WHO ARE YOU? I AM I
Peace has become extinct
Truth has become scarce
Mind is the cause for both
Oh! Valiant sons of Bharat! Listen!
Bharatiya does not mean a person born in the country of Bharat
alone. The culture of Bharat is the mother. The country of
Bharat is the father. Bharatiya is one who has faith in and
lives under the care of these parents. Several noble souls
have taken birth in Bharat, followed the great culture of
this country and set examples to others. Sri Sankaracharya
is one such great personality who spread the culture of Bharat
throughout the length and breadth of the country and earned
eternal fame. Adi Sankara taught the philosophy of Advaita.
Three centuries after him came Sri Ramanujacharya who advocated
the Visishtadvaita system of philosophy which emphasised Bhakti
(devotion) and Prapatthi (surrender) to God. Two centuries
afterSriRamanujacharya, Sri Madhwacharya arrived on the scene
and propagated the Dvaita system of philosophy emphasising
the devotional path to the people vacillating between several
systems of philosophy. However, the fundamental principle
underlying all the three schools of philosophy is one and
the same, that is, Atma Tattwa (Atmic principle).
The Advaita (non-dualistic) philosophy of Sri Sankaracharya
advocates the oneness of Jiva (individual soul) and Brahman
(cosmic soul). The Visishtadvaita philosophy of Sri Ramanujacharya
presupposes that Jiva and Brahman are different. Sri Madhwacharya
explained that there are, in fact, three concepts, namely,
Dehatma Bhava (body consciousness), Jivatma Bhava (individualised
form of God) and Paramatma Bhava (the universalised soul or
the Supreme self). Nobody need hold on to a particular school
of thought or deride the others. The question of adhering
to a particular school of philosophy depends upon the mental
frame work of the individual. Sri Sankaracharya emphasised
that though the cloth is of different varieties, the thread
underlying the cloth is one and the same. “The cloth
is made of a number of threads woven together”, explained
Sri Ramanujacharya. One has to recognise the underlying principle
behind the three schools of philosophy, namely, the Advaita,
the Visishtadvaita and the Dvaita,
Ornaments are many,
gold is one;
colours of the cows are many, milk is one;
Beings are many, the Indweller is one;
Nationalities are many, humanness is one.
Adi Sankara had a short life span of 32 years.
Though the philosophy advocated by Sri Sankaracharya, Sri
Ramanujacharya and Sri Madhwacharya acquired different names,
namely, Advaita, Visishtadvaita and Dvaita, the underlying
nature of the three types is one, that is Atma Tattwa. The
same can be explained with the example of gold forming the
base for ornaments with different names and forms. Not realising
the fundamental unity between the three schools of philosophy,
people adhering to the different schools of philosophy derided
one another which gave scope for a number of misconceptions
in the world about the country of Bharat. In order to explain
the truth Ekatma Sarva Bhutantaratma
(one Atma dwells in all beings), Adi Sankara gave some examples.
He took out an ornament and explained that the metal with
which the ornament was made was gold, thus going into the
fundamental principle. The same principle was explained in
a different way by Sri Ramanujacharya who emphasised that
though gold forms the basis for the ornament, since it has
assumed the form of a chain, it should be termed as a gold
chain. Sri Sankaracharya while advocating the Advaita philosophy
quoted the Vedic dictum Ekameva Adviteeyam
Brahma (God is one without a second). Sri Ramanujacharya,
however, did not agree with this view. His viewpoint was how
could there be a Prathibimba (image) without a Bimba (object).
He thus explained the oneness of the object and the image,
which he termed as Visishtadvaita (qualified non-dualism).
Another example given in this context was the sugarcane juice.
The juice is extracted from different varieties of sugarcane
and a number of sweetmeats are made out of the juice. Though
the juice is one, it has now assumed different forms. While
Sri Sankaracharya emphasised the oneness of the sweet juice
and the sugarcane, Sri Ramanujacharya dwelt upon the different
forms the juice has assumed. Thus, ever since the times of
the three great Acharyas till today, there are a number of
arguments and counter arguments between the three schools
of philosophy. But, present day students do not have faith
in any of these three schools of philosophy. They just brush
aside these systems as a figment of imagination. Sugar made
out of the sugarcane juice is the main ingredient for making
various sweets. The sugar is sweet. Similarly, Brahman is
the source and sustenance for the entire universe. Wherever
you see, you will find manifestation of the Divine (Brahman)
in ever so many forms. The forms change and are illusory in
nature. Brahman alone is the eternal, changeless principle.
That is why Sri Sankaracharya has declared Brahma
Sathyam Jagat Mithya (Brahman alone is real, the world
is illusory). All the three great Acharyas, namely, Sri Sankaracharya,
Sri Ramanujacharya and Sri Madhwacharya propagated the same
principle, that is Atma Tattwa. The Upanishads declare that
the entire universe is permeated by the same Atmic principle.
That truth is contained in the Upanishadic dicta Ekatma
Sarva Bhutantaratma (one Atma dwells in all beings),
Easwarah Sarva Bhutanam (God
is the Indweller of all beings) and Isavasyam
Idam Sarvam (the entire universe is permeated by God).
The rain, the water that flows into the river and the sand
in the river that sustains it, all are one and only one. Everything
is Brahman. Since every object in this universe is Brahman,
nothing can be disregarded or ignored. This principle of Brahman
is called “Divine” in the English language. But,
many ignorant or cynical persons take it as “deep wine”
and take to imbibing intoxicating substances. Disregarding
such perversion, we have to realise that the sweetness underlying
Divinity is one only. This oneness in the great culture of
Bharat has been propagated since ancient times. In keeping
with this great tradition, consider everyone, whether it is
an ant or an animal or a human being, as verily Brahman. Some
people may have a doubt in this context whether a human being
and an animal can be equated. Yes, so far as the Atmic principle
is concerned. However, the behavioural pattern of the animal
is different from that of the human being. Considering this
aspect, one may conclude that they are different but the underlying
Jiva Tattwa is one and the same. On the basis of this Jiva
Tattwa, you cannot differentiate at all between the living
beings. Thus, Sarvam Brahmamayam Jagat
(the entire universe is permeated by Brahman). This truth
can be explained by a simple example. This is a white cloth
and that is a saffron cloth. Though the colours are different,
the cloth is one. The cloth may be of different colours and
put to different uses, but the cloth is only one and the same.
The cloth is the source. One has to recognise the oneness
of the source. Once you recognise the source, all differences
vanish in no time. Unfortunately, today, we are giving importance
to the names and forms, forgetting the basis and source for
all names and forms. As a result, we are undergoing innumerable
difficulties and sorrows.
Adi Sankara has explained the Advaitic principle beautifully
in his famous Bhaja Govindam song thus:
Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja
Govindam Bhaja Moodha Mathe
Samprapthe Sannihithe Kale
Nahi Nahi Rakshati Dukrun Karane.
(Oh foolish man, chant the name of Govinda, the
rules of grammar will not come to your rescue when the end
If the end approaches, nothing can save you
except the Divine Name. Therefore, chant the Divine Name.
Thus, Sri Sankaracharya exhorted, awakened and taught the
Further explaining the sorrows and difficulties
faced by man in his life’s sojourn in this objective
world and the need to seek refuge in the Divine grace, Sri
Sankaracharya composed the following stanza:
Punarapi Jananam Punarapi
Punarapi Janani Jathare Sayanam
Iha Samsare Bahu Dustare
Kripayapare Pahi Murare.
(Oh Lord! I am caught up in this cycle of
birth and death time and again; I am experiencing the agony
of staying in the mother’s womb. It is very difficult
to cross this ocean of worldly life. Please take me across
this ocean and grant me liberation.)
One has to analyse, in this context, as to
what is it that is subject to birth and death again and again.
The Deha (body) undergoes this cycle of birth and death, but
the Atma is eternal. As long as the Atma remains in the body
as the Indweller, there will be consciousness in the body.
The moment the Atma leaves the body, it becomes jada (inert).
This phenomenon is called death. Unable to realise this truth,
man subjects himself to sorrow. Birth and death are only for
the outer form, not for the Atma. A short story in this context.
There was once a philospher-son, who was learning Vedas. By
the time he completed his Vedic learning, his mother completed
forty years of life. She left her mortal body in her 40th
year. The son was deeply immersed in sorrow. Then, his guru
called him and tried to counsel him explaining, “Whom
do you consider as your mother? The body? No, this is not
your mother. You are wailing over a dead body which your mother
has left. In fact, the body is right before you. Why should
you have to weep? The Chaitanya Shakti (power of consciousness)
has left the body. It means that Chaitanya Shakti represents
your father and mother, not the forms and attachments to those
forms. No doubt, it is true that relationship does exist with
the physical form for sometime. But, thereafter the body ceases
to exist. When you realise the truth, you will understand
the futility of the relationship with the physical body”.
The objects may be different, but the source and sustenance
for the objects is only one. The same source assumes different
names and forms. One should not develop dependence on the
names and forms, which are subject to change. This simple
truth based on the Mooladhara Tattwa has been explained by
different people in different ways as high sounding philosophy.
This has given scope to some misconceptions to a certain extent.
In fact, the underlying principle behind the Advaita philosophy
of Sri Sankaracharya and Visishtadvaita philosophy of Sri
Ramanujacharya is one and the same.
of Love! Students!
Today, we are taking very lightly such a great and noble philosophy.
Sri Sankaracharya’s Philosophy is profound in nature
and explains the great truth in simple and beautiful poetry.
Any amount of explanation will be insufficient to bring out
the underlying philosophy in full measure. Sri Sankaracharya
has written a great commentary (bhashya) on Bhagavad Gita
also. In his commentary on Gita, Adi Sankara has explained
that there is Advaita in Dvaita and Dvaita in Advaita. Further,
the Visishtadvaita contains both Advaita and Dvaita concepts
as well. All the three schools of philosophy, therefore lead
to the same goal and their underlying meaning is Brahma
Sathyam Jaganmithya (Brahman alone is the truth and
the world is illusory). The whole world appears as containing
innumerable names and forms. One should not be enmeshed with
these names and forms. It is only when the names and forms
are set aside and the underlying source is identified that
it is possible to recognise the truth. And that truth is Tattwamasi
(That Thou Art). That is Prajnanam Brahma
(constant integrated awareness is Brahman). That awareness
is Ayam Atma Brahma (This Self
is Brahman). When you analyse the Mahavakya Tattwamasi,
it will lead you to the awareness “I am That”
and “That I am”. When you are able to realise
this truth, you will find that the principle “I”
underlies everything in the universe as the principle of unity.
We have to recognise that “I” principle which
is universal. It is a futile exercise to get into arguments
and counter-arguments over this matter and waste one’s
time. The only aspect you have to realise is “I am Brahman”.
When somebody questions you who you are, the proper answer
would be “I am I”, “I am the word, I am
the form and I am the name”. This “I” represents
and explains everything. When somebody questions who you are,
do not reply by quoting your name. The name represents the
name given to the body. You are not the body. Hence reply
“I am I”. Everyone should strive to attain that
state of unity.
The Vedantic concepts lead to endless arguments
and counter-arguments. Do not enter into them. Always be under
the awareness “I am I”. This “I” principle
is beyond names and forms. It represents Brahma Tattwa, which
is one without a second entity.
When somebody enquires who you are, you reply,
“I am I.” Similarly, when you enquire somebody
who he is, his reply would be “I am I.” Thus all
are “I am I.” It is only when you think “I
am not I” that there will be several questions.
You have to finally make a firm resolve “I am I.”
You should not identify yourself with the body and say, “I
am a child”, “I am a young man”, “I
am an old man”, etc. These differences relate to the
age factor. What is the next stage after old age? Nobody knows.
But, “I” principle exists in the child, youth
and old age. This is the fundamental and changeless principle.
Therefore, when somebody enquires who you are, you reply,
“I am I.” If he is unable to understand this principle,
do not bother; you hold on to your principle. It is only when
you develop such firm conviction that you will be able to
achieve anything in life. The philosophical concepts can be
explained in ever so many ways. They contain several meanings.
On the 20th October 1940, I made a declaration
for the first time revealing my true identity thus:
Know that I am Sai
Cast off your worldly relationships,
Give up your efforts to restrain Me,
The worldly attachments can no longer bind Me,
None, however great he may be, can hold Me. (Telugu
Since I made this declaration on the 20th October, people
celebrate this day in a big way. We should not give too much
importance to the dates and try to celebrate them as birthday,
Avatar Declaration Day, etc. Once Rukmini, the consort of
Lord Krishna invited Him to her palace saying, “Swami!
Today is my birthday. Please come for dinner.” Sathyabhama,
another consort of Krishna who was present on that occasion
was angry. She argued, “If today is your birthday, this
is also the day on which I entered into the in-laws’
house. Krishna tied the nuptial knot round my neck on this
day. Therefore, He should visit my house only, on this day.”
Thus, the day turned out to be a day of quarrel between the
two consorts. Lord Krishna, however was prepared for visiting
both the houses. He does not differentiate between them. Thus,
one has to recognise the principle of unity in Divinity.