What Is Brahman?

Updated: May 19, 2018

After analysis of the meaning of "I" Ātma, now I know that I am distinct from this body, mind, sense complex, through analysis of 3 bodies and 5 kośa. I am the witness of what I am experienced in waking, dreaming and deep sleep, through analysis of 3 states of experience. But question will be raised, if I am not what I used to though of, then what really I am? Śruti (Veda) tells me that I am Brahman, who is the creator of the entire world, who is the Lord of the entire orders of this universe. But how can that be? How the equation between such a limited me and the limitless Brahman can be made? In this field, only Śruti is the pramānam (means) to know this fact. Just like if we want to see our own face, we need a mirror. Without a mirror as the correct means, no matter what we do, we just can not see our own face. In the same manner, no matter how we look within ourselves, we just can not find out what is our true nature without Śruti telling us. Let us know more about what is Brahman which we are equated to.


Sat-cit-ānanda Brahman

I am that Brahman which is of the nature of Sat-Existence, Cit-Consciousness, and Ānanda-happiness. Even though 3 words are using here, but they are not 3 separate qualities which qualified Brahman. Brahman itself is existence, consciousness and ānanda. Let us analyse one by one, then it will be clearer.


Cit-svarūpah, of the nature of consciousness

Even though the suffix -ness is using here, but it doesn't convey the meaning as such, like tree-ness. We know what tree is, and also know the qualification of being a tree. Therefore when we see a foreign species of tree, even though we don't know what kind of tree it is, but we know that it is a tree, not a blade of grass. Also not like the word awareness which we use for body-awareness, social-awareness, etc. So what is the meaning of consciousness here?

Consciousness is self evident self and because of which everything become evident. It is the very content of a conscious being, the very content of the awarer.

There are 2 description is very important here, self evident and which make others become evident.


When I said, "I am self evident" means I do not need other things to prove my existence. This is called self-effulgent (svayamprakāśah) or self-shining (svayamjyotih). Because of using the word "shine", there is a wrong connotation that Brahman is in the form of "light". It is not in the form of light, but it is self-shining like light. Just like in the world of sight, only 2 things can be seen, one is self luminous object and another is illumined object. For self luminous light to be seen, it doesn't need other light to fall on to it. For me the Consciousness to be evident, I don't need other to prove my existence. Even in deep sleep state, while my body, mind, senses are shut off, I still know that I had deep sleep (of course this statement only can be made after waking up because recollection is done by the mind).


Consciousness is that which make others become evident. Anything can be seen either self shining like sun or other objects which shined after. But for the sight to place, my eyes need to be functional, therefore the status of the eyes become the one which is shining (by the present of which, the sun become known) and sun become shined after. But for the eyes to be functional, our mind need to be there, therefore the mind shines and eyes is shined after. At last, for the mind to be there only if I the consciousness is there, I shine and the mind is shined after. I am the ultimate light, because of which everything is shining. I am the illuminator of all, because of which everything come to my knowledge, therefore Cit-Consciousness is also called Jñānam (knowledge).


We might have a question here, when consciousness is said to be knowledge, what kind of knowledge it is? Is it knowledge of Brahman? Is every Jīva just one of His knowledge? Are we the dream of Brahman?

To answer this question, we need to know there are 2 kinds of knowledge:

1. Qualified knowledge (viśesa-jñānam), where an object is distinguished from other knowledge. Example: pot knowledge, cloth knowledge etc.

2. Unqualified knowledge (nirviśesa-jñānam), knowledge as such (consciousness) which make an object to be known as a qualified knowledge. Example: when we see a book in front of us, we are not seeing the book itself, but we are seeing the light which is fall on the book object.


When a particular knowledge takes place, it means that the unqualified knowledge is manifesting as the qualified knowledge. This unqualified knowledge is always there, never changes and never ceases to be, just like the light of the projector, and the qualified knowledge is keep changing like the film's frame of a movie on that projector.

Therefore anything falls in to our sight, because of the light which is fall on the object, and anything becomes known to me, because the unqualified knowledge which is consciousness which is Ātma which is me, manifested in to qualified knowledge.

Therefore I am not the knowledge of Brahman, I am Consciousness which is Brahman.

Because this Cit-Consciousness is never ceases to be, therefore it is also called Sat-Existence.

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