1) Self Knowledge (Atmajnan) – Self Realization

 TALK 1 by Prabhuji

Let us contemplate on ‘Self-Realization’

All of us know whenever we talk we use the word ‘I’, ‘I am doing something, I am so and so, I am experiencing something. The word ‘I’, ‘I am’, is the mostly commonly used words in English language. But what is this ‘I am’, we never take a closer look.

Sometimes you use ‘I’ with reference to the body, like…

‘I am old, I am young, and I look good’.

Sometimes you use ‘I’ with reference to the mind, like…

‘I am happy, I am sad, I am angry’.

Sometimes you use ‘I’ with reference to the intellect, like…

‘I am thinking, I am worrying, I know’.

So this ‘I’ takes various shapes, depending on the context the ‘I’ changes.


This is like a reptile called Chameleon, which keeps changing its colour according to the background to camouflage itself and protect itself from the enemy. If it sits on the tree it takes the colour of the tree, if it sits on the stone it takes the colour of the stone. Nobody can identify it, it changes colour very often. Similarly the ‘I’, which you speak of, keeps on changing the colour. It changes the reference, depending upon the context. Sometimes it becomes body, sometimes it becomes mind, and sometimes it becomes intellect. So what is this true ‘I’? This is the matter of investigation in Self-realization.

When people approached Sri Ramana Maharishi, he used to ask them, ‘Who are you, who is asking the question? Is the body asking the question, is the mind asking the question, is the intellect asking the question? Who is asking the question? Who is this ‘I’? This ‘I’ is called Self-identity.

There are lot of living and non-living things in the universe, like stone, mountain and others, but they don’t have any ‘I’ or awareness of identity. Animals have individuality but we don’t know whether they are Self-aware. Human beings have Self-identity which means, ‘I am Rama, I am an Officer, I am Male, I am a husband, I am father, and I am son etc. We have so many identities. Some of these identities are related to relationships. Some of these identities are related to body. Some of these identities are related to profession. This ‘I’, what you speak of, takes so many identities. So when you are asking a question which identity is speaking? May I know who is speaking at a given point of time? That is the question Sri Ramana Maharishi is asking.

From identity to awareness is the journey of Self Realization, to be aware of your true nature is Self Realization. From no understanding, no Consciousness in the non living things like Stone etc  to some amount of identity in the animal life to multiple identities in human life. We refer to each of this multiple identities as ‘I’. What is your real identity? These are relative identities, with reference to wife you are a husband, with reference to your husband you are a wife, with respect to your daughter you are a mother, with respect to your mother you are a daughter, with respect to mind you are happy or unhappy. So you take many identities with respect to the body, mind and intellect. To find your true identity, to be aware of your true identity is called Self-Realization.

You have a bundle of identities; I don’t know how many you have. May be you can count them, which one of these is true? You look at all the identities you have, everything is temporary. Everything is in respect to something. Do you have a true identity?

Body, mind, intellect are objects.  Ego takes the identity from these objects, one at a time. The one who is taking the identity is called as Ego. If the so called ‘ego’, is taking the identity and keeps changing the identity with respect to different objects, and  says, ‘I am the body, I am the mind, I am the husband, I am the wife’, then the question is, ‘Does the Ego have existence?’, ‘Is the ego real?’, ‘Or is there something more real than the ego?’ If you really enquire, the ego is just a shadow. Ego will disappear uncovering the true identity behind it. Realizing that true identity and awareness of that true identity is called Self Realization.

‘Ego’ itself appears when you get up in the morning. In the dream state it becomes weak, in the deep sleep it disappears. The ego itself is taking different identities – during day time it takes different identities, in the dream state it takes different identities and in deep sleep it goes to a seed state, because you don’t have concept of ‘I’. But still you know you have a sense of permanent identity. Now is this permanent identity same as ego or different from ego is what we investigate in Self Realization.

The ‘ego’ is a temporary phenomenon but of course long-lasting. If you really enquire into that, it disappears, that is Self-Enquiry. That is what Sri Ramana Maharishi taught.

Transcribed by Atmajyothi Satyavati

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