It is â€“ as from a lighted fire, kindled with damp fuel, various clouds of smoke arise, even so, my dear, from this Great Being have issued forth what we have as Rg Veda, yajur-veda, sAma-veda, AtharvAngirasa, history, legends, arts, Upanishads, verses, aphorisms, glosses and commentaries. From Him indeed are all these breathed forth.
It is â€“ as of all waters the ocean is the centre , as of all kinds of touch the skin is the centre, as of all smells the nose is the centre, as of all tastes the tongue is the centre, as of all sounds the ear is the centre, as of all intentions the mind is the centre, as of all arts the heart is the centre, as of all actions the hands are the centre, as of all movements the feet are the centre, as of all the vedas the speech is the centre.
It is â€“ as a lump of salt thrown into water becomes dissolved into water and could not be seized again, but wherever one takes the water one tastes salt, even so, my dear, this great Being, infinite and boundless, is only a mass of consciousness. It emerges from these elements and vanishes again with them. When it is gone, there is no more (individual) consciousness. This is what I say, my dear. Thus spoke Yajnavalkya.
Then Maitreyi said: â€˜Here you have bewildered me, Sir, by saying that when he is gone there is no more consciousnessâ€™.
Yajnavalkya replied, â€˜Surely, I am not saying anything bewildering. It is wisdom enough, my dear. For when there is duality, as it were, then one smells another, one sees another, one hears another, one speaks to another, one thinks of another, one understands another. But when everything has become the Self, then by what and whom should one hear, by what and to whom should one speak, by what and of whom should one think, and by what and whom should one understand? By what should one know that by which all this is known? By what, my dear, should one know the knower?â€™
It is necessary here to record the flexibility and frankness exhibited by the Upanishadic seers.
The knowledge of brahman-Atman elucidated in these ancient texts is of course a declaration of the great sages who â€˜saw it allâ€™. But they never say it as a dogma. Nor are we supposed to receive them as dogmatic assertions.
The beauty of their teaching is that they ask you to enquire within yourself and arrive at your own conclusions, step by step, checking with the Upanishadic revelations at each step.
To help you in this search after truth they give you their intermediate conclusions also. The final conclusion, according to them, is a realisable truth, which forms therefore an axiom â€“ a single axiom from which the entire science of vedanta and metaphysics is built up by accepted forms of logic. This single axiom is enunciated in four different ways in the vedas.
These are the four Grand Pronouncements ( = mahA-vAkyas):
praJAnaM Brahma â€“ Rgveda, aitareyopanishad, 5.3
aham Brahma asmi â€“ yajurveda, bRhadAraNyaka Upanishad, 1.4.10
tat tvam asi â€“ sAmaveda, cAndogya Upanishad, 6.9.4
ayam AtmA Brahma â€“ atharva veda, mANDukya Upanishad,
Absolute Consciousness is brahman;
I am brahman;
Thou art That;
This Atman is brahman.
Each of these pronouncements is subjected to an intensive analysis by the commentators belonging to each school of philosophy. However the differences in the interpretations by the different AcAryas should not matter in oneâ€™s daily life. It is as if there exists a multidimensional Reality of which each individual perception has only an one-dimensional projection of the Reality before it, and, perhaps, each in a dimensional axis. You are free to choose that one which is appropriate to your taste, evolution, training and tradition. this is why i feel Hinduism is ALSO Great