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Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
(Sanskrit: याज्ञवल्क्य, Yājñavalkya) is a Hindu
Hindu
Vedic sage.[1][2] He is mentioned in the Upanishads,[3] and likely lived in the Videha
Videha
kingdom of northern Bihar
Bihar
approximately between the 8th century BCE,[4][5] and the 7th century BCE.[6] Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
is considered one of the earliest philosophers in recorded history, after Aruni.[4] Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
proposes and debates metaphysical questions about the nature of existence and impermanence, and expounds the epistemic doctrine of neti neti ("not this, not this") to discover the universal Self and Ātman.[7] His ideas for renunciation of worldly attachments have been important to Hindu
Hindu
sannyasa traditions.[8] Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
is credited for coining Advaita
Advaita
(non-dual, monism), another important tradition within Hinduism.[9] Texts attributed to him, include the Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
Smriti, Yoga
Yoga
Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
and some texts of the Vedanta
Vedanta
school.[10][11] He is also mentioned in various Brahmanas and Aranyakas.[10] He welcomed participation of women in Vedic studies, and Hindu
Hindu
texts contain his dialogues with two women philosophers, Gargi Vachaknavi and Maitreyi.[12]

Contents

1 History 2 Texts 3 Ideas

3.1 On karma and rebirth 3.2 On spiritual liberation 3.3 On love and soul

4 See also 5 References

5.1 Bibliography

6 External links

History[edit] Yanjavalkya is estimated to have lived in around the 8th century BCE,[13] or 7th century BCE.[6] In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, a set of dialogues suggest Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
has two wives, one Maitreyi
Maitreyi
who challenges Yajnavalkya with philosophical questions like a scholarly wife; the other Katyayani who is silent but mentioned as a housewife.[14] While Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
and Katyayani lived in contented domesticity, Maitreyi studied metaphysics and engaged in theological dialogues with her husband in addition to "making self-inquiries of introspection".[14][15] In contrast to the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the epic Mahabharata
Mahabharata
states Maitreyi
Maitreyi
is a young beauty who is an Advaita
Advaita
scholar but never marries.[16] His name Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
is derived from yajna which connotes ritual. However, states Frits Staal, Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
was "a thinker, not a ritualist".[1] Texts[edit]

Goddess Sarasvati
Sarasvati
and Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
(early 20th-century devotional illustration)

Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
is associated with several other major ancient texts in Sanskrit, namely the Shukla Yajurveda, the Shatapatha Brahmana, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the Dharmasastra
Dharmasastra
named Yājñavalkya Smṛti, Vriddha Yajnavalkya, and Brihad Yajnavalkya.[10] He is also mentioned in the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
and the Puranas,[17][18] as well as in ancient Jainism
Jainism
texts such as the Isibhasiyaim.[19] Another important and influential Yoga
Yoga
text in Hinduism
Hinduism
is named after him, namely Yoga
Yoga
Yajnavalkya, but its author is unclear. The actual author of Yoga
Yoga
Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
text was probably someone who lived many centuries after the Vedic sage Yajnavalkya, and is unknown.[20] Ian Whicher, a professor of Religion at the University of Manitoba, states that the author of Yoga
Yoga
Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
may be an ancient Yajnavalkya, but this Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
is not to be confused with the Vedic-era Yajnavalkya "who is revered in Hinduism
Hinduism
for Brihadaranyaka Upanishad".[21] According to Vishwanath Narayan Mandlik, these references to Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
in other texts, in addition to the eponymous Yoga Yajnavalkya, may be to different sages with the same name.[18] Ideas[edit] On karma and rebirth[edit] One of the early expositions of karma and rebirth theories appear in the discussions of Yajnavalkya.[22]

Now as a man is like this or like that, according as he acts and according as he behaves, so will he be; a man of good acts will become good, a man of bad acts, bad; he becomes pure by pure deeds, bad by bad deeds; And here they say that a person consists of desires, and as is his desire, so is his will; and as is his will, so is his deed; and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.

— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Upanishad
4.4.5-6, [23]

Max Muller
Max Muller
and Paul Deussen, in their respective translations, describe the Upanishad's view of "Soul, Self" and "free, liberated state of existence" as, "[Self] is imperishable, for he cannot perish; he is unattached, for he does not attach himself; unfettered, he does not suffer, he does not fail. He is beyond good and evil, and neither what he has done, nor what he has omitted to do, affects him. (...) He therefore who knows it [reached self-realization], becomes quiet, subdued, satisfied, patient, and collected. He sees self in Self, sees all as Self. Evil does not overcome him, he overcomes all evil. Evil does not burn him, he burns all evil. Free from evil, free from spots, free from doubt, he became Atman-Brâhmana; this is the Brahma-world, O King, thus spoke Yajnavalkya."[24][25] On spiritual liberation[edit] The section 4.3 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Upanishad
is attributed to Yajnavalkya, and it discusses the premises of moksha (liberation, freedom), and provides some of its most studied hymns. Paul Deussen calls it, "unique in its richness and warmth of presentation", with profoundness that retains its full worth in modern times.[26] On love and soul[edit] The Maitreyi- Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
dialogue of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Upanishad
states that love is driven by a person's soul, and it discusses the nature of Atman and Brahman
Brahman
and their unity, the core of Advaita philosophy.[27][28] The Maitreyi- Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
dialogue has survived in two manuscript recensions from the Madhyamdina and Kanva Vedic schools; although they have significant literary differences, they share the same philosophical theme.[29] This dialogue appears in several Hindu
Hindu
texts; the earliest is in chapter 2.4 – and modified in chapter 4.5 – of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the principal and oldest Upanishads.[30][31] Adi Shankara, a scholar of the influential Advaita
Advaita
Vedanta
Vedanta
school of Hindu philosophy, wrote in his Brihadaranyakopanishad bhashya that the purpose of the Maitreyi- Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
dialogue in chapter 2.4 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Upanishad
is to highlight the importance of the knowledge of Atman and Brahman, and to understand their oneness.[32][33] According to Shankara, the dialogue suggests renunciation is prescribed in the Sruti
Sruti
(vedic texts of Hinduism), as a means to knowledge of the Brahman
Brahman
and Atman.[34] He adds, that the pursuit of self-knowledge is considered important in the Sruti
Sruti
because the Maitreyi
Maitreyi
dialogue is repeated in chapter 4.5 as a "logical finale" to the discussion of Brahman
Brahman
in the Upanishad.[35] Concluding his dialogue on the "inner self", or soul, Yajnavalkaya tells Maitreyi:[30]

One should indeed see, hear, understand and meditate over the Self, O Maitreyi; indeed, he who has seen, heard, reflected and understood the Self – by him alone the whole world comes to be known.

— Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Upanishad
2.4.5b[36]

After Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
leaves and becomes a sannyasi, Maitreyi
Maitreyi
becomes a sannyassini – she too wanders and leads a renunciate's life.[37] See also[edit]

Neti neti Janaka
Janaka
of Videha Gargi Vachaknavi Uddalaka Aruni Ashtavakra

References[edit]

^ a b Frits Staal
Frits Staal
(2008). Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights. Penguin Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-14-309986-4. , Quote: "Yajnavalkya, a Vedic sage, taught..." ^ " Hinduism
Hinduism
vs Hindutva: The search for an ideology in times of cow politics".  ^ Patrick Olivelle (1998). Upaniṣads. Oxford University Press. pp. 3, 52–71. ISBN 978-0-19-283576-5.  ^ a b Ben-Ami Scharfstein (1998), A comparative history of world philosophy: from the Upanishads
Upanishads
to Kant, Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 9-11 ^ H. C. Raychaudhuri (1972), Political History of Ancient India, Calcutta: University of Calcutta, pp. 8-10, 21–25 ^ a b Patrick Olivelle (1998). Upaniṣads. Oxford University Press. p. xxxvi with footnote 20. ISBN 978-0-19-283576-5.  ^ Jonardon Ganeri (2007). The Concealed Art of the Soul: Theories of Self and Practices of Truth in Indian Ethics and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 27–28, 33–35. ISBN 978-0-19-920241-6.  ^ Patrick Olivelle (1992). The Samnyasa Upanisads: Hindu
Hindu
Scriptures on Asceticism and Renunciation. Oxford University Press. pp. 92, 140–146. ISBN 978-0-19-536137-7.  ^ Frits Staal
Frits Staal
(2008). Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights. Penguin Books. pp. 365 note 159. ISBN 978-0-14-309986-4.  ^ a b c I Fisher (1984), Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
in the Sruti
Sruti
traditions of the Veda, Acta Orientalia, Volume 45, pages 55–87 ^ Patrick Olivelle (1993). The Asrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution. Oxford University Press. pp. 92 with footnote 63, 144, 163. ISBN 978-0-19-534478-3.  ^ Patrick Olivelle (1998). Upaniṣads. Oxford University Press. pp. xxxvi–xxxix. ISBN 978-0-19-283576-5.  ^ Ben-Ami Scharfstein (1998). A Comparative History of World Philosophy: From the Upanishads
Upanishads
to Kant. State University of New York Press. pp. 56–57. ISBN 978-0-7914-3683-7.  ^ a b Pechilis 2004, pp. 11–15. ^ John Muir, Metrical Translations from Sanskrit Writers, p. 251, at Google Books, page 246–251 ^ John Muir, Metrical Translations from Sanskrit Writers, p. 251, at Google Books, page 251–253 ^ White 2014, pp. xiii, xvi. ^ a b Vishwanath Narayan Mandlik, The Vyavahára Mayúkha, in Original, with an English Translation at Google Books, pages lvi, xlviii–lix ^ Hajime Nakamura (1968), Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
and other Upanishadic thinkers in a Jain tradition, The Adyar Library Bulletin, Volume 31–32, pages 214–228 ^ Larson & Bhattacharya 2008, pp. 476–477. ^ Ian Whicher (1999), The Integrity of the Yoga
Yoga
Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791438152, pages 27, 315–316 with notes ^ Hock, Hans Henrich (2002). "The Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
Cycle in the Brhad Aranyaka
Aranyaka
Upanisad". Journal of the American Oriental Society. American Oriental Society. 122 (2): 278–286. doi:10.2307/3087621.  ^ Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Upanishad
4.4.5-6 Berkley Center for Religion Peace & World Affairs, Georgetown University (2012) ^ Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads
Upanishads
of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 475-507 ^ Max Muller, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Upanishad
4.3-4, Oxford University Press, pages 161-181 with footnotes ^ Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads
Upanishads
of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, page 482 ^ Hino 1991, pp. 94–95. ^ Brereton 2006, pp. 323–345. ^ Brereton 2006, pp. 323–45. ^ a b Marvelly 2011, p. 43. ^ Hume 1967, pp. 98–102, 146–48. ^ Hino 1991, pp. 5–6, 94. ^ Paul Deussen
Paul Deussen
(2015). The System of the Vedanta: According to Badarayana's Brahma-Sutras and Shankara's Commentary thereon. KB Classics Reprint. pp. 173–174. ISBN 978-1-5191-1778-6.  ^ Hino 1991, pp. 54–59, 94–95, 145–149. ^ Hino 1991, p. 5. ^ Deussen 2010, p. 435. ^ "Yajnavalkya's Marriages and His Later Life". Shukla Yajurveda. Shuklayajurveda Organization. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2015. 

Bibliography[edit]

Brereton, Joel P. (2006). "The Composition of the Maitreyī Dialogue in the Brhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 126 (3). JSTOR 20064512.  Deussen, Paul (2010). Sixty Upanishads
Upanishads
of the Veda. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1468-4.  Hino, Shoun (1991). Suresvara's Vartika On Yajnavalkya'S-Maitreyi Dialogue (2nd ed.). Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-0729-7.  Hume, Robert (1967). Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. (Translator), Oxford University Press.  Larson, Gerald James; Bhattacharya, Ram Shankar (2008). The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Yoga: India's philosophy of meditation. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-3349-4.  Marvelly, Paula (2011). Women of Wisdom. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78028-367-8.  Mohan, A. G., translator (2013). Yoga
Yoga
Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
(2nd ed.). Svastha Yoga. ISBN 978-9810716486.  Pechilis, Karen (2004). The Graceful Guru: Hindu
Hindu
Female Gurus in India and the United States. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-514537-3.  White, David Gordon (2014). The " Yoga
Yoga
Sutra
Sutra
of Patanjali": A Biography. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691143774.  Joseph, George G. (2000). The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics, 2nd edition. Penguin Books, London. ISBN 0-691-00659-8. Kak, Subhash C. (2000). 'Birth and Early Development of Indian Astronomy'. In Selin, Helaine (2000). Astronomy Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Astronomy (303-340). Boston: Kluwer. ISBN 0-7923-6363-9. Teresi, Dick (2002). Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science - from the Babylonians to the Maya. Simon & Schuster, New York. ISBN 0-684-83718-8.

External links[edit]

Works by Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya
at Internet Archive Sukla Yajur Veda from http://www.shuklayajurveda.org Yogeeswara Yagnavalkya from http://www.shuklayajurveda.org

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