Atmanishtha is made up of two words: atma means soul, and nishtha means a firm belief. Together the word means believing ourselves to be atma and not the body. Every morning, in our puja, we do atma-vichar (thinking about being the atma) by saying or thinking: “I am not this body. I am atma. I am Brahman. I am Akshar. I am happy and strong. Shriji Maharaj is Supreme Bhagwan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj is the gateway to Akshardham.” This will help us strengthen our understanding that we are not this body.
To believe ourselves to be atma can be difficult, so it is very important that we do atma-vichar daily. We can do atma-vichar anywhere: when we are on our way to school, before eating lunch or even during our recess.
Once, Shriji Maharaj was sitting under a mango tree on the farm of Parvatbhai in the village of Agatrai. A son of a harijan came towards Maharaj.
He touched Maharaj’s feet, and Maharaj asked, “Who are you?”
“Maharaj! I am a harijan (a person of low caste),” replied the little boy.
“No, you are not a harijan, you are atma. Now say ‘I am atma’, ” said Maharaj.
“I am atma,” repeated the boy.
Maharaj was pleased, and once again asked, “Who are you?”
“A harijan,” replied the boy.
“No, not a harijan – you are atma. Say ‘I am atma’,” instructed Maharaj again.
The boy did so.
“Now, who are you?” asked Maharaj.
“A harijan,” said the boy.
Then Maharaj made the boy say ‘I am atma’ one hundred times. The boy had the sentence memorized. Finally when Maharaj asked, “Who are you?”
The boy replied, “Because you say so, I am atma, but, in reality, I am a harijan.” Maharaj laughed and sent the boy on his way. Turning to the devotees who were present, Maharaj explained, “Look at how attached the boy is to his body and caste. He does not know who he really is! After this body perishes our atma still remains, so we should always believe that we are not our body but atma and akshar.”
Similar to this little boy, we all are attached to our body, parents, toys and friends. However, we must remember Maharaj and Swami throughout the day and strengthen and belief that our true, eternal form is atma.