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"Truth is one; sages call it by many names."

                                                         Rig-Veda (1.164.46)

 The word "brahman" in Sanskrit originally meant "power" and specifically referred to the power of prayer or sacrifice to bring about material change in the world (hence the word brahmin for priest); so that Brahman seems to refer to the power that brings about and changes the physical universe. In the Upanishads , Brahman is not only the principle and creator of all there is, but is also the sum totality of the universe and its phenomena. Upanishadic literature tended to talk about this unitary or single divinity, power, or principle to the exclusion of all other gods. This single, unitary divinity had several aspects and names in the Upanishads, the other important term is Atman, "Universal Spirit".

    Here's the equation:
Brahman is the totality of the universe as it is present outside of you;, Atman is the totality of the universe as it is present within you; Brahman is the totality of the world known objectively, Atman is the totality of the world known subjectively. This equation fundamentally underlies the whole of Krishna's teachings concerning dharma in the Baghavad Gita .
In the later development of Hinduism, Brahman would become one aspect of a triune god and would represent the creation aspects of that god.




This dual nature of the single divinity or totality of the universe, Brahman and Atman, gets worked out in the following way. Brahman can be located both in the physical, external world and also in the spiritual and inner world where it is present as Atman, "universal spirit." Now every human being has an undying soul (atman) which, because of samsara, lasts through eternity from life to life; this undying atman is a microcosm of Atman, the universal spirit, which is identical to Brahman. By understanding your true Self, by coming to know one's own undying soul, one then arrives at the knowledge of Brahman itself; the key to understanding the nature of the one unitary principle of the universe is to see one's (undying) self as identical with Brahman: "aham asmi Brahman": I am Brahman.

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