A Mahavakya

By Rudra Shivananda

The ancient seers expressed their profound insights into reality through certain mantric sayings called mahavakayas (literally, great sayings.) These mahavakyas are mantric because their vibrations can cause mental transformation and lead from normal consciousness to the higher consciousness that apprehended that level of reality.

The difference between these mantras and most other types of mantras is that the practitioner is meant to reflect on the underlying meaning as well as experiencing the vibratory power of the saying. Most other types of mantras work through the vibratory power and resonance with higher consciousness and may have no meaning or even where meanings are attributed for easier remembrance, the meaning is to be discarded so as not to excite mental activity.

The following is the mahavakya from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:

Aham Brahm-Asmi

I am one with Cosmic Consciousness.

This should be repeated aloud and silently as the mood strikes you. It should be repeated day and night. Reflect on the meaning continuously.

lightning in sky at night

This one saying leads to apprehension of the great life questions – such as ‘Who am I?” “What is death?” “Is there God?” “What is my relationship with God?” and many others that arise in the course of contemplation. The mind must be brought back to the mahavakya for it holds the key to the answers, which will appear like bolts of lightning in the receptive mind.

It is important to have some perspective when practicing this technique because one can enter into delusional mental states such that one will think that “I am God.” Keep in mind that although a glass of water taken from the ocean has the properties of the ocean water, it is only a minute portion of the whole and is separated from the ocean by the glass holding it – the glass of water is not the ocean. Only when the glass of water is returned to the ocean does it become merged with the whole.

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