The MahaVakyas of Sanatan Dharma

One of the defining and distinguishing characteristic of Sanatan Dharma (also called as Hindu Dharma) is its deep enquiry of the nature of Self, of Reality and of Divinity. It sees a living being as a microcosm of the divinity and believes that each and every living being has it in him or her to become that divinity, rather realize that divinity which we already are. Of the prolific literature left to us by our ancestors in the form of Upanishads, the gist (the निचोड़ , as we’d say in Hindi) can be summarized in 4 statements called the Four Mahavakyas (Maha –> Great, Vakyas – > statements/Sayings) of Sanatan Dharma. The aim of this post is not explain what they mean, a lifetime may be needed to completely comprehend that or even more. The aim is much simpler – make acquaintance with Sanskrit and also with a droplet of Upanishadic or Vedantic Philosophy. These are

1. प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म (Prajnanam Brahma) -> प्रज्ञानम् – Consciousness/Super Intelligence, ब्रह्मन् – the eternal, absolute Truth or simply put,all-pervading divinity -> Brahman is Consciousness/Super intelligence. Please note, it is ब्रह्मन् (brahman) not ब्राह्मण (brAhmaN) (Source: Aitareya Upanishad)
2. तत्त्वमसि (tat tvam asi) -> तत् – That, त्वम् – You, असि – are -> You are That (That refers to ब्रह्मन् (Source: Chandogya Upanishad)
3. अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्म (ayam AtmA brahma) -> अयम् – This, आत्मा – Atma, ब्रह्मन् – Divinity -> This Atman is Brahman (Source: Mandukya Upanishad)
4. अहं ब्रह्मास्मि (aham brahmAsmi) -> अहं – I, अस्मि – am, ब्रह्मन् –The Divinity -> I am Brahman, the Supreme self. (Source: Brihadaranyaka Upanishad)

The sequence goes from trying to understand what Brahman is, to realizing that we ourselves are the Brahman. We have a lot more in us than we believe we do. Now that is some feeling!

In the Hindu theology Brahman is said to be all pervading, eternal and infinite Supreme presence, which is nirgun (निर्गुण – without guNa/qualities) but that from which everything else comes about. Call it God, call it Energy, call it Randomness or call in Probability – whatever you believe it is, that is what you are, say the Upanishads. “Yatha Bramhande, Tatha Pinde (यथा ब्रह्माण्डे तथा पिण्डे)”  – Whatever is out there in the Universe, is in own self as well and vice versa.  Thus, do not look outside for answers. Look within. The answers lies in you.  (यथा – if, ब्रह्माण्डे – in the universe,  तथा – then,  पिण्डे – in this body)

Anyway, the point is, Sanskrit is simple. In a handful of words, it conveyed gist of Upanishads!

P.S SanAtan Dharma (सनातन = Eternal, धर्म = that which sustains), Vedanta (वेद = Vedass, अंत = end -> that which comes towards the end of the Vedas -> Upanishads), Upanishad (उप – near, निषद् = sitting down -> that which is learnt sitting down beside the teacher)

ॐ शांति



  1. Sanatan Dharma, is more a congregation of faith and way of living rather than a monolithic religion. It provided a milieu for a civilization to prosper and evolve. Buddhism, Jainism, and other offshoots are a spin off from such enriched milieu. Ideologically, there is a significant difference between the practices of Sanatan Dharma then and now. Current state of Hinduism is more leaning towards artifacts and built on aberrations and distorted interpretations of Sanatan Dharma. Those artifacts, aberrations and distortions of fundamental principles led to erosion of faith. Several Saints from medieval period contributed to dispelling this myth and reestablishing Dharma in its original form. However, more needs to be done to regain the original luster and the current rightwing politics should take cognizance of the principles and restore those ethos rather than gravitating towards a cult politics and politics of cult.


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