Ideas for Engaging in the Study of the Guru Gita: Mahavakya – The Trigger For Cognitive Dissonance

Verse 62 of the Guru Gita introduces us 
to an important Sanskrit term: Mahavakya.

To realize the great Vedantic 
mahavakya “Tat Tvam Asi”, 
“Thou Art That”, is to become one 
with the Guru.

Mahavakya ~ (maha = “great”; vakya = “saying”) 
Our English word “vocal” comes from the Sanskrit root “vak”. The Mahavakyas are the great sayings that most clearly express reality and are self-born proclamations arising from realization.

The sages have come to realize how powerful these key expressions are. Sometimes a master will reserve giving a disciple the mantra of a mahavakya until nearly the last stroke of gaining enlightenment is in place in the seeker’s spriitual training – then, merely hearing the words of the Mahavakya, the lock is sprung and realization dawns.

And again, they are referenced in verse 45 of the Guru Gita:

Luminous with the wisdom of 
Vedanta, like the sun continually 
radiating its light, the Guru’s lotus 
feet emanate the great Truths, the 
crest jewels of the four Vedas:


Tat Tvam Asi – I Am That, 

Prajñanam Brahman 
– Consciousness is Brahman, 

Aham Brahmaasmi – I Am Brahman, 

Ayam Atma Brahman – The Self is Brahman.

crest jewelsThese four expressions are known as the crest jewels of the Vedas and are: “I Am That”, which comes from the Chandogya Upanishad of the Saama Veda; “Consciousness is Brahman” from the Aitareya Upanishad of the Rig Veda; “I Am Brahman” from the Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad of the Yajur Veda; and “The Self is Brahman” from the Chandogya Upanishad of the Saama Veda. To read about the use of “the Guru’s Lotus Feet” revisit Idea18. Of course, the Sanskrit word Brahman is also important to understand:

Brahman ~ (from the root brh = “to expand, greater than the greatest”) The supreme all-pervading spiritual essence of the universe. Known in Vedic philosophy as Absolute Consciousness. The ultimate reality that is the principle behind the origin of the universe and of the gods. Brahman is THAT, the all inclusive. Described as sat-chit-ananda: being-consciousness-bliss.


What is it about these mahavakyas that make them so important? It is the equivalence set up between that which we had perceived as finite – our selves – and that which we come to realize is infinite – Brahman.

Holding both thoughts in your mind at the same time sets up what Mark calls a COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. Click the play button to listen to this quote from Mark as you read his words below:
“The essential idea, the essential thesis is that the egocentric “I” – the ego, and the universal Self are one and the same thing. It’s a very powerful idea and I want you to give it some consideration. The understanding and recognition of this underlying idea will draw you into a very powerful experience, which is fundamentally a form of cognitive dissonance, which is the experience that occurs, the experience that arises when two different ideas seek to occupy the same space.

I am the ego / I am the Self


…will set up a dynamic struggle within one’s understanding that will bring pressure to bear on the very fabric of the mind. It is this pressure that will lead to a very powerful realization.”

~ Mark Griffin

In the Hard Light Guru Gita, we see the meaning of verse 45 conveyed in these Sanskrit words:

Sarva means all,

Shruti means “that which is heard”, and refers to the Vedas, which were passed from generation to generation through oral tradition.

Shiro, which means crest

Ratna, which means jewel, so this is a reference to the core, or heart (the crest jewel) of the Vedic teachings. The crest jewels of the Vedas are known to be the great Mahavakyas.

In verse 62, we have these Sanskrit words:

Tat means “that”,

Tvam means “thou” and

Asyaa means “art”. THOU ART THAT. Normally we see this written as ‘asi’ (Tat tvam asi) , but when ‘i’ precedes ‘aa’, it turns into ‘ya’.

If you are intrigued by the Sanskrit analysis, you’d probably really love the Sanskrit course of the Guru Gita: Sanskrit Study Course



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