What is the concept of Brahman in Hinduism?

What is the concept of Brahman in Hinduism?
Hindus believe that there is one true God, the supreme spirit, called Brahman. Brahman has many forms, pervades the whole universe, and is symbolized by the sacred syllable Om (or Aum). Most Hindus believe that Brahman is present in every person as the eternal spirit or soul, called the Atman.

The Universe is profoundly One
“The Universe is profoundly One.” This unity can best be understood by exploring the Hindu concepts of Brahman and Atman. The Upanishads, which form part of the Hindu scripture, speak of Brahman as “Him the eye does not see, nor the tongue express, nor the mind grasp.”  Brahman is not a God, but rather the ultimate, unexplainable principle encompassing all of the creation. Because creation preceded language, words cannot grasp the totality of Brahman. Any and every definition falls short. Brahman then becomes a word used to speak of what can be called a “macro” metaphysical principle. But there is also a “micro” metaphysical principle. The subtle presence intuited within, identified as “soul” or “self” by other traditions, is called Atman. Atman, thus, perceives Brahman. But this perception leads to a central meditation discovered by the Hindu rishis, or sages, described in the Chandogya Upanishad:

In the beginning, there was Existence alone – One only, without a second. He, the One [Brahman], thought to himself: “Let me be many, let me grow forth.” Thus out of himself he projected the universe, and having projected out of himself the universe, he entered into every being. All that is has its self in him alone. Of all things, he is the subtle essence. He is the truth. He is the Self. And that … THAT ART THOU!

When one discovers that Atman, the inner self, and Brahman, the essence of the universe, are indeed one, the experienced result is said to be one of immense peace and harmony, of coming home. The human perception of life is often that of a small, fragile being gazing out into an infinite, unknowable space. Hinduism teaches that the intuitive leap of realizing “that art thou” tells us we belong. We have a place. We are one with the stars and the consciousness that brought them into being.

In the Upanishads, the sages teach that Brahman is infinite Being, infinite Consciousness, and infinite Bliss.

It is said that Brahman cannot be known by empirical means – that is to say, as an object of our consciousness – because Brahman is our very consciousness and being. The whole universe came into existence from Brahman the Seed. Brahman is not only the principal and creator of all there is but is also the sum totality of the universe and its phenomena.

Strictly speaking everything in the universe is a manifestation of Brahman only.  Innumerable are his forms and manifestation, but He is One and Alone, without a beginning and without an end. He pervades everything, is hidden in everything and enveloped by all that is here and elsewhere. In the Upanishads, we come across many verses on Brahman extolling his universal dimensions and infinity. However, at the primal level of classification, we can say that the scriptures speak of mainly two aspects of Brahman. On the one hand, we have the unmanifest Brahman and on the other, we have the manifest Brahman. The former is the pure state of Brahman without qualities and the latter is the manifest state of Brahman with qualities. In the manifest state, we believe there are several planes of consciousness, dimensions, time frames, worlds or planes of existence and realities. There is the material universe that is known to the senses and the transcendental universe known only to the gods and beings of the highest planes. Brahman is remote and mysterious, known only to few. No one truly knows why and how of his manifestations, but attribute his actions and movements to some kind of absorbed and blissful ideation. In each world, he manifests himself according to the need and the plan he works out.

In Vedanta, the word “Satyam” (Reality) is very clearly defined and it has a specific significance. It means, “that which exists in all the three periods of time (the past, present, and future) without undergoing any change; and also in all the three states of consciousness (waking state, dream state and deep-sleep state).” This is, therefore, the absolute Reality — birthless, deathless and changeless — referred to in the Upanishads as “Brahman.”

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