MahaVakyas (Vedant)


In vedant the mahavakyas or great sentences are so considered as they have the power to liberate. Most of these have been taken from the Upanishads and can be considered as the essence of the Upanishads and Vedantah. Each term in Sanskrit can have numerous meanings depending on the usage and levels. Often, many words may sound similar but they are different. The term Brahm is used in the mahavakyas and is not to be confused with Brahma which means the Creator and God Brahma. Brahm on the other hand means supreme consciousness and refers to the transcendental aspect of god. Sometimes it also refers to the immanent aspect of god. These sentences are so important that in the tradition of the Shankracharya when an individual is given sannyas  diksha (initiation into monkhood) (see article about the sannyas tradition) they receive one of the first four Mahavakyas as a mantra to contemplate on during their lives as a monk. These Mahavkyas are given according to the order one belongs to.

These mahavakyas are as follows:

  1. Aham Brahmasmi : I am Brahm.
  2. Tat twam asi : You are that ( God or brahm).
  3. Pragyanam Brahm : The highest consciousness (highest intellect or knowledge) is Brahm.
  4. Ayam atma Brahm : The self is Brahm.
  5. Sarva Khalvidam Brahm : Surely all this is Brahm.
  6. Pragyanaatma : Pure consciousness is Aatma (self (both individual and permanent)).
  7. Pranoasmi : I am Pran. (here Pran refers to the first unit of consciousness and not to the Prana vayus that are pranic energies).
  8. Iisha Vasyamidam Sarvam : All this is full of Ishvar (God).
  9. Yadveh Tadmutr Tadanvih : That Parambrahm that is here is there (on liberation, Param lok or Permanent abode) too; that which is there, the same is here (in this world) too.
  10. Anyadev Tadvidiaadtho aviditaad^dhi : That Brahm is distinct from all known (seen) objects and as well is distinct from the unknown (unseen) objects.
  11. Aesh t^ AatmAntaryamyAmritah : It is your--self (Aatma) all knowing that is immortal nectar (amrit).    It is your all knowing self that is immortal nectar.
  12.  S^  Yaschayam purusho Yashchaasaavaaditye s^ aekah : That which is in this purush and that which is in Aadity; is one.
  13. Ahamasmi parambrahm paraparparatparam :  I am the param brahm that is para, apara, para-apara.
  14. VedshastraguruNNaam tu svayamanandlakshaNNam : The knowledge and the words of the Vedas, Shastras (scriptures) and Gurus gives rise to experiencing bliss in the heart that is the form of Brahm.
  15. Sarvabhutstitham brahm tadevaham na samshayah : That which is present in all the bhutas (five states of matter) is present in Brahm too – without any doubt.
  16. Tattvasya praNNoahamasmi prithivyaah praNNoahamasmi : I am the prana of tattva, the prana of earth (prithvi).
  17. Apaam ch praNNoahamasmi tejasshch praNNoahamasmi : I am the prana of water, the prana of Tej. (Tej can be understood as the radiance of energy in the form of fire, sometimes, when we see this radiance on the faces of monks or spiritual practitioners we call it Tej, it is distinct from the moon like radiance called ojas).
  18. Vayoshch praNNoahamasmi Aakaashasy praNNoahamasmi : I am the prana of the air , the prana of space.
  19. TriguNNasy praNNoahamasmi : I am the prana of the three Gunas. (the three qualities called sattva, rajas, tamas).
  20. Sarvoaham sarvaatmko samsari yadbhutam yachch bhavyam yadvartmanam sarvaatmaktvaad-dveetyoaham :  I am everything, the form of everything, I am the jivaatma in the samsaar; The past, the present and the future are all my forms and that is why I am the nondual Sarvaatma (all pervading soul or god or supreme consciousness).
  21. Sarvoaham vimuktoaham :  I am the form of everything; I am free.
  22. Yoasau soaham hamsah soahamasti : what that is, that I am; I am that and that is me.
  23. Brahma Satyam Jagat Mithya : The absolute  (or God) is real, this world is unreal.
  24. Ekam evadvitiyam Brahma : There is only one absolute with no divisions.

Scholars would write an entire book on each one of these mahavakyas so I will not attempt in detail to explain them here but I have quoted them to give the reader a broader understanding of the Vedantic philosophy as well as to leave a ready reference for ease of study and contemplation.

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