We had written an article on Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on Soham (listed at the bottom of this page as a related article). Now we are going to write another article on Swami Vivekananda‘s quotes and comments on Tat Tvam Asi.
Tat Tvam Asi (Devanagari: तत् त्वम् असि or तत्त्वमसि. Bengali: তৎ ত্বম্ অসি or তত্বমসি) is a Vedantic concept, translated as “Thou art that” or “That art thou”. Here Tat/तत्/তৎ means “that”, Tvam/त्वम्/ত্বম্ means “Thou” (You), and “Asi/असि/অসি” is “-be verb”, means “art” (art”. So the phrase means “Thou are that” or “That art thou” (in simple English, it may be translated as “You are that”, but generally this translation is not used). This is known as the Mahavakya (grand pronouncement) of Chandogya Upanishad.
Swami Vivekananda’s quotes and comments on Tat Tvam Asi
- Always repeat the great Mantras –“thou art That”, “I am That”, “all this is verily Brahman”– and have the courage of a lion in the heart.[Source]
- Here is one of the profoundest passages in Vedanta: “He that is the Essence of your soul, He is the Truth, He is the Self, thou art That.[Source]
- I know what God is—I cannot speak Him to you. I know not what God is—how can I speak Him to you? But seest thou not, my brother, that thou art He, thou art; He? Why go seeking God here and there? Seek not, and that is God. Be your own Self.[Source]
- It is the Reality in me, in thee, and in everything—therefore, “That thou art”—Tattvamasi.[Source]
- Know that thou art He; thou art the God of this universe, “Tat Tvam Asi” (That thou art). All these various ideas that I am a man or a woman, or sick or healthy, or strong or weak, or that I hate or I love, or have a little power, are but hallucinations.[Source]
- “Mind is not God” (Shankara). “Tat tvam asi” “Aham Brahmâsmi” (“That thou art”, “I am Brahman”). When a man realises this, all the knots of his heart are cut asunder, all his doubts vanish”.
- तत्त्वमसि श्वेतकेतो — “Shvetaketu, That thou art.” That Immanent One is at last declared to be the same that is in the human soul.[Source]
- The Vedanta claims that there has not been one religious inspiration, one manifestation of the divine man, however great, but it has been the expression of that infinite oneness in human nature; and all that we call ethics and morality and doing good to others is also but the manifestation of this oneness. There are moments when every man feels that he is one with the universe, and he rushes forth to express it, whether he knows it or not. This expression of oneness is what we call love and sympathy, and it is the basis of all our ethics and morality. This is summed up in the Vedanta philosophy by the celebrated aphorism, Tat Tvam Asi, “Thou art That”.[Source]
- The whole universe is you. Whom are you going to hate or to fight? Know, then, that thou art He, and model your whole life accordingly; and he who knows this and models his life accordingly will no more grovel in darkness.[Source]
- This human soul goes after sense-enjoyments, vanities of the world; like animals it lives only in the senses, lives only in momentary titillations of the nerves. When there comes a blow, for a moment the head reels, and everything begins to vanish, and it finds that the world was not what it thought it to be, that life was not so smooth. It looks upward and sees the infinite Lord a moment, catches a glimpse of the majestic One, comes a little nearer, but is dragged away by its past actions. Another blow comes, and sends it back again. It catches another glimpse of the infinite Presence, comes nearer, and as it approaches nearer and nearer, it begins to find out that its individuality—its low, vulgar, intensely selfish individuality—is melting away; the desire to sacrifice the whole world to make that little thing happy is melting away; and as it gets gradually nearer and nearer, nature begins to melt away. When it has come sufficiently near, the whole vision changes, and it finds that it was the other bird, that this infinity which it had viewed as from a distance was its own Self, this wonderful glimpse that it had got of the glory and majesty was its own Self, and it indeed was that reality. The soul then finds That which is true in everything. That which is in every atom, everywhere present, the essence of all things, the God of this universe— know that thou art He, know that thou art free.[Source]
- This is my attempt, my mission in life, to show that the Vedantic schools are not contradictory, that they all necessitate each other, all fulfill each other, and one, as it were, is the stepping-stone to the other, until the goal, the Advaita, the Tat Tvam Asi, is reached.[Source]
- Thou art That. Thou art the Reality. How long does it take to know this? If we are God and always have been so, not to know this is most astonishing. To know this is the only natural thing. It should not take ages to find out what we have always been and what we now are.[Source]
- Why weepest thou, brother? There is neither death nor disease for thee. Why weepest thou, brother? There is neither misery nor misfortune for thee. Why weepest thou, brother? Neither change nor death was predicated of thee. Thou art Existence Absolute.[Source]
- यदुक्तं “तत्त्वनिकषग्रावा विपदिति” उच्येत तदापि शतशः “तत्त्वमसि” तत्त्वाधिकारे।. . . It has been said that adversity is the touchstone of true knowledge, and this may be said a hundred times with regard to the truth: “Thou art That.”[Source]
Story of a god and a demon
From Raja Yoga, chapter: The First Steps—[Source]
A god and a demon went to learn about the Self from a great sage. They studied with him for a long time. At last the sage told them, “You yourselves are the Being you are seeking.” Both of them thought that their bodies were the Self. They went back to their people quite satisfied and said, “We have learned everything that was to be learned; eat, drink, and be merry; we are the Self; there is nothing beyond us.” The nature of the demon was ignorant, clouded; so he never inquired any further, but was perfectly contented with the idea that he was God, that by the Self was meant the body. The god had a purer nature. He at first committed the mistake of thinking: I, this body, am Brahman: so keep it strong and in health, and well dressed, and give it all sorts of enjoyments. But, in a few days, he found out that that could not be the meaning of the sage, their master; there must be something higher. So he came back and said, “Sir, did you teach me that this body was the Self? If so, I see all bodies die; the Self cannot die.” The sage said, “Find it out; thou art That.” Then the god thought that the vital forces which work the body were what the sage meant. But. after a time, he found that if he ate, these vital forces remained strong, but, if he starved, they became weak. The god then went back to the sage and said, “Sir, do you mean that the vital forces are the Self ?” The sage said, “Find out for yourself; thou art That.” The god returned home once more, thinking that it was the mind, perhaps, that was the Self. But in a short while he saw that thoughts were so various, now good, again bad; the mind was too changeable to be the Self. He went back to the sage and said, “Sir, I do not think that the mind is the Self; did you mean that?” “No,” replied the sage, “thou art That; find out for yourself.” The god went home, and at last found that he was the Self, beyond all thought, one without birth or death, whom the sword cannot pierce or the fire burn, whom the air cannot dry or the water melt, the beginningless and endless, the immovable, the intangible, the omniscient, the omnipotent Being; that It was neither the body nor the mind, but beyond them all. So he was satisfied; but the poor demon did not get the truth, owing to his fondness for the body.