Advaita philosophy and concept of Aham Brahmasmi – I am God

February 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.

Source:  http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/

And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advaita_Vedanta


Destination Infinity


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.



  1. […] […]

  2. PS: This post is not about religion. It is about philosophy. @ LOL

    Isn’t this the essential of what Buddha taught. Religion has 3 parts Symbols (gods, goddesses, texts, idols, animals, stars etc), rituals and spirituality. Our problem is that we r stuck in the first 2 and forgotten about the 3 aspect. Which is somewhat like Sticking on to the banana skin n forgetting about the banana. Anyways.

    BTW, I used to carry that as my signature on my personal email id: Aham Brahamma, before I understood the real meaning.

    Yet, again a great post.

    • I think you are right about being struck in first two…. The first two are only the means to reach the third!! I still think it is cool to put it as a signature (I have that matrix quote which I have put up here, as a signature!)

      Destination Infinity

      • Ha ha yet another matrix, fan, I couldn’t like the last one. Also, my enthusiasm went don’t when I saw the real source and came to know it was heavily plagiarized, I know what you are thinking, you’re welcome 😉

  3. 🙂 well put about Advaitha…I consider myself as an Advaithist so to speak 🙂 Most of my poems are based on this thought of oneness ..if you read my earlier poems,they would be more “raw” to speak,unlike my recent ones….I would love to write a long comment on this,but thanks to my wonderful exams,I am slightly stuck…


    Forgive the poor grammar,style etc etc( ya Thats how much I have changed 😛 ) but i think you will get the essence of what I mean…And if you have time,go through my earlier poems 🙂

    • I will definitely go through the earlier poems which are short 🙂 But I never thought that you had the concept of advaita in mind while writing the poems. Your’s were as abstract as it could get!

      Destination Infinity

  4. Aham Brahmasmi is the only way to relate the natural and the (so-called) super-natural. Every being has its place because of the very fact that it is existing and that the world acknowledges it. If the being takes pride in its existence and works towards the betterment of its self at its own cost only, there would be no need for wars, Gods, or diversification of any form.

    • I think your comment closely resembles Ayn Rand’s views.

      Destination Infinity

      • I am her fan. 🙂 I’m doing a micro research on a phenomenon in everyone’s lives – ‘Dependencies’

  5. Wow! This post is good and very informative. Impressive!!

    Keep Blogging!!

  6. It’s like saying microcosm and macrocosm are not two but one and the same thing. say the equation is {0 – 0 = 0; 0 + 0 = 0; 0 x 0 = 0}

    The message is perpetuation. Whatever operation we may like to do, the result is the same.

    Another way of putting it: the conservation is the essence. vacuum –> energy –> matter –> energy –> vacuum.

    Thanks, infinity. Your post provokes me to think better.


    • That is a nice perspective. I was initially not able to comprehend this concept, but later on, when I was introduced to Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, I was able to relate to it. Thanks for your comment.

      Destination Infinity

  7. Very nicely said DI, got to know something as I am very alien to this topics.. 🙂

    • I was introduced to this topic when I was in my Eleventh standard. At that time, I didn’t have the patience or the inclination to know more. But when I saw that movie – Naan Kadavul, I wanted to understand the philosophy behind it! I learnt as much while doing this post.

      Destination Infinity

  8. advaitha/dwitha theories are so fascinating..and this is the reason why I would love people to debate these theories isolating them from religion and theism, and believe me they can be thought about in any way we want. BTW, one slight correction, aham brahmasmi does not mean “I am god”, brahman is derived from the verb brh which means to grow, brahman is a state of mind which has grown, matured, well above the rest, a supreme being.
    Now you could call it god if you are an theist, or just a supreme being, an ideal perfection if are an atheist. Now this is what makes the theories interesting, now Sri Shankaracharya who advocated adviata always felt that, we have the potential to become that supreme human being, if we follow the right path and develop the light knowledge. However the dwaita philosophy said that the supremity is a concept which is beyond us individuals, and can be aspired but not attained.
    Sad part is that these theories have always been associated with religion, and so many of the new age youth, who think that religions across the world are just a set of blind practices choose to ignore the amazing philosophy behind these.

    • I think advaita also says that we and God (Supreme Being) are one and the same. The onus is on us, to realize it. I mean, even if it is not true, the concept in itself is mind blowing! Matrix, uses this concept in a big way. Thanks for your clarifications.

      Destination Infinity

    • what a lovely discussion, thank you.
      Aham Brahmasmi, is oft accurately translated: “I Am The Creative Principal!”.
      not a theist statement but a mystical one.
      Perhaps one can call it a philosophical statement though it is more a declaration of the expereince of Samadhi. I am that which give rise to reality!
      Tat Atvam Asi!

      with respect and love.

  9. btw thanks dude for the post, really got my adrenaline pumping 🙂

  10. Beautiful. I am a follower of Advaita Vedanta and its heartening to see this post in a blogosphere full of self righteous but ill informed faith bashing and “why do we need religion” type of posts.

    Om poornamada ….is such a profound though and BTW is also my morning prayer. 🙂

    • The advaita concept in itself is a wonderful concept. We understand neither religion nor science, and just go about bashing everything that is out of fashion! You are correct. Concepts like these need further explorations. The two lines – Pooram adah…. I have chanted this every saturday for about six years in school. But I never understood what it stood for. I was glad to read that paper, which I have linked at last. It quite shaked me!!

      Destination Infinity

  11. Beautiful. I am a follower of Advaita Vedanta and its heartening to see this post in a blogosphere full of self righteous but ill informed faith bashing and “why do we need religion” type of posts.

    Om poornamada ….is such a profound though and BTW is also my morning prayer. 🙂

    • The people who whine about Religion have not discovered this aspect if it for sure . 🙂

    • @Chrysalis-Well to be honest (and perhaps you meant my post ) that is my understanding of the world as I see today…why do we need religion?I certainly dont…philosophy as explained by DI?certainly.that I do ..everyday is a new chapter …a new day to learn…:)
      sadly the world does not follow these philosophies but another more rigid and more materialistic interpretation of religion/faith/something that I dont know what to call….

      in the meantime do have patience for mortals like me who have probably not quite progressed to the same level of understanding as you 😀 and dont seem likely to…
      I know squat about religion…what I do know is that people are killing each other in the name of religion…

      • I must clarify myself . What I meant was , the people who blame everything on Religion , who believe it to be the source of all evil .Humans have been killing each other , and will do , but the fault lies with us , mostly . And I wouldn’t count you as a whiner . 🙂 You are not kind to pass judgments without an intelligent analysis . And , Aham Brahmasmi wouldn’t be strictly a part of religion , I guess .

        • 😛 crazy friend !!:P the comment was not for you Kislay 😀 I was addressing Chrysalis who quoted a post that said Why do we need religion? 🙂 which was my post :)I still think that religion divides…yes only becasue people use it to divide …but in the end religion has become more of a weapon these days…

          Though Chrysalis too has some beautiful thoughts on Aham Brahmasmi that I loved 🙂
          thank you for the kind words dear friend 🙂
          Religion has been hijacked isnt it? 😦

          Phiolosophy I love…and Hinduism , Buddhism and many more faiths are replete with it…yes I too wouldnt call them a part of religion …

  12. Beautiful. I am a follower of Advaita Vedanta and its heartening to see this post in a blogosphere full of self righteous but ill informed faith bashing and “why do we need religion” type of posts.

    Om poornamada ….is such a profound though and BTW is also my morning prayer. 🙂

    Glad to have reached here.

    U might find this interesting:

  13. Thank you for this post 🙂
    increased my understanding as this is something I am not very familiar with…

    • I was not very familiar either, I took up this topic, so that I could learn more on this…. But still I think we need to explore on such concepts. I am sure even the Chinese have extensive philosophies of their own. I would like to understand them too… Let us hope we will be able to identify some of them – thanks to the internet!!

      Destination Infinity

  14. Great post DI . Wonder I missed your blog . 🙂

    • Thanks, Kislay. I too missed yours 🙂 I think that there are a lot of things like these that we ought to learn, and hence I am trying my best to blog about them. I hope to learn more through blogging.

      Destination Infinity

  15. Interesting post. BTW, would you be interested in writing a post (assuming you haven’t done it already) on the film Dasavatharam analyzing it in the context of religion/philosophy? I haven’t seen the film but am interested in reading about it.

  16. I am really pleased to see a post related to advaita vedanta here. I have been a seeker on this path for a while and I would like to suggest you check out the nasadiya sukta which is a hymn of creation from vedas. it is perhaps the closest humans have reached to express the concept of brahman in words…though not accurate as such, it is still a good benchmark in your seeking if you wish to call it so.

    I will be a regular visitor if you are going to post more about this 🙂

    Svasti svasti!


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