Author Topic: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:  (Read 3641 times)

Subramanian.R

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Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« on: January 21, 2015, 02:14:45 PM »
Experiential Knowledge Swallows the Knower - the Nature of Pratyabhijna:

This is from Mountain Path, July - September 2014 of Mountain Path, by Swami Tanmayananda Saraswati.

Introduction:

A common man's life is beset by contradictions, complexities and conflicts, while the conceptual levels of Vedanta that
we study are replete with puzzling paradoxes. The two sets of baffling conundrums are, however, as different as chalk
and cheese in their scope, depth and consequence. The former keeps one in bondage whereas the latter is not a just
a series of static tenets but a living tradition that beckons the aspirant (mumukshu) intent in unshackling himself from
the fetters of samsara and guides his intuition to feel his way towards freedom. 

The purpose of spiritual sadhana is to primarily address a person's seemingly insoluble predicament in the face of contrary
forces characterizing our inner and outer worlds and show him the way to self integration with a harmonious alignment of
body, mind and speech, that is, the purification of physical actions, thought processes and verbal expressions (trikaraNa
suddhi).

Such a conscious self disciplining process heals all inner divisions and brings order to our everyday life. It promotes a stable
life of relative happiness, poise and equanimity. This component of sadhana constitutes the essence of yoga marga. It
makes the seeker a wholesome personality, who is well prepared for the next and final level of Jnana Vichara and its eventual
consummation in Enlightenment. The latter alone delivers the Jiva once for all, from the thralldom of the cycle of births
and deaths (samsara)

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2015, 08:56:06 AM »
Yoga Sadhana and Vedanta Vichara - a Blend in Harmony:

In the realm of yoga sadhana, there is zero tolerance for conflict, contradictions or confusion. Every step is well delineated
and the path is laid out with great clarity and scientific precision. This approach is action oriented and our predilections for
for philosophical concepts and nuanced deliberations are minimized. These are not dismissed outright but postponed till
the requisite eligibility or competence is acquired. It is essential that we first get our priorities right.  The emphasis at this
stage is on outright practice, with the theory placed on the back burner (kriya pradaanam, siddhanta gauNam). Lord
Krishna therefore exhorts an impatient Arjuna who wants to by pass karma yoga and to plunge headlong into Jnana marga,
to first become a yogi, before tackling the final challenge of Jnana prApati. The Lord prescribes renunciation of all actions
(karma sannyasa) only for an adept in yoga, who has already gained purity of mind (chitta suddhi).

In stark contrast, in  the domain of Vedanta Vichara, the emphasis is completely reversed (siddhAnta pradhaanam, kriya
sunyam). Gaining conceptual clarity through learning from a master is here mandatory while all 'doing' is generally
dismissed, except for Upaasana, which is accorded auxiliary importance for the acquisition of mental tranquility (chitta
naischalyam) and onepointedness of intellect (ekaagrata). Attaining a correct and balanced vision hastens the evolutionary
process and deepens the quality of Sadhana. Without the necessary intellectual clarity in grasping the guiding corner stone
principles of the philosophical system,   all out so called 'doing mode' of sadhana may well be a deviation from the main
pursuit.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2015, 10:10:24 AM »
For example, Sage Gaudapada cautions those seekers who spend many hours everyday purportedly in dhyana and who,
not knowing its dangers, might unwittingly slip into an addictive stupor like trance (Laya), and as a consequence, stagnate
without gaining precious Vedantic clarity.  (Mandukya Kaarikaa - 3.45). 

Therefore, as one proceeds to the higher echelons of understanding, hard core texts pf Vedanta like Ozhivial Odukkam denounce
adherence to chariyai, kiriyai etc., (being riddled with karma) as tenacious obstacles. Vedanta starts with the questioning
the utility of action and concludes that actions (karma kAndam) cannot lead to Moksha. (Upadesa Saram, v. 1-3). One must
necessarily resort to Vichara (Viveka Choodamani v. 11), if he aspires for liberation. Bondage is experienced due to lack of
of inquiry and it can be removed only through Self Inquiry. (Panchadasi v.10.5). This does not however, mean that yoga and Jnana
margas are mutually antagonistic; they are merely sequential much like the high school studies must precede scholastic pursuit
in universities. 

Yoga marga aims at the conquest of the body mind sense conflicts which leads one to self mastery. Jnana Marga is solely
concerned with educating the intellect at the highest possible levels of inquiry. It does this through the systematic process
of shravana (listening and manana (contemplation) of the Upanishadic teachings from a competent acharya or a greater guru.
In the nididhyaasana stage, the yoga virya/balam acquired in the proceeding preparatory phase blends perfectly with
the intellectual conviction and finesse gained in the Jnana Marga and catapults the mind to the transcendent plane resulting
in final enlightenment.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             
   

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2015, 09:43:24 AM »
To sum up,, yoga sadhana aims at integration of personality and the conquest of the forces of prakriti, while Jnana Vichara
achieves transcendence of personality through seeing its falsity. M.P. Pandit, a great exponent of Sri Aurobindo philosophy,
expressed this truth succinctly when he wrote in a booklet on Bhagavan Ramana that all great personalities bow before Bhagavan
Ramana as the latter was a mighty Impersonality. The purification of one's personality through yoga sadhana quickens its
subsequent sublimation in pure knowledge.

Maharshi Ramana consistently taught that Self Realization is not a mater of acquiring anything new but merely the loss of ego
(Talks No. 146). around which spun all the erroneous notions regarding one's personality. Annihilation of this fundamental notion
of a separate 'I', the finite individuality (vyaktibodha naasha) alone is Enlightenment. This is the supreme achievement any
human being can hope and work for.

Paradoxes in Vedanta:

Unlike the path of yoga which lays bare everything through clear cut manuals of instruction, the seeker treading the path of inquiry
(Jnana Marga) often confronts situations bristling with paradoxes.  That is why one must invoke the Grace of the Lord to reach
the feet of an accomplished Guru who can safely guide the seeker through the many baffling situations that can come up till the
very end, where everything falls in place, and all paradoxes are resolved.  In the Zen tradition this is graphically described as,
'In the beginning, the mountains are the mountains and the rivers are rivers; as one advances further, mountains are no more
mountains and rivers are no more rivers. Finally as the summit of attainment is climbed, the mountains once again become
mountains and rivers again appear as rivers.'

The Jivan Mukta may then seem like any other ordinary person and through his appearance is perfectly normal, his inner vision
is so extraordinary.  This has been illustrated time and again in Maharshi Ramana's amazing life. (See the delightful incidents
in Bhagavan's life in Purushottama Ramana) In Zen monastic training, this is expressed in so many ways,such as 'Eat when
hungry, sleep while tired,' chopping wood and carrying water and sitting quietly and doing nothing.' -- these are sufficient
to manifest one's inherent Buddha nature.*  These sound simple but carry the profound message of 'Summa Iru' (rest in
Self abidance without the doership sense. 

(* The Way of Zen  - Alan Watts)

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         
       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2015, 12:15:10 PM »
In the Isavasya and Kena Upanishads, there are paradoxes galore -- some are delightful and some mind blowing.  Mainly they
serve to demonstrate the limitation of words in their attempt to point out what is admitted as beyond their capacity to illumine.
This propels a quantum leap into an intuitive apprehension of Truth.  It is for the same purpose that Zen Masters often present
their disciples with puzzles called koans that serve to stun and stop the feverishly preoccupied mind. The koans are intended to blast
the mind from its habitual dwelling in the realm of words and concepts and trigger the glimpse of Truth in a sudden flash, called
Satori. Referring to such glimpses Chinmayananda said that 'the essence of Vedanta is really not taught by the Guru (though clothed
in words) but caught by the alert disciple' who is able to see through the spoken words, what lies beyond.

In other words, words employed to show that words cannot directly reveal the supreme Reality but can only indicate It through
their lakshyaarta. They are,  however, a necessary indicator of the Truth that dwells beyond their ken. (Taittriya Up. 2.4.1.) Swami
Chinmayananda also gave a lucid definition of meditation as, 'Silence the mind and listen!' Bhagavan gave fuller and more explicit
advice. 'Drop all thoughts and pay attention to the soundless, pulsing current of 'I' - aham sphurti.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                 

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2015, 09:22:24 AM »
Enlightenment -- the Great Paradox:

The mother of all paradoxes in Vedanta appropriately revolves upon Enlightenment itself and the ineffable state of a Jnani,
who is a Jivan Mukta. Bhagavan sings in Akshara Mana Malai, 'You unraveled the Great Knot which held the mystery of the
limitless Self that has no beginning or end.  (like Arunachala); shouldst Thou not complete the task, O Arunachala?"
(mudi ati kaanaa mudi vituthu anai nEr mutivitak katanilai Arunachala). In all branches of knowledge concerning the non self]
(apara vidya), knowledge empowers the knower and enriches his personality. The experience of Self Knowledge (para vidya),
on the other hand, dissolves the very knower once for all.

In fact, the very triad of knower, known and the instrument of knowledge (pramaata, pramEyam, and pramAnam) disappear
in the wake of kaivalya jnanam, leaving only the pure Knowledge,  the Consciousness that shines in all its splendor.  (Sat
Darsanam, Verse. 14).  Until this happens, all our knowledge of the Self gathered from the scriptures would still remain
academic and intellectual, however well assimilated. Such a conviction born of mediate knowledge (paroksha jnanam), can
no doubt, transform one's life (in terms of true values, purushaartha nischaya) and thus refine and elevate the personality.
But it falls short of discrediting it, which is sine qua non for enlightenment.

Therefore, the Upanishads assert that the intelligent disciple, after a thorough study of the scriptures and the assimilation
of their message, should thereafter be intent on gaining the experiential knowledge (aparoksha jnanam). He must focus
only on the Self (in nididhyasana), leaving behind the scriptures without any residue, like the farmer who after pounding the
paddy, winnows away the chaff and gathers rice grains. (Amrita Bindu Upanishad, Verse 18).

For a serious seeker, Bhagavan said that all work lies within, never outside. (Talk 227). In His earlier teaching Who am I?
Bhagavan advised that once the purport of the sastras is ascertained as to 'turning within' (antar mukha), the seeker should
not endlessly wander in the maze of textual erudition and research. He further asked that 'there would be a time, when one has
to forget all that one has learnt.' (after it has served the purpose).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                                     

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2015, 09:30:48 AM »
Resolution of the Knower in Pure Knowledge:

Thus in True Knowledge, sublation of the ego is sought, not its embellishments in scholarship or oratory and literary skills.
In Self Knowledge, pure Jnanam alone permeates one's awareness and there is no Jnani as such, surviving as a personality.
That is why it is laughable to claim as a Jnani, even after a genuine glimpse of Truth. (Sat Darsanam Verse 35). Until complete
erasure of the latent tendencies of mind (Vaasnaa Kshyaaa) is achieved by constant abidance in the Self, the personality can again
real its head and blithely claim that it is dead!  In mano nasa, the claimant ego is extinguished for good and one then abides
in Sahaja Samadhi.  Others may call him or her a Jnani (in vyavahaara drishi) but in his own vision, everything including himself
is resolved into one limitless Jnana Swarupam. There is no ajnani at all (or even a Jnani) in his perspective. (Talk 48).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2015, 10:52:37 AM »
Avidya itself has ceased to exist for him, just there is no darkness in the light of the Sun. Likewise, he abides as the embodiment
of Bliss (Ananda Swarupi) and note as Anandi, the possessor of happiness. In the classic novel, Alice in Wonderland, - a brilliant
allegory of the spiritual journey, full of cute paradoxes, -- the little Alice after changing into many forms (symbolizing changing
identities of the ego), starts wondering who truly she is. When the Cheshire cat eventually vanishes out her sight, it leaves behind
a huge grin long after it has gone!  This mystifies Alice, just as ajnanis cannot imagine a state wherein the knower disappears
in the wake of Knowledge. For them, knowledge cannot reside without the locus of the knower. But for the enlightened sage,
Ananda alone remains as his very swarupam. He is not around Anandi, the enjoyer of bliss!  Acharya Sankara says that one
whose intellect is dissolved in the bliss of Brahman, becomes verily Brahman and cannot be called as a 'knower of Brahman, who stands
apart from Brahman. Such Knowledge is truly experiential as it swallows up the very knower. (Manisha Panchakam, Verse 5).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2015, 10:15:44 AM »
To claim oneself as a Jnani simply betrays non awareness of one's limitless nature and a lack of the ultimate vision of division-
less unity (akhaNDa ekAtma bodham). For any exclusive claim to the status of a Jnani immediately delimits the infinite Self
into a finite personality. As the famous Zen saying goes, 'The moment you express, you miss the mark.' Thus wherever there is
division, there is de-vision i.e no vision of Truth.  Such indeed is the paradox of enlightenment, succinctly summed up in the
Tamizh saying, KaNdavar viNdilar, viNdavar kaNdiliai.'

All waters are One - the Seer becomes Non Dual: (Br. Up. 4.3.32)

Consider the above famous Upanishadic example, in the context of waves in an ocean.  Among the countless waves perpetually
rising in an ocean, suppose one wave has realized its nature to be water.  This 'enlightened wave'  looks around and sees only
water in all waves. It knows water to be the very stuff and essence itself as well as all other waves. There is nothing other than
water. Can this wave ever feel it is made of 'superior water' compared to the other 'ignorant waves', just because it is a 'Jnani
wave'? The very Jnanam is now has, destroys all the previously held differential notions, bheda drishit, and denies any special
exalted status that the other 'ignorant waves' proffer in reverence to this wave. All Waves are but One Water.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2015, 01:18:28 PM »
Therefore, the 'enlightened wave' wonders, when all there is, is water alone, why make fuss about this particular wave, with its
fleeting form? Water is forever, but the 'wave form' is here now but soon gone. So, the 'Jnani Wave' deprecates all the personality
cult that develops around it and constantly hammers the teaching to other waves, 'Listen, you and I, all of us are children
of the same water, not just me alone. You are also water (tat tvam asi), wake up to your water-nature and be free.' (Sve. Up. 2.5)

The 'Jnani' waves all encompassing 'water vision' does not allow even the residual differentiation of 'jnani and ajnani' waves.
The above example (drshtaantam) deploys the inert sea waters bounded by the sandy shore and the sky, which have the
in-built limitations of an analogy. This may unwittingly permit an adjectival distinction among the waves as 'wise' and 'unwise'.
But in the original context (draashtaantam) concerning about reality, one deals with the absolutely limitless ocean of
Consciousness (bodha samudram).

So as we carry forward the message from the above illustration into the paradigm of ultimate Reality, all jivas (corresponding
to the 'waves', enlightened or ignorant, are seen to be constituted of the same consciousness only, svarupa jnanam, a
boundless and seamless entity. This effectively erases even the adjectival distinctions among the waves, as Reality does
not countenance any distinctive fragment or mosaic in its wholeness. The Jnani's mind also, having attained merger with
Reality correspondingly does not and cannot envision anything other than pure consciousness. The 'seeming separation'
from this wholeness is an issue for the ignorant only, not for the Jnanis to whom it is not a real separation at all.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     
     

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2015, 11:47:03 AM »
Therefore the absence of a unique vritti jnanam in the 'ignorant waves' is a trivial issue, as far as the 'enlightened  wave' is
concerned. The function of this vritti jnanam, also called aham sphurti, is to eliminate this seeming separation born of ignorance
(manifesting as dehAtma buddhi). After destroying ignorance, aham sphurti, resolves itself in swarupa jnanam, just like the fire
that subsides after the exhaustion just like the fire that subsides after the exhaustion of its fuel. Bhagavan avers that Reallization
is synonymous with this akhandaakaara vritti jnanam and has nothing to do with manipulating swarupa jnanam which is eternal,
changeless and all pervasive.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2015, 10:38:38 AM »
The paradoxical nature of Vichara Sadhana:

For sincere seekers, total acceptance of the ultimate Truth expressed by the Sages is itself sufficient to ward off the ills
of Samsara. So Bhagavan repeatedly advises the seekers to give up the thought that one is not  realized (and certainly
not to think that one  is realized either, because paradoxically  both these mutually opposing positions are but two
sides  of  the  same coin of ignorance), but simply abide as the  Self, constantly shining as the substratum (swarupa
jnanam,).  Whether you know it or not,you are the perfect Whole (purnam) and you have  no lack whatsoever. To accept
this and be at peace as in deep sleep (jagrat sushupti) is the raison d'etre of Bhagavan's teaching. You are only pretending
to  be unenlightened says Bhagavan, advising us to give up this great  game of pretension.

Bhagavan assures  us that seemingly simple practice itself (of identifying with the Swarupa Jnanam and remaining as such)
will eventually clear all the obstacles to the arsing of the akhandakarakara vritti jnanam,which destroys the primal ignorance.
Thus in advanced Sadhana, even the intense yearning for liberation gets resolved in the revolutionary clarity of Vichara
Marga.Here, this unique path to Truth is indeed paved the  way with tiles of deep  peace.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2015, 08:45:37 AM »
The Jivan Mukti Vision as Revealed by Bhagavan. 

The Upanishads further proclaim,'There is no plurality whatsoever here.'- neha naanaasti kinchana. and 'Whosoever sees
differences her goes from death to death.  (mrtyoh sa mrtyum aaponti ya iha naanaa iva pasyati.) Thus the slightest
of differential vision (bheda drishti) militates against true enlightenment.  This is the Advaita Drishtithat Bhagavan lived
every moment of His life, as He consistently refused even the special treatment extended to Him. From His own standpoint,
He waived any differentiation between Him and others,(Talk 258), including guru sishya, bhagavan-bhakta heirarchy
which has got legitimacy only in ajnana drishti. (Dasa Sloki verse 7).

With this unifying vision of Jnanam, there is yet a paradoxical twist that only a Jnani can truly recognize a Jnani, indicating
that in spite of the perceived differences in the relative plane of reality (vyavahaarika bhumi), a Jnani loses sight of the
Absolute Truth.  Bhagavan's special love and respect for His contemporary sages, Seshadri Swamigal and Ganapati Muni
bear witness to this strange dual mode of operation.  Thus when required for transactional purposes, the Jnani's vision
can straddle the empirical plane without violating His illumined inner vision,in which Jnanam alone prevails in all. The glory
of a Jnani is indeed inexplicable as Bhagavan extols, 'The one who has devoured the ego and shines with the Knowledge
of the Self,having nothing else to know or to achieve; His inconceivable state of being, who can ever fathom?'(Ulladu
Narpadu Verse 31).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     
 

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2015, 09:11:14 AM »
The Nature of Mind and its Extinction by tracing its Source:

Bhagavan Ramana has clarified with great precision in Upadesa Undiyar, the nature of mind and the annihilation of its
divisive activity as the essence of enlightenment. First, Bhagavan defines mind as nothing but an aggregate of thoughts,
as there is no entity called mind when bereft of thoughts, just like no onion is left over  when its layers are peeled off.
Thus adopting the reductionist approach of a thorough bred scientist, He reduces all thoughts to one fundamental
aham vritti ('I' thought),upon which the rest are strung like beads on a thread.  This 'root thought' is a non verbal,
experiential feeling, which ties up the Spirit with confines of the body, (chit jada granthi). Thisis called dehaatma buddhi
- I am the body consciousness. When this fundamental though subsides in a dream less sleep, the entire subjective
world (pratiphaaasika jagat) collapses into the causal state. Thus the world of perception is first reduced to the mind,
which in turn is stripped to its essence, the I thought.

Bhagavan says by inquiry into the source of this aham vritti,one reaches the land of aham sphurti. Here Pure Consciousness
alone shines unremittingly as 'I'-'I'-'I'. Holding on to this objectless awareness of oneself destroys aham vritti and bestows
the true knowledge of the Self (aham bodhah).The extinction of aham vritti is called mano nasa,which is synonymous
with enlightenment.It is not to be confused with the absence of the functional mind as in a coma. Bhagavan avers that
only by turning within through self inquiry,can this pseudo-I (ahamkara) be quelled and not by any other means.
(Upadesa Undiyar Verse 19; Ulladu Narpadu verse 27 and 25.)

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
           

Subramanian.R

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Re: Enlightenment - The Ultimate Paradox in Vedanta:
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2015, 02:29:37 PM »
Self Inquiry Culminates in Erasure of All Self Images:

Ego is nothing but a self descriptive thought and it thrives by holding on to myriad forms of self image, one after another without end.
(Upadesa Undiayar Verse 19).For a seeker, in the sadhana stage, it takes the form of 'I am an ajnani'.If one is not careful in discrimination,
after one or two glimpses of Truth, he may glibly fancy oneself to be a Jnani.'I am a Jnani' is as much as a self image as the former
and a greater delusion in as much as it is a subtler variant of the ego. This is a typical case of Vidya Maya whereas the former comes
under Avidya Maya). At the tollgate of Moksha, the ego must be paid without fail as the toll tax if we are to gain entry (sunka chaavadi
tappaathu in Bhagavan's words). Acharya Sankara exhorts his sannyasi disciples,'Renounce the ego finally, with whose will power       
all desires are renounced first(yena tyajasi, tat tyaja).

Self Inquiry then consists in relentlessly pursuing Who am I?' till all such 'I am so and so' images' disappear,leaving only the pure
Self shining as 'I AM'. The paradox of  a Jnani is such he can never claims to be one! Self Knowledge indeed terminates all self
descriptions.If at all  a Jnani is forced to answer in words the question 'who are you?, he can only say "I AM THAT I AM,'
the profound  Biblical quote that Bhagavan Ramana was fond of citing.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.