The song of Self – 5th verse

Atma Shatagam—Adi Shankaracharya  788-820 BC

Na Me Mrityu shanka Name jaati bedhah,

Pita naiva me naiva mata na janmah|

Na bandhur na mitram guru naiva shishyah ,

Chidananda roopah Shivoham shivoham | 5|

न् में मृत्यु शंका न् में जाती भेद:

पिता नैव् में नैव् माता न जन्म

न बन्धुर न् मित्रं गुरु नैव शिष्य:

चिदानंद रूप: शिवोहम शिवोहम |५|

Meaning:

I neither doubt death nor have I fear of death; I have no caste distinctions. I am neither the mother nor the father. I was never born and I have no kith or kin. I am no one’s friend; I am not a guru nor am I any one’s shishya. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I am not the relative, nor the friend, nor the guru nor the disciple. I myself am the joy of pure consciousness; I am Shiva, shivoham, shivoham. I am indeed, that eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.

Further Elaboration:

As a student I attended many personality development workshops. The emphasis was always on communication skills, good dressing sense and the ability to be competitive, driven; I needed to have an edge over the other students.  The focus always seemed on being aware of what the competing student was doing and do better than that person else I would end up losing my coveted spot.  Now, I never figured how someone else’s coveted spot could be mine too. And how come I was competing with that person with no idea whether I wanted to be in the race for the so called coveted spot at all! This juggling with others, trying to read their mind, probing into their life left me in such disarray about my own self, who I really wanted to be or even who I really was.

This world was in many ways always trying to confuse me and I was finding it increasingly difficult to trust my own kith and kin. Identity is the only thing I was desperately trying to hang on to; losing my identity meant losing everything.  But what is identity? Does it always remain the same? Even my given name changed with marriage and I adopt my husband’s name. From being my parent’s child I had graduated and become a parent myself, identity changes seemed to happen at every step of my life and yet here I was, searching and seeking the answer to this core question, who am I?

The answers came, gradually and one at a time, after I joined meditation.  As I sat meditating one day, something happened and I felt very anxious, worried and perturbed. I saw myself dissolving and re-emerging as a different person, same face, body and skin, but a new identity and yet I was the same, no change in me as a person as such! ‘I’ would seem to burn into cinders and again a new ‘I’ seemed to emerge, like the phoenix.  This thought bothered, and thus stayed with me awhile. I ruminated over this recurring ‘I’ with a new face. I tried to blend, merge with the daughter feeling in me, and saw myself as a wife. I tried to put both together then a new role of mother popped through a third window of my mind. This seemed very unending and nerve wrecking to me. I was one person, yet so many people depending on the time, situation, given role or duty.  Who or which identity was meditating then, all these months? And who was I searching for during these hours of meditation and contemplation? How many people was this singular I and how many more roles could this person play? What exactly was I trying to fathom?

I  sat and meditated more on this singular thought about who I am, and what was I trying to figure out, who was I trying to search for, why this recurrence of ‘I’ during mediation? Does this ever disappear? Dissolve into oblivion or merge with my creator? Is there such a possibility? Out of blue it came, only when ‘I’ was immersed in HIM did this I seem to dissolve, disappear or merge! Else it always seemed to retain its identity.  This I did not die, it was always there, in whichever form, role I chose to play or identify with. The core or the essence was always the same, I kept changing the clothing ever so often, I failed to pause and see, really see the core within.  I was so busy playing all these roles and disguises, the real I was lost and had gone silent, deep into the recesses of my heart.  I was nothing but HE, the creator, the one person from whom I came; a part of HE.

So, who and where was this I, really? No one and nowhere if seen independently, or the one person whose role I may be playing momentarily; and everywhere and everyone when merged with HIM! A mirror broken reflects the same face in that many number of pieces and when put together the same many faces magically emerge as one. Thus is my inner self too, as long as I predominance remains ‘I’ is a mere piece of the mirror, reflecting it. The minute ‘I’ realises and merges with the mirror it becomes whole again.

To conclude, who am I? I am all of this and also I am neither the mother nor the father. I was never born and I have no kith or kin. I am no one’s friend; I am not a guru nor am I any one’s shishya. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I am not the relative, nor the friend, nor the guru nor the disciple. I myself am the joy of pure consciousness; I am Shiva, shivoham, shivoham. I am indeed, that eternal knowing and bliss, Shiva, love and pure consciousness.