has no result accruing to it, kriyā [action], kāraka [operation] and phala [result of action] do not belong to ātmā. Ātmā is not the object of any action, nainaṁ chindanti śastrāṇi , weapons do not cut it, nor is it an agent, nāyaṁ hanti, it does not destroy, nor does it enjoy any result in the form of sukha [happiness] or duḥkha [suffering]; nādatte kasyacit pāpaṁ na caiva sukṛtaṁ vibhuḥ – the all-pervasive one does not take on to itself the result of anyone’s wrong doing or good action. He does not become the recipient, meaning he is not in any way affected by the result of any action, either [by] puṇya [good karma] or pāpa [bad karma]. [Just] As you cannot pollute or beautify space—because being without form and [being] all-pervasive it [space] is not available for such actions—[so] too, no pāpa or puṇya is taken on by ātmā."

—Quote from "Bhagavad Gita Home Study Course," volume 7, by Swami Dayananda.

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