[Advaita-l] What is the Self?

H S Chandramouli hschandramouli at gmail.com
Tue Jan 28 05:54:59 CST 2014

Dear Sri Sureshji,

You had earlier raised a question about the sunrise illustration. That is
actually the illustration for this type of wrong understanding. In many
darshanas, I the self or atman itself is considered as having the
attributes of happiness,sorrow, pain,pleasure etc. Not so in advaita. In
advaita self is Consciousness ( another term for Brahman but easier to
understand in this context )  itself which does not have any such
attributes . The antahkarana ( mind,intellect etc ) has these attributes.
Also Consciouness is chetana (intelligent )  while antahkarana is inert (
jada ). But in our experience these attributes appear transferred from one
to the other. That is we experience Consciousness as endowed with the
attributes of antahkarana( pain,pleasure etc ) and antahkarana as endowed
with intelligence ( chetana) . With this superimposition we consider the
antahkarana itself as ourself ( endowed with the sense of I ness ) . What
is the illustration ( drstanta ) for this. sun rise and sunset. It is the
earth which revolves. sun is stationary. But we always experience sun as
rising and setting. The earth's motion appears transferred to the sun. When
it is stated << you are the self >> the real self Consciouness is intended
as against the common understanding of  the personal self endowed
associated with names and forms etc. This is a brief answer to your query
using loose language for ease of understanding.

Under another thread some of the members have suggested that you must first
understand the basic tenets of advaita before attempting to pose questions
like these. I have seen your response also. Do not misunderstand them.
Raising such questions in bits and piecing together the answers does not
lead to a proper understanding of the subject. You need to learn the basics
by a study of the subject. While there are many sources for such a study, I
recommend that you listen to the lecture course << an introduction to
vedanta >> by Swami Paramarthananda. It is based on Tatvabodha of Sri
Bhagavatpada. You can download it from a number of sources available on the
web. Once you complete the course ( I think it lasts for a few hours ) most
of your doubts on the fundamentals will be cleared and you will be able to
understand many other advaitic works easily.


On Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 8:02 PM, Suresh <mayavaadi at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Friends,
> Why is the Self equated with Brahman? It is confusing because we only know
> the personal self, the ego, so why is Self always used interchangeably with
> Brahman?
> I am not sure if my question is clear. I can understand saying, "You are
> Brahman" etc., but 'You are the Self' doesn't make sense. The self, by
> definition, can only be a personal self - an individual thing with names
> and forms - so equating it with a formless Brahman is also confusing..
> Some insights, please .............
> Suresh
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