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About Soham (That's Me)

by Dr. Chaman Lal Raina

Soham is the combination of two words viz. SAH +AHAM. According to theLord Krishna rules of the Sanskrit grammar Sah + Aham becomes Soham It is the principle of joining of consonant with vowel to form a VARNA/ alphabet. Sandhi means the joining of two words, under the grammatical rules of the ‘ Sandhi’ in the Sanskrit language. The joining of Sah + Aham is governed by the principle of Visarga Sandhi . What is Visarga in Sanskrit language? It is Nirvana or final liberation/ beatitude…, it is represented by two dots, written in the manner as: to represent Jivatman/ individual soul and Paramatman/ Absolute. The word Sah means that some person different from first person and second person. The word First person is Aham, which in Sanskrit means I. am, I exist. When this I merges with That, the ego of ‘ I’ identity merges with THAT, who is Ishwara of the Vedas, Brahman of the Upanishads, Bhagawana of the Puranas.

Etymology of the word SAH:

SA in Sanskrit is the combination of lifeless consonant S with vowel A, with the meaning of Prana/vital force. Also SA is VISHNU and SHIVA according to the Vedic Nirukta. The Sandhi or + sign means Yoga or self realization.

: I am obviously not this body because the physical constituents of the body are changing every moment. Ultimately, the body dies. Atman/soul/self never dies. It is That. That is Absolute Reality. It is the witness of all, what the mind does through body organism. This self is always on the path of progression, which according to the Shaivistic thought is Chaitanya or consciousness. The Shiva Sutra speaks of ‘Chaitanyam – Atma’. We need to realize that Aham/ myself, which is Sah/ That self. This is called the spiritual awareness.
How to realize
? The Hindu scriptures recommend the following paths to reach THAT.

: Ritual/Sandhya, Homa and Prarthana based on the inductive system.

: Jnana / through the knowledge of discrimination between Maya and Brahman, through the process of deductive logic. That is the process of NETI-not this, not this, but THAT

Performance of Puja and Bhaki on any of the Ishta Devata.

: Dharana- Dhyana and Samadhi

: Moral ethical code

: Nishkama Karma / selfless action done for righteousness, without deserving any fruit. 

Identifying one’s own self with the Mother Divine., Para Prakriti/ Primordial nature, meditating on Bija / Primal seed.

AGAMA: Meditating on Shabda/ sound.

In the modern times, the sages like Sri Ramakrishna Parmahamsa suggested devotion to the Divine Mother; Sri Aurobindo showed the path of Integral Yoga, Maharshi Raman to the Inner silence, for realizing SOHAM.

A Mathematical interpretation of SOHAM :

Sah + Aham


is Ananta or infinite, Aham is made of Pancha tattvas 5 elements viz.Prithvi/ earth, Jalam/ water, Agni/ fire,Vayu/ air and Akasha/ space or sky. The first four tattvas are tangible, sky is limitless. When the Pancha tattvas get united with SAH /Ananta, then its value becomes Infinite, just like:

Infinity + Variable = Infinity ( Sah + Pancha Tattvas = Sah + Aham = Soham )
Infinity + Constant = Infinity ( Sah +Atman with Nama rupa / Aham =Soham)

It has been said in the Rig veda : Ekam Sad Vipra Bahudha Vadanti. The ONE can be interpreted as many, more than one, greater than one i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,6 ,6 ,7,8,9,…infinity.
The mathematical symbol = stands for is equal to, which in Sanskrit grammar is termed as TATSAM, therefore the Tatsam of Sah + Aham is SOHAM. or TADBHAVA. Becoming must be in tune with Being. Becoming is a process to realize Super-consciousness.

The movement Tatsam/ becomig becomes Tadbhava/ being, the mystic becomes a spiritual Master and is followed by the Ashta-Siddhis. Ashta refers to the eight fold and Siddhis are the Yogic perfections. Mastanas /Param-Hamsas accept them, as a part of their Swatantra Shakti / Free- will, but Farzanas / ascetics, Sadhus ,Sants/ saints and Mahatmas do not allow those eight-fold perfections to divert their energy with miracles. Rather they put their energy for the upliftment of society. The great example is of SwamiVivekananda, who applied Soham for “ATMANO MOKSHARTHAM JAGAT HITAYA CHA”, which reflects to his in born spirituality, as is evident from his lectures in the Parliament of the World Religion at Chicago U S A.

Mystical Approach

The mystics of Bharat / India recognize Soham in the process of reversal or going back to the ORIGIN, which is to identify ones own self with the Divine. With the force of Pranayama, taking Apana back into Prana and balancing with Samana, SOHAM goes back to HAMSAH. The literal meaning of HAMSA is swan, goose or flamingo. Its color is spotless white, which is verily, Sattva /Purity of thought, mind and deed. This is known as the Arohana /Ascent and Avarohana / Descent in mysticism, but within the limit of PRANAYAMA. In Sufism it is known as Hafs-e – Nafas, but based on the Ishq-e-illahi . Patanjali speaks of it as Kundalini- a serpentine coil, which needs to be awakened by those, who are intent upon realizing the relationship between SAH +AHAM

Guru Nanak Dev
would meditate upon the Akal Purukh. Kabir would identify with Nirguna Nishkala Rama, Sant Tulasidas with Avadha Puri Rama. Mira Bai would play the Iktara/ guitar to keep her breath always attuned with Shri Krishna. She was the Shruti of the Krishna-consciousness.

Alone is the Sadhaka watched by the infinity? Around him is the world and the Unknowable TAT/ That. All can be seen through his intuitive eye and the mind can grasp the Immutable relationship between SAH+ AHAM to acknowledge SOHAM. Thus the beauty of human birth lies in synthesis of body, mind and soul. Verily, the Soham is the understanding of the eternal light within every nerve and cell, which is realized as under:

"It enters the mystic’s Eternal Light-
Its steps are of an ascending force

Kashmiri Writers C.L. Raina


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