from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad of Yajur Veda
AHAM BRAHMASMI means I am Brahman, What I really am, is that absolute reality
Meditation on Aham Brahma Asmi: Constantly feel that you are the Suddha Sat-Chit-Ananda Vyapaka Brahman (Pure, Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute, All-Pervading Brahman), when you repeat mentally: "Aham Brahma Asmi." Lip repetition will not produce much benefit. You must intensely feel from the subjective heart. Gradually, you will be taken to superconscious state through deep feeling.
Sit in your Asana on a fourfold blanket. Face North or East and constantly feel:
1. Infinity I am.
2. Eternity I am.
3. Immortality I am.
~ Swami Sivananda
LISTEN THE MANTRA
A COMMENTARY FROM SWAMI KRISHNANANDA
Aham brahmāsmi. Who is this aham? The deepest Consciousness in us, which is more internal than any of the sheaths that we have—Consciousness which is aware of the five sheaths, the nature of which we have studied in the First Chapter of the Panchadasi—verily is aham, ‘I’. “I am coming.” “I am here.” “It is I.” When we make statements like this, to what ‘I’ do we actually refer? Not this body, as the First Chapter and the Third Chapter have clarified this subject very well.
The physical body, the vital body, the mental body, the intellectual body and the causal body cannot be Consciousness; therefore, they cannot be ‘I’. The body is not the ‘I’; the breath, the mind, the sense organs, the intellect, and the causal sheath are also not the ‘I’. The ‘I’ is that which is aware of an absence of all things in the state of deep sleep. That awareness which knows nothing external to itself but still is, in the state of deep sleep, is our real nature.
Our real nature is not to be seen in the waking state, in which we identify with the five sheaths. Our real nature is seen only in deep sleep, in which we are dissociated from all objects. That real Consciousness which is uncontaminated by association with the bodies, and therefore incapable of division into parts, and therefore everywhere—that is aham. “I am coming.” This ‘I’ is actually the Universal Being asserting itself, not the body.
Aham brahmāsmi—the meaning of ‘I’, or Brahman, in the individual has been explained. What is this ‘I’? What is aham? Aham brahmāsmi: I am Brahman. Now, what is Brahman? How can we be Brahman unless Brahman itself is in us? Here is a great danger in immature students chanting this mantra: aham brahmāsmi. It should not be like an ant saying “I am an elephant”. Even if an ant always says it is an elephant, it cannot become an elephant merely because it chants that.
“I am Rockefeller.” If we go on saying that, we do not become rich. What is the good of chanting mantras? We must be able to understand their meaning. This verse in the Panchadasi takes pains to explain that this aham, ‘I’, is not Mr. so-and-so. It is not the ‘I’ which is visible here. So do not say that “I am Brahman” means “I, this person sitting here, is Brahman”. This is not the meaning of the mantra. We are not to be identified with the Universal Being as an individual. The Universal alone can be identified with the Universal. The Universal in us is identical with the Universal that is everywhere. That is the meaning of aham brahmāsmi. It does not mean that one person is equal to Brahman. Such mistakes should not be committed; it is an immaturity and enthusiasm of thought. Otherwise, we will have suffering afterwards.
That which is self-sufficient, svataḥ pūrṇaḥ, the Supreme Self, all-pervading in nature, which is called Brahman, is identified with this very same Universal present in the individuals also. The identity-consciousness of these two is called asmi, “I am”. This verb, this copula as we call it, I-am-ness, is only a conjunction, a link that is there between the Universality appearing to be in us and the Universality that is everywhere. The space in the pot is identical with the space that is everywhere. Inasmuch as there is no such thing as space inside the pot, there is also no personality of the individual. So we should not say that “I am Brahman” means this person is Brahman. It is the Universal getting identified with the Universal, God being conscious of God. That is aham brahmāsmi. Be careful in knowing its true meaning. Otherwise, you will run into trouble.