What is Your True Identity?

Your True Identity

by Jayaram V

Notes: I have translated the Bhagavadgita twice. The first one was a loose translation. The second one was a word to word translation with a detailed commentary. The commentary is however different from what you will find here. In this section I will share with you my thoughts about the knowledge, philosophy and wisdom of the Bhagavadgita as I understand it from my perspective. Jayaram V

You have several identities. First, you have an identity which comes from your birth and your parents. People recognize you as the son or daughter of your father and mother or the grandson or granddaughter of your grandparents.

Next, you have an identity, which comes from your ancestors. It is your family lineage. People recognize you by your last name and the family to which you belong. They may also associate you with your blood relations

Then, you have an identity, which comes from your future, through your children and their descendants. People recognize you as the father or the mother or the ancestor of so and so, and may even remember you if your descendants attain fame and name.

You have another identity, which comes from the people around you or from your community with whom you share many identical social, cultural or religious values. Your regional, national, racial, social, communal and caste identities arise from it. Through them, you extend your influence and establish friendships and relationships with the world. You may consider it your larger identity or extended ego.

You have another identity, which arises from your actions and achievements. It is your identity as a person or individual in society as you earn name, fame, status, and recognition. If you engage in good actions and lead a righteous life, you earn a good name, and vice versa. It is the sum of who you are as a human being and what you represent as your moral and ethical identity or value system.

You create another identity, through your religious affiliation, commitment, practice and worship of gods and goddesses. It is your religious identity which represents you to the world as a Shaiva or Vaishnava or Vaidika or Shakta or Tantrika, etc. People may consider you an atheist, theist, rationalist or skeptic according to your beliefs.

Finally, you also have an identify which outlasts you. It is the identity that accompanies your soul as a small attachment from birth to birth, carrying within it, the history of your karma and latent impressions (samskaras). It is your karmic identity or your casual self, which acts as the seed for your next life. You may not totally be aware of it, but it does play an important role in deciding your fate and your future. Therefore, you should be careful about what you cherish and accumulate

Each of these identities binds you to the world and strengthens your ego. They deeply draw you into the objective world and bind you through desires and attachments to the cycle of births and deaths. You use them to seek security, fulfillment and belongingness and enjoy the fruits of your labor. However, your peace and happiness do not last forever, since each of the identities you create in this world is subject to decay, change and destruction. For example, you may be a successful professional today, and a failure later. People may respect your status and authority today, and ignore you as you lose power and influence.

The Bhagavadgita says that you have to set aside all these identities because they are transient and the cause of bondage, delusion and suffering. As long as you are caught up in them, you cannot know your true identity or your spiritual identity as the eternal, indestructible and infinite Self. Each of these identities is a layer of impurity around your true self. They do not let you see truth or be free. To achieve liberation, you need to know your pure self or true identity and abide in it. It is your spiritual identity, the most important of all your identities. because it is your permanent, independent and indestructible identity which none can steal from you or harm. It takes you beyond your mind and senses into the subtle universe and connects you with the infinite and indestructible Self or Brahman. You have to find it and dissolve all your identities in it, making it the sole purpose of your life.

Your subjective self, without the cloud of impurities, is your true Self. It is free from modifications and turbulence. All other identities form a part of your not-self or objective reality where you experience duality, afflictions and delusion. You have to withdraw from it and stabilize your mind in the pure thoughts of the Self. Withdrawing from the world, silencing your not-self and abiding in your everlasting spiritual identity, you open the door to transcendence and liberation. When you renounce every other identity, and remain centered in your truest Self, you will attain the highest perfection, peace and tranquility.

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