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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Yājñavalkya and Xenophanes on God

Aristotle notes in his Metaphysics that Xenophanes, the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy and teacher of Parmenides, did some cosmological theorizing and reached the conclusion that “The One is God”—the God of Xenophanes has no eyes, no ears, and no brains, but all of him sees, all of him hears, all of him thinks, and he acts without toil. In the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad, which is placed in the eighth or seventh centuries B.C.E., Yājñavalkya, in response to a question from Uddalaka Aruni, defines the Brahman (the One who is the creator of the universe) in these words: “It is the unseen seer, the unheard hearer, the unthought-of thinker, the unknown knower. Other than this there is no seer; other than this there is no hearer; other than this there is no thinker; other than this there is no knowledge.” (Verse 3.7.23; translation by Valerie Roebuck.)

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