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Eighth Brahmana

1. Then Vakaknavi said: “Venerable Brahmanas, I shall ask him two questions. If he will answer them, none of you, I think, will defeat him in any argument concerning Brahman

Yagnavalkya said: “Ask, O Gargi.

2. She said: “O Yagnavalkya, as the son of a warrior from the Kasis or Videhas might string his loosened bow, take two pointed foe-piercing arrows in his hand and rise to do battle, I have risen to fight thee with two questions. Answer me these questions.

Yagnavalkya said: “Ask, O Gargi.

3. She said: “O Yagnavalkya, that of which they say that it is above the heavens, beneath the earth, embracing heaven and earth, past, present, and future, tell me in what is it woven, like warp and woof?

4. Yagnavalkya said: “That of which they say that it is above the heavens, beneath the earth, embracing heaven and earth, past, present, and future, that is woven, like warp and woof, in the ether (akasa).

5. She said: “I bow to thee, O Yagnavalkya, who hast solved me that question. Get thee ready for the second.

Yagnavalkya said: “Ask, O Gargi.

6. She said: “O Yagnavalkya, that of which they say that it is above the heavens, beneath the earth, embracing heaven and earth, past, present, and future, tell me in what is it woven, like warp and woof?

7. Yagnavalkya said: “That of which they say that it is above the heavens, beneath the earth, embracing heaven and earth, past, present, and future, that is woven, like warp and woof, in the ether.

Gargi said: “In what then is the ether woven, like warp and woof?

8. He said: “O Gargi, the Brahmanas call this the Akshara (the imperishable). It is neither coarse nor fine, neither short nor long, neither red (like fire) nor fluid (like water); it is without shadow, without darkness, without air, without ether, without attachment, without taste, without smell, without eyes, without ears, without speech, without mind, without light (vigour), without breath, without a mouth (or door), without measure, having no within and no without, it devours nothing, and no one devours it.

9. “By the command of that Akshara (the imperishable), O Gargi, sun and moon stand apart 2. By the command of that Akshara, O Gargi, heaven and earth stand apart. By the command of that Akshara, O Gargi, what are called moments (nimesha), hours (muhurta), days and nights, halfmonths, months, seasons, years, all stand apart. By the command of that Akshara, O Gargi, some rivers flow to the East from the white mountains, others to the West, or to any other quarter. By the command of that Akshara, O Gargi, men praise those who give, the gods follow the sacrificer, the fathers the Darvi-offering.

10. “Whosoever, O Gargi, without knowing that Akshara (the imperishable), offers oblations in this world, sacrifices, and performs penance for a thousand years, his work will have an end. Whosoever, O Gargi, without knowing this Akshara, departs this world, he is miserable (like a slave). But he, O Gargi, who departs this world, knowing this Akshara, he is a Brahmana.

11. “That Brahman, O Gargi, is unseen, but seeing; unheard, but hearing; unperceived, but perceiving; unknown, but knowing. There is nothing that sees but it, nothing that hears but it, nothing that perceives but it, nothing that knows but it. In that Akshara then, O Gargi, the ether is woven, like warp and woof.

12. Then said Gargi: “Venerable Brahmans, you may consider it a great thing, if you get off by bowing before him. No one, I believe, will defeat him in any argument concerning Brahman.” After that Vakaknavi held her peace.

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