Ahamkara means “ego” (literally, I-doing, or con-ceiving of everything in terms of I.) In nearly every tradition of Hinduism ahamkara is consid-ered the great spiritual enemy. In YOGA one tran-scends the ego through the calming of the mind and eventually learns to ignore the pernicious pull of ahamkara. In non-dual Vedantic practice, ego is seen as false self, which must be rejected in favor of the transcendent Self that is Ultimate Reality.
   In the practice of BHAKTI, or devotional YOGA, through chants and MANTRAS one connects to the inner godhead and uproots the ego with service to the Divine. Only in the tantric (see TANTRISM) tra-ditions is Ahamkara seen as a positive word, but there, also, it is understood that one’s ego must be transformed into divine “I-ness,” where the mun-dane ego is totally supplanted in identification with God. In Jain and SIKH traditions ahamkara is seen also as a supreme negative; ego must be controlled and finally eliminated.
   Further reading: Usharbudh Arya, Philosophy of Hatha Yoga (Glenview, Ill.: Himalayan Institute of Yoga Sci-ence and Philosophy of the U.S.A., 1977); Gasper M. Koelman, Patanjala Yoga: From Related Ego to Abso-lute Self (Poona: Papal Athenaeum, 1970); Swami Muktananda, So’ham Japa: A Meditation Technique for Everyone (Ganeshpuri: Shree Gurudev Ashram, 1972); Frank R. Podgorski, Ego-Revealer, Concealer: A Key to Yoga (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1984).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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