A Mahâvâkya from the Yajurveda

Brhadâranyaka Upanisad 1.4.10

aham brahmasmi

brahma vâ idam agra âsît, tad âtmânam evâvet, aham brahmâsmi iti; tasmât tat sarvam abhavat.

Olivelle (p. 15): "In the beginning this world was only brahman, and it knew only itself (âtman), thinking: 'I am brahman.' As a result, it became the Whole."

Hume (p. 83): "Verily, in the beginning this world was Brahma. It knew only itself (âtmânam): 'I am Brahma!' Therefore it became the All."

Radhakrishnan (p. 168): "Brahman, indeed, was this in the beginning. It knew itself only as 'I am Brahman.' Therefore it became all."

A variant of this mahâvâkya is so 'ham, "I am that," which in its inverted form hamsa has connections with the
goose used as a symbol of the Srngeri monastery founded by the nondualist master Sankara, and with the Paramahamsa line of ascetics tracing their lineage to him and including nondualist teachers such as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

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Class notes for Religion W4620 (Nonduality in Indian and Tibetan Thought), Fall 2002.
Last updated: Fri Aug 30 20:40:37 EDT 2002 by Gary Tubb, email [email protected]