Who am I?

நான் யார் ? (nAn yAr) – “who am I?”. Try describing yourself. In 2 lines, in 10 lines, a page. It’s not easy to describe ourselves, as after all we are product of our vasanas (conditionings) and prakriti (material makeup, chemicals, etc.), together which determine our gunas (tendencies) – which are all in constant flux. There is no permanent feature defining you. It’s common for some to say “I’m an engineer, scientist, journalist, doctor,…”.  In fact this label changes as your career changes. Even if you describe yourself by your temperaments, that also changes, depending on say, the chemical makeup at that point in life, or even what you ate that day.

Who am I?” has been a profound question put forth by Hindu sages abound in India from time immemorial. And they took it pretty seriously as a deep philosophical inquiry (leading to the science of yoga) leading to their direct realization of something which is beneath and beyond all that conditioning, which is untainted, pure, infinite, eternal, which they called as the Atman or Brahman. It is what you find when you peel away all your layers of conditionings and material makeup that you think is “you”, through the science of yoga (Sanskrit, meaning “union with” [God/Atman/Self]).

சும்மா இரு (summA iru) – “just be”. That was the notoriously simple response Lord Murugan gave to sage Sri Arunagirinathar’s crying out to Him, for pretty much the same question as above. It is one of those so simple and yet profound sayings that are so difficult to translate. It can be translated as just be, or simply be, or simply just be, or to sit in meditation. Similar in context are the Sanskrit expressions such as  तत् त्वं असि (tat tvam asi) – “thou art that”, and  ॐ तत् सत् (Om tat sat) – “all is Om”.

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