In Bhagavadam, Krishna tells his friend Uddhava: “Self is thy true teacher. Scriptures, direct experience, analysis and inference are the four steps to self knowledge.”


Self Knowledge or self realization reveals the difference between “yourself” and your “self.” On realizing self, you will see the whole world as a huge stage with the entire creation as backdrop and everyone, including yourself, as actors performing different roles. The scenes and roles change constantly.

Are You the Body?

This body is a vehicle given to you, by your mother, to fulfill your desires and to achieve your ambitions. As everything else in nature changes, your body also ages and withers away. One day you will discard the body.

GitaSamkhyaYoga:“Just as in this body the embodied Self passes through child-hood, youth and old age, so too it passes into another body. As a person casts off the worn out garments and puts on the new ones, the embodied Self discards the worn out body and enters into a new body.”

You are not the body.

Are You the Mind?

The sense organs just act as windows through which the stimulus from the objects enter the body and is perceived by the mind as images, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Mind acts as an instrument in perceiving the sense objects.

GitaViboodhiYoga: “Among the sense organs I am mind.”

As Bhagavan Himself is the mind, it is unmanifest and all pervading. Everyone knows where the brain is, but no one knows where the mind is. It wanders freely without any time or distance barrier.

GitaAtmayoga: “Mind is very restless, Krishna—turbulent, powerful, and stubborn. Controlling it is as difficult as harnessing the wind.”

Baghavan:  “Arjuna the restless mind can be controlled by practice and dispassion. Withdraw the restless and fidgety mind from all those objects after which it runs and bring it under the control of Self.” He says bring it under the control of self, not yourself.

You are not the mind.

 Are You the Intellect?

Intellect is the decision maker for the wavering mind. It tells the mind what to do.

AdiSankara’s NirvanaSatkam: “I am not the mind, intellect, memory or ego. Nor am I the ears, tongue, nose, or eyes. I am pure self.”

GitaKarmaYoga: “Mind is superior to the sense organs. Superior to the mind is intellect. Superior to the intellect is your Self. As Self is superior to intellect, control the mind which generates desire, as otherwise the mind will control you leading to ruination.”

You are not the intellect.

Then Who Are You?

You are the higher self or Jeevatma who experiences the emotions and feelings of the lower self resulting in likes and dislikes. The lower self acts by itself and you are a silent witness.

GitaSanyasaYoga: “The knower of Self is convinced, ‘I am not doing anything, as seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, speaking, excreting, grasping, opening and closing the eyelids are all the response of senses to the sense objects.’ Mentally renouncing all actions the Self rests peacefully in the city of nine gates.”

GitaAtmaYoga: “To him, who has conquered his lower self by the higher self, his self becomes a friend; but for him who has not conquered the lower self, his own self acts as an enemy.”  To assimilate this truth, contemplate in solitude.

Krishna tells Uddhava: “Where many dwell in one place there is noise and argument. Even when there are only two people there may be harmful gossip. Therefore solitude is ideal for contemplation.”
Nothing else can highlight the importance of self knowledge than GitaViboothiYoga: “Among knowledge I am Self Knowledge.”

Contemplate in solitude and seek His guidance to realize your self. Conquer the lower self as your friend and rest happily in the City of Nine Gates.

Ramki Durai gives lectures at Sunnyvale Hindu Temple and at Sri Lakshmi Ganapathy Temple in San Jose.