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QA: What is Aham Brahmasmi

This ques­tion was asked on Day 2 of the 7 Day Retreat pro­gram in Rishikesh ‑Dec 2015

Ques­tion: What is Aham Brah­mas­mi?

Aham brah­mas­mi is a mah­vakya. The veda, body of knowl­edge, give us cer­tain impor­tant for­mu­la. Those for­mu­lae, which are like cap­sules, those are called Mahavakyas. By remem­ber­ing the Mahavakyas, we remem­ber the entire back­ground of the Mahavakya, the entire rea­son­ing asso­ci­at­ed with it. For exam­ple, you take notes dur­ing an exam. By look­ing at one word you remem­ber what all you have stud­ied. In a way Aham Brah­mas­mi is one such state­ment. Sar­vam Brah­ma­mayam. Ayam atma brah­ma, pra­j­nayanam brah­ma are the oth­er Mahavakyas that appear in the Upan­ishads. Brah­man comes from brh..which is vast. It is all encom­pass­ing. What is all encom­pass­ing can it have a name and form? Space..can it have a name and form. The name ofcourse is there. But the name is more like a point­er. What is space? infact it should what is not space? Its all encom­pass­ing. Its with­in us, out­side of us and every­where and hence nowhere in par­tic­u­lar. So what is not space? This is called neg­a­tive log­ic- neti neti. Na iti Na iti. Not this not that. That is how you can rea­son it out. Naan Yaar? Who am i? Am i this body? Am I the sens­es? Am I the mind? Am I the antahkarana? Then what Am I? because i am not just that this but much more Am I. But if you define “I am this..” then you lim­it it by the def­i­n­i­tion. So that vast­ness of this is encom­passed by the term Brah­man. Brah­man has no begin­ning and no end. This is beyond form but with­in this is includ­ed all forms. It is dif­fi­cult to con­ceive this. These forms don’t affect it. Is space affect­ed by our forms? Yet, with­out space would these forms exist? and hence it is also dif­fi­cult to It com­pre­hend or speak about it. Anir­vacha­neeya.. it can­not be spo­ken of. It can­not be encom­passed. That is called Brah­man. So aham brah­mas­mi is refer­ring to this prin­ci­ple where I am not this body.

We are here in Rishikesh today. It is believed that there was this Rishi who was dragged by a tiger. At that moment..at that very moment he said “Aham Brah­mas­mi” and he attained mok­sha and dis­ap­peared. For so many of us, remem­ber­ing such a thing while in great dan­ger can be impos­si­ble

Question:Then why do some Rishis poss­es this capa­bil­i­ty and some do not?

We can call this a Sid­dhi. Not every­one pos­sess the same sid­dhis. Sid­dhis can be looked at capa­bil­i­ties. I have some­thing called Lin­ux sid­dhi. While I don’t have elec­tron­ics siddhi,vlsi siddhi..definitely not! There are oth­er rishis who have dis­played sid­dhis of tam­ing tigers and lions. The whole of nature lis­tens to them. But a sid­dhi is in terms of exper­tise. You need to work towards to devel­op that. I have worked to devel­op lin­ux sid­dhi. You might have worked towards VLSI sid­dhi. Does it mean you have ana­log elec­tron­ics sid­dhi? Need not be, isn’t it. Sid­dhis are spe­cif­ic. In that we also refer to Ash­ta maha siddhis..anima mahi­ma lahi­ma ... Those are 8 great sid­dhis. There are oth­er super spe­cif­ic sid­dhis. The ash­ta mahasid­dhis are dif­fi­cult to achieve. Dif­fi­cul­ty in the sense of train­ing, rig­or, time and effort invest­ed. We have invest­ed so much time and effort in becom­ing an engi­neer. To become what we are now, we have invest­ed so much time and ener­gy. That also assumes a cer­tain back­ground, envi­ron­men­tal sup­port and so many things are involved implic­it­ly. Whether you need that sid­dhi or not depends on your aspi­ra­tion. Why do u need that? You decide. Lin­ux sid­dhi was impor­tant to me at that point in time. So I invest­ed time. That is one way of look­ing at sid­dhis. Many peo­ple spend lot of time and effort in devel­op­ing sid­dhis for ben­e­fit­ing oth­ers. But an out­sider view of Sid­dhis can be com­pli­cat­ed. Have peo­ple asked you this: “Oh you are an engi­neer. Please set this tap right” and you said, ” But I am elec­tron­ic engi­neer.” and they are like “What! you are an engi­neer right!”. That is an out­siders view of engi­neer. But the insid­ers view are much dif­fer­ent. “Oh you are a com­put­er engi­neer then set this com­put­er right for me” .. “This is a mac­book. Sor­ry I don’t know how to do it”. An insid­ers view is much more detailed and spe­cif­ic. From an out­side per­spec­tive sid­dhis look very dif­fer­ent to us and we expect Rishis to know and do every­thing.

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