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Home >> Seeker’s Solace  >> Know thyself: Identifying the ‘who’

Know thyself: Identifying the ‘who’


And what does the Upanishad itself say about finding the ‘Who’? It tries to define the indefinable, in its own way, by identifying the Who or the person as:

Srotrasya srotram manaso mano yad vaco ha vaca sa u pranasya pranah

caksusa caksur atimucya dhirah prety asmal lokat amrta bhavanti

Srotrasya srotram–the ear of the ear; manaso mano–the mind of the mind.

‘Who’ is ‘that’ around which the thoughts gather together and the mind is formed! You see, you cannot conceive of a mind without thought, so the mind in total is actually a bundle of thoughts from the past to the present and projecting into the future. So, the centre around which thought orbits is called the mind of the mind; it is the witness of all that is happening within.

Vad vaco ha vaca: It is the meaning behind the word, word of the word; it is the first pulsation of the life behind all the life that we see.

Caksusas caksur: It is that which sees behind the eye and, free from all illusion, sees the actuality as opposed to imagination or speculation.

Atimucya dhirah prety asmal lokat amrta bhavanti: The great courageous heroes of yore went through the great blissful upper worlds and attained immortality by realizing this Self, which is within all of us.

The Rishi says then that identity of the ‘One’–who is behind all thought and action, the witness of everything that takes place, the unaffected witness of all that takes place–cannot be reached by any of our known modes of communication. It cannot be reached by any of our known modes of communication. What does that mean?

First, let me chant these slokas:

Na tatra caksur gacchati: There the eye cannot reach.

Na vag gacchati: Nor can words define that.

No manah: Not even the mind can reach that and then the Rishi puts up his hands and says,

Na vidmo na vijanimo: I don’t know, I cannot understand

Vathaitad anusisyat: How to communicate this to you?

See how sincere and transparent it is all here. The Rishi says, that which you seek, the ‘Who’–the essence from which everything originates, the witness of everything–the eye cannot reach there.

It is where even the mind cannot reach; so whatever I imagine will not be the Truth. I can imagine I am the Brahman but no, Sir! That is still in the mind. The Upanishad says that the mind cannot reach it. So, that is not Brahman. 

Then he says, I don’t understand, nor do I know. How to communicate? How to express this to you–that which cannot be expressed by the mind? How do I say this to you?


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