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Teachings from Vakya Vritti of Adi Shankaracharya

Direct knowledge of that total identity between the individual-Self and the Universal-Self, stemming forth from the Vedic statements such as “Thou art that”, etc., is the immediate means to liberation.

Give up the intellectual misconception that the Self is the body, etc., and always meditate upon and think you to be the eternal Knowledge - Bliss – the Witness of the intellect – a sheer mass of Pure Knowledge.

The body is not the Self, as like the pot, etc., the body also has form, etc., and again, the body is a modification of the great elements such as Akash, just like the pot.

Just as the perceiver of a pot is ever distinctly different from the pot and can never be the pot – so too, you, the perceiver of your body, are distinct from your body and can never be the body – this you firmly ascertain in yourself.

SourceVakya Vritti of Adi Shankaracharya Translated by Swami Chinmayananda

The statement "Thou art that" is indeed a profound concept from Vedic philosophy, particularly found in Advaita Vedanta. It encapsulates the idea of the identity between the individual self (Atman) and the universal self (Brahman). According to this philosophy, realizing this identity is the ultimate goal of human life and the key to liberation (moksha).

In Advaita Vedanta, the individual self is considered to be ultimately identical with the supreme reality, Brahman. This realization is not merely intellectual but experiential. It's about transcending the limited understanding of oneself as a separate individual and recognizing the underlying unity of all existence.

The phrase "Thou art that" (Tat Tvam Asi in Sanskrit) is taken from the Chandogya Upanishad and forms one of the Mahāvākyas, or great sayings, emphasizing the unity of the individual and the universal. It points to the idea that the essence of the individual self is identical to the essence of the universe.

In the context of liberation or moksha, realizing this identity is considered the immediate means to transcend the cycle of birth and death (samsara) and attain liberation from worldly suffering. This realization brings about a profound shift in consciousness, leading to a state of transcendence beyond dualities and limitations.

However, achieving this realization is not necessarily easy and often requires intense spiritual practice, self-inquiry, and guidance from a qualified teacher (guru). Various methods such as meditation, self-reflection, study of scriptures, and devotion to the divine are employed to facilitate this realization.

In summary, the statement "Thou art that" encapsulates the essence of Advaita Vedanta philosophy, emphasizing the identity between the individual self and the universal self, which is seen as the immediate means to liberation from the cycle of birth and death. 


The statement 'the body is not the Self....' express a perspective that is common in various philosophical and spiritual traditions, particularly those rooted in Eastern philosophy, such as Advaita Vedanta or Buddhism. Let's break down the statement and explore its implications:

The Body is Not the Self: This suggests a fundamental distinction between the body and the true essence of an individual, often referred to as the Self, Atman, or soul. In many spiritual traditions, the Self is considered distinct from the physical body, which is seen as temporary and subject to change.

The Body Has Form, Etc.: Like a pot or any other physical object, the body possesses attributes such as form, shape, color, and so on. This highlights the material nature of the body and its similarity to other objects in the physical world.

The Body is a Modification of the Great Elements: Here, the body is seen as composed of the five great elements or Mahabhutas, which are often described in Hindu philosophy as earth (Prithvi), water (Apas), fire (Tejas), air (Vayu), and space (Akasha). According to this perspective, the physical body arises from the combination and transformation of these elements.

Just Like the Pot: The analogy of the pot is commonly used in Eastern philosophy to illustrate the concept of the body as a vessel or container for the Self. Just as a pot is distinct from its contents and eventually breaks, revealing the space within it, the body is seen as distinct from the true essence of the individual.

In essence, this statement reflects the idea that the true nature of the self transcends the physical body and is not bound by its limitations. Instead, the body is considered a temporary manifestation within the larger context of existence, subject to change and impermanence. This perspective encourages individuals to look beyond the physical realm and explore the deeper aspects of consciousness and existence.