Notes on ahamkara

Sources:
1. Drig Drishya Viveka
2. Shaiva Siddhantha
3. Swami Sarvapriyananda
4. Samkhya

Alternate terms: Ahankara, ahankar
English translation: Ego, Identity, Awareness, I-ness,

Meaning: (Ahamkara= I am the cause, I am the doer)
Ahamkara is a Sanskrit word that describes the ego, the image a person has of him/herself or the conscious mind as he/she perceives it. The term comes from the root, aham, which translates as “I am”; and kara, which means “doing” or “making.”

Purpose: The purpose of ahamkara is to create self-awareness. It is only by this self-awareness, a life form develops the ability to differentiate itself from the world around it and take ownership of objects as mine and not mine.

Position: Ahamkara is one of the four aspects of antahkarana, or the “inner organ”. In addition to ahankara, antahkarana includes buddhi , chitta and manas. The anthakarana are a part of the subtle body and exist in impure maya.

Working: The atman/soul is a source of pure consciousness. Ahamkara reflects the consciousness of the soul in its most true form to create a true reflection of the soul and thus create an identity. This reflection is not like the moon reflecting the sunlight but more like a dewdrop reflecting the sun. Moon’s reflection of sunlight does not reflect the sun truly and creates the illusion as if moon is also a source of light. But the dewdrop’s reflection of the sun is a miniature version of the sun itself. Like a red hot iron ball has both the attributes of iron as well as heat, this image of the atman created on anthakarana has attributes of both consciousness of the atman and the inertness of impure maya.

Role: The pure consciousness of the soul, is reflected and transmitted to ahamkara, is further transmitted to the other anthakaranas, sense organs and body so that the whole body till the tip of fingernails is illumined with consciousness.

This process of consciousness transmitting from the soul to ahankara to anthakarana to body organs is similar to heat flowing from fire to vessel to water to vegetable.

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Inference only – not from text:
This consciousness that is imparted to anthakarana and the body is called “reflected consciousness” because:
1. It is an unclear indication of the source consciousness (like moon reflects the sun)
2. It is different from pure consciousness due to its association with impure maya of the anthakarana and the body.
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Connections:
1. Connection of ahankara with other anthakaranas is natural (sahaja) and cannot be broken
2. Connection of ahankara with the body has its roots in the karma (karmajam) carried by the subtle body and will be broken only by resolving the karma
3. Connection of ahankara with the atman is false (bhranthijam). By breaking this connection, the soul is liberated by staying rooted in pure consciousness.

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