[Advaita-l] Aham Brahmaasmi

Michael Shepherd michael at shepherd87.fsnet.co.uk
Wed Dec 30 14:51:58 CST 2009

I don't want to be pedantic about this. English 'grammar' has always eluded
its own rules. And the verb 'to be' is such a special case :
'I AM writing'; ~I HAVE written' -- how far can we parse these 'auxiliary
verbs' ?

'Aham' --is that a noun, 'I-awareness'; or a pronoun and verb ? I took -asmi
to be a reflexive and an intensive as you say. Aham brahmasmi is often
translated 'I myself am Brahman'.. or sometimes 'This I is Brahman'. And am
I right in saying that the presence of a verb in Vedic/Sanskrit is not
obligatory as it is in English ? 'Me Tarzan; you Jane' is not good English
grammar... but in a way more truthful than 'I am Tarzan'...

So I wouldn't case to lay down any statement on this. It's awesome to me to
think that grammar itself is more ancient than any human institution.
Professor Renouf was it, who believed that all the Vedic vocabulary arose
from ritual..or you could say from the dance of Shiva. I find that a
wonderful thought too. But I digress.


-----Original Message-----
From: advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
[mailto:advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org]On Behalf Of Jaldhar
H. Vyas
Sent: 30 December 2009 19:26
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Aham Brahmaasmi

Sorry for the late reply.  I have a large backlog of emails to attend to.

On Thu, 10 Dec 2009, sivasenani at yahoo.com wrote:

> Dear Sri Michael and Sri Jaladhar
> I meant to look up a few references after reading your statement that
> asmi is a pronominal suffix but could not.
> I know it is too basic for either of you but would it be possible to
> supply an authority to back up this view? My own understanding is that
> 'aham brahma' is exactly the same as 'aham brahmaasmi' or 'brahmaasmi'.

I did not mean to imply that asmi is a pronomial suffix.  It is a verb as
you say.  It is in modern English (and Middle English too I think) that
the pronoun is used to convey this meaning because English has lost the
Indo-European case system (Old English or Anglo-Saxon had it though.)

The difference between brahmasmi, aham brahma and brahmo'ham is stylistic.
In Vedic, the first form is preferred to convey a reflexive sense.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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