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What are Mahavakyas?The Sanskrit term 'Mahavakya' means a great sentence or aphorism. Vedas are the oldest religious scriptures of Sanatana Dharma. Upanishads are the concluding part of the Vedas. While Upanishads are called the very essence of Vedas, these aphorisms are called the very essence of Upanishads or Vedanta. Indian Philosophy is mostly based on Vedanta. Different interpretations of Vedanta lead to different kinds of philosophies. Hence these aphorisms too are interpreted in different ways.
According to Advaita Vedanta, Brahman only is the truth and the empirical world is illusory. There is no other supremity than the oneness of Brahman and Jiva. The true identity of Jiva or Self is Brahman only. This identity is reiterated in Vedantic scriptures and expressed in these Vakyas. Hence these Vakyas are identity statements. They are the equations of Paramatma and Jivatma.
Bondage (Samsara) is the reason for the miseries of the world. Ajnana (Ignorance) is the cause of Sam…

Ayam Atma Brahma

Ayam Atma Brahma is the Mahavakya that found in Mandukya Upanishad of Atharva Veda. As other Mahavakyas, it also explains the Jiva-Brahmaikya or the oneness of Brahman and Atman which is the basic tenet of Advaita Philosophy. According to Guru Gita, Ayam Atma Brahma is Abhyasa Vakya or the statement of Practice. MeaningAyam means 'this'. 'Atma refers to 'Atman' or Self'. Brahma is Brahman, the Supreme Entity. Hence this Mahavakya means 'Atman is Brahman'. What is Atman? Tattva Bodha defines Atman as 'that which is other than the gross body, subtle body, and causal body, which is beyond the five sheaths of the body (Annamaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vijnanamaya Kosha, and Anandamaya Kosha), which is the witness of three states of Consciousness (Jagrat, Svapna, and Susupti) and which is of the nature of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss'. This Atman is Brahman. What is Brahman? Brahman is the Supreme Entity which alone is real. 

Chapter t…

Prajnanam Brahma

Prajnanam Brahma is one of the Mahavakyas of Vedanta. This Mahavakya is found in Aitareya Upanishad of Rig Veda. Aitareya Upanishad deals with the philosophy of Vedic Religion that includes Atman, Brahman, creation, the cycle of birth, the importance of food, and the path of liberation. It gives the answers to the questions like Who is he whom we meditate upon as Atman? and Which is Atman? It states that everything is the various names of consciousness and everything is generated by consciousness. The world is led by consciousness. Consciousness is the cause. Consciousness is Brahman. It is to be noted that the term consciousness is used as the essence and not as the property.
MeaningThe Sanskrit word Prajna means consciousness. The consciousness is Brahman. This is the meaning of this Mahavakya. According to Guru Gita, it is Upadesa Vakya, the statement of instruction or guidance. Some call this Mahavakya as Lakshana Vakya, the statement that depicts the nature of Brahman. Etymologica…

Tat Tvam Asi

Tat Tvam Asi is one of the Mahavakyas of Vedanta. It is found in Chandogya Upanishad of Sama Veda. To understand this Mahavakya, one must read this Upanishad in full. The core teaching of the sixth chapter of the Upanishad is the description of this Mahavakya.  MeaningThe Sanskrit word 'Tat' means 'That'. 'Tvam' means 'You'. 'Asi' equals to 'are'. Hence this Mahavakya means 'That You Are' or 'That Thou Art' or simply 'You are that'.'That' indicates Brahman or the Supreme Being. 'You' refers to 'you' as a seeker. You are Brahman, the Supreme Being is the indicated meaning of this Mahavakya.

Kada Upanishad defines 'Tat' as below.
yaḥ pūrvaṃ tapaso jātamadbhyaḥ pūrvamajāyata । guhāṃ praviśya tiṣṭhantaṃ yo bhūtebhirvyapaśyata।etadvai tat॥2.1.6॥He who was born, by the result of penance,  before Pancha Bhutas like water were born and who has taken abode in the heart of all beings, is the see…

Aham Brahmasmi

Aham Brahmasmi is one of the Mahavakyas of Vedanta. Mahavakyas are the concise expression of the core tenets of Vedanta. Mahavakyas may be understood as the great aphorisms of Vedanta. 

The four Mahavakyas are Prajnanam BrahmaTat Tvam AsiAyam Atma Brahma, and Aham Brahmasmi. According to Guru Gita, Prajnanam Brahma is Upadesa Vakya or a statement of instruction. Tat Tvam Asi is Adesa Vakya or command statement. Ayam Atma Brahma is Abhyasa Vakya or Practice statement and Aham Brahmasmi is Anubhava Vakya or statement of experience. Hence we should understand the meaning of Mahavakyas in this context.
Aham denotes the word "I". Brahman is the supreme reality of existence. Asmi equals to "am". Hence the meaning of this Mahavakya is I am Brahman. The word Brahman has more than one meaning.  One meaning indicates a person belongs to the caste of the Brahmin community. Another meaning of the word Brahman indicates the deity of creation who is one of the three dei…