Yajnavalkya
(c. 700 B.C.E.)
   Yajnavalkya was the most prominent sage named in the UPANISHADS. He was a student of Aruni. His teachings are recorded in dialogues in the BRIHADARANYAKA UPANISHAD and the CHANDOGYA UPANISHAD. In one teaching he is asked how many gods there are and he answers: “Three hundred and three and three thousand and three.” Pressed to be clearer he says there are 33. He is questioned again and again and eventually arrives at the state-ment that there is only one “God,” the BRAHMAN, or all. In another dialogue one of his wives asks him whether wealth could make her immortal and he propounds a notion that everything that exists is underlain by one reality, which is what is to be held dear, not wealth.
   Yajnavalkya was said to have been the source for the White YAJUR VEDA. The Yajnavalkya whose name is attached to an important text of DHARMA-SHASTRA is unlikely to be the same individual.
   Further reading: Swami Brahmananda, The Philosophy of Sage Yajnavalkya: A Free Rendering of the Yajnavalkya Kanda of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad as Expounded in the Atma Purana (Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society, 1981); Shoun Hino and K. P. Jog, eds. and trans., Suresvara’s Vartika on Yajnavalkya’s Dialogue with Artabhaga and Others (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999); Swami Satchidanandendra Sarasvati, The Vision of Atman: Yajnavalkya’s Initiation of Maitreyi into the Intuition of Reality (Holenarsipur: Adhyatma Prakasha Karyalaya, 1970).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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