Do You know the actual meaning of “AHAM BRAHMASMI”?
Nowadays we see more and more Sanskrit words and phrases being used most often on various platforms. Most of which include documentaries, movies, web series etc. Most of the time, these phrases are in wrong context. Sometimes these phrases are misused unknowingly and sometimes with deliberate attempt to gain publicity.
“AHAM BRAHMASMI” is one such misused Sanskrit word. In this article we shall learn what Aham Brahmasmi actually means. This word has a very deep meaning which many people fail to learn. Hence it is often used in wrong context.
Origin of the term AHAM BRAHMASMI
Aham Brahmasmi is one of the mahavakyas and appears in the Brihadaranyaka upanishad of shukla yajurveda. It is also the central essence of the Advaita philosophy which was preached by Adi Shankaracharya.
A-dvaita means non-dualism. It says the creator and his creation are not two (dual) things, but are one. Therefore simply put, aham brahmasmi means ‘I am God’. The deeper meaning is quite interesting. Lets assume we go back billions of years when the cosmos was created. We would notice that the ‘creator’ or ‘God’ was the primordial element and energy that created everything. Billions of years later, it is the same elements and energy that has created us and everything around us.
When you really imbibe the depth and true purport of the Advaita philosophy and ‘aham brahmasmi’, you will be in supreme harmony with everything around you – plants, trees, animals, people, nature… the entire cosmos. And when that happens, you will realize that YOU (like other people and other creations in nature) are nothing but a part of a huge organism. And you will stop discriminating and hating. The strength of the whole is the part and the strength of the part is the whole.
This mantra highlights the notion that all beings are intimately connected to universal energy which cannot be separated from it. To recite Aham Brahmasmi is to recognize that Brahman and Atman are one, and as such, there can be no ego or sense of separation.
Aham Brahmasmi is one of the four principle Mahavakyas, short statements from The Upanishads otherwise known as “Great Sayings”. The essence of each of these Mahavakyas is the same since all guide practitioners toward the realization that all beings are one with Brahman. Understanding this is the ultimate form of compassion, in which individuals recognize one another as part of the same whole.
The four Principle Mahavakyas are:
- Prajnanam Brahma – Consciousness is Brahman
- Ayam Atma Brahma – This self is Brahman
- Tat Tvam Asi – Thou art That or You are one
- Aham Brahmasmi – I am Brahman or I am Divine
According to several commentaries by Shankaracharya, Narayana Guru and several thinkers and spiritual leaders, the essence of all Upanishads is the same and all the Mahaavaakyas essentially say the same in a concise form.
“If we can have the realization that we are one with Brahman (reality), we can love each other and love all living and non-living beings. If I realize that you and I are part of Brahman, how can we hate or destroy each other? I am destroying myself when I attack the others.”