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Who am I?

Who am I? was written at the same period as Self-
Enquiry. It began as answers to certain questions asked
by Sivaprakasam Pillai, one of the early devotees. The latter
arranged and elaborated the questions and answers and
submitted them for Bhagavan's approval. They were then
published in the form of questions and answers but later
changed into the form of a connected exposition. The original
work has been adopted in the present edition.

As all living beings desire to be happy always, without
misery, as in the case of everyone there is observed supreme
love for one's self, and as happiness alone is the cause for
love, in order to gain that happiness which is one's nature and
which is experienced in the state of deep sleep where there is
no mind, one should know one's Self. For that, the path of
knowledge, the enquiry of the form `Who am I?', is the
principal means.

1.   Who am I?

The gross body which is composed of the seven humours
(dhatus), I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz., the
senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell, which
apprehend their respective objects, viz., sound, touch, colour,
taste, and odour, I am not; the five conative sense organs,
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viz., the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion
and procreation, which have as their respective functions,
speaking, moving, grasping, excreting and enjoying, I am not;
the five vital airs, prana
[?], etc., which perform respectively the
five functions of inbreathing, etc., I am not; even the mind
which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed
only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which
there are no objects and no functionings, I am not.

2.   If I am none of these, then Who am I?

After negating all of the above mentioned as `not this',
`not this', that Awareness which alone remains -- that I am.

3.   What is the nature of Awareness?

The nature of Awareness is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

4.   When will the realization of the Self be gained?

When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed,
there will be realization of the Self which is the seer.

5.   Will there not be realization of the Self even while the
world is there (taken as real)

There will not be.

6.   Why?

The seer and the object seen are like the rope and the
snake. Just as the knowledge of the rope which is the substrate
will not arise unless the false knowledge of the illusory
serpent goes, so the realization of the Self which is the
substrate will not be gained unless the belief that the world
is real is removed.

7.   When will the world which is the object seen be removed?

When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition and of
all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear.

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8.   What is the nature of the mind?

What is called `mind' is a wondrous power residing in the
Self. It causes all thoughts to arise. Apart from thoughts, there
is no such thing as mind. Therefore, thought is the nature of
mind. Apart from thoughts, there is no independent entity
called the world. In deep sleep there are no thoughts, and
there is no world. In the states of waking and dream, there are
thoughts, and there is a world also. Just as the spider emits
the thread (of the web) out of itself and again withdraws it
into itself, likewise the mind projects the world out of itself
and again resolves it into itself. When the mind comes out of
the Self, the world appears. Therefore, when the world appears
(to be real), the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears
(shines) the world does not appear. When one persistently
inquires into the nature of the mind, the mind will end leaving
the Self (as the residue). What is referred to as the Self is the
Atman. The mind always exists only in dependence on
something gross; it cannot stay alone. It is the mind that is
called the subtle body or the soul (jiva

9.   What is the path of enquiry for understanding the nature
of the mind?

That which rises as `I' in this body is the mind. If one
inquires as to where in the body the thought `I' rises first, one
would discover that it rises in the Heart. That is the place of
the mind's origin. Even if one thinks constantly `I' `I', one
will be led to that place. Of all the thoughts that arise in the
mind, the `I-thought' is the first. It is only after the rise of this
that the other thoughts arise. It is after the appearance of the
first personal pronoun that the second and third personal
pronouns appear; without the first personal pronoun there will
not be the second and third.

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10. How will the mind become quiescent?

By the enquiry `Who am I?'. The thought `Who am I?'

will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for
stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed.
Then, there will arise Self-realization.

11. What is the means for constantly holding on to the thought
`Who am I?'

When other thoughts arise, one should not pursue them,
but should inquire `To whom do they arise?' It does not
matter how many thoughts arise. As each thought arises,
one should inquire with diligence, `To whom has this thought
arisen?'. The answer that would emerge would be `To me'.
Thereupon if one inquires `Who am I?', the mind will go
back to its source; and the thought that arose will become
quiescent. With repeated practice in this manner, the mind
will develop the skill to stay in its source. When the mind
that is subtle goes out through the brain and the sense-organs,
the gross names and forms appear; when it stays in the Heart,
the names and forms disappear. Not letting the mind go out,
but retaining it in the Heart is what is called `inwardness'
(antarmukha). Letting the mind go out of the Heart is known
as `externalisation' (bahirmukha). Thus, when the mind stays
in the Heart, the `I' which is the source of all thoughts will
go, and the Self which ever exists will shine. Whatever one
does, one should do without the egoity `I'. If one acts in that
way, all will appear as of the nature of Siva (God).

12. Are there no other means for making the mind quiescent?

Other than enquiry, there are no adequate means. If through
other means it is sought to control the mind, the mind will
appear to be controlled, but will again go forth. Through the
control of breath also, the mind will become quiescent; but it
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will be quiescent only so long as the breath remains controlled,
and when the breath resumes the mind also will again start
moving and will wander as impelled by residual impressions.
The source is the same for both mind and breath. Thought,
indeed, is the nature of the mind. The thought `I' is the first
thought of the mind; and that is egoity. It is from that whence
egoity originates that breath also originates. Therefore, when
the mind becomes quiescent, the breath is controlled, and when
the breath is controlled the mind becomes quiescent. But in
deep sleep, although the mind becomes quiescent, the breath
does not stop. This is because of the will of God, so that the
body may be preserved and other people may not be under
the impression that it is dead. In the state of waking and in
samadhi, when the mind becomes quiescent the breath is
controlled. Breath is the gross form of mind. Till the time of
death, the mind keeps breath in the body; and when the body
dies the mind takes the breath along with it. Therefore,
the exercise of breath control is only an aid for rendering
the mind quiescent (manonigraha); it will not destroy the
mind (manonasa).

Like the practice of breath control, meditation on the forms
of God, repetition of mantras, food restrictions, etc., are but
aids for rendering the mind quiescent.

Through meditation on the forms of God and through
repetition of mantras, the mind becomes one-pointed. The
mind will always be wandering. Just as when a chain is given
to an elephant to hold in its trunk it will go along grasping the
chain and nothing else, so also when the mind is occupied
with a name or form it will grasp that alone. When the mind
expands in the form of countless thoughts, each thought
becomes weak; but as thoughts get resolved the mind becomes
one-pointed and strong; for such a mind
Self-enquiry will
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become easy. Of all the restrictive rules, that relating to the
taking of sattvic food in moderate quantities is the best; by
observing this rule, the sattvic quality of mind will increase,
and that will be helpful to Self-enquiry.

13. The residual impressions (thoughts) of objects appear
unending like the waves of an ocean. When will all of
them get destroyed?

As the meditation on the Self rises higher and higher, the
thoughts will get destroyed.

14. Is it possible for the residual impressions of objects that
come from beginningless time, as it were, to be resolved,
and for one to remain as the pure Self?

Without yielding to the doubt `Is it possible, or not?', one
should persistently hold on to the meditation on the Self. Even
if one be a great sinner, one should not worry and weep `O! I
am a sinner, how can I be saved?' One should completely
renounce the thought `I am a sinner' and concentrate keenly
on meditation on the Self; then, one would surely succeed.
There are not two minds -- one good and the other evil; the
mind is only one. It is the residual impressions that are of two
kinds -- auspicious and inauspicious. When the mind is under
the influence of auspicious impressions it is called good, and
when it is under the influence of inauspicious impressions it
is regarded as evil.

The mind should not be allowed to wander towards worldly
objects and what concerns other people. However bad other
people may be, one should bear no hatred for them. Both
desire and hatred should be eschewed. All that one gives to
others one gives to one's self. If this truth is understood who
will not give to others? When one's self arises all arises; when
one's self becomes quiescent all becomes quiescent. To the
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extent we behave with humility, to that extent there will result
good. If the mind is rendered quiescent, one may live

15. How long should enquiry be practised?

As long as there are impressions of objects in the mind, so
long the enquiry `Who am I?' is required. As thoughts arise
they should be destroyed then and there in the very place of
their origin through enquiry. If one resorts to contemplation
of the Self unintermittently, until the Self is gained, that alone
would do. As long as there are enemies within the fortress,
they will continue to sally forth; if they are destroyed as they
emerge, the fortress will fall into our hands.

16. What is the nature of the Self?

What exists in truth is the Self alone. The world, the
individual soul and God are appearances in it. Like silver in
mother-of-pearl, these three appear at the same time and
disappear at the same time.

The Self is that where there is absolutely no `I-thought'.

That is called `
Silence'. The Self itself is the world; the Self
itself is `I'; the Self itself is God; all is Siva, the Self.

17. Is not everything the work of God?

Without desire, resolve, or effort, the sun rises; and in its
mere presence, the sunstone emits fire, the lotus blooms, water
evaporates, people perform their various functions and then
rest. Just as in the presence of the magnet the needle moves, it
is by virtue of the mere presence of God that the souls governed
by the three (cosmic) functions or the fivefold divine activity
perform their actions and then rest, in accordance with their
respective karmas. God has no resolve; no karma [?]attaches
itself to Him. That is like worldly actions not affecting the
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sun, or like the merits and demerits of the other four elements
not affecting all-pervading space.

18. Of the devotees, who is the greatest?

He who gives himself up to the Self that is God is the most
excellent devotee. Giving one's self up to God means
remaining constantly in the Self without giving room for the
rise of any thoughts other than the thought of the Self.

Whatever burdens are thrown on God, He bears them. Since
the supreme power of God makes all things move, why should
we, without submitting ourselves to it, constantly worry
ourselves with thoughts as to what should be done and how,
and what should not be done and how not? We know that the
train carries all loads, so after getting on it why should we
carry our small luggage on our head to our discomfort, instead
of putting it down in the train and feeling at ease?

19. What is non-attachment?

As thoughts arise, destroying them utterly without any
residue in the very place of their origin is non-attachment.
Just as the pearl-diver ties a stone to his waist, sinks to the
bottom of the sea and there takes the pearls, so each one of us
should be endowed with non-attachment, dive within oneself
and obtain the Self-Pearl.

20. Is it not possible for God and the Guru to effect the release
of a soul?

God and the Guru will only show the way to release; they
will not by themselves take the soul to the state of release.

In truth, God and the Guru are not different. Just as the
prey which has fallen into the jaws of a tiger has no escape,
so those who have come within the ambit of the Guru's
gracious look will be saved by the Guru and will not get lost;

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yet, each one should, by his own effort pursue the path shown
by God or Guru and gain release. One can know oneself only
with one's own eye of knowledge, and not with somebody
else's. Does he who is Rama require the help of a mirror to
know that he is Rama?

21. Is it necessary for one who longs for release to inquire
into the nature of categories (tattvas)?

Just as one who wants to throw away garbage has no need
to analyse it and see what it is, so one who wants to know the
Self has no need to count the number of categories or inquire
into their characteristics; what he has to do is to reject
altogether the categories that hide the Self. The world should
be considered like a dream.

22. Is there no difference between waking and dream?

Waking is long and a dream short; other than this there is
no difference. Just as waking happenings seem real while
awake, so do those in a dream while dreaming. In dream the
mind takes on another body. In both waking and dream states
thoughts, names and forms occur simultaneously.

23. Is it any use reading books for those who long for release?

All the texts say that in order to gain release one should
render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching
is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has
been understood there is no need for endless reading. In order
to quieten the mind one has only to inquire within oneself
what one's Self is; how could this search be done in books?
One should know one's Self with one's own eye of wisdom.
The Self is within the five sheaths; but books are outside them.
Since the Self has to be inquired into by discarding the five
sheaths, it is futile to search for it in books. There will come
a time when one will have to forget all that one has learned.

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24. What is happiness?

Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the
Self are not different. There is no happiness in any object of the
world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive
happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences
misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its
own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self. Similarly,
in the states of sleep, samadhi and fainting, and when the object
desired is obtained or the object disliked is removed, the mind
becomes inward-turned, and enjoys pure Self-happiness. Thus
the mind moves without rest alternately going out of the Self
and returning to it.
Under the tree the shade is pleasant; out in
the open the heat is scorching. A person who has been going
about in the sun feels cool when he reaches the shade. Someone
who keeps on going from the shade into the sun and then back
into the shade is a fool. A wise man stays permanently in the
shade. Similarly, the mind of the one who knows the truth does
not leave Brahman
[?]. The mind of the ignorant, on the contrary,
revolves in the world, feeling miserable, and for a little time
returns to Brahman [?] to experience happiness. In fact, what is
called the world is only thought. When the world disappears,
i.e., when there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness;
and when the world appears, it goes through misery.

25. What is wisdom-insight (jnana drishti)?

Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight. To
remain quiet is to resolve the mind in the Self. Telepathy,
knowing past, present and future happenings and clairvoyance
do not constitute wisdom-insight.

26. What is the relation between desirelessness and wisdom?

Desirelessness is wisdom. The two are not different; they
are the same. Desirelessness is refraining from turning the
mind towards any object. Wisdom means the appearance
of no object. In other words, not seeking what is other than
the Self is detachment or desirelessness; not leaving the Self
is wisdom.

27. What is the difference between enquiry and meditation?

Enquiry consists in retaining the mind in the Self.
Meditation consists in thinking that one's self is Brahman [?],

28. What is release?

Inquiring into the nature of one's self that is in bondage,
and realising one's true nature is release.

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