“Aham Brahmasmi”: The Grandiose Self

Modi Divine Origin

Raja bola raat hai
Mantri bola raat hai
Santri bola raat hai
Ye subah subah subah ki baat hai               

Gorakh Pandey

(King said its night
Minister said it is night
Sentry said it was night
This happening in the morning)

It is universally recognized that plastic surgery and organ replacement were first performed in India. The evidence of Lord Ganesha’s elephant head is conclusive of the matter. The Pushpak Viman  did not even need the present airport  to bring Swayam Shri Ram to Ayodhya and constitutes  irrefutable evidence that aircrafts were first invented in India. Vedic Science was much more advanced than modern science. Our much acclaimed Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) have not been able to develop a missile which comes back to the silo after annihilating the target like the Brahmastra of ancient times.

It seems that even the concept of “Grandiose Self” has been wrongly credited to Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. The concept was well known to our ancients adept in Vedic psychology as encapsulated in the phrase “Aham Brahmasmi”, translatable as “I am the Absolute”.  

Perhaps, at times the agony and pangs of separation from and longings of fusion with mother lead to a conflation of the self with the Mother, Motherland and the Absolute. The longing for a welded fusion hydra like spreads its tentacles into myriad areas. It  manifests and articulates itself into  “One Nation; One Language; One Leader; One Fertilizer; One Food, One Flag ……” . Criticism of the self translates into an affront and insult to mother, motherland and “sanatan dharma” or “eternal religion”.

That the other is different becomes intolerable at an individual level as manifested in the anger in intimate relations and at a collective level in the rage at the chosen “enemy community”.  Amidst the blowing of conches and clash of cymbals the very air resounds with the voice of the Undisputed Teacher of the Universe @ Vishwaguru:  “They will produce more children and outnumber you”. “They will dismember and partition your beloved motherland”. “They will steal your gold, mangalsutras, buffalos, jobs and give it to the “other”. “They hate you and will attack you”. The charismatic leader feeds into our insecurities and anxieties whipping up fears of annihilation.

The other side is the Savior Vishwaguru  who on a plea by Indian parents of children stranded in Ukraine stopped the war for four and a half hours so that our children could come home. The Gaza war was stopped by the Prime Minister during the holy month of Ramadan. At a recent meeting in Punjab it was revealed that “the Leader” had a direct blood connection to the “Panj Pyaras”, revered in Sikhism as the Five who volunteered their heads to Guru Govind Singh and were given Amrit. It transpires that one of the Panj Pyaras was the Uncle of Vishwaguru. A person such as this walks on earth today and promises salvation from all misery and distress. The inauguration of an era of “Amrit  Kaal” or a sip of the “nectar of eternal life” ushering in an aeon of  “ananda” or bliss and immortality.

The flip or underside of “I am the greatest – I am the Absolute – I am the Vishwaguru” is “I am shunya or zero or nothing”. The latest videos of the Prime Minister articulate feelings and convictions of being born as a manifestation of divine energy, without the messiness of biological birth and associated acts. Perhaps, it gives us a clue as to what lurks under the surface.

The underside of “I am pure” is “I am impure and disgusting”.  It is an inability to “deal with our own shit”, to use a popular phrase. Viewed from a psychoanalytical perspective, for example the belief in the “Virgin birth” could be seen as the utter intolerableness at a collective level of the “dirty-messy” aspects of human existence.   Our own feelings of being dirty are inextricably enmeshed with bodily fluids like snot, saliva and the messiness of acts necessary for procreation which may come to be categorized as “dirty” and disgusting in our psyche.

 The inability to contain all that may be considered “bad” like “lust” , “greed “and “hate” leads to a splitting and projection on to an enemy “other”.  This seems to be a universal phenomenon Nazi ideology postulated the Jews as “dirty” and the Jewish males as lustful, akin to White Supremacists positing “black” males as lusting after our white women and ravishing our mothers and sisters.

The hero as all good and the villain as all bad was a trope in the old Hindi film, far removed from reality. Young children often split the naughty – parts, project it and give a whack to the toy saying “bad doll”.  Accepting our defective selves at an individual and collective level is a part of adult human existence. Mythological stories are full of flawed characters, perhaps, pointers to the need to acknowledge and accept our imperfections. 

Rakesh Shukla is a psychoanalyst and Consultant to the International Psychoanalytical Association Committee of Law and Psychoanalysis

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