An Indian Civilizational Perspective

I am God and blasphemy

I am God.

This is so revolutionary a statement that it can land people on death row. We are so forced into believing that we are some lowly entities and that some one “special” will come with special access to some faraway “God” – who is unapproachable and something different.

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In Hinduism, Upanishads contain four Mahavakyas – Great Sayings – which culminate in the same declaration:

1. Prajnanam Brahma – “Consciousness is Brahman” (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 of the Rig Veda)
2. Ayam Atma Brahma – “This Self (Atman) is Brahman” (Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 of the Atharva Veda)
3. Tat Tvam Asi – “Thou art That” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 of the Sama Veda)
4. Aham Brahmasmi – “I am Brahman” (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 of the Yajur Veda)

Aham Brahmasmi -> I am God.

The journey is logical and very clear.

But people in other cultures and theologies were not so lucky as the Maharishis of what was known as Sanatan Dharma (Eternal Law). These people who made similar claims were not celebrated by calling their utterances as “Mahavakyas” but became blasphemy and reason for their deah.

Mansur al-Hallaj (full name Abu- al-Mughi-th Husayn Mansu-r al-Halla-j) was a Persian mystic and a Sufi. He was executed for heresy at the orders of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadir. In one of his trances he was to announce Ana- l-H.aqq or “I am The Truth”. This was meant to also believe “I am God” since al-H.aqq means “the Truth”.

This was so unimaginable for the Muslims of his time (and many even now – check this website for his critique) that he was imprisoned for 11 years in Baghdad, tortured and finally publicly crucified on March 26, 922.

Rumi wrote about his statement later and made a very valid point regarding Mansur’s claim: People imagine that it is a presumptive claim, whereas it is really a presumptive claim to say “I am the slave of God”; and “I am God” is an expression of great humility. The man who says “I am the slave of God” affirms two existences, his own and God’s, but he that says “I am God” has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says “I am God,” that is, “I am naught, He is all; there is no being but God’s.” This is the extreme of humility and self-abasement.

Just something as simple as that had created such a big furore that entire lifetimes were consumed after that for both the sides to “explain” or run down his claim within the overall framework of Islam.

Sadguru Jaggi said in one of his lecture that there is a reason why India has been the land of Saints and Enlightened. And that is because in this country revolutionary thinkers and people making totally different claims than the ones accepted in the majority were welcomed. Such people were never persecuted. From Buddha to Nanak to Osho to today’s Saints everyone made their own claims, which were similar to “Aham Brahmasmi”. They would still get away .. in fact thrive and grow!

Reference Links:

1. Maha-va-kyas
2. Mansur Al-Hallaj

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2 Comments
  1. Ram Swamy says

    Another article from you that points a finger at islam while lauding hinduism. And then towards the end you praise Sadhguru for saying that revolutionary thinkers and people making different claims were welcomed and never persecuted!

    So my friend, shouldn’t Islam and its followers be extended that same courtesy for India and therefore hinduism to retain its place in the world as all accepting?

    The problem is not with Islam or with Christianity or with Hinduism or with any other religion for that matter. The problem is with people, and these people are in all religions, who are out to prove that their dad is stronger and can beat up that other kid’s dad. These are the people who think that their way and path to god is the only one. These are the people who will slit your throat if you don’t believe just like they do.

    This rotten way of thinking is what has corrupted this world, and this thinking is perpetuated by those in power and those with money to keep the weak minded confused and fight amongst themselves, a smokescreen to loot the world and shore up their own wealth and power. If we want a better world, if we want to see peace and prosperity for all, religion, spirituality needs to become a very personal experience, between a person and his own god, whoever that may be.

    The truth is, there is no path to god and all paths lead to him. The truth is that there is god and it is also true that he doesn’t exist. In reality, our minds are too narrow within the confines of what we have the ability to perceive to know what the truth really is. There are but two apparent truths in life, one is born and one dies, before that, between that and after that is only an experience. You will experience it one day as your last breath leaves your body, and then you will know if only for an instant, if only to go through that cycle again without any previous knowledge of ever having gone through it.

    But while we are here on this planet, while we are conscious and can feel all there is to feel, let’s spend our time experiencing all this life has to offer. I apologize for having gone off on the post like this, but this clash of cultures business doesn’t go down well with me and I see you spending so much time, effort and energy whilst deep down, you have the mettle to rise above it and be an influence for positive change, not just as a representative of one religion or way of thinking but for the larger collective of humankind.

    1. Desh Kapoor says

      “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammad is his Prophet” says the most fundamental belief of Islam. Notwithstanding your great heart, pray where and how do you start the discussion regarding “all gods are same” and everyone is divine?

      “Jesus is the ONLY savior”, says the most fundamental precept of Nicene creed and the common mission statement of ALL denominations of the Churches. Again, notwithstanding your great heart, pray where and how do you start the discussion regarding “all gods are same” and everyone is divine?

      And, no Islamic Allah BY definition is NOT the same as Christian god and both have nothing common with the understanding of divine in Eastern mysticism and Spiritual traditions.

      Yes, it is true that people in India were not persecuted, but that did NOT mean a free pass to any crap being peddled as Spirituality. If something as profound as Yoga was fashioned over the centuries, that would have meant ruthless focus on the truth. And that is why debates on Spiritual aspects was common and encouraged. Heard of Adi Shankara?

      Islam and Christianities are ideologies. They have nothing to do with Spirituality. If you talk of conversion, then you cannot seek. Seeking is essential to the Truth.

      Nice try dude, but I have looked at this long and ruthlessly enough to know what is spirituality and what is religious crap.

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