by Swami Krishnananda
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 Yāj˝avalkya 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 Yāj˝avalkya 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. Yāj˝avalkya 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.
Yo vᾱ etad akṣaram, gᾱrgi, aviditvᾱsmiṁl loke juhoti, yajate, tapas tapyate, bahῡni, varṣa-sahasrᾱṇy antavad evᾱsya 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 vᾱ etad akṣaram, gᾱrgi, aviditvᾱsmᾱl lokᾱt 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, gᾱrgi, viditvᾱsmᾱl lokᾱt praiti, sa brᾱhmaṇaḥ: "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.
Tad vᾱ etad akṣaram, gᾱrgi, 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. Avij˝ᾱtaṁ vij˝ᾱtṛ: 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. Nᾱnyad ato'sti draṣṭṛ: There is no other Seer but That. Nᾱnyad ato'sti śrotṛ: There is no Hearer but That. Nᾱnyad ato'sti mantṛ: There is no Thinker except That. Nᾱnyad ato'sti vij˝ᾱtṛ: There is no other Understander than That. Etasmin nu khalv akṣare, gᾱrgi, ᾱkᾱśa 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.
Gārgi, after having listened to this reply, this discourse of Yāj˝avalkya, 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.