Edtior’s Note: The following post appeared in the Advaitin list on Yahoo Groups and is reprinted with the permission of the author, Sri Venkata Sriram. In this article Venkat-Ji speaks about the idea of AHAM as the essence of Mantras, Vedas, and Upanishads. AHAM translated from Sanskrit means, “ME” or “I AM” and refers to the principle of I-NESS that is inherent in the existence of all beings as it is their core. Sri Bhagavan Ramana’s teaching involving the Inquiry, “Who Am I?” is essentially a meditation on AHAM, which in the Advaitic approach leads to Self-Realization. I have made only minor edits in the original version. Please bring to my attention any errors and these will be corrected right away.
AHAM (I AM) Is The Essence Of Mantras
It is to be noted that *who am I* is not a *intellectual* enquiry to be pursued. It is the upasana of *Aham* which is the upasana of Vak – the Great Goddess of Speech which is described in Vedas as Vak / Tripurasundari.
According to legend, the 14 Maheshwara Sutras were revealed to Panini, Vyaghrapada, Upamanyu and other sages by Shiva. Panini then composed his grammar called Ashtadhyayi which is based on the 14 Sutras that were revealed during the Cosmic Dance of Shiva. They are also called the Maheshvara Sutras. At the end of the Shiva’s Cosmic Dance, he sounded his Damaruka 14 times. And from these 14 Sounds of Damaruka, evolved 14 Sutras. These 14 sutras encompass the phonetics of the Sanskrit language.
The first 4 sutras cover all the vowels. They are :
1) a i u n
2) r l k
3) e o n
4) ai au ch.
Omit the last letter of the 4 sutras and they are a, i, u, r, l, e, o, ai, au. The entire 16 vowels from A to AHA have emanated from these letters.
The Last 10 sutras include all the consonants. They are :
5) h y v r t
6) l n
7) n m n n n m
8.) jh bh n
9) gh dh dh s
10) j b g d d s
11) kh ph ch th th ca t t v
12) k p y
13) s s s r;
14. h l.
Omit the last letter of these 10 sutras, they become entire 34 consonants ie., from K to HA. The SRICHAKRA is constructed keeping in view these entire set of 14 sutras. Ashtadhyayi divides these 14 formulae into 43 letters which become the 43 Angles of Sriyantra.
The entire Matrikas (letters) ie., 16 vowels and 34 consonants have evolved from these 14 Maheshwara Sutras.
The 16 Vowels and 34 Consonants have become 50 Matrikas of Letters.. They are the Saktha Pitas of Sridevi. Every Matrika has a distinct Power and Seat of Origin in our Body. These Matrikas are presided by a distinct and corresponding Devis that govern that particular seat of origin (Pita) in our Body. These Cosmic Powers that preside over each Matrika is invoked during the Antarmatrika and Bahir Matrika Nyasas.
It is to be noted that the Kamakala Akshara is derived from these 14 sutras. This *AHAM* is the essence of all the Mantras, Vedas, Upanishads as these fall in between A (WHICH IS 1ST VOWEL) AND H (WHICH IS THE LAST CONSONANT). From the first sutra, A is taken and from the last Sutra H is taken. Bindu is added and it becomes AHAM.
This is the AHAM swarupa or the I-NESS of Maheswara which is of the form of CHIT. It is from this AHAM of the Siva, the entire Cosmos in the form of Matrikas have evolved. This AHAM is the KAMAKALA. The entire vowels and consonants fall in between this A and H.
The Tantric script encodes this principle of AHAM and depicts as a INVERTED TRIANGLE which is a representation of Triputi or Triad in the form of External Object perceived, Knowledge or Perception, Observer or Perceiver otherwise called Jnatr-Jnana-Jneya.
Veda & Tantra paves the way for the piercing of this Triad which is called TRIPUTI-BHEDANA. And the methodology employed is *AHAMGRAHOPASANA* through Sagunopasana.
When Vashishta Ganapati Muni pleaded for guidance in sadhana, Bhagavan Ramana asked the Muni to enquire into the Source of the Panchakshari Mantra (NAMA SIVAYA) which is invariably collection of 5 letters in the form of Speech.
The root of all mantras in the form of Speech is *A-HA-Bindu*. A is the 1st vowel; Ha is the Last Consonant; M-the Bindu; which is AHAM. This is what is the essence of VAK Sukta in Rg Veda which starts with *Aham rudrebhir vasubhischarami……….*.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi wants us to catch hold of this AHAM as it is the source of Speech and which shines in the cave of our heart. (vide ref: Ramana Gita).
The speech has 4 stages of evolution whose order of evolution is : 1) Para 2) Pashyanti 3) madhyama 4) Vaikhari. Vaikhari is the Articular Sound what we hear. The source of this Articulate Sound is Para which originates from Heart Cave where throbs our consciousness in the form of *AHAM* (hridaya kuhara madhye aham aham iti sphurantam…). It is this throb or Antah sphurana, Bhagavan urges us to realise. It is this *Aham throb* or *Antah-sphurana* which is *Brahma*. Hence, Bhagavan Ramana says in ECSTASY *Aham* *Brahma* *Asmi*.
It is verily this *I* which shines in the heart cave as *Aham* which Bhagavn says is Brahman.
Now, what does Acharya Sankara say about the Upasana of *Aham*, let us see.
Acharya Sankara gives us a wonderful hymn for meditation, contemplation and reflection which is called *Dakshinamurthy Stotram* (DS). Acharya has divided the entire hymn into 3 principles : Jiva, Jagat & Ishwara. Later, he gives a clue for the Upasana which is quite *mandatory* for those who are into the upasana of the *aham* principle. What exactly is this *aham*, is wonderfully given in the sloka *bAlyAdiShvapi…….AHAM iti antahsphurantam sadA….* of DS.
Now, how should we enquire into the root of this *aham* or *I-ness*? Acharya has hinted in the subsequent sloka and the type of upasana to be undertaken. It is the *ahamgrahopasana* along with Sagunopasana which is suggested here. When this upasana reaches the state of culmination, it is the realisation in *ECSTASY* that this *aham* or *antah-sphuraNa* is Brahman which is the essence of Mahavakya *aham brahmasmi*.
Mahavakyas are the *GREAT UTTERANCES IN ECSTASY* by our vedic seers.
Even in deep reflection and sadhana, when the upasaka reaches the highest pinnacle of spiritual illumination, both the terms *aham* and *brahma* drops off and what remains is ASMI. And this state is wonderfully explained in the Rg veda in the *Hymn of Creation or *Nasadiya Sukta*.
I repeat: Mahavakyas are the *GREAT UTTERENCES IN SPIRITUAL ECSTASY*.
Acharya Sankara also hints in his Sutra Bhashya about the sagunopasana.. He says:
“apratyAkhyAyaina kAryaprapancham, PARINAMAPRAKRRIYAM CHA shrayati SAGUNESHuPASANESHUP AYOKSHYA te iti”.
Also, in the 1st adhyaya for the sutra “tad adhInatvA darthavat”, Acharya Sankara explains the principle of Sakti to be the upAdana kAraNa for paramEshwara in the Creation. Acharya Sankara emphatically says that it is the Parinamavada to be adopted to achieve the Sagunopasana Siddhi and not for kArya-prapancha (jagat) siddhi.
Acharya Sankara in his sutra bhashya says that parinamavada (theory of transformaton) can be adopted for the purpose of saguna upasana which is the upasana of maya-sabala brahman where the substratum is Brahman only. When the upasana is ripe, and upon the dawn of right knowledge, the “reality” which the “ignorant” people perceive WOULD BECOME an “illusion”.
So, what i conclude is that Bhagavan Ramana’s Teaching is not new and is not an *Intellectual Enquiry*. It is verily the *Veda Vidya* handed down to us. Bhagavan embodies in himself the *Spirit of Vedic Seer*. Bhagavan’s teaching is the upasana of Vak.
Bhagavan was verily the form of Dakshinamurthy who taught the Upasana of Vak in the form of *Silence*. It is this *silence* which is called Para-vak. It is this Para-Vak which sports in the deep chasms of our heart as *I* or *Aham*.
The vedas and Tantra declare this Para-Vak as Tripurasundari – which is the Great Triangle in Sriyantra and the substratum of this Para-Vak is the Absolute Principle in the Form of Shiva which is depicted as Circle or Bindu in Sriyantra.
Sriyantra is the diagrammatic representation of AHAM and Srividya is the Upasana of Vak in the form of *Ahamgrahopasana*. Hence, to evolve a method for this *ahamgrahopasana*, Srividya Tantra came into being.
It is interesting to note that Bhagavan Ramana himself did the prana pratishta of Sriyantra at the samadhi of His mother.
tamai shri gurumurtaye namah idam shri dakshinamurthaye.