The spiritual inner enquiry into this unusual & rather unheard of question of who we really are? is atmavichara [vichara meaning enquiry]. In the last century, world-wide spiritual attention was drawn to this spiritual-philosophical question, by Sri Ramana Maharshi(1879-1950), after this self-realization just happened to him one fine day, suddenly & most unexpectedly, without his ever having sought after this illumination. Hindu sacred texts consider such illumination to be the highest blessing, and call it moksha, meaning, ‘liberation’. By this was meant liberation from the maya (ignorance) that ‘one is the body’, or from the maya that ‘one is the consciousness, or the ego’, etc.
In the maharshi’s view, one way to approach atmajnana was through the sustained enquiry into the whole question of who we really are? So he enjoined atmavichara to mumukshus as a means to atmajnana, or self-realization. The maharshi was just one, but a particularly illustrious example, of the long line of succession of great sages (maharishis) from the Hindu world, who were fortunate enough to secure this highest blessing of self-realization.
The other endlessly creative and illustrious progenitor in the Hindu world, on this path of atmavichara and atmajnana was Adi Sankaracharya – recognized also to be one of the founding fathers of Hinduism [8th Century, CE].