WHO AM I ?

Remember the two vital questions which I missed while I was “role playing” during the Corana Virus! Who am “I”? What do I mean when I use the word “Happy”?

There are numerous ways by which one can explain “happiness” – the state of being happy. I was looking for an apt definition for happiness. Pop! Came the answer from Twitter. Here is the link

Here is my interpretation. Modern psychology brings out the science behind “happiness”. As an “experiencer”, I look at “being happy” in a different perspective. When I am in deep sleep without any application whatsoever of my mind and sense organs, I am in a state unaffected by anything – “It is a Bliss” – indicating how happy I am when I am sleeping without any miseries. That is what I mean by the word “happy”. That kind of happiness is what I want in every second of my life. Am I the only one desiring like that? The lady there in Anand Mahindra’s tweet brings out exactly what is happiness. It depends on oneself (attitude of myself decides what is happiness). So who is myself or who am I?

This question however is a complex one. The self inquiry in the question has one challenge. Am I splitting myself as inner and outer Self? Dr S Radhakrishnan, a great philosopher and the former President of India, says “To divide human being into outer desire and inner quality is to violate the integrity of human life. The two orders of Reality – the transcendental the empirical are closely related”. If I agree with this argument, then, who am I ?

I don’t have an answer ready made. The real answer cannot be provided either by a theory or by dialectic. These alone, as in themselves and without reference to personal experience cannot carry conviction. But I am still in the process of experiencing the answer (otherwise called as my life) and won’t be able to answer till my experiences (life) end.

Luckily, the experiences elucidated by legendary philosophers and thinkers are available for me. Their teachings are presented either as metaphysics or ethics. In the traditional Hindu system this is called “Brahmavidya” and “Yogashastra”. The universally acclaimed classic Indian treatise “Bhagwad Gita” is a combination of both – the science of Reality and the art of Union with Reality.

In India, there are two outstanding treatises, considered equivalent to The Divine Response available for the vital question “Who am I?”. The answer to my question was provided as early as in 8th Century by Adi Shankaracharya. He brought out the “Brahmavidya” to the question “Who am I?” through a hymn in Sanskrit comprising six verses – “Atma Shatakam or Nirvana Shatakam”. The word shatakam means six and the word nirvana means freedom or liberation. It is thus a hymn of six verses on liberation, each of which is like a jewel in the garland of Vedanta. It is also called as atma shatakam or six verses on the nature of the Self. The first three lines in each of the first five verses negate all that is not “I”(Atman), while the last line in each verse strongly affirms what “I”(Atman) is.

In the year 1902, in a town called Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, Bhagwan Shri Ramana Maharishi provided answers to one Sri M. Sivaprakasam Pillai, a graduate in Philosophy, who was at the time employed in the Revenue Department of the South Arcot Collectorate. This was published in 1923. The teachings of Bhagwan Shri Ramana Maharishi is published by SriRamanasramam in Thiruvannamalai as “Who am I”.

My next series of blogs will focus on Adi Shankaracharya’s Nirvana Shatakam/Atma Shatakam.

Author: prabhusponder

A novice venturing out to explore the meaning of life

6 thoughts on “WHO AM I ?”

  1. Is Shankara’s ‘Atma Shatakam’ any different from the ‘Neti Neti’ principle? My understanding of ‘Neti Neti’ principle is to go to the root of anything and negating everything you can perceive or visualise.
    In fact any topic in this world like science, religion or even philosophy tries to go to the root and stops when it can go no further to prove or disprove it.
    But, Neti-Neti in Vedanta tries do one step better. By negating everything you can perceive, it comes to ‘Nothing’ or ‘Everything’ or ‘ Atman’ or ‘Brahman’ which can only be experienced and not explained. But when once you experience it, you are ever happy and no more feelings and reactions that mortals find themselves in. At least, this is my understanding of ‘Neti-Neti’. The means to get to this ‘Self Realisation’ state is the ‘Sadhana’ of all the intellectually endowed human souls since the other living creatures like animals do not seem to have the mental maturity like humans to work towards such ‘Sadhana’
    To help us progress towards such ‘Self Realisation’ (or realising ‘Atman’ & ‘Brahman’ as one and the same), we go through various processes or means like ‘Karma Yoga’ ‘Bhakthi Yoga’, ‘Dhyana Yoga’, ‘Jnana Yoga’ et al, is my understanding.
    While exploring all this, I found ‘Advaitha Philosophy’ propounds the least assumptions path or axioms if you like, which attracted me to ‘Advaitha’ even though I am supposedly a ‘Vishishtadvaithi’!
    Sorry for the long commentary.

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