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Akhandartha Vakya In Hinduism

Akhandartha Vakya in Hinduism is the important statements of identity in Upanishads. Akhanda means ‘part-less’, artha means ‘the correct meaning and interpretation’, vakyas are sentences; thus akandartha vakyas are the mahavakyas or the great sentences in the Upanishads, whose meanings are whole and eternal. They are –

  1. Prajnanam brahma (Aitareya Upanishad iii.1.3)
  2. Tat Tvam Asi (Chandogya Upanishad VI 8.7)
  3. Aham Brahmasmi (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10)
  4. Ayamatma Brahma (Mandukya Upanishad I.2)

The akhandartha vakyas convey the true knowledge of the non-difference of atman, individual self. With akhandartha meaning ‘entire, part-less, eternal meaning’, sentences which convey the significance of Brahman, which is partless and eternal, are known as akhandartha vakyas.

In the study of the Vedantic texts, getting at the artha or correct meaning is very essential. The meaning of the sentence, tat tvam asi, (literally, ‘that thou art’) is that Ishwara and Jiva are one and the same or identical.

There is an oft-quoted example to illustrate akhandartha vakyas ‘soym devadattah’ – ‘He is that Devadatta.’ If the Devadatta, whom we saw some time back, is seen the next day at a different place, and at a different time, we immediately recognize him as “This is that Devadatta.” The person Devaddta is accepted, rejecting the two different times, places and dress and other accidental characteristics which are not the real aspects of the person.

Similarly, in the sentence ‘tat tvam asi’, we should reject the accidental characteristics of ishwara and jiva (ishwara is omnipotent and omniscient, whereas the knowledge and powers of the jiva are very limited), and accept only the fact that both are chaitanya or pure consciousness, which is the essential characteristic of both. It is only then that they can be termed ‘identical.’ The unity and identity of the two should be accepted only in this sense. In this, the words leave out a part of their primary sense, namely, the spatial or temporal relation and convey another part, namely, consciousness or Brahman – the substantive part. The sentence as a whole conveys the identity of the two, or more strictly, the non-difference (the non-distinction) of the one from the other. And, it is the logical significance of the major statement of Upanishad, namely ‘tat tvam asi’. The sense that is conveyed thus is impartial or akhanda.