Aham Brahmasmi

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Aham Brahmasmi Mean?

Aham Brahmasmi is a Sanskrit mantra from the Advaita tradition, typically translated as “I am Brahman”. It is one of the four principle Mahavakyas, or "Great Sayings" from the ancient Hindu text, The Upanishads. Aham Brahmasmi is used within Hindu and yoga philosophy to refer to the unity of Atman (the individual self or soul) with Brahman (universal consciousness or the Absolute).

The direct translation of this term stems from three Sanskrit roots:

  • Aham, meaning "I"
  • Brahma, a name for the Hindu creator god which can also be translated as "divine" or "sacred"
  • Asmi, meaning "am".

As such, another translation of Aham Brahmasmi is ‘I am divine,’ or ‘I am sacred,’ thereby reflecting an understanding of one’s connection with a Higher Self.


Yogapedia Explains Aham Brahmasmi

Aham Brahmasmi is from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, found in Yajur Veda. As one of the Principal Upanishads, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is one of the oldest scriptures in Hinduism, and is considered to be an ancient source of spiritual wisdom. This text represents the Advaita Vedanta branch of Hindu philosophy and provides a treatise on the concepts of Atman and Brahman.

Representing a central theme of Advaita philosophy, Aham Brahmasmi unites the macrocosmic ideas of God and universal consciousness with the microcosmic individual expression of the Self. This mantra highlights the notion that all beings are intimately connected to universal energy and cannot be separated from it. To recite Aham Brahmasmi is to recognize that Brahman and Atman are one, and as such, there can be no ego or sense of separation.

Aham Brahmasmi is one of the four principle Mahavakyas, short statements from The Upanishads otherwise known as "Great Sayings". The essence of each of these Mahavakyas is the same since all are intended to guide practitioners toward the realization that all beings are one with Brahman. Understanding this is believed to be the ultimate form of compassion, in which individuals recognize one another as part of the same whole.

The four Principle Mahavakyas are:

  1. Prajnanam Brahma – Consciousness is Brahman
  2. Ayam Atma Brahma – This self is Brahman
  3. Tat Tvam Asi – Thou art That or You are one
  4. Aham Brahmasmi – I am Brahman or I am Divine

These utterances are contemplated as part of self-exploration, and are generally embedded within practices such as meditation and mantra chanting. Jnana yoga, in particular, focuses on the contemplation of the Mahavakyas.

Aham Brahmasmi may be chanted in repetitions or recited silently as part of a meditation practice.

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