[Advaita-l] 'Who Am I?' - Eminently Upaniṣadic

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Sep 19 12:44:45 CDT 2016

In the Aitareya Up. 1.3.11 Bhashya Shankara says:

अथ *कोऽहं* किंस्वरूपः कस्य वा स्वामी ? ['Then, Who am I? What is my true
nature, whose Lord am I'?]

In the Brahma sutra bhashya 3.3.17 citing the above mantra Shankara

 ‘अथ कोऽहम्’ (ऐ. उ. १-३-११)
वीक्ष्य, ‘स एतमेव पुरुषं ब्रह्म ततममपश्यत्’ (ऐ. उ. १-३-१३)
ब्रह्मात्मत्वदर्शनमवधारयति ;

The Upanishad, by asking that question and upon realization of the
Brahman-nature, establishes the Brahman-Atman identity.

Also, in the famous Bhaja Govindam extension Shankara says:

कस्त्वं कोऽहं कुत आयातः का मे जननी को मे तातः |
इति परिभावय सर्वमसारम् विश्वं त्यक्त्वा स्वप्न विचारम् || (23)

Who are you? Who am I? From where did I come? Who is my mother? Who is my
father? Thus enquire, leaving aside the entire world which is comparable to
a dream, and is essenceless.

Thus, the mode of enquiry 'Who Am I?' is quite well enshrined in the
Upanishad and the Bhashya of Shankaracharya.

Also, this mode is not divergent or distinct from the 'neti neti' of the
Upanishads, for in this enquiry, what is not oneself and what one sees, as
the world, are all negated.  The 'Who am I?' enquiry is what is
fundamentally present in all Upanishads, especially in the Taittiriya
Pancha kosha, the Mandukya avasthā traya, and the kshetra-kshetrajna
(Drk-dṛṣya) viveka of the Bh.Gita, etc.  This enquiry is indispensable for
the Vedantin.



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