Atma-vidya (devanāgarī: आत्मविद्या ātma-vidyā) is a Sanskrit term that means "knowledge of the (spiritual) self".
H. P. Blavatsky said that although this term is translated as "knowledge of the Soul" or "true Wisdom", it means far more. She regarded this as "the only kind of Occultism that any theosophist who admires Light on the Path, and who would be wise and unselfish, ought to strive after". She added:
Of the four Vidyas—out of the seven branches of Knowledge mentioned in the Purânas—namely, “Yajna-Vidya” (the performance of religious rites in order to produce certain results); “Maha-Vidya,” the great (Magic) knowledge, now degenerated into Tantrika worship; “Guhya-Vidya,” the science of Mantras and their true rhythm or chanting, of mystical incantations, etc.—it is only the last one, “Atma-Vidya,” or the true Spiritual and Divine wisdom, which can throw absolute and final light upon the teachings of the three first named. Without the help of Atma-Vidya, the other three remain no better than surface sciences, geometrical magnitudes having length and breadth, but no thickness. They are like the soul, limbs, and mind of a sleeping man: capable of mechanical motions, of chaotic dreams and even sleep-walking, of producing visible effects, but stimulated by instinctual not intellectual causes, least of all by fully conscious spiritual impulses. A good deal can be given out and explained from the three first-named sciences. But unless the key to their teachings is furnished by Atma-Vidya, they will remain for ever like the fragments of a mangled text-book, like the adumbrations of great truths, dimly perceived by the most spiritual, but distorted out of all proportion by those who would nail every shadow to the wall.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. IX (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 252.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 168-169.