[Advaita-l] vedAnta mahAvAkya - A query

Bhaskar YR bhaskar.yr at hitachienergy.com
Wed Jul 27 01:46:48 EDT 2022

Hare Krishna

We have four mahAvAkya-s from 4 veda-s.  For example tattvamasi from sAma, ahaM brahmAsmi from Yajurveda etc.  But who first advocated these are the ONLY four mahAvAkya-s from vedAnta / shruti??  I don't think prasthAna traya bhAshyakAra anywhere categorically said these are the ONLY four mahAvAkya-s and nothing else.  In sUtra devatAdhikaraNa (first chapter) bhAshya, bhagavatpAda uses the word 'mahAvAkya'  but used in the context of grammar.  Here when determining the 'mantrArtha' pUrvapaxi expresses some doubt about it, in that context, based on grammatical issues he uses the word mahAvAkya, mahAvAkya here means 'whole sentence' or group of sentences which gives the same meaning as avAntara vAkya-s ( sub sentence or upa vAkya) etc.  apart from this I don't think bhAshyakAra insisted that the whole vedAnta/ Upanishad has only four mahAvAkya-s which is jnana pradhAna and meditating on it gives the self-realization etc.  tattvamasi, ayamAtma brahma, prajnAnaM brahma, ahaM brahmAsmi ascribed to four Amnaya mutts etc. have the reference only in shankara's biographies not credible enough to come to conclusion.  Since these vAkya-s also avAntara vAkya-s (part and parcel of mantra samucchaya in the upanishads) why only these four vAkya-s to be considered as mahAvAkya-s??  Is it because of these vAkya-s teaching abedha, Ikyata, parabrahma tattva directly??  I don't think this would be the only reason!!  Atman is not prajnAna ghana says maNdUkya though we find prajnAnam brahma in itareya shruti and Atman is prajnAna ghana in mAndUkya itself.  And bhAshyakAra interestingly along with tattvamasi (mahAvakya) used some other vaakya-s also which give same meaning as tattvamasi. For example : tattvamasi, neti neti, AtmaivedaM, ekamedvAdviteeyaM, brahmaivedamamrutaM, nAnyadatOsti drashtru, tadeva brahmatvaM viddhi etyaadi vAkyAnAm tad viditvAt (br.bhaashya).  See here shankara without explicitly saying tattvamasi as mahAvAkya uses it casually with other same meaning giving vAkya-s.  And more importantly bhAshyakAra at somany places uses shAstra janita jnana, vedAnta vAkya shravaNa, vAkya janita jnana etc. but nowhere insist only four!!! Under these circumstances why this special emphasis on ONLY four vAkya-s when the corpus of whole vedAnta /shruti is the untya pramANa in tradition!!??

Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list