Tuesday, October 24, 2023

On Day of Vijayadashami: Four Mahavakyas from the Upanishads

Rama story carved in wall of Shiva temple

Ellora Caves, 8th Century

On the day of Vijayadashami, the festival signifying triumph of good over evil, we should remember the four Mahavakyas (the Great Sayings) from the Upanishads: 

1. Prajnanam Brahma (प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म) — “Pure Consciousness is Brahmana" or "Brahman is insight” (Aitareya Upanishad, verse 3.3)

2. Tat Tvam Asi (तत् त्वम् असि) — “You are that” or “You are the existent” (Chāndogya Upanishad, verse 6.8.7)

3. Ayam Atma Brahma (अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्म) — "This Self (Atman or soul) is Brahmana" (Māṇḍūkya Upanishad, verse 1.2)

4. Aham Brahma Asmi (अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि) - "I am Brahmana" (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad, verse 1.4.10)

The Upanishads place great emphasis on understanding the “Brahmana,” which can be defined as the divine mind (Brah + Mana). Brahmana is ananta (an + anta: infinite). The earliest Vedic texts can be dated to 6000 BC.

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