Definition - What does Tatvamasi mean?

Tatvamasi is a term that is used in Hindu and yoga philosophy usually translated as “I am that” or “Thou art that.” The term comes from the Sanskrit, tat, meaning “that”; tvam, meaning “you”; and asi, meaning “you were.” The interpretation varies among the various yoga and Hindu traditions.

Tatvamasi — sometimes spelled tat tvam asi — is one of the Great Utterances or Great Contemplations known as the Mahavakyas, which are found in the ancient Sanskrit texts of the Upanishads.

Yogapedia explains Tatvamasi

The Mahavakyas are short statements or phrases that the yogi contemplates for self-exploration. In the case of tatvamasi, tat (that) is typically associated with the Absolute Reality, the higher Self or Brahman. It is saying that this divine nature is the essence of what and who you truly are, not your worldly identity.

Tatvamasi and the Mahavakyas in general may be chanted as a mantra and contemplated in prayer or meditation.

Other Great Utterances include:

  • Aham Brahmasmi (“I am Brahman” or “I am divine”)
  • Pranosmi (“I am breath”)
  • Prajnanam Brahma (“Brahman is intelligence”)
  • Ayamatma Brahma (“My Self is Brahman”)
  • Isavasyam idam sarvam (“All this is enveloped by God”)
  • Prajnatma (“I am the intelligent Self”)
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