Who are You? I am I
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
delivering the Divine Discourse
20th October 2004 (Dasara) at
Text of the Divine Discourse
delivered by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on 20th October 2004
(Dasara) at Prashanti Nilayam, Sai Kulwanth Hall
Peace has become extinct
Truth has become scarce
Mind is the cause for both
Oh! Valiant sons of Bharat! Listen!
Embodiments of Love!
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 after Sri Ramanujacharya, 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
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 approaches.)
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 world.
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
Punarapi Jananam Punarapi Maranam
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
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.
Embodiments 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 in reality,
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 poem)
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.