Know thyself is the essence of Hindu philosophy. If there is a common platform on which various religions originating on Indian soil such as Sanatan Dharma, Budhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Arya Samaj and others converge, it is the Vedanta philosophy. And if there are any two words which encompass completeVedanta philosophy, these, verily, are: Know Yourself!Yoga, Pranayam, Dhayana, Samadhi, Penance, Yagnas, Prayer, Idol worship, Shravan, Manan, Fasting and Charity etc.lead to the realization of the Self. Perception of the Self is said to open doors to all that is worth knowing to the seeker of Truth.
What is this Self that saints and sages spend entire lives meditating upon, away from the multitude and hustle bustle of cities and towns,dwelling alone in the mountain caves to unravel the mystery.The Supreme God exists in all the deities, demons, devils and human beings.Sage Ashtavakara says, “How wonderful is the Self! Profound regard to the Self that never decays and continues to exist even after destruction of the universe, right from the Creator Brahma up to a clump of grass” (Ashtavakra Gita, Chapter 2-11). “Some sages views/ this Self in wonderment and similarly another describes its nature with amazement, while some other listens about it with surprise, and still others do not know the Self even after having been tutored” (Bhagvad Gita 2-29). “It cannot be expressed in words but it can also not be understoodwithout being described in words. Imagination fails when one strives to conceive the Self” (Dasbodh6-10-7).”The efforts of the one having impure intelligence to realize the Self do not fructify as he remains confused, even after enquiring about it all through his life” (Ashtavakra Gita 15-1). For it is pure consciousness. Words can at best describe a state but it is beyond any state and without attributes whatsoever. “Awakening nevertheless comes after repeated counselling about the Self” (Dasbodh 6-10-40).
One cannot conceptualize the Self by listening alone; investigation of one’s own being and meditation on the Self are the prerequisites enabling one to gradually get absorbed into deep Samadhi.So long ones’ego, the sense of ‘I’ or ‘me’ remains, Self does not become apparent. As per the Vedas, Self is the witness of all, final understanding of which can be had by Sidh Purushas – the accomplished ones only.
“The Self cannot be seen but He alone is the one that verily sees, He cannot be heard but hears, He cannot be perceived but is the perceiver, He is never thought but is the thinker. Verily, He is your Self, the inner controller, the immortal” (Brhad aranyaka Upanishad 3-7-23). “He is termed the vital force while breathing, voice during speech, eye when seeing, ear while hearing and mind when one thinks. These words represent His acts only. The one who meditates on anyone of these aspects, he doesn’t know since he is imperfect, with one or other of these. It is the Self that is to be meditated upon because it is in the Self that all these (characteristics) become one” (Brhad-Aranyaka Upanishad -I.4.7).The Self constitutes all beings, all heavenly bodies, the space, the ether, air, water, earth, vegetation; nay each and everything that exists in this universe and beyond. This Self is centered in a thumb-size ‘Atmaram’ in the middle of the chest near the heart. However, its circumference is up to the very ends of the infiniteuniverse. “The Atma present within this body is, verily, God Supreme……” (Bhagvad Gita 13-22).
“You are neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air nor space. In order to attain freedom know the Self as the ‘witness’ of all these- the embodiment of pure consciousness itself” (Ashtavakra Gita I-3).The vital constituent of human speciesare: 5 breaths (pran), 10 senses, four bodies, mind and intellect -all these are said to be gross (‘Jarh padarth’) but the Self, is aboveall these. This Self is indestructible, it cannot be soaked, dried, cut or burnt and continues to exist even after dissolution of the universe.”This Self is unseen – is beyond appearance and non-appearance and becomes perceptible if the seeker follows the path shown by Sadguru” (Dasbodh 4-4-12). “Devotion is the principal tool required to attain salvation. The insight into one’s real being is termed ‘Bhakti’ ” (Vivek Choorahmani-32). Self-analysis as such is the perfect way of worship.
The scriptures emphasizeupon the unity and oneness of man, God and creation describing the three entities as one.All living beings, vegetation, shrubs and trees, mountains, rivers, seas and oceans, planets and stars and all that exists are various manifestations of one ‘Brahmah’ from which all these evolved at the time of creation.To discern this fundamental Truth, one has to conquer his senses, mind and intellect and be desire-less. Besides one should be steady,detached and dispassionate.For once ones’ ego is vanquished, one can have perception of the non-dual Self as the only reality.”According to Shruti, the knowledge about oneness of Braham (God almighty) and Soul is the real knowledge” (Vivek Choorahmani-204).
“One should deliver oneself through individual effort from the worldly sea and not drag oneself downhill, for one is one’s own friend and enemy as well.” (Bhagwad Gita 6-5).”Whoever has subdued his mind, body and senses, he is friend of his Self and who has not been able to restrain his mind, body and senses, behaves like an enemy of his Self.” (Bhagwad Gita 6/6).The seeker should be contented, merciful, forgiving, simple and must practice ‘Sham’ and ‘Dham’ for attaining liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. It’s in mind that the feeling of being bound is felt, and it’s in the mind that salvation occurs. “It’s mind in which binding and liberation are constructed” (Vivek Chorhamani-174).”Self is merely Gyansavroop, it is so abstruse and mysterious that its perception is possible only through the blessings of a Sadguru and by no other precept. This is one and the only obscure element worth knowing in the universe, knowledge of which enables one to know everything. The ‘hridayagranthi’of the one who knows this, opens up. All doubts are dispelled, and all the deeds – good as well as evil, which bind the soul to the never ending cycle of births and deaths, are erased”. “Whoever controls the three bodies viz. gross, subtle and that of reason (Kaaran Sharir) achieves liberation from the cycle of births and deaths” (Shiv Puran Chapter-18).