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Aham Brahmasmi Explained By Swami Vivekananda

The Mahavakya, Aham Brahmasmi, is found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The context is the seeking of Brahman by some aspirants who are disgusted with the transitory world and were longing to attain the highest good. They deliberated – since men think that by the knowledge of Brahman, they become all, what, pray, was it that Brahman knew by which It became all?

A disciple asked a question to Swami Vivekananda – If the One Brahman is the only Reality, why then exists all this differentiation in the world? To this Swami Vivekananda answered – are you not considering this question from the point of view of phenomenal existence? Looking from the phenomenal side of existence, one can, through reasoning and discrimination, gradually arrive at the very root of Unity.

This root of unity is our own Self. Swami Vivekananda says in unambiguous terms – what does the Advaitist preach? He dethrones all the gods that ever existed, or ever will exist in the universe and places on that throne the Self of man, the Atman, higher than the sun and the moon, higher than the heavens, greater than this great universe itself. According to him, the Self is the most glorious God that ever was, the only God that ever existed, exists, and ever will exist.

Swami Vivekananda says that all kinds of weakness is the offshoot of ignorance of this glory of the Self. After a failed attempt to discover the divinity in various gods outside himself, a man comes back to the Human Soul, the point from where he started. And there, he finds the God whom he was searching for.

What is the practical implication of such a teaching? One who discovers the divinity within himself says will full faith – I am omnipresent, eternal. Where can I go? Where am I not already? I am reading this book of nature… . To who shall I go for help? Who can help me, the infinite being of the universe? These are foolish dreams, hallucinations; who ever helped anyone? None. … I am He, and He is I. none but I was God, and this little I never existed.

Swami Vivekananda in concurrence with the Vedantic scriptures, condemns every kind of weakness as the result of dualistic ideas. It is a weak man, a dualist, weeping and wailing, who does not know that the skies also are in him. He wants help from skies and the help comes. We see that it comes; but it comes from within himself and he mistakes it is as coming from without.