The essence called Brahman

You are that. Tat Twam Asi. Tat is that consciousness, self, god or truth. Twam is you the individual personality. Asi means are.

Published: 02nd August 2020 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st August 2020 05:43 PM   |  A+A-

You are that. Tat Twam Asi. Tat is that consciousness, self, god or truth. Twam is you the individual personality. Asi means are. There is no difference between god and you is the essence of the scriptures, and hence the statement is called a Maha Vakya. 

In the Vivekachoodamani, the master of Advaita Vedanta takes us through many explanations to drive home this point which cannot be easily understood and, even if intellectually understood, it cannot be easily accepted and lived as an experience.

The Acharya says, just like in the dream we experience a particular time of the day, a place, many objects, people and circumstances and even the knower of all this is not real, what we see in the waking state—space, time, objects, people and situations and our own experience as the knower of it all—is not real too. It is only apparent happening on account of our vision, which passes through the gross lens of the body called Tamas or ignorance.All aspects of the human personality—the body, the sense organs, mind, intellect, the energies and the sense of ‘I’—are not real, they only appear to be real. Therefore, you are that Brahman which is calm, pure, supreme and non-dual. 

Whatever has been imagined in a delusory state of mind, on discriminative thinking, is understood that the very substratum has been confused for the names and forms. The substratum of reality is like the cinema screen. That screen alone is real and existing. The images of the actors, dialogues, song, dance and different sceneries are projections on that screen, and only the screen is experienced in these colours. When we are engrossed in the film, we do not recognise the presence of the screen. 

In the dream, a whole universe appears and even disappears as different from one’s own self. On waking, do we experience the world we saw in the dream as different from our own mind? The whole dream world was nothing but our mind alone! The awakening in the real sense of the term is right discrimination between what is eternal and what is ephemeral.  

The next 12 verses in Vivekachoodamani are very famous and sung to lilting musical chants. They give different thoughts for the mind to hold on to and contemplate on the seat of meditation. Meditate on that essence called Brahman, which is beyond caste, creed, and familial and student-teacher lineage, without name, form, qualities or blots in the personality, beyond space, time and objects. These verses are almost the crux and essence of this long text called the Vivekachoodamani.

The writer is Sevika, Chinmaya Mission, Coimbatore (; email:

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