Birth of Yagnavalkya
Eternal truths of Hinduism, either in philosophy, or religion or dharma have come down to us through the Maharishis in the past. Vedas are the records of Maharishis, who comprehended the truths through their divine power, otherwise called tapas and yoga. Puranas describe penance for several years without food, which are only a description of such divine power. That divine power is revealed to mankind through some sages, who propagate the truths and tenets recorded in the eternal Vedas.
Among such eminent Vedic sages, Yogeeswara Yagnavalkya occupies an exalted position as he plays a very important role in the renaissance of India's ancient Vedic culture. Yagnavalkya is a renowned sage, a Chaturvedi Brahmishta, foremost seer of the Vedic era and doughty exponent of the Shukla Yajur Veda, pre-eminent purveyor of Advaita, a personification of tejas and the best of sages. He had adorned and graced our land during the Vedic period of Ramavatara and Krishnavatara. Yagnavalkya's life, times and teachings constitute the corner stone of the basic philosophy and tenets of Sanatana Dharma. He was a beacon light of what an ideally liberated soul or jivan mukta could achieve in this world, for the common good of the humanity. He was the foremost of the apostles of the Advaita philosophy who had contributed to the spiritual and Vedic renaissance. The entire gamut of Hinduism rests on the solid foundation of Advaita, propounded in crystal clear terms in the Maha Vakya of the Shukla Yajur Veda " AHAM BRAHMASMI " "I am Braman" " the unique Advaita philosophy propagated by Yogeeswara Yagnavalkya.
The quintessence of the teachings of Yogeeswara Yagnavalkya is found in the immortal Satapatha Brahmana, an authoritative treatise on various types of sacrifices and related rituals, the self elevating Brihadarnayaka Upanishad, a veritable reservoir of Brahma Jnaan and the foremost of the ten Upanishads and the transcendental Isavasya Upanishad, a superb treatise of superlative wisdom. Seekers of knowledge are bound to benefit a great deal by a study of the Satapatha Brahmana and the two soul stirring Upanishads. The expansive and outstanding part of the classical Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is the Yagnavalkya Kanda. The Isavasya Upanishad is another equally important masterpiece, presenting in brief the compass of eighteen theological doctrines. The Satapatha Brahmana, the Brihadaranyaka and Isavasya Upanishads belong to Shukla Yajur Veda, which was revealed by the Lord Surya, the Sun God himself to Yogeeswara Yagnavalkya, for the propagation to mankind.
Yogeeswara Yagnavalkya besides being an erudite scholar had distinguished himself in many other fields of human activity. In fact, he has been acclaimed as one of the lawgivers of ancient India, because his teachings and writings abound in the exposition of law. Yagnavalkya Smriti, an embodiment of legal tenets, is a fundamental source of the Hindu Law. A major part of the present provisions of the Hindu Law has been based and derived from Yagnavalkya Smriti, dealing with the intricate scheme of human conduct and affairs of life. In this magnum opus, Yagnavalkya has dealt with various matters, statecraft and regulations relating to the administration of a state by the ruler, pubic relationship and duty toward ruled citizens and the society, laws governing the family, and the reprimand and punishment to be meted out to the wrong doers by the authority, tempered with utmost fairness and moral justice, impartiality, equality and equity. Yagnavalkya has laid down exhaustive laws relating to loans, surety, mortgages, interest chargeable, deposit of articles on pledge, the law of evidence, the law relating to written documents, oral agreements, legal procedures on private property, inheritance and division of property among heirs, settlement of disputes about boundaries, sale of goods and articles, gifts and their acceptances, recession or return of articles purchased to the sellers, non delivery of articles sold, performance and breach of contracts, engagement between master and servant, usage and custom of a public body, payment of wages, gambling, wager and betting, defamation, assault and violence, robbery and theft, cheating, statutory regulations on forms of business similar to joint stock companies or associations of persons carrying on trade, procedure for settlement of disputes between corporations and arbitration of claims in trade etc.etc. In fact he has covered every of aspect of human life!