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.

WHO AM I?

During the last three months, as COVID 19, otherwise known as the Corona Virus, took on the world by its scruff and shook every one of us in the globe. The devastation still continues. Locked down at home, all of us are in the process of understanding ourselves, our work, our relationships, our lifestyles and our future.

Here are a few examples of how I looked at myself. During these three months, sitting on the couch at my son’s Manhattan residence, I went four decades back to my “Masters in Management” days and started “Role Playing”.

In normal times, travel was a physical activity & we needed a transport to travel long distances. Yet I travelled across without the use of aero planes/vehicles to all parts of the world. I went to China, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Cuba, Ecuador, Russia, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, Great Britain and several other countries. I am learning so much about these places, the people there, their food habits, their social behavior, their travel etc that even a citizen of that country would normally won’t bother to know these details during normal times. Thus I became a global citizen simply sitting in a couch and using my iPad!!

I watched political leaders across the world in action with their left, right, socialistic and capitalistic orientations. I became law maker for several countries and started review of the actions and inactions of these leaders. I advised the public through social media as to what went wrong with these guys and what they should have done. I became a consultant to the global leaders!!

I reviewed the science behind the diseases that the world faced/faces/will face. I became an epidemiologist, a health care specialist, a pharmaceutical expert; I thought I understood respiratory systems, became emergency care professional. I literally became the master of life sciences.

I analyzed human behavior, impact of country, culture & religion on human behavior, I tried experimenting with social distancing (remember – human beings are social animals). In short I became sociologist.

I ran restaurants & Bars; I ran public transport, managed hospitals, became insurance administrator; I ran treasuries and stock markets, I specialized in mathematical modeling, (understood lots of curves, peaked them, flattened them). I saw numerous movies & TV Shows, listened to all kinds of music & podcasts, recited slokas/hymns. I did baby sitting, & played with kids. There are practically very little fields that I left uncovered in these testing times.

The only area that I didn’t touch in this period of crisis is about “I“(myself). Who am I ?. ..

All I know about myself is that I am not happy (अहं सर्वदा दुःखभारावसन्नो – I am always sunken with the burden of Sorrows). I want the crisis to be over and I want to be happy.

Absolutely nothing wrong with this feeling. All living beings desire to be happy without any misery. This is human nature. But then who am “I”? What do I mean when I use the word “Happy”?

Read my blogs in the coming weeks in the “Spirituality” Section of the Menu.