Mahāvākyas

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Mahavakyas, MahAvAkyas, Mahaavaakyas


Mahāvākyas literally means ‘great sentences’.

The post-Śaṅkara writers on Advaita Vedānta have mentioned four sentences taken from four Upaniṣads and belonging to the four Vedas which teach the unity of the ātman and Brahman as four ‘mahāvākyas’ or great sentences. They are:

  1. Prajñānam brahma - ‘Consciousness is Brahman’ from the Aitareya Upaniṣad[1] of the Ṛgveda
  2. Aham brahmāsmi - ‘Lam Brahman’ from the Brhadāranyaka Upaniṣad of the Yajurveda[2]
  3. Tat tvam asi - “You are That’ from the Chāndogya Upanisad[3] of the Sāmaveda
  4. Ayamātmā brahma - ‘This ātman is Brahman’ from the Māndukya Upaniṣad[4] of the Atharvaveda


References

  1. Aitareya Upaniṣad 5.3
  2. Brhadāranyaka Upaniṣad 1.4.10
  3. Chāndogya Upanisad 6.8.7
  4. Māndukya Upanisad 2
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore