by Swami Krishnananda
Atha hainaṁ gᾱrgī vᾱcaknavī 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:
Yᾱg˝avalkya, iti hovᾱca, yad idaṁ sarvam apsv otaṁ ca protaṁ ca, kasmin nu khalv ᾱpa otᾱś ca protᾱś ceti: á"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?" Vᾱyau, gᾱrgi, iti: "The Air principle is superior because it is precedes the manifestation of the Water principle in the process of creation." Kasmin nu khalu vᾱyur, otaś ca protaś ceti: "In what is Vāyu (air) woven like warp and woof?" What is its source? This is the question. Antarikṣa-lokeṣu, gᾱrgi, 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-lokᾱ otᾱś ca protᾱś ceti: "Where is this sky, the atmospheric region, located and where is it centred, to which it can be referred?" Gandharva-lokeṣu gᾱrgi, 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, gᾱrgi, iti: "The region of the sun is superior to the Gandharva-loka. That is its location." Kasmin nu khalv antarikṣa-lokᾱ otᾱś ca protᾱś ceti: "Where is this solar region located?" Candra-lokeṣu, gᾱrgi, 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-lokᾱ otᾱś ca protᾱś ceti: á"Where are these located, ultimately? They have also some support after all." Nakṣatra-lokeṣu, gᾱrgi, iti: "They have their support and location in the region of the stars." Kasmin nu khalu nakṣatra-lokᾱ otᾱś ca protᾱś 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, gᾱrgi, 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-lokᾱ otᾱś ca protᾱś ceti: á"Where is, again, the Deva-lokā, or the world of the gods woven, like warp and woof?" Indra-lokeṣu, gᾱrgi, 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 prajᾱ-pati-lokᾱ otᾱś ca protᾱś ceti: á"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-lokᾱ otᾱś ca protᾱś 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 hovᾱca, gᾱrgi, mᾱtiprᾱkṣīh: Then Yāj˝avalkya says: "You are asking too much. You should not ask such questions of this kind. Mᾱtiprᾱkṣīh: 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-mᾱtiprᾱkṣīh, mᾱ te mūrdhᾱ 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 – mᾱ te mūrdhᾱ 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, gᾱrgī: Too much you are asking. Mᾱtiprᾱkṣīh: 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.