But Yagnavalkya came with such confidence. It was full noontime, the sun was hot, and the cows were standing before the palace, perspiring. His confidence was that of a knowledgeable person – he was learned, a great scholar. He told one of his disciples, “Take these cows to our commune. Why should the poor cows suffer unnecessary heat? As far as victory is concerned, it is certain.” He’s taking the reward before even entering the palace.
But following him came Gargi. She was alone, sat silently through all the discussions that were going on, and when Yagnavalkya had defeated all the contestants and asked the emperor, “Please forgive me. As far as the reward is concerned, my disciples have taken the cows long ago,” Gargi stood up. Perhaps she might not have stood if Yagnavalkya had not shown such idiotic confidence about ultimate affairs.
Gargi said, “Wait. You have defeated everybody because they all belong to your category: knowledgeable persons. What has been proven is not that you are true. Only one thing is proved: that you are more learned, more scholarly, more knowledgeable. But to be more knowledgeable does not prove that you know the truth. I have been sitting silently, watching: ‘If somebody asserts the truth, what is the need for me even to speak?’ But now this is going too far. I will have to discuss with you.”
Those were beautiful days. Even a woman could challenge the greatest scholar of the country. She asked just two or three questions and Yagnavalkya was flat on the ground.
She asked, “You said God created the world – why? Why did you say that? Were you a witness when he was creating the world? In either case, you will prove wrong. If you were a witness, the world had already been created; you were there and you are part of the world. And if you were not a witness, then on what grounds…?”
Yagnavalkya was shocked. Those thousands of other scholars were shocked. Even the emperor was shocked. She was right: a witness is needed, an eyewitness is needed.
And she said, “Just for argument’s sake, even if I accept that God created the world, I want to know what your reasons are for believing in this hypothesis?”
Yagnavalkya said, “Everything has to be created. God is just like a potter. This beautiful and vast existence cannot come into existence out of nothing, somebody must create it.”
Gargi said, “Accepted. But you have lost your victory – return those cows.”
Yagnavalkya said, “What do you mean?”
She said, “If existence needs a God to create it, then who created God? If this is accepted as a criterion – that everything that is, has to be created – you are saying this vast existence needs a creator. Certainly the creator must be vaster, bigger, greater than the universe. Who created him?”