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Mahavakyas of the Upanishads

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Lesson

The Mahavakyas are “great sayings” that give you insights into core teachings of Hinduism. The Brehed Aranyaka Upanishad shows that Hindus believe that diversity can come through oneness and not be an “other.”

Outline

V. Mahavakyas of the Upanishads (key metaphors)

1. Creation of the World from the Self

a. Key thought: Continuity between Brahman and creation

b. Key theological development: Efficient vs material cause of universe

2. Having created it, he entered it

a. Key thought: The relationship of the One and the Many

b. Key theological development: One Reality, yet obvious multiplicity

3. How many gods are there?

a. Key thought: devas are a “lower level” manifestation of nirguna Brahman

b. Key theological development: Continuity with Vedas affirmed

4. All things exist in Thee

a. Key thought: Everything in the universe is a reflection of the One Reality

b. Key theological development: One God may be known by many names (remember, Indian conception of henotheism)

5. Uddalaka’s Teaching Concerning the Oneness of the Self

a. Key thought: Modification is merely of name, not essence

b. Key theological development: Further development of One and Many theme

6. The Cosmic Person

a. Key thought: Atman equated with ultimate essence of universe

b. Key theological development: atman small, yet encompasses the universe, paradox understood through cosmical homology