Friday, 28 December 2018

Samarth Bharat Parva - 3

We have tradition of Brahmavadini. It is one of strong and strong and major aspect of our tradition. Here is a dialogue between Gargi And Yajnavalkya.

The  country  of  Videha  was  ruled  by  the  great  King  Janaka. Once he performed a sacrifice in which plenty of gifts were given away to scholars and pious men. Erudite Brahmins from Kuru and Panchala, the famous seats of learning, were assembled there either on invitation or as spectators.

At the sight of that large gathering of Vedic scholars, a desire arose  in  the  mind  of  King  Janaka  to  know  who  was  the  most erudite among them. He had a thousand young cows with horns adorned with gold brought near the place where the sacrifice was being  conducted.  Then,  addressing  the  assembly,  he  declared, 'Respected sires, let him, the greatest Vedic scholar among you, take away these cows home.' Silence prevailed for a time, for none dared to claim that supreme honour for himself.

Then Yajnavalkya rose and ordered his disciple to drive the cows to his home. But then a number of Brahmins sprang to their  feet  and  challenged  Yajnavalkya's  tacit  declaration of his own supremacy in scholarship. Volleys of questions were shot at him, to all of which he gave convincing replies. When one by one the  scholars  were  silenced,  there  rose  Gargi,  the  daughter  of Vachaknu, to engage Yajnavalkya in  a scholarly  dispute.  What followed is one of the most famous of upanishadic dialogues.

Gargi: 'If all that is composed of earth is pervaded within and without by water, what pervades water?'
Yajnavalkya: 'Air pervades water.'
Gargi: 'What pervades air?'
Yajnavalkya: 'Sky pervades air.'
Gargi: 'What pervades the sky?'
Yajnavalkya:   'The   worlds   of   the   Gandharvas   (celestial minstrels) pervade the sky'
Gargi: 'What pervades the worlds of the Gandharvas?
Yajnavalkya:  'The  worlds  of  the  sun  pervade  the  worlds  of  the Gandharvas.'
Gargi: 'What pervades the worlds of the sun?'
Yajnavalkya: 'The worlds of the moon pervade those of the sun.'
Gargi: 'What pervades the worlds of the moon.'
Yajnavalkya The worlds of the stars pervade those of the moon.'
Gargi: 'What pervades the worlds of the stars?'
Yajnavalkya 'The worlds of the Gods pervade those of the stars,'
Gargi: 'What pervades the worlds of the Gods?'
Yajnavalkya: 'The worlds of Indra pervade those of the Gods.'
Gargi: 'What pervades the worlds of Indra?'
Yajnavalkya: 'The worlds of Virat pervade those of Indra.'
Gargi: 'What pervades the worlds of Virat?'
Yajnavalkya: 'The worlds of Hiranyagarbha pervade those of Virat.'
Gargi: 'What pervades the worlds of Hiranyagarbha?'

At  this  stage  Yajnavalkya  realized  that  his  illustrious inter locutor was going too far.

The  Reality  which  is  beyond  Hiranyagarbha  or  the  Cosmic Mind  cannot  be  known  by  the  ordinary  mind,  much  less described in words. Mind and speech turn backwards unable to reach  the  Supreme  Reality  which  can  be  known  only  through direct  intuitive  experience. 

Therefore,  Yajnavalkya  told  Gargi, 'Do not, O Gargi, endeavour to go further in your attempt to know the Supreme Reality that pervades Hiranyagarbha and, for that matter,  pervades  all  the  worlds  previously  mentioned.If you persist, your head may fall off!' Thus admonished Gargi desisted from further questioning.

Then Uddalaka, the son of Aruna, rose and put a series of brilliant questions to which Yajnavalkya gave luminous answers. When Uddalaka sat down, Gargi again got up, this time with two more  questions  which  she  wanted  to  shoot,  like  arrows, at Yajnavalkya. But before asking those questions she asked for the permission of the erudite assembly. The consent was given and Gargi straightway held forth: Gargi:  'As  water  pervades  the  elemental  earth,  so  what pervades the Sutra which is above heaven and below the earth, which embraces heaven and earth as well as the region between them and which according to the scriptures is timeless?' Yaj: 'O Gargi, it is the unmanifested ether that pervades the Sutra thus and which is timeless.'

Gargi:  'Salutation  to  you,  Yajnavalkya. I am  satisfied  with your answer. But now, my second question.' Yajnavalkya: 'Ask, O Gargi.'
Gargi: 'What pervades the unmanifested ether?
Yajnavalkya: 'O Gargi, the knowers of Brahman describe It as undecaying and unchanging.They say Brahman has no dimensions nor has it any colour. It is utterly unlike earth, water, air, fire or ether.It is partless, is neither internal nor external. Unlike the body and mind It has no organs.' Thus indicating the attributeless  nature  of  Brahman,  Yajnavalkya  proceeded  to  say how it nevertheless is the support and substratum of the entire manifested universe.

Said he, 'By the supreme command of this imperishable Being the sun and the moon keep their courses, the earth and sky remain apart, the illusion of time in all its subtle divisions is experienced, the rivers maintain their courses and the mountains tower over everything  else. All beings, O  Gargi,  even  the  departed  souls, depend on Brahman for their sustenance.'

Yajnavalkya  then  exhorted  Gargi  to  know  the  truth  of Brahman  by  praising  it:  'O  Gargi,  all  the  merits  derived  by  the performance  of  sacrifice  are  evanescent,  Brahman  alone  is imperishable.  One  who  leaves  this  world  after  gaining  the knowledge of Brahman, he alone is a blessed soul, all the others are all miserable slaves.'

But the knowledge of Brahman cannot be gained for the asking. It is extremely subtle. To impress this fact on Gargi's mind, Yajnavalkya says next, 'O Gargi, this Immutable One is not the object of sight, of hearing, of the mind or of the intellect, It Itself is  the  Seer,  the  Hearer,  the  Thinker  and  the  Knower. It is Consciousness itself. It is all-pervading and sees through all eyes, hears through all ears, thinks through all minds, knows through all  intellects.  Indeed,  It  pervades  all elements  from  the  earth  to the unmanifested ether'. The above words so authoritatively spoken by the great sage had silenced all her doubts. And with that magnanimity that characterises  great  minds,  she  concluded  her  debate  with  the following words: 'Venerable Brahmanas, you should consider it a great thing if you can get away by saluting Yajnavalkya. I am convinced  that  he  stands  supreme  amongst  you  all  in  the knowledge  of  Brahman.'  So  saying  the  daughter  of  Vacaknu ceased talking.

Source:  Chapter  III,  sections  6  and  8  of  Brihadaranyaka Upanishad with translation.


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