Advaita philosophy and concept of Aham Brahmasmi – I am GodFebruary 23, 2009
Before I go to the post, I would like to do the Tag given to me by Su. He has given me 5 words : Song, Infinity, Angel, Peace, God and I am supposed to draw something on Paint/GIMP related to each word and put it here. So, here goes.
In the above picture that I have made on ‘God’, notice one thing – It is made of so many rectangles arranged together in a pattern. We can either look at it as the rectangles arranged in pattern or look at it as the word ‘God’. Depending on how we look at it, it becomes that – either a combination of rectangles or the word.
There is one saying in Tamil – “Kalla kanda Naaya Kanom; Naaya kanda Kalla Kanom” (Though it has been over used literally as a comic phrase and hence popularized in the movies) meaning – “If we see the stone, we don’t see the dog. If we see the dog, we don’t see the stone”. If there is a stone stature carved to the shape of a dog, we can either look at it as a stone or a dog. (We can also look at it as a stone and a dog, but this discussion is on a more basic level). Kamal Hassan came close to using this concept in the first song of Dasavatharam (Tamil version) – “Kallai mattum kandal, Kadavul theriyathu. Kadavul mattum kandal, kalladi theriyathu” (Meaning, if you look at it as a Stone, you don’t see God. If you look at it as God, you don’t feel the pain of even stone-pelting).
Same goes with the Gold bangle. You can see it as Gold or you can see it as a bangle, on the basic level. Depending upon how you see it, it is. I would like to quote one dialogue from the movie Matrix (Part I) which came very close to interpretation of this concept:
“What is Real? How do you define Real? If you are talking about your Senses, what you feel, taste, smell or see, then all you are talking about are electrical signals interpreted by your brain” – Morpheus in Matrix
Anyways, that is about the interpretation. (One of the interpretations of this philosophy is that the world is an illusion). But how is the concept in itself defined? I will have to quote from Wikipedia on that:
“Advaita refers to the identity of Self (Atman) and the Whole (Brahman – Don’t confuse this with the Hindu upper caste). Advaita is about realizing the Self (Atman) as the Whole (Brahman) itself which is apparently manifested eternally and simultaneously into animate or inanimate”
“Brahma Satyam Jagat mithya,
Jivo brahmaiva naparah”
“Brahman (Whole) is the only truth, the world is an illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between the Brahman and individual self(Atman)”
Advaita is not about any worship of any kind of deity; not even a singular all powerful supreme being/Ishwara/God. Brahman is at best, described as that infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, incorporeal, impersonal, transcendent reality that is the divine ground of all beings.
George Feuerstein summarizes the Advaita philosophy as follows : The manifold universe is, in truth, a single reality. There is only one great being, which the sages call Brahman, in which all the countless forms of existence reside. That great being is utter consciousness, and it is the very essence, or Self (Atman) of all beings.
In short, there is only one Brahman – Supreme being and everything else (You, me, stone, world, universe etc) is a form of this supreme being.
“Aham Brahmasmi” meaning “I am God” is the result of realization of this concept. The movie – Naan Kadavul (Tamil) treats this concept in the literal sense. There is much more to being a God than just possessing the power to destroy for a cause. In fact, power doesn’t really matter to a person when he is realizing that he is the Brahman (Whole) and hence he is already infinitely powerful!! J
I will end this article by two quotes. One from the renowned Scientist Albert Einstien and the other from Vedas.
“The fact that a man produces a concept ‘I’ besides the totality of this mental and emotional experiences or perceptions does not prove that there must be any specific existence (Reality) behind such a concept” – Albert Einstien.
Om purnam adah, purnam idam, purnat purnam udacyate,
Purnasya purnam adaya, purnam evavasisyate.
That is full; this is full; This fullness has been projected from that fullness. When this fullness merges in that fullness, fullness is all that remains (Rough translation)
“Such deep understanding of the nature and such is the brevity and beauty of the expression that one almost misses the subtlety of the logic. One has to understand all the structural and functional aspects of the universe to be able to write these four lines” is what Sunil Thakur, who has done a scientific analysis of the concept of “Aham Brahmasmi” has to say. You can read his full analysis in this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/10075060/Aham-Brahmasmi-I-am-the-God
(It takes around half an hour to read, but worth your time).
I will also give you the link to a song from the Tamil movie (‘Naan Kadavul’) which sets in with the theme of this article (This is a full length Sanskrit song with excellent music from Illayaraja). I don’t understand what is being said in that song, but listen to it for the music.
PS: This post is not about religion. It is about philosophy.
You could find similar articles in the Concepts and Ideas section of this blog.