The sense of individual doership that arises, thereby creating separate identity is the Ego which is an illusion. Ego does not have its own independent existence and always depends on identification with either external objects or internal imagination. This ego sense is ‘I’ thought (first thought or primal thought or ‘me’ thought).  The appearance of others arises only after the rise of the ‘I’ thought or ‘me’ thought, and rest of the thoughts are strings attached to the ‘I’ thought.

By questioning the ‘I’ thought and severing its identification with objects or by witnessing (Sakshi Bhava) it subsides.


The word 'Advaita' (अद्वैत) means non-duality. It describes that there is only one reality and one truth i.e., Brahman or Atman (Self). All else is of transient nature, changing and only projection of mind. Brahman is changeless, formless, indivisible, immutable, beyond attributes (gunas). It is beyond the reach of five senses, mind, and realms of World (samsara/maya). Samsara is this World, cycle of aimless drifting between birth and death. The liberation from this cycle of birth and death is Mukti (liberation), Moksha, Nirvana or Kaivalya. Jiva or individual soul on contemplation and practice when understands its true nature is Atman, attains liberation. Now it knows, All is one.

Dvaita (द्वैत) = Duality Hence, A + Dvaita (अ + द्वैत) = Advaita

A-Dvaita = not-duality = non-duality


Vedanta means the concluding part of Vedas and contains the essence of Vedas. Here the end part is to be taken as essence and not literally 'end' part. All Upanishads belong to it.

Hence, Advaita Vedanta can be defined as a path which teaches the essence of vedas that there is one supreme reality (non-dual) – Nirguna Brahman (निर्गुण ब्रह्म).

Advaita Vedanta teaches that this world is transient, temporary, abode of sorrows, and mithya (मिथ्या)/illusion. It is due to the power of God's Maya (illusion) that this world looks different than Brahman. Brahman (Self) alone is reality.

Self (Atman /Brahman)

Self is the only real state which is our true nature. Self (Pure Awareness or Consciousness) is that from which everything emerges, in which everything is maintained and into which everything subsides. Self is the changeless, formless, all-pervading substratum of the whole universe. It is a transcendental state of pure silence beyond body and mind complex. However, if we think we are this body-mind complex we are bound. This illusory entity is called Ego/ Individual soul or Jiva. The real way to know Self is to be the Self when ego disappears.

Self-Enquiry (Self Attention/Atma Vichara)

Bhagavan’s primal teaching is always through Silence which is the purest and highest level of his teaching. This is not easily grasped by an active and noisy mind which is true to most of us. Hence Bhagavan advised Self Inquiry or Surrender, two powerful ways to annihilate the ego (sense of individual doership).

In simplest terms, Self-Inquiry is explained as tracing back to the source of the ‘I’ thought. In Self Inquiry, whenever a thought arises, by asking ‘To whom is this thought arising? The answer will be - to me. Then asking another question: who am I? If asked honestly, sincerely, earnestly, deeply and thoroughly, this investigation will take one to all pervading Silence. The inquiry has to be continuous throughout the waking state.

Surrender (Devotion/Bhakti/Sharanagati)

To pursue self-inquiry, one pointedness of mind is necessary. If the inquiry is challenging due to restless mind and age long tendencies or habits, then total surrender to God/Guru/Nature is another effective way to melt the ego sense to merge with the absolute.

By combining both methods of Self Inquiry and Surrender to Self, one can speed up the process of realizing the true self. Although Bhagavan is well known for his teachings on Self Inquiry, his devotion and intimacy to Arunachala can be felt immensely while hearing his composition of Aksharamanamalai (Marital Garland of letters) and his love for Saivite Saints in Periyapuranam.

Aids to Self-Inquiry

Bhagavan advised moderate amounts of sattvic food to help with one pointedness of mind to aid in self - inquiry and surrender. He also advised moderation in speech and sleep. Bhagavan pointed out that breath and mind have the same place of origin, the Spiritual heart (Hridayam, the center of being). Hence, he advised observing one’s own breath can help to calm the mind to achieve one pointedness to pursue self-inquiry.

Breath restraint (pranayama) can only lead to manolaya (temporaray dissolution of mind) but not manonasa (annihilation of the mind).

Hridayam (Spiritual Heart, the centre of being)

n 1915 when Bhagavan was living in Skandasramam, a young devotee, Jagadiswara Sastri, wrote on a piece of paper in Sanskrit the words hridaya kuhara madhye (in the interior of the Heart-Cave). He then went out on some business.

When he returned he found to his surprise a complete Sanskrit verse beginning with those words.

Hridaya Kuhara Madhye Kevalam Brahmamathram, Hyaham Aham Ithi Sakshath Atmaroopena Bhathi, Hridhvisha Manasa Swam Chinvatha Majjathava, Pavana Chalanarodhat Atma Nishto Bhavatwam.

In the inmost centre of the Heart cave Brahman alone shines in the form of Atman (Self) with direct immediacy as ‘I’ — ‘I’. Enter into the Heart with questing mind, or by diving deep within, or through control of breath, and abide in the Atman, dissolving the ego.

In the recesses of the lotus-shaped Hearts of all, beginning with Vishnu, there shines as Absolute Consciousness, the Paramatman, who is the same as Arunachala Ramana. When the mind melts with love of Him and reaches the inmost recess of the Heart wherein He dwells as the beloved, the subtle eye of pure intellect opens, and He reveals Himself as Pure Consciousness.
(Arunachala Pancharatnam)


Samadhi is total absorption into consciousness into which one loses the sense of individuality and there is only Pure Consciousness. Samadhi is similar to deep sleep in that the individual is lost and there is only the state of bliss or complete rest. However, in deep sleep one is ignorant of what the state is, while in Samadhi one is aware or realises the state as their natural state.

Samadhi is an effortless and unbroken state of meditation. It’s like gazing into space and only seeing the gazing. Or looking out at the divine and seeing only the divine as both the formless seer, the seeing and seen, they become one seamless state of being. One is undisturbed and absorbed in the presence and bliss of Being-consciousness.

There are two states of Samadhi one is Nirvikalpa samadhi, and the other is Sahaja samadhi.

In Nirvikalpa samadhi, one is absorbed into Pure consciousness, but not aware of the world. In this samadhi one can’t do anything but sit there in absorption.

In Sahaja samadhi, the body can operate and go on with its day-to-day activities, it is an effortless state of samadhi. It is like the experience of deep and restful sleep combined with being aware and awake. This is the state of a Jnani/Liberated one.