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Tajjalan is one of the few enigmatic methods employed by the Upanishadic seers to describe Reality or Brahman in Hinduism. It is a cosmological approach to the problem of Reality.

Meaning of Tajjalan[edit]

Tajjalan is the enigmatic method to describe Reality unlike the aphoristic method of the Mandukya Upanishad favoured in the later Sutra literature. Shandilya when he said - sarvam khaluidam brahman tajjalan iti shanta upasite (Chandogya Upanishad III.14.1) he adopted the cryptic way for saying how God could be regarded as the origin, the end, and the life of all things.[1] It is a Sanskrit word, an Adjective, that means – absorbed and breathing in that or produced.[2] It is a compound word interpreted as equivalent to taj-ja, tal-la and tad-ana that represent the attributes of Brahman.[3]


Tajjalan is a riddle that describes in a positive way the three basic attributes of Brahman with regard to explaining the process of creation etc. from the primeval Atman. Taittiriya Upanishad II.1/ III.1 proposes the Theory of the emanation of the elements from Brahman, the same Upanishad defines Brahman as Existence, Consciousness and Infinity and declares “that alone might be regarded as the Ultimate Reality of things, from which all these beings are born, by which they live when born, to which they repair and into which they are finally resolved”, because behind the cosmos there must be an existence which must be regarded as responsible for its origin, sustenance, and absorption.[4] And, Shandilya, through the use of the phrase, Tajjalan, reveals the secret name of Brahman by which he says Brahman should be worshipped. Therefore, Badarayana defines Brahman as – Janamadi asaya yatah (Brahma Sutra I.1.2)– meaning, "That (is Brahman) from which (are derived) the birth etc. of this (universe)" in which regard Adi Shankara states that the phrase, janmadi is a bahuvrihi compound where the subject presented is apprehended along with its attributes.[5] This definition of Brahman is called, Tatasthalakshana.


Adi Shankara gives the meaning of Tajjalan as – From this "tad" Brahman the universe has arisen "ja", on dissolution it disappears "li" into this identical with Brahman; in the same way finally it is Brahman in whom the universe, after it is created, breathes "an" and lives - Tat-Ja-Li-An. He paraphrases tajja- with tasmad brahmano jatam because jan construed with tad-as can take the suffix da, so as to give the derivative tajja-.[6] Thus, "Tajjalan" is the mysterious name of the universe as identified with Brahman which word summarises the three attributes of Brahman as creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe, and presents the universe as non-different from Brahman in all three periods, past, present and future [7][8] This is the cosmological proof for the existence of God, which also means that the individual soul is non-limited in its essential nature even though owing to abundance of ignorance it acquires various names and forms to become limited. The phrase, "Tajjalan", supplies the reason to explain the Mahavakya, "All this is Brahman".[9] This phrase is one of the two well-known examples of the cosmological approach to the problem of Reality.[10]


  1. ^ Ramachandra Dattatrya Ranade (1986). A constructive survey of Upanishadic philosophy. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 23. 
  2. ^ "Spoken Sanskrit Dictionary". 
  3. ^ Monier Williams (2003-07-01). Indian Wisdom or Examples of …. Kessinger Publishing. p. 112. ISBN 9780766171985. 
  4. ^ Ramachandra Dattatrya Ranade (1986). A constructive survey of Upanishadic philosophy. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 53. 
  5. ^ Adi Shankara. Brahma-Sutra-Bhasya. Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama. p. 13. 
  6. ^ George Cordona (1999-01-01). Recent Research in Pananian Grammar. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 137. ISBN 9788120816374. 
  7. ^ Swami Parmeshwaranand (2000-01-01). Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Upanishads:S-Z. Sarup & Sons. p. 73. ISBN 9788176251488. 
  8. ^ Swami Nikhalananda (2003). The Principal Upanishads. Courier Dover Publications. p. 47. ISBN 9780486427171. 
  9. ^ George Thibaut (2004-06-01). The Vedanta Sutras with the commentary by Ramanuja Part 3. Kessinger Publishing. p. 157. ISBN 9781419186622. 
  10. ^ S.C.Sen (1937). The Mystical Philosophy of the Upanishads. Genesis Publishing (P) Ltd. p. 188. ISBN 9788130706603.