The Mahavakyas (sing.: mahāvākya, महावाक्य; plural: mahāvākyāni, महावाक्यानि) are "The Great Sayings" of the Upanishads, the foundational texts of Vedanta. Though there are many Mahavakyas, four of them, one from each of the four Vedas, are often mentioned as "the Mahavakyas". The subject matter and the essence of all Upanishads being the same, all the Upanishadic Mahavakyas express this one universal message in the form of terse and concise statements. In later Sanskrit usage, however, the term mahāvākya came to mean "discourse," and specifically, discourse on a philosophically lofty topic.
The four Upanishadic statements indicate the ultimate unity of the individual (Atman) with God (Brahman).
The Mahavakyas are:
- prajñānam brahma - "Consciousness is Brahman" (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 of the Rig Veda)
- ayam ātmā brahma - "This Self (Atman) is Brahman" (Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 of the Atharva Veda)
- tat tvam asi - "Thou art That" (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 of the Sama Veda)
- aham brahmāsmi - "I am Brahman" (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 of the Yajur Veda)
The Kanchi Paramacharya, in referencing these four Mahavakyas, says in his book Hindu Dharma:
“ It is to attain this highest of states in which the individual self dissolves inseparably in Brahman that a man becomes a sannyasin after forsaking the very karma that gives him inward maturity. When he is initiated into sannyasa he is taught four mantras, the four [principal] mahavakyas. ”
- ^ See page 4 of: Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, Bhavan's Book University, 1995: Hindu Dharma: The Universal Way of Life ISBN 81-7276-055-8
- ^ See the essay on Sanskrit Structure at http://www.lisindia.net/Sanskrit/Sanskrit_struct.html
- ^ " "Hindu Dharma" is a book which contains English translation of certain invaluable and engrossing speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji (at various times during the years 1907 to 1994)." 
- Hindu philosophical concepts
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