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The Hamsa (from Sanskrit हंस haṃsa) is an aquatic bird, usually considered to be the same as a swan. The Hamsa represents perfect union, balance and life. A constant repetition of the word “hamso” changes it to “Soham” or “sa aham”, which means “That I am”. Hence the hamsa is often identified with the Supreme Spirit or Brahman. The flight of the Hamsa also symbolizes the escape from the cycle of samsara. The bird also has special connotations in the monistic philosophy of Advaita Vedanta – just as the swan lives on water but its feathers are not wetted by water, similarly an Advaitin tries to live in this material world full of Maya, but is unsoiled by its illusionary nature.

 

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