Technical Guide to Nirvana : 2 – Who am I ?

I feel sorry for the title 😉 , the dull branding MBA in me is still alive. Nevertheless, now that we’ve started the series , let’s move on with it.

Who am I ? has been the central question of spirituality. This is where the search begins and this is where, perhaps the search ends.

I look inside of me, with open and closed eyes – I hardly get any answers. I can feel my body, I can, to some extent , sense my mind and I can also sense presence of emotions. Is that what I am ? Sum total of body, mind and emotions ? If yes, why am I not satisfied with this answer. If no, what else am I and why I am unable to see it within me ?

As one digs deep into various scriptures and teachings of ancient texts, a number of theories / realities appear. I specifically like this one suggested in Bhagwat Geeta and other Vedantic texts.

महाभूतान्यङ्ककारो बुद्धिरव्यक्त मेव च |
इन्द्रियाणि दशैकं च पञ्च चेन्द्रियगोचरा: || 6||

mahā-bhūtāny ahankāro buddhir avyaktam eva cha
indriyāṇi daśhaikaṁ cha pañcha chendriya-gocharāḥ

The field of activities is composed of the five great elements, the ego, the intellect, the unmanifest primordial matter, the eleven senses (five knowledge senses, five working senses, and mind), and the five objects of the senses.

ज्योतिषामपि तज्ज्योतिस्तमस: परमुच्यते |
ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं ज्ञानगम्यं हृदि सर्वस्य विष्ठितम् || 18||

jyotiṣhām api taj jyotis tamasaḥ param uchyate
jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ jñāna-gamyaṁ hṛidi sarvasya viṣhṭhitam

He is the source of light in all luminaries, and is entirely beyond the darkness of ignorance. He is knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the goal of knowledge. He dwells within the hearts of all living beings.

Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta Chapter 13

“We are made up of two componenets – Prakruti & Purush , Prakruti is Material , Purush is Conciousness, Further Prakruti is made up of 8 elements – 5 Mahabhoot (Fire , air, water, earth and sky) + 3 inner components called – Man (Mind) , buddhi (Intellect) and Ahamkar (Ego). (the translated words in english do not pricesely explain the meaning , that is a limitation. Try to understand directly in sanksrit or your native language if possible.) These 8 may be different in different beings and are forever changing.

Purush is the soul, atma or the conciousness. Conciousenss is one , same in all, undivided and never changing ” . Similar theory/reality appear in different texts as “Sharir + Shariri” or “Jad + Chetan” or ” kṣhetra  + kṣhetrajña“, while the name differs the fundamental explaination is the quite similar.

Now let’s consider any electronic device. Let’s say a mobile phone or computer and try to understand this. A computer is also made up of “physical components” like keyboard, screen, processor ,memory, mic, speaker etc.. All the input and output devices are the senses of computer through which the computer interacts with the world. To be more specific, input devices qualify as “gyan indriya” – through which one gets knowledge of the world and output devices as “karm indriya”. However without a driver for a device, the device is of no use. So, a driver of device is nothing but our mind. Our eyes alone are of no use unless backed up by mind. There might be many sounds reaching our ears, but we only listen when our mind pays attention to it. If mind is absent, we don’t see what exists right in front of our eyes. So, in that sense, mind acts as activator or deactivator of our senses. The processor is equivalent to the buddhi or intellect – where data is processed and decisions are made.

Ego – the sense of “I” , I guess, doesn’t have an equivalent so far but with emerging Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning – we might have something. The machines till they don’t have an ego stay a servant. If we are able to give them a seperate ego, which means they have an independent existence – desire and will, the fictious fear of AI going out of human control becomes real.

All the physical components and processing power – is absolutely useless , unless we power it up with electricity. This electricity is akin to “chetna” or “soul” component. Interestingly , irrepective of type of device, size of device – the electricity is same in every device. Precisely how “atma” is same in all. The nature of current is exactly same in every device from a tiny chip to a huge machine. The atma from an ant , an elephant and a man is same.

विद्याविनयसम्पन्ने ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि |
शुनि चैव श्वपाके च पण्डिता: समदर्शिन: || 18||

vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śhuni chaiva śhva-pāke cha paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśhinaḥ

The truly learned, with the eyes of divine knowledge,

see with equal vision a Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater.

-Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta 5/18

It’s quite interesting to observe the patterns of human life in nature, in machines. The natural laws seems to be present in some form or the other – everywhere. The core question, “who am i ? ” , remains unanswered by any explaination from the outside. Someone asked Shri Ramana Maharishi , Who am I ? To which he sharply responded First go and see inside, Who’s asking the question ? What is the source of this enquiry ?

Here is the beautiful conversation compiled into a book ….Who am I …? – From

PS : This blog involves generalization & simplification – just to communicate the idea, please feel free to build on it further , correct it, negate it , criticise it. You write to us at

Next Article : Technical Guide to Nirvana : Can human beings really change themselves ?


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