The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
by Swami Krishnananda


Chapter III

Fifth Brahmana: Renunciation, the Way to Know Brahman

Now Kahola Kauṣītakeya puts a question. Another person gets up from the assembly. They allow no peace to Yājñavalkya even now.

  1. atha hainam kaholaḥ kauṣītakeyaḥ papraccha: yājñavalkya, iti hovāca, yad eva sākṣād aparokṣād brahma, ya ātmā sarvāntaraḥ, taṁ tam me vyācakṣva iti. eṣa ta ātmā sarvāntaraḥ-katamaḥ, yājñavalkya, sarvāntaraḥ. yo'śanāyā-pipāse śokam mohaṁ jarām mṛtyum atyeti. etaṁ vai tam ātmānaṁ viditvā, brāhmaṇāḥ putraiṣaṇāyāś ca vittaiṣaṇāyāś ca lokaiṣaṇāyāś ca vyutthāya, atha bhikṣācaryaṁ caranti. yā hy eva putraiṣaṇā sā vittaiṣaṇā yā vittaiṣaṇā sā lokaiṣaṇā, ubhe hy ete eṣaṇe eva bhavataḥ; tasmād brāhmaṇaḥ, pāṇḍityaṁ nirvidya bālyena tiṣṭhāset; bālyaṁ ca pāṇḍityaṁ ca nirvidya, atha muniḥ; amaunaṁ ca maunaṁ ca nirvidya, atha brāhmaṇaḥ. sa brāhmaṇaḥ kena syāt. yena syāt tena idṛśa eva ato'nyad ārtam. tato ha kaholaḥ kauṣītakeya upararāma.

Atha hainam kaholaḥ kauṣītakeyaḥ papraccha: yājñavalkya, iti hovāca, yad eva sākṣād aparokṣād brahma, ya ātmā sarvāntaraḥ, taṁ tam me vyācakṣva iti: He puts the same question as the previous one, in a different way. "That ātman which is directly perceived, that which is immediately experienced, that which is internal to all, can you tell me of it?"

Now it may appear that he is repeating the same question once again, but the answer given shows that the import of the question is a little different and not merely a literal repetition. The answer is a little different and not exactly what was told earlier.

Eṣa ta ātmā sarvāntaraḥ-katamaḥ, yājñavalkya, sarvāntaraḥ. yo'śanāyā-pipāse śokam mohaṁ jarām mṛtyum atyeti. etaṁ vai tam ātmānaṁ viditvā, brāhmaṇāḥ putraiṣaṇāyāś ca vittaiṣaṇāyāś ca lokaiṣaṇāyāś ca vyutthāya, atha bhikṣācaryaṁ caranti: "This ātman is a tremendous Reality." It is not an ordinary thing. What sort of tremendousness is there in the ātman? Once it is known, you will ask for nothing else. Once nectar is drunk, nobody would ask for any other drink. "It is that which frees you from the tortures of hunger, thirst, sorrow, confusion, old age and death. It is the absence of the realisation of this ātman that makes us grief-stricken in many ways." You are pulled every day by the forces of nature and the weaknesses of the body by such urges and impulses as hunger, thirst, grief, etc. That Self is transcendent to all these experiences. It does not come within these bodily experiences of ours. There is no up and down of experience; there is no exhilaration, no grief, no emotional reaction of any kind, because the mind itself does not function there. All these things that we call experience here in empirical life are psychological, biological, psychophysical, social, etc. but the ātman is transcendent to all these. It is not biological; it is not physical; it is not social; it is not personal; it is not individual; and so, nothing that pertains to all these aberrations can appertain to the ātman. That ātman is a tremendous Reality. Having known it, people renounce everything. They do not want to speak also, afterwards. "Great knowers, known as Brāhmaṇas, having known this ātman, transcend the desires which are the usual ailment of people in the world. Building a family with children, accumulation of wealth and working for renown, name, fame, power, etc. – these three desires are called the Aiṣaṇas-putraiṣaṇā, vittaiṣaṇā, lokaiṣaṇā. They (the Brahmans) transcend three main desires and no longer want them. They ask for none of these three. Atha bhikṣācaryaṁ caranti: They live the life of mendicants."

Yā hy eva putraiṣaṇā sā vittaiṣaṇā yā vittaiṣaṇā sā lokaiṣaṇā: These desires mentioned are interdependent. When one is there, the other also is there. That which is desire for renown, that which is desire for wealth, that which is desire for children – all these are interdependent desires. Ubhe hy ete eṣaṇe eva bhavataḥ; tasmād brāhmaṇaḥ, pāṇḍityaṁ nirvidya bālyena tiṣṭhāset; bālyaṁ ca pāṇḍityaṁ ca nirvidya, atha muniḥ; amaunaṁ ca maunaṁ ca nirvidya, atha brāhmaṇaḥ. "Therefore, knowing this magnificence of the ātman; having realised which, people give up all longing for the world; having known that Reality which is the ātman of all, one becomes what is designated by the term Brāhmana. And that Brāhmana, the knower of the ātman, renounces all ordinary learning. Having renounced learning of every kind, he becomes like a child. When the pride of learning goes, he becomes like a child, and then he renounces even the state of childhood." This is the consequence of immense knowledge. Bālyena tiṣṭhāset; bālyaṁ ca pāṇḍityaṁ ca nirvidya, atha muniḥ:  "He becomes a real sage." When you transcend learning and transcend even the humility of a child, the innocence of a child, the simplicity of a child; when both these are transcended, you become a Muni, or a real knower, observing true silence inside. That is the state of a sage.

Here, the commentator Achārya Śankara also gives an alternative meaning to the word Bālya which may mean the state of a child, simplicity, goodness, innocence and freedom from sophistication of every kind. The word Bālya also means strength. If it is derived from Bālya – of the child, then Bālyam means childhood; if it is derived from Bāla – strength, then Bālyam means strengthhood. The strength born of the knowledge of the ātman is that on which you should ultimately depend, and not on any other strength of this world. That strength comes to one automatically from the ātman as the Kena Upaniṣhad states – ātmana vīndyate vīryam. One becomes energetic and powerful by contact with the ātman. Sa brāhmaṇaḥ: "Such a person becomes a Brāhmaṇa, a rare specimen in this world." Atha brāhmaṇaḥ. sa brāhmaṇaḥ kena syāt. yena syāt tena idṛśa: "What is the characteristic of this Brāhmaṇa, the knower of the ātman, the Muni, or the sage? How does he live in this world? How does he behave? How does he conduct himself? Is there any standard for his way of living?" "Whatever way he lives, that is the way he lives." That is what the Upaniṣad says. Any way he lives is all right for him. You cannot set a standard for him saying that he should speak like this, he should behave like that, he should sit here, he should stand there, he should, he should not, etc. Nothing of the kind can apply to him. Kena syāt. yena syāt tena idṛśa eva ato'nyad ārtam: "There is no set limit of conduct for this great person. Whatever conduct he sets forth, that can be the standard for others, but others cannot set a standard for him. You may imitate him, but he is not expected to imitate others." Eva ato'nyad ārtam: "Everything else is useless talk. This itself is sufficient for you."

Tato ha kaholaḥ kauṣītakeya upararāma: Then Kahola Kauṣītakeya, who put this question, kept quiet.

Now, the Upaniṣhad takes us gradually, stage by stage, to higher and higher subjects. This section of the Bṛhādaraṇyaka Upaniṣhad, the Third and the Fourth Chapters particularly, are very interesting and may be regarded as a veritable text for the study of Brahma-Vidyā. We started with the lowest subject concerning sacrifice and rose up to the question of the control of the senses and their objects – Grahas, Atigrahas, etc. Then we were brought to the subject of the internal psychological Being whose Reality is the ātman. We were then gradually taken from the microcosmic reality to the Macrocosmic, the individual giving way to the Supreme. The questions, therefore, are arranged, systematically, in a graduated manner. One cannot say whether the people put the questions in this order or whether the Upaniṣhad arranged the questions in this order. Whatever it be, as things appear in the Upaniṣhad, they are systematically arranged, stage by stage, querying first from the lower level, reaching up to the higher, until the Absolute is touched.

Sixth Brahmana: Brahman, the Universal Ground

  1. atha hainaṁ gārgī vācaknavī papraccha, yāgñavalkya, iti hovāca, yad idaṁ sarvam apsv otaṁ ca protaṁ ca, kasmin nu khalv āpa otāś ca protāś ceti. vāyau, gārgi, iti. kasmin nu khalu vāyur, otaś ca protaś ceti. antarikṣa-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti. kasmin nu khalv antarikṣa-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti, gandharva-lokeṣu gārgi, iti. kasmin nu khalu gandharva-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti. āditya-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti. kasmin nu khalv āditya-lokā otāś ca protaś ceti. candra-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti. kasmin nu khalu candra-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti. nakṣatra-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti. kasmin nu khalu nakṣatra-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti. deva-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti. kasmin nu khalu deva-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti. indra-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti. kasmin nu khalu indra-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti. brahma-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti. kasmin nu khalu brahma-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti. sa hovāca, gārgi mātiprākṣīh, mā te mūrdhā vyapaptat, anatipraśnyāṁ vai devatām atipṛechasi, gārgī, mātiprākṣīr iti. tato ha gārgi vācaknavy upararāma.

Atha hainaṁ gārgī vācaknavī papraccha: There was a lady in that audience. She is usually known in the Upaniṣhad literature as Gārgi. She was a knower of Brahman, a daughter of the sage Vācaknu. So, she is called Vācaknavī. Gārgi Vacaknavī stands up. There was only one lady in the whole audience. She asked:

Yāgñavalkya, iti hovāca, yad idaṁ sarvam apsv otaṁ ca protaṁ ca, kasmin nu khalv āpa otāś ca protāś ceti:  "Everything is capable of being designated as resolvable to water because the element of cohesion is necessary for the appearance of any physical object." If there is no cohesive element in the earth, there would be only powder and not a solid body of the earth, even as a building will not be one single whole if that cohesive cementing principle is absent. So, we can say in one way that this principle which is called here the Water principle is the reality behind the Earth principle. "And what is it in which the water is located? If the Earth principle is controlled by the Water principle, it can be regarded as higher than the Earth principle. What is it that is superior to the Water principle?" Vāyau, gārgi, iti: "The Air principle is superior because it is precedes the manifestation of the Water principle in the process of creation." Kasmin nu khalu vāyur, otaś ca protaś ceti: "In what is Vāyu (air) woven like warp and woof?" What is its source? This is the question. Antarikṣa-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti: "The atmospheric world." In the sky the principle of Vāyu is located, there it is centred and into that it can be resolved, ultimately. Kasmin nu khalu candra-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti: "Where is this sky, the atmospheric region, located and where is it centred, to which it can be referred?" Gandharva-lokeṣu gārgi, iti: "The world of Gandharvas is superior in extent and subtlety to the atmospheric and the sky regions." Kasmin nu khalu gandharva-loka otas ca protas ceti: "Where is the Gandharva-loka located? Has it also a support?" "Yes!" āditya-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti: "The region of the sun is superior to the Gandharva-loka. That is its location." Kasmin nu khalv antarikṣa-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti: "Where is this solar region located?" Candra-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti: Here it is said that the Chandra-lokā, or the region of the moon is the location. Here, the moon does not mean the physical moon that you see, but the original condition of the planetary substance from which all the stellar regions can be said to have come out as effects from the cause. They are called Chandra-lokās because they are eternal in nature and not solid masses or orbs shining like the stellar region. Kasmin nu khalu candra-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti:  "Where are these located, ultimately? They have also some support after all." Nakṣatra-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti: "They have their support and location in the region of the stars." Kasmin nu khalu nakṣatra-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti: "Where are the stars located, ultimately?" "These regions which are the sources of even the stellar regions are again located in certain subtler realms. They are the causes of even the appearance of the stars." Deva-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti. "The Naksatra-lokās, the physical realms, all this cosmos which is astronomically viewed, is located in the celestial regions. The physical realm can be regarded as an external appearance of an internal reality which is called here, Deva-lokā, or the celestial paradise." Kasmin nu khalu deva-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti:  "Where is, again, the Deva-lokā, or the world of the gods woven, like warp and woof?" Indra-lokeṣu, gārgi, iti: "The Indra-lokā, the world of the ruler of the celestials, that is superior to the location of the ordinary celestials. The Indra-lokā is the source and is prior to the celestials paradise." Kasmin nu khalu prajā-pati-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti:  "Where is the Indra-lokā located?" Praja-pati-lokesu, gargi, iti: "It is subsequent to Prajāpati-lokā." Here Prajāpati-lokā is identifiable with Virāt Himself. Virāt is the Supreme Power of all the worlds, Indra-lokā and everything downwards. Kasmin nu khalu indra-lokā otāś ca protāś ceti: "How can you say that it is the ultimate? Is there nothing beyond it?" Brahma-lokesu, gargi, iti: "The world of Hiraṇyagarbha is Brahma-lokā." That is the source of even Virāt, or Prajāpati-lokā. Everything is strung in this Ultimate Being. Therefore, it is called Sūtra-ātman. Sūtra is a string. As beads are strung on a thread, so is everything that is created hanging, strung, on this thread of the Cosmos, or the Sūtra-ātman, Brahma, or Hiraṇyagarbha. Ultimate Reality is that in which everything is included in one form or the other-brahma-lokeṣu, gargi, iti. Kasmin nu khalu brahma lokā otās ca protāś ceti: "Where is this Brahma-lokā located? The Supreme Hiraṇyagarbha is the source and the cause of everything, you say. Who is the cause of this?" Sa hovāca, gārgi, mātiprākṣīh: Then Yājñavalkya says: "You are asking too much. You should not ask such questions of this kind. Mātiprākṣīh: If you ask too much, your head will fall down just now. So, do not go beyond permissible limits of logical argument, because it is inadmissible to ask the cause of the Cause of everything. You are asking for the cause of the Supreme Cause. Such a question is meaningless. So, Gārgi-mātiprākṣīh, mā te mūrdhā vyapaptat – by putting stupid questions, may your head not fall. Do not ask questions of this kind which have no meaning. You are asking where the Cause of all causes is situated! Such a question should not be put – mā te mūrdhā vyapaptat, anatipraśnyam vai devatām: This is the Reality. This Supreme Being is That about which no question can be put, and it will not allow any query about It. Atipṛechasi, gārgī: Too much you are asking. Mātiprākṣīh: Do not ask like that." Tato ha gārgī vācaknavī upararāma: Then Gārgi Vācaknavī fearing that her head may fall, kept quiet. She did not speak further.

Seventh Brahmana: The Nature of the Inner Controller

The question that was put by Gārgi Vācaknavī pertained to the various realms of existence, the different worlds which succeed, one after another, in different degrees of density, the succeeding ones pervading the preceding ones and being larger in extent than them; ultimately, the highest pervading principle being regarded as Prajāpati Hiraṇyagarbha, beyond which there can be nothing conceivably more pervasive. Now this question of immanence of Reality is pursued further in a very important section of this Upaniṣhad which is called the Antāryamin Brāhmaṇa. This Brāhmana deals with the great subject 'Antāryamin', or the Supreme Immanent Principle. When Gārgi got down and occupied her seat and did not put any further questions, another sage, Uddālka of renown, Aruna's son, (Aruni), got up from his seat and picked up the discussion with Yājñavalkya.

  1. atha hainam uddālaka āruṇiḥ papraccha: yājñavalkya, iti hovāca madreṣv avasāma, patañcalasya kāpyasya gṛheṣu, yajñam adhīyānāḥ. tasyāsīd bhāryā gandharva-gṛhītā, tam apṛcchāma, ko'sīti: so'bravīt, kabandha ātharvaṇa iti. so'bravīt patañcalaṁ kāpyaṁ yājñikāṁś ca; vettha nu tvam, kāpya, tat sūtram yasminn (v: yena) ayaṁ ca lokaḥ, paraś ca lokaḥ, sarvāṇi ca bhūtāni saṁdṛbdhāni, bhavantīti. so'bravīt patañcalaḥ kāpyam yājñikāṁś ca. vettha nu tvam, kāpya, tam antaryāmiṇam, ya imaṁ ca lokam paraṁ ca lokam sarvāṇi ca bhūtāni yo'ntaro yamayatīti. so'bravīt patañcalaḥ kāpyaḥ nāhaṁ tam, bhagavan, vedeti. so'bravīt patañcalaṁ kāpyaṁ yājñikāṁś ca, yo vai tat, kāpya, sūtraṁ vidyāt, taṁ cāntaryāmiṇam iti, sa brahma-vit, sa loka-vit, sa deva-vit, sa veda-vit, sa bhūta-vit, sa ātma-vit, sa sarva-vit, iti tebhyo'bravīt tad aham veda; tac cet tvam, yājñavalkya, sūtram avidvāms taṁ cāntaryāmiṇam brahmagavīr udajase, mūrdhā te vipatiṣyatīti. veda vā aham, gautama, tat sūtram taṁ cāntaryāmiṇam iti. yo vā idaṁ kaś cid brūyāt, veda vedeti: yathā vettha, tathā brūhīti.

Atha hainam uddālaka āruṇiḥ papraccha: yājñavalkya, iti hovāca: First Uddalaka tells the very same story that was mentioned earlier, in connection with a few disciples of Patañcala Kāpya, who went into the land of Madra and found the daughter of the owner of the house possessed by the Gandharva. Then he says: "We went to that place at night. Having moved to that place, for the purpose of study and performance of our rites, we found that the wife of Patañcala also was possessed by a Gandharva and was speaking something very strange." Madreṣv avasāma, patañcalasya kāpyasya gṛheṣu, yajñam adhīyānāḥ. tasyāsīd bhāryā gandharva-gṛhītā, tam apṛcchāma, ko'sīti: "We asked that spirit, 'Who are you?' The spirit that was speaking through the personality of the wife of Patañcala Kāpya answered. So'bravīt, kabandha ātharvaṇa iti: 'My name is Kabandha, coming as a descendant in the line of ātharvaṇa.' So'bravīt patañcalaṁ kāpyaṁ yājñikāṁś ca: It further continued speaking of its own accord without being queried by us. That Gandharva, the spirit, spoke to the owner of the house, the master of the house, Patañcala and to us. We were all present there. And while he spoke, he put a question to us. That Gandharva himself put a question. He asked our master, Vettha nu tvam, kāpya, tat sūtram: 'O great one who comes as a seer in the line of the sage Kāpya;' Yasminn (v: yena) ayaṁ ca lokaḥ, paraś ca lokaḥ, sarvāṇi ca bhūtāni saṁdṛbdhāni, bhavantīti: 'Do you know the thread in which are strung, as if they are beads, all these worlds, and this world as well as the other worlds, and everything that is created?' All the worlds, all beings, are strung in a thread. 'What is this thread? Do you know this thread?' was the question. How can there be a thread which can contain, or hold together, all the worlds and all the beings? So'bravīt patañcalaḥ kāpyaḥ nāhaṁ tam, bhagavan, vedeti: Then that Master Patañcala said: 'I do not know this Sūtra. This thread that you are speaking of, I am not aware of what it is about.' So'bravīt patañcalaḥ kāpyam yājñikāṁś ca. vettha nu tvam, kāpya, tam antaryāmiṇam: 'Well, you do not know the thread. But do you know that Immanent Principle, the Antāryamin?' 'What sort of immanent principle you are speaking of?' Ya imaṁ ca lokam paraṁ ca lokam sarvāṇi ca bhūtāni yo'ntaro yamayatīti: 'I am speaking of that immanent Being, which controls internally, without being known to anyone, everything that is outside.' This world and other worlds and all beings are regulated, restrained and controlled by something, internally, which is not known to anyone. Its existence is not known to anyone, and yet it controls everyone. 'Do you know that Immanent Principle?' That was another question which that Gandharva put to us when we were in that house. So'bravīt patañcalaḥ kāpyaḥ nāhaṁ tam, bhagavan, vedeti: The same reply was given by us. "We cannot understand what this Immanent Principle means. We have never seen such a thing nor heard about it.' So'bravīt patañcalaṁ kāpyaṁ yājñikāṁś ca: Then he told us: 'You people do not know either of these things. You do not know that thread in which everything is strung, nor do you know this Immanent Principle which controls everything from within. But the one who has this knowledge (of this Sūtra, or the thread, and that Immanent Principle), he alone can be regarded as a knower of Truth, and nobody else.' 'Who is the knower of Reality?' 'That person who has comprehended this Immanent Principle and knows this thread in which everything is strung, that person can be regarded as a knower of Reality. He is a knower of Brahman – sa brahma-vit. And he is a knower of all the worlds at one stroke – sa loka-vit. He is a knower of all the gods, the celestials, at the same time – sa deva-vit. He is the knower of the content of every Veda. He is a real knower of the Veda – sa veda-vit. He is the knower of the inner structure of every created being at the same time – sa bhūta-vit. And he is the knower of the Self of everything – sa ātmā-vit. Well; in short, he is the knower of everything – sa sarva-vit. sa brahma-vit, sa loka-vit, sa deva-vit, sa veda-vit, sa bhūta-vit, sa ātmā-vit, sa sarva-vit: Such a person, alone, can be regarded as all-knowing.' 'What person?' 'The one who knows the Immanent Principle and the thread in which all the worlds are strung together.'"

Tebhyo'bravīt tad aham veda; tac cet tvam, yājñavalkya, sūtram avidvāms taṁ cāntaryāmiṇam brahmagavīr udajase, mūrdhā te vipatiṣyatīti: Now Uddālaka tells Yājñavalkya: "Yājñavalkya! We were told by this Gandharva what this thread was because we did not know about it. He explained it all. We also learnt the nature of the Immanent Principle from this very Gandharva. That is how I know both these things. I know the thread; I know the Immanent Principle. Now, do you know also? Yājñavalkya, I put this question. Without knowing the answer to this question that I put to you, if you drive these cows home, your head will fall." This, he tells Yājñavalkya himself.

Yājñavalkya replies: "Why do you speak like this? I know what you are speaking about. Veda vā aham, gautama, tat sūtram taṁ cāntaryāmiṇam iti: Gautama (that is Uddālaka), I know this thread and the Immanent Principle."

Then Uddālaka says: "What is the use of merely saying 'I know'? Anybody can say 'I know, I know'. Tell me what you know. What is it that you know? Yo vā idaṁ kaś cid brūyāt, veda vedeti yathā vettha, tathā brūhīti: As you know, you let me know what it is that you know."

Yājñavalkya's reply to this question is the famous Antāryamin Brāhmaṇa.

  1. sa hovāca vāyur vai, gautama, tat sūtram; vāyunā vai, gautama, sūtreṇāyaṁ ca lokaḥ paraś ca lokaḥ sarvāṇi ca bhūtāni saṁdṛbdhāni bhavanti, tasmād vai, gautama, puruṣam pretam āhuḥ vyasraṁsiṣatāsyāṅgānīti; vāyunā hi, gautama, sūtreṇa  saṁdṛbdhāni bhavantīti. evam etat, yājñavalkya, antaryāmiṇaṁ brūhīti.

Sa hovāca vāyur vai, gautama, tat sūtram; vāyunā vai, gautama, sūtreṇāyaṁ ca lokaḥ paraś ca lokaḥ sarvāṇi ca bhūtāni saṁdṛbdhāni bhavanti: "O Gautama (āruni Uddālaka); the Supreme Vital Force of the cosmos can be regarded as the thread on which everything is strung, because all bodies, whatever be their structure, are formed in the mould of this Vital Energy. It is this Vital Force of the cosmos that has taken the shape of all these forms, whether they are the forms of the world or are the forms of individual beings. Outside, the very same Energy looks like the world, and inside, as a content thereof, it looks like individuals. It is the subtle constitutive Essence of the whole universe. It cannot be designated by any other name than an ethereal Being, like 'Vāyu', wind, air." And these days, you may say, it is something like electricity, something subtler than that, Prāṇa, Vital Energy. What other word can you use to designate it, or call it? That universal Vital Force is the thread. It is a thread in the sense that it is the power which holds all bodies in proper positions. And every body, individual or otherwise, is strung on this thread in the sense that everything is a form taken by it, and therefore, controlled by it. So, you will not find a place where this is not, and you will not find anything operating unless it Wills. It is His Will and His Action that appears outside as the action of people.

Tasmād vai, gautama, puruṣam pretam āhuḥ vyasraṁsiṣatāsyāṅgānīti; vāyunā hi, gautama, sūtreṇa  saṁdṛbdhāni bhavantīti. evam etat, yājñavalkya, antaryāmiṇaṁ brūhīti: When a person is alive, why does that person look whole and complete and integrated? And why is it that when something happens at the time we call death, there is dismemberment of the body and parts of the body get dislocated and hang loosely without being held firmly? What is the cause? The cause is that this Vital Force was holding the limbs of the body in unison and harmony when the body was alive. What we call life is nothing but the operation of this universal Energy through a particular body. When the particular function through this individual body does not take place, the Energy withdraws itself. There is then no sustaining power left in the building-bricks of the body. So the bricks collapse. There is, therefore, the return of the constituents of the physical body to their sources. They cannot be held in the form which they were assuming when the body was alive. So the body of an individual is nothing but a form assumed, or taken by certain elements. And it begins to function by the action of this Vital Energy. When this action of the Vital Energy is withdrawn, it is called death, or demise of the individual. So, we say that the parts of the body of a dead person get loosened and they are not able to perform the functions that they were doing earlier, merely because this principle is absent.

That, is the thread which controls everything, individual or cosmic. "Well," Uddālaka says, "yes! I have to admit that it is very right. This is the thread in which the worlds and the individuals are strung together. This answer is very correct. I appreciate your reply to my query, but now, what about the Immanent Principle? What is that Immanent Principle? Answer that. Let me hear from you, what it is."

The Immanent Principle is the Antaryāmin, the one that controls everything from within. It is a very peculiar something, whose existence cannot be known for reasons which will be obvious, as we go further. Yet, nothing can be more powerful than that. That which is most powerful and capable of controlling everything is that which cannot be observed by anything, or seen or known. What is that? That is what we call the internal Reality of the cosmos. That we call the Antaryāmin, the Immanent Reality.

  1. yaḥ prthivyāṁ tiṣṭhan pṛthivyā antaraḥ, yam pṛthivī na veda, yasya pṛthivī śarīram, yaḥ pṛthivīm antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.

Yaḥ prthivyāṁ tiṣṭhan pṛthivyā antaraḥ: That principle is inside this very earth, internal to the earth. Outside is the body of the earth, but inside is this principle which holds the earth in unison as a compact completeness. But the earth does not know its existence – yam pṛthivī na veda. The earth and anyone on it cannot know that the principle exists even though it is the cause of the very existence of the earth. Yasya pṛthivī śarīram: The whole earth is the body of this principle, as it were. The principle is embodied in the form of this earth. Yaḥ pṛthivīm antaro yamayati: Internally seated in the very heart of the earth is this principle working. Eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ: This is your own Self. It is the immortal Being. This ātman, which is your own ātman, which is your own Self, is the internal Ruler, the principle that controls all things. And it is the only thing that can be called immortal. Everything else is mortal. Everything moves around it, as a wheel moves round the hub. The hub does not revolve with the wheel. Even so, everything resolves as if mounted on a machine, but this does not revolve. When everything is active, this is not active. When everything is restless, this is full of rest. When everything is visible as an object, this is not seen by anybody. When everything is transient, this is permanent. While everything has a goal to reach, this itself is the goal of everyone. Such is the Immanent Being. This is the Antaryāmin, or the internal ruler of everyone – earth, water, fire, air, ether; everything that is external everything that is internal also, like the physical organs, etc.

  1. yo’psu tiṣṭhann, adbhyo’ntaraḥ, yam āpo na viduḥ, yasyāpaḥ, śarīram, yo’po’ntaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  2. yo'gnau tiṣṭhann, agner antaraḥ, yam agnir na veda, yasyāgniḥ śarīram, yo'gnim antaro yamayati, eṣa ta amṛtaḥ.
  3. yo'ntarikṣe tiṣṭhann antarikṣād antaraḥ, yam antarikṣaṁ na veda, yasyāntarikṣaṁ śarīram, yo'ntarikṣam antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  4. yo vāyau tiṣṭhann vāyor antaraḥ, yaṁ vāyur na veda, yasya vāyuḥ śarīram, yo vāyum antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  5. yo divi tiṣṭhan divo'ntaraḥ, yaṁ dyaur na veda, yasya dyauḥ śarīram, yo divam antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  6. ya āditye tiṣṭhann ādityād antaraḥ, yam ādityo na veda, yasyādityaḥ śarīram, ya ādityam antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  7. yo dikṣu tiṣṭhan, digbhyo'ntaraḥ, yaṁ diśo na viduḥ, yasya diśaḥ śarīram, yo diśo antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  8. yaś candra-tārake tiṣṭhaṁś candra-tārakād antaraḥ, yaṁ candra-tārakaṁ na veda, yasya candra-tārakaṁ śarīram yaś candra-tārakaṁ antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  9. ya ākāśe tiṣṭhan ākāśād antaraḥ, yam ākāśo na veda, yasyākāśaḥ śarīram, ya ākāśam antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.

Now this passage goes on, saying that the Water Principle, like the Earth Principle, is also controlled in its action by this inner Ruler, and the Water Principle cannot know it, because it is its body. Likewise, all the elements are controlled by it. The Fire Principle, which is above the Water Principle, and the Atmospheric Principle which is in turn above it, and above which you have got the heaven, then after that you have got the sun, then there are the quarters, or the Diśas, the various directions, then the moon, then space and everything that you can think of in your mind – all these are repeatedly asserted to be the body of the internal Ruler.

  1. yas tamasi tiṣṭhaṁs tamaso'ntaraḥ, yaṁ tamo na veda yasya tamaḥ śarīram, yas tamo'ntaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  2. yas tejasi tiṣṭhaṁs tejaso'ntaraḥ, yaṁ tejo na veda, yasya tejaḥ śarīram, yas tejo'ntaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ ity adhidaivatam, athādhibhūtam.

This description of the Antaryāmin, or the internal Ruler, is given from three standpoints – the transcendent, or the Adhidaivika description, the physical, or the objective, known as the Adhibhautika, and the internal or the subjective, known as the Adhyātmika. All the gods, all the celestials are controlled by this principle. All the elements are controlled by this principle. And every individual being also is controlled by this principle.

  1. yaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu tiṣṭhan, sarvebhyo bhūtebhyo'ntaraḥ, yam sarvāṇi bhūtāni na viduḥ, yasya sarvāṇi bhūtāni śarīram, yaḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ, amṛtaḥ. ity adhibhūtam; athādhyātmam.

Yaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu tiṣṭhan: In all beings, this is seated. Sarvebhyo bhūtebhyo'ntaraḥ: He is internal to all beings. He is internal to you; internal to me. Though one individual is outside the other, one is exclusive of the other, this principle is interior to all. Each individual may be regarded as an object to the other, but this persists in existing as the internal Reality of every individual. While it is internal to me, it is internal to you also, despite the fact that you are external to me and I am external to you. So the externality of ourselves as personalities, or individuals, does not in any way affect the internality of this Reality. So all the external manifestations, not withstanding this, remains as a Supreme internality. Every being is controlled by it. Yam sarvāṇi bhūtāni na viduḥ: Yet no one can know it – yasya sarvāṇi bhūtāni śarīram, yaḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ, amṛtaḥ. ity adhibhūtam; athādhyātmam.

  1. yaḥ prāṇe tiṣṭhan prāṇād antaraḥ, yam prāṇo na veda, yasya prāṇaḥ, śarīram, yaḥ prāṇam antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  2. yo vāci tiṣṭhan vāco'ntaraḥ, yaṁ vāṅ na veda, yasya vāk śarīraṁ yo vācam antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  3. yaś cakṣuṣi tiṣṭhaṁs cakṣuṣo'ntaraḥ, yaṁ cakṣur na veda, yasya cakṣuḥ śarīraṁ, yas cakṣur antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  4. yaḥ śrotre tiṣṭhan śrotrād antaraḥ, yaṁ śrotraṁ na veda, yasya śrotraṁ śarīraṁ, yaḥ śrotram antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  5. yo manasi tiṣṭhan manaso'ntaraḥ, yam mano na veda,  yasya manaḥ śarīram, yo mano'ntaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  6. yas tvaci tiṣṭhaṁs tvaco'ntaraḥ, yaṁ tvaṅ na veda, yasya tvak śarīraṁ, yas tvacam antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.
  7. yo vijñāne tiṣṭhan, vijñānād antaraḥ, yam vijñānaṁ na veda, yasya vijñānaṁ śarīraṁ, śarīram, yo vijñānam antaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ.

Atha adhyātmam: Now, internal organs are described. The Prāṇa that we breathe, the breath within, is also the function of this Reality within. The Prāṇa, the speech (Vāk), the eyes (Cakṣu), the ears (Śrotre), the mind (Manas), the intellect (Vijñāna) and all the things you call as your own in this individual body – all these are but formations of this one Being. It appears as the celestials when you visualise it from the transcendental level; it appears as the universe outside when you visualise it from the external point of view, and it appears as the individuals when you conceive it as the visible bodies of Jīvas. There is no separate group of gods, or celestials, other than this. There is no world, or universe, outside this. And there are no individuals external to it. No gods, no world, no individuals! All these three sets of apparent reality are only the manifestations, or rather appearances, of this one Supreme Being.

The term 'internal' has a very special sense in this context. Just as we are inside a hall, we may wrongly imagine that this Reality is internal to the bodies of individuals, worlds, etc. It is not located 'inside' in that spatial sense or in a temporal sense. It is a philosophical concept or a metaphysical one. It is a highly intricate concept which cannot be absorbed into the mind, inasmuch as the mind usually thinks in terms of space and time. Whenever we speak of 'inside', we mean 'inside' in space. But this is not a spatial insideness. It is a spiritual existence, a condition of consciousness which is called 'internal', because it cannot be regarded as an object of observation. You cannot observe consciousness; you cannot observe your own self; you cannot observe your own understanding or your awareness. You cannot even think it, because even thinking is a spatial activity of the mind. So in that sense, it is internal. It is the Reality. It cannot be seen, because it is necessary for the act of seeing. Without its operation, without its Being, without its existence, nothing can be seen. You cannot think; you cannot hear; you cannot understand, unless That is there. So, how can you apply this yardstick or measuring rod of perception to that Reality which is the Cause of even your perception, hearing, understanding etc.?

  1. yo retasi tiṣṭhan retaso'ntaraḥ, yaṁ reto na veda, yasya retaḥ śarīraṁ, yo reto'ntaro yamayati, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ; adṛṣto draṣṭā, aśrutaḥ śrotā, amato mantā, avijñāto vijñātā. nānyo'to'sti draṣṭā, nānyo'to'sti śrotā, nānyo'to'sti mantā, nānyo'to'sti vijñātā; eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ; ato'nyad ārtam. tato hoddalāka āruṇir upararāma.

Eṣa ta ātmā: In short, this is the ātman. What we call the Antāryamin, or the Immanent Reality, is the ātman, the Self. When we say it is the Self, we mean it is Consciousness. We mean both things in the same sense. It is an awareness which cannot be the object of another awareness. Therefore, it is not capable of being seen. Adṛṣto draṣṭā: This Reality is the unseen Seer of all beings. You cannot see it, but it sees you. It sees everyone, but no one can see it – adristo drasta. Aśrutaḥ śrotā: It can hear everything, but no one can hear it. Amato manta: You cannot think it, but it can think you. Avijñāto vijñātā: You cannot understand it, but it can understand you. Nānyo'to'sti draṣṭā: There is no other seer but that. Nanyo'to'sti srota: There is no hearer other than that. Nānyo'to'sti mantā: There is no thinker but that. Nānyo'to'sti vijñātā: There is no understander but that. So, if anyone thinks, it is that which thinks; if anyone hears, it is that which hears; if anyone sees, it is that which sees. If anyone understands anything, it is not you or I that understands, it is that which understands. If anyone does anything, it is that which does.

Eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ:  "This is the Self; this is the internal Ruler; this is the Reality. This is immortal, O Uddālaka. Everything else is useless. Other than this, nothing has any sense or meaning – ato'nyad ārtam. This is the only Being that is worthwhile considering and approaching and realising." Tato hoddalāka āruṇir upararāma: The question is answered beautifully, and the Antaryāmin has been described. Uddālaka holds his speech and occupies his seat. He has nothing else to say.

Eighth Brahmana: The Unqualified Brahman

Then Gārgi gets up once again – the same lady who put questions and was asked to keep quiet and not ask further questions. She is not yet satisfied and again gets up. Now she puts more serious questions than the ones she put earlier.

  1. atha ha vācaknavy uvāca, brāhmaṇā bhagavantaḥ, hanta, aham imaṁ dvau praśnau prakṣyāmi; tau cen me vakṣyati, na vai jātu yuṣmākam imaṁ kaś cid brahmodyaṁ jeteti. pṛccha gārgīti..

Atha ha vācaknavy uvāca, brāhmaṇā bhagavantaḥ, hanta, aham imaṁ dvau praśnau prakṣyāmi:  "Learned men, now I am going to put two questions to this sage. If he is able to answer these two questions of mine, none of you is going to defeat him in argument – tau cen me vakṣyati, na vai jātu yuṣmākam imaṁ kaś cid brahmodyaṁ jeteti. There is no use arguing with him afterwards, if he is capable of answering these two questions that I am going to put now." Pṛccha gārgīti: "Ask, Gārgi," says Yājñavalkya.

  1. sa hovāca: ahaṁ vai tvā, yājñavalkya, yathā kāśyo vā vaideho vā ugra-putraḥ, ujjyaṁ dhanur adhijyaṁ kṛtvā, dvau bāṇavantau sapatna-ativyādhinau haste kṛtvā upottiṣṭhet, evam evāham tvā dvābhyām praśnābhyām upodasthām, tau me brūhīti. pṛccha, gārgi, iti.

Now, she addresses Yājñavalkya directly, and says: "Yājñavalkya; now I cast two questions upon you, as if they are piercing arrows. As if a learned archer, an expert warrior come from Benaras or some kingdom of Videha may string his bow and tie two arrows, pointed and pain-giving, likewise I dart two pointed arrows of questions upon you, just now. Be prepared for them – dvau bāṇavantau sapatna-ativyādhinau haste kṛtvā upottiṣṭhet, evam evāham tvā dvābhyām praśnābhyām upodasthām, tau me brūhīti." Pṛccha gārgi, iti: Yājñavalkya says: "What are these two piercing questions?"

  1. sa hovāca: yad ūrdhvam, yājñavalkya, divaḥ, yad avāk pṛthivyāḥ, yad antarā dyāvāpṛthivī ime, yad bhūtaṁ ca bhavac ca bhaviṣyac cety ācakṣate; kasmiṁs tad otaṁ ca protaṁ ceti.

Now, Gārgi takes up this point and speaks – sa hovāca: yad ūrdhvam, yājñavalkya: "Yājñavalkya; that which is above the heaven; yad avāk pṛthivyāḥ: that which is below the earth; yad antarā dyāvāpṛthivī: that which is between the earth and the heaven; ime, yad bhūtaṁ ca bhavac ca bhaviṣyac cety ācakṣate: that which is identical with whatever was, identical with whatever is and also identical with whatever will be; kasmiṁs tad otaṁ ca protaṁ ceti: in what is this peculiar thing rooted and founded? Is there a basis or a foundation or a support or a substratum for this peculiar thing I am speaking of? This strange something which is above, as well as below, as well as between things; that which was in the past, that which is in the present, and shall be in the future, there is something like that; if there is something like that, on what is it founded as if there is a support?"

  1. sa hovāca: yad ūrdhvam, gārgi, divaḥ, yad avāk pṛthivyāḥ, yad antarā dyāvāpṛthivī ime, yad bhūtaṁ ca bhavac ca bhaviṣyac cety ācakṣate; ākāśe tad otaṁ ca protaṁ ceti.

Then Yājñavalkya says: "Gārgi! This is strung in a subtle ethereal principle. You cannot call it by any other name. That ethereal principle has not the distinction of pervasion of objects. It is subtler than that which pervades. And that which you are speaking of as what is above and what is below and what is between and what is the past, present and future, that is rooted in some undifferentiated something. That undifferentiated reality can be designated as ether. It is not the physical ether; it is an unmanifest ether – avyākrita ākāṣa."

  1. sa hovāca: namas te'stu, yājñavalkya, yo ma etaṁ vyavocaḥ: aparasmai dhārayasveti. pṛccha, gārgi, iti.

  2. sa hovāca: yad ūrdhvam, yājñavalkya, divaḥ, yad avāk pṛthivyāḥ, yad antarā dyāvā-pṛthivī ime, yad bhūtaṁ ca bhavac ca bhaviṣyac cety ācakṣate: kasmiṁs tad otaṁ ca protaṁ ceti.

"Well; very true! What is this Avyākrita ākāsa? That also must have some basis. Yājñavalkya, I am very much satisfied with your answer," says Gārgi – namas te'stu, yājñavalkya, yo ma etaṁ vyavocaḥ: aparasmai dhārayasveti. pṛccha, gārgi, iti: "Now I put you a further question, consequent upon this answer of yours."

  1. sa hovāca: yad ūrdhvam, gārgī, divaḥ, yad avāk pṛthivyāḥ,  yad antarā dyāvāpṛthivī ime, yad bhūtaṁ ca bhavac ca bhaviṣyac cety ācakṣate  ākāśā eva tad otaṁ ca protaṁ ceti; kasmin nu khalv ākāśā otaś ca protaś ceti.

"This principle which you call unmanifest ether, the undifferentiated background of that which is everywhere, (as a matter of fact, Gārgi is referring to the very same 'Sūtra' of which Uddālaka spoke earlier. This 'Sūtra', or the thread in which everything is strung, is that which is above and below and between and it is the past, present and future. It is rooted in something. That something is an indescribable, unmodified and homogeneous substance, they call it Avyākrita) in what is that rooted? Has it also some foundation?"

  1. sa hovāca: etad vai tad akṣaram, gārgī, brāhmaṇā  abhivadanti, asthūlam, anaṇu, ahrasvam, adīrgham, alohitam, asneham, acchāyam, atamaḥ, avāyv anākāśam, asaṅgam, arasam, agandham, acakṣuṣkam, aśrotram, avāk, amanaḥ, atejaskam, aprāṇam, amukham, amātram, anantaram, abāhyam; na tad aśnāti kiṁ cana, na tad aśnāti kaś cana.

"This foundation is nothing but the Absolute. Beyond that, there can be nothing. That is the immaculate Absolute," says Yājñavalkya. Etad vai tad akṣaram: "It is imperishable. You cannot go on answering questions like this indefinitely, until you get exhausted of description. The final point of all answers to every question is the imperishable Reality. That is the last resort of all thought, all speech and all definition. The great ones say, this is Akṣara – etad vai tad akṣaram, gārgī, brāhmaṇā  abhivadanti, asthūlam: It is not gross, therefore, it cannot be visualised. It is not subtle, because to call it subtle would be to distinguish it from the gross. It is inseparable from that which is called the gross. Therefore, I cannot call it subtle also. It is not gross because it is not visible as an object; it is not subtle because it is not different from the gross. So it is not gross, not subtle – asthūlam, anaṇu. Ahrasvam, adīrgham: You cannot call it long; you cannot call it short, because it is not in space. When it is not in space, how can you measure it and call it of this length, of this measure and that length, etc.? So I cannot call it of this measure or that measure. Neither it is short nor long. It has no distance, no dimensions. Alohitam: It cannot be called as possessed of any colour, because colour is the perception of the eyes. It is an object. And it is already ruled out as being an object of any kind. So it has no colour. It has no connection with anything – asneham. It cannot be associated with anything; it cannot be related to anything. It stands by itself. It cannot be regarded as the cause of anything, also. It does not cast a shadow. It is not the light, as we generally speak of. It is not sunlight, because sunlight casts a shadow. It does not cast a shadow. It is light by itself – acchāyam. Atamah: It is not darkness also, because it sees everything. It is the utmost brilliance that you can think of. It is not space; it is not air; it is not water; it is not earth; it is not an object; it is not individual; it is not you; it is not me – avāyv anākāśam. Asaṅgam: It stands by itself. It has no space. You cannot grasp it through the senses of taste, sight, hearing, etc. – arasam. Agandham, acakṣuṣkam aśrotram: It has no eyes; it sees everything. It has no ears; it hears everything. Avāk: It has no speech, but it speaks, and all the languages are known to it. Amanah: It has no mind; it thinks all things. Atejaskam: It cannot be called brilliance also, ultimately. You call it Light of lights. The ultimate conception of Reality is light. It is not even Light if you designate it as the light which you think of in your mind. It is not a light that shines upon something; it is a Light that stands by its own Self. Aprāṇam: It has no Prāṇa; it does not breathe. It is not an individual being. Amukham: It has no mouth. It has no organs. It has no measure of any kind, sensory or psychological – amātram. It is not inside; it is not outside – anantaram abāhyam. If you say 'inside', it means that it is not 'outside'. If you say 'outside', it means that it is not 'inside'. So, neither is this definition applicable to it, nor that. It has no inside and outside, merely because it is not in space and not in time. It does not consume anything – and it is not consumed by anyone. na tad aśnāti kiṁ cana, na tad aśnāti kaś cana: Neither it wants anything, not is wanted by anybody. Nothing is an object to it, and it is not an object to anyone. Such a mysterious thing is the ultimate Reality of even that foundation, unmanifested substratum of the all-pervading principle. This is the Para Brahman; this is the Absolute; this is All."

  1. etasya vā akṣarasya praśāsane, gārgi, sūryācandramasau vidhṛtau tiṣṭhataḥ; etasya vā akṣarasya praśāsane, gārgi, dyāvāpṛithivyau vidhṛte tiṣṭhataḥ; etasya vā akṣarasya praṣāsane, gārgi, nimeṣā, muhūrtā, ahorātraṇy, ardhamāsā, māsā, ṛtavaḥ, saṁvatsara iti. vidhṛtās tiṣṭhanti; etasya vā akṣarasya praśāsane, gārgi, prācyo'nyā nadyaḥ syandante śvetebhyaḥ parvatebhyaḥ, pratīcyo'nyāḥ, yām yāṁ cā diśam anu; etasya vā akṣarasya praśāsane, gārgi, dadato manuṣyāḥ praśaṁsanti; yajamānaṁ devāḥ, darvīṁ pitaro 'nvāyattāḥ.

"By the command of this Being, everything functions in this world, O Gārgi. It is not a command like that of a boss, by word of mouth, or even by gesture. Its command is merely its Existence. It merely is, and orders by the very Being that it is. It does not act in the way in which others act. Its action and its Being are identical, so we cannot use such epithets as action, thinking, speaking, etc. in regard to it. We do not know how to describe it. Etasya vā akṣarasya praśāsane, gārgi, sūryācandramasau vidhṛtau: If the sun does not fall on your head, and if the moon is following its own course in orbit, if these stellar regions are held together in their proper positions, it is because of the Existence of this Being. Etasya vā akṣarasya praśāsane, gārgi, dyāvāpṛithivyau vidhṛte tiṣṭhataḥ: The earth and the heaven and the intermediary atmosphere are held together in position on account of the Existence of this Being. Etasya vā akṣarasya praṣāsane, gārgi, nimeṣā, muhūrtā, ahorātraṇy, ardhamāsā, māsā, ṛtavaḥ, saṁvatsara iti. vidhṛtās tiṣṭhanti: All this distinction that you call in time, as year and month and day and night, etc. and hours and minutes and what not – all these distinctions assume a meaning on account of the operation of this Being in a very subtle manner. Etasya vā akṣarasya praśāsane, gārgi, prācyo'nyā nadyaḥ syandante: The rivers flow in different directions because of the operation of this Being only. Everything conducts itself in its proper course, in harmony with the law of this Being, and if that were not to be, there would be complete chaos. Śvetebhyaḥ parvatebhyaḥ, pratīcyo'nyāḥ, yām yāṁ cā diśam anu; etasya vā akṣarasya praśāsane, gārgi, dadato manuṣyāḥ praśaṁsanti; yajamānaṁ devāḥ, darvīṁ pitaro 'nvāyattāḥ: When you do a charitable act, it is said that it is a good act. Why is a charitable act, a good act? Because of the law of this Being that operates. Otherwise, there can be nothing called goodness. When you worship divine beings, celestials, we say it is a devotional act. Why is it a devotional act? Because of the law of this Being that acts. When you offer libations to ancestors, it is regarded as an auspicious rite because of the reward that comes out of it. And the reward of any action is possible only because of the inexorable Law of this Being that is the Supreme Absolute."

There is a great mystery and order that we can observe in the workings of the world. The method which is adopted by the functions of nature seems to be following a sort of law which cannot be violated. The laws of nature are so mathematically precise, so exact to the point of logical perfection, that their existence is incomprehensible without assuming the presence of an integrating Power. This is what Yājñavalkya tells Gārgi in reply to her great question. Everything operates on account of a Supreme Cause, which cannot even be called a mere cause in the sense of an instrumental operator outside the material of the effect. It is a Cause which is interwoven in the structure of the body of the effect, so that it (the Cause) is hidden inside the effect and works from inside. It is not like a carpenter making a table, in which case, also, we may say that the table is the effect and the carpenter is the cause of the table. Not so is this Causal relation here. The hidden presence of the Cause, inextricably involved in the presence of the effect, makes it impossible for the effect to work in a manner contrary to, or different from, the way that is laid down by the principle of the constitution of the Cause. The structure, the constitution of the Cause, is the determining factor in regard to the way in which the effect works. Not only the way in which the effect works but even the shape which the effect takes, the form or body it assumes, together with the activities that it undertakes in any direction whatsoever – all these things seem to be merely an obedience that it shows to the Cause, which exists, not outside it like a boss or a master, but which is its own inner Self or Antāryamin.

The Cause that we are speaking of here is not a master in the sense of a ruler outside, but an Inner Controller, a Regulator, a Force which is organically involved in the existence of everything that can be called the effect – the whole universe. There is, therefore, an organic connection, a vital relationship, a living contact between the Cause and the effect. If there should be such an exact, precise movement of nature, how can that be accounted for, unless there is something which is behind it; some mechanism which can be considered as the cause of this precision that we observe in nature? The precision of nature's working is such that you can even predict what can happen in nature, physically. Calculations are possible in such a manner that we can know when a particular planetary motion will take place even two hundred years or three hundred years beforehand. The prediction of anything, and the determining of any possible eventuality in the future, would not be possible unless there is a vital connection between the present condition and the future. Not only does the present determine the future, but it is in turn determined by the past. The past, present and future, involving the entire working of the Cosmos, is a marvellous machine which surpasses the comprehension of human understanding. How can this be accounted for unless there is a Supreme Intelligence, an Architect of the Cosmos who has fashioned this entire formation which we regard as objects, bodies, etc? The Antāryamin Brāhmaṇa so far has also pointed out that it is not merely the general structure of the universe that is so determined, but even the particular individualities of the content of the universe. Even as the Cause is vitally involved in the existence of the universe as its effect, so is this universe involved, vitally, in an organic connection, with all its effects, such as we, the individuals.

So, there is an internal relationship of the transcendent, the universal and the particular. These three are called in the Antaryāmin Brāhmaṇa as the Adhidaivika, Adhibhautika and the Adhyātmika principles. They are not three different realities. Our existence and activity, even our way of thinking and understanding, our action and reaction – all this is determined by the structure of the universe. And the structure of the universe is determined, again, by something which transcends the nature of the universe in its visible form. And it is because of this inexorable legal connection, logical relationship, that exists internally among the transcendent, the universal and the particular, that anything that we do can produce an effect, or a result. When we think, when we speak, when we act, a result is produced. A result cannot be produced unless there is a connection between that causal factor and the result that is expected. That connection is invisible. This connection, this invisible potency that regulates the nature of the effect in its relation to the cause is what is called Karma, secretly mentioned by Yājñavalkya to his friend, in another context.

All good deeds in this world are so-called because of the goodness of this Law that exists everywhere. It is good because it is universally impartial, absolutely just to the point of logical perception. It has no friend or foe, and it has no necessity for modification of constitution at any time. This Law of the Eternal never changes. It does not need or call for amendments with the passage of time. The circumstances of the lives of people do not call for changes in Eternal Law, as is the case with human law. Circumstances in society call for amendment, but no such amendment is necessary in the Law of the Absolute. It is eternally fixed, because even the necessity for amendment, which has circumstances, apparently, as its cause, are determined by the Law. The so-called change of circumstances in the future is a part of the ordinance that has been fixed already by the Eternal. So, even all possible changes in the future are in the bosom of the Cosmic Reality. There is no such thing as a chaotic indeterminate future possibility which cannot be predicted. This makes it possible for the Eternal Law to be also Omniscient at the same time.

If there is no interconnectedness of the universal principle in past, present and future, there cannot be anything called Omniscience. How can you know what is going to happen in the future if the future is undetermined? If anything can happen in the future, and no one can know what is going to happen at any time in the future, Omniscience is not possible. But the very possibility of Omniscience is a proof of everything being fixed forever, and no change is possible. Such is the grandeur of this Absolute. Yājñavalkya speaks to Gārgi: "And whoever knows this, he alone knows anything worthwhile. Whoever does not know this, does not know anything." Any knowledge, minus the vitality of this Eternal Wisdom, cannot be regarded as worthwhile for ultimate purposes. They have a working utility but are not ultimately valid. The ultimate meaning of a thing lies in its connection with this Eternal Law. If the Eternal is disconnected, everything that may appear utilitarian and valuable will perish one day or the other. The transiency of things, the perishability of nature, and the character of mortality that you see in anything, is due to the severance of the particulars from the universal which has its Law, defined already, but which the individual cannot grasp or understand.

Mortality or death, and perishability and transiency, etc. experienced by us here are actually connected with our lack of awareness or knowledge of that Law of the Absolute. What is required is not a change or a transformation in things, because that is not possible, but a consciousness of what is happening. The impossibility of the human mind to comprehend the pros and cons of all things in their universal interconnectedness creates a false impression in the very same mind that things are indeterminate; things have to be done in this way, that way, etc. There is no such thing called for. What is necessary is an awakening into the fact of this interconnectedness of things. And if this knowledge is not to come forth, any other knowledge is not going to help us.

  1. yo vā etad akṣaram, gārgi, aviditvāsmiṁl loke juhoti, yajate, tapas tapyate, bahūni, varṣa-sahasrāṇy antavad evāsya tad bhavati; yo vā etad akṣaram, gārgi, aviditvāsmāl lokāt praiti, sa kṛpaṇaḥ; atha ya etad akṣaram, gārgi, viditvāsmāl lokāt praiti, sa brāhmaṇaḥ.

Yo vā etad akṣaram, gārgi, aviditvāsmiṁl loke juhoti, yajate, tapas tapyate, bahūni, varṣa-sahasrāṇy antavad evāsya tad bhavati: "Gārgi; there may be many people in this world who perform large sacrifices and give much in charity and do great austerities or penances for years and years together. For thousands of years they may do these virtuous deeds in this world, but if they do not know this secret of the Absolute, then perishable is the effect of all this activity." Even the thousands of years of penance and philanthropy will yield nothing worthwhile in the end. It will fall like withered leaves, with no life in it, if it is disconnected from this Vitality which is the Supreme Absolute. Yo vā etad akṣaram, gārgi, aviditvāsmāl lokāt praiti, sa kṛpaṇaḥ: "Miserable, indeed, is the fate of that person who does not have this knowledge." Wherever he goes, he will have defeat, frustration, suffering, agony and anguish of the mind caused by the disconnection of his awareness from this Reality that is everywhere. Atha ya etad akṣaram, gārgi, viditvāsmāl lokāt praiti, sa brāhmaṇaḥ: "He is called a Brāhmaṇa, or a great knower, who departs from this world, having known this Reality." The goal of life is therefore the realisation of this Supreme Being, and every other activity is an auxiliary to this realisation. Whatever virtue, whatever righteous deeds that we may have to perform as our duty in the different walks of life in the world – all these are only of an auxiliary value, an ordinary utility. They are valuable only because they are passages to the experience and the knowledge of this Ultimate Goal of life. The Ultimate Goal of life is the value of everything in life. It is not ultimate in the sense of a future in time. Again we have to correct this mistake if it occurs to the mind of any person. It is not something that will happen tomorrow, and therefore, it has no connection with what is happening today. It is not ultimate in a temporal or spatial sense. It is ultimate in a logical sense only, not spatial and temporal. It is connected even with the least of our actions, even today at this very moment. So, even the smallest deed that we perform, even the least thought that occurs to our mind, at this very moment today, will have no meaning and no worth if it is disconnected from the Goal for which it is to be directed, of which it is a means. If this point is not remembered in the mind, whatever we do is a waste, and life will not yield the fruit that is expected out of it.

  1. tad vā etad akṣaram, gārgi, adṛṣṭaṁ draṣṭṛ, aśrutam, śrotṛ, amatam mantṛ, avijñātaṁ vijñātṛ, nānyad ato'sti draṣṭṛ, nānyad ato'sti śrotṛ, nānyad ato'sti mantṛ, nānyad ato'sti vijñātṛ; etasmin nu khalv akṣare, gārgi, ākāśa otaś ca protaś ca.

Tad vā etad akṣaram, gārgi, adṛṣṭaṁ draṣṭṛ: "But Gārgi; this great wonder about which I am speaking to you cannot be seen by anybody." It cannot be seen because it is the Seer. How can you see your own eyes? Nobody has seen one's own eyes, because the eye is the seer. How can you comprehend your own mind and behold your own understanding? They cannot be seen because they are the principles which are the subjects of all such psychological actions and functions. "So Gārgi; this Imperishable Absolute is the Seer of everything, but you cannot see It." How can you see It? By becoming It. How can you become It? By assimilating Its character. What is Its character? Non-objectivity. It is a tremendous blow to the mind even to conceive what non-objectivity is – adṛṣṭaṁ draṣṭṛ. Aśrutam, śrotṛ. (to note: written above in sloka #11: adṛṣṭaṁ draṣṭṛ, aśrutam, śrotṛ) It is the Hearer of everything, but you cannot hear it. Amatam mantri: This is a repetition of what was mentioned earlier in another context. It is the Thinker of everything, but it itself cannot be thought by anybody. Avijñātaṁ vijñātṛ: It understands everything, but you cannot understand it. You cannot understand it because it is the Cause and you are the effect. It understands everything because it is the Cause of everything and everything is its effect. Nānyad ato'sti draṣṭṛ: There is no other Seer but That. Nānyad ato'sti śrotṛ: There is no Hearer but That. Nānyad ato'sti mantṛ: There is no Thinker except That. Nānyad ato'sti vijñātṛ: There is no other Understander than That. Etasmin nu khalv akṣare, gārgi, ākāśa otaś ca protaś ca: The unmanifested āvyakrita, ākāsa, the ether supreme, is woven warp and woof, lengthwise and breadthwise, in this Eternal Absolute." Everything is woven in it. You will find even the least of things there, even the minutest and the most insignificant of things can be found in that Supreme Eternal Absolute.

  1. sa hovāca; brāhmaṇā bhagavantaḥ, tad eva bahu manyedhvam yad asmān namaskāreṇa mucyedhvam; na vai jātu yuṣmākam imaṁ kaścid brahmodyaṁ jeteti. tato ha vācaknavy upararāma.

Gārgi, after having listened to this reply, this discourse of Yājñavalkya, speaks to the whole audience: "Friends! Learned men! There is no use of speaking to him further. We should not put any more questions. You must regard yourself blessed if you can be let off by him merely by a salute. You do prostration to him and go away from this place. Nobody can defeat this man in argument. No one can speak like him, and there seems to be nothing which he does not know. So why put further questions?" And saying this, Gārgi Vācaknavy, the great lady saint, the knower of Brahman, occupied her seat.