Brahma Sutras (Nimbarka commentary)

by Roma Bose | 1940 | 290,526 words

English translation of the Brahma-sutra 1.1.20, including the commentary of Nimbarka and sub-commentary of Srinivasa known as Vedanta-parijata-saurabha and Vedanta-kaustubha resepctively. Also included are the comparative views of important philosophies, viz., from Shankara, Ramanuja, Shrikantha, Bhaskara and Baladeva.

Brahma-Sūtra 1.1.20

English of translation of Brahmasutra 1.1.20 by Roma Bose:

“And (scripture) teaches the union with that (viz. bliss) of this (viz. the individual soul) in this (viz. the lord).”

Nimbārka’s commentary (Vedānta-pārijāta-saurabha):

Scripture “teaches” the “union with that”, i.e. the union with bliss, in the passage:—‘Verily, he is an essence, for verily, on attaining the essence, he becomes blissful’ (Taittirīya-upaniṣad 2.7). Hence it is established that He, on attaining whom the individual soul comes to be united with bliss, is different from it.

Śrīnivāsa’s commentary (Vedānta-kaustubha)

For. this reason also that which consists of bliss is neither the individual soul, nor pradhana, but Brahman alone, since Scripture “teaches” the “union with that”, i.e. the “union” or ‘connection’, with “that”, or the Highest Self,—i.e. salvation, characterized by the attaining of His nature,[1]—‘of this’, i,e. of the individual soul, relying on Him, “in this”, i.e. in the Highest Person, the Highest Self, consisting of bliss and mantra-described. And the scriptural text to this effect is as follows:—‘For, truly, when he finds fearlessness as a foundation in that which is invisible, incorporeal, undefined, and unsupported, then he is gone to fearlessness. When, however, he makes the smallest distinction therein, then he comes to have fear’ (Taittirīya-upaniṣad 2.7). The meaning of this is as follows: ‘When’, i.e. when at the time of birth which took place at a time when there was a causeless kindly glance by the Lord, as mentioned in sacred texts, thus: ‘But should Madhusūdana glance at a person, when he is born, he should be known to be pure and given to the thought of salvation’. “‘Through my grace, he attains an eternal and unchangeable place’” (Gītā 18.56) and so on, ‘he’, i.e. a knower, devoid of any desire for enjoyments here or hereafter, restoring to the feet of the Lord alone and possessed of the characteristics as stated in Scripture thus: ‘“I am easily attainable by one, O Pārtha, by the ever-free ascetic, who constantly remembers me, not thinking ever of another”’ (Gītā 18.14), ‘He who departs, discarding the body, uttering the one syllable “om” and remembering me, goes to a supreme goal’, ‘“Knowing me, he goes to peace”’ (Gītā 5.29), ‘The knower of Brahman attains the highest’ (Taittirīya-upaniṣad 2.1), and so on, becomes fearless, he ‘finds’, i.e. attains, ‘a foundation’, i.e. unfailing, devotion (or reliance) through His grace alone. ‘Then’, i.e. immediately after, ‘he is gone to fearlessness’, on account of the absence of any devotion (on his part) to anyone else, which (alone) is the cause of fear. In whom? ‘In the invisible’, i.e. in that which is different from the group of the non-sentient which is visible. Again, in whom? ‘In the incorporeal’, i.e. in the supremely conscious Being, who is different from the group of souls or conscious beings—that He is the supremely conscious Being is stated in the Kaṭhavallī, thus: ‘Conscious among the conscious’ (Kaṭha, 5.13; also Śvetāśvatara-upaniṣad 6.13);—‘in the undefined’, i.e. in that which is not established as having so-muchness and the nature and qualities of which are to be known from the Vedānta alone; ‘in the unsupported’, i.e. in that which has no basis, which is possessed of infinite, inconceivable powers,—this is the sense. And ‘when’, i.e. when during the period of nescience, ‘he’, i.e. a non-knower, ‘makes’ even the smallest ‘distinction’, i.e. relies on something else, viz. one or other of the ends, connected with means (other than a complete resort to the Lord alone), ‘then he comes to have fear’. Hence, it is established that that which consists of bliss is Brahman, different from all the sentient and the non-sentient.[2]

Here ends the section entitled ‘That which consists of bliss’ (6).


Comparative views of Śaṅkara:

This is sūtra 19 in his commentary. Reading and interpretation same, quotes the passage quoted by Śrīnivāsa. But here Śaṅkara changes his point of view all of a sudden, and after having given at length the very same interpretation as given by Nimbārka, viz. that the ‘ānanda-maya’ referred to in the Taittirīya-upaniṣad (Taittirīya-upaniṣad 2.5) is the Highest Self,[3] and not the individual soul or pradhāna, he finally rejects it, at the end of this sūtra, in favour of another, viz. that the word ‘Brahman’ in the immediately following phrase: ‘Brahma puccham pratiṣṭhā’ (Taittirīya-upaniṣad 2.5), refers to Brahman principally, and not as a member of the ‘ānanda-maya’, for the ‘ānanda-maya’ would refer to the qualified Brahman, and never to the nonqualified Brahman, which is called ‘ānanda’, and not ‘ānandamaya’.[4]

Comparative views of Bhāskara:

This is sūtra 19 in his commentary too. Reading same, interpretation of the word ‘tad-yogam’ slightly different—viz. ‘union with Him (the Lord)’, i.e. salvation.[5] (Cf. Śrīnivāsa.) Quotes a different portion of the same passage (viz. the portion quoted by Śrīnivāsa).

Comparative views of Śrīkaṇṭha:

Reading same, interpretation different—viz. ‘Herein (viz. in the Mahā-nārāyaṇa-upaniṣad) (Scripture) teaches his (i.e. Hiraṇyagarbha’s) connection with that (viz. the Supreme Lord)’.[6] While according to Nimbārka, sūtras 13-20 form one section, concerned with the question of the ‘ānanda-maya according to Śrīkaṇṭha, sūtras 13-16 form one section, while sūtras 17-20 form another different section, concerned with the question, as noted above, whether Hiraṇyagarbha is the creator of the world, or the Supreme Lord (viz. Śiva).

Comparative views of Baladeva:

This is sūtra 19 in his commentary. Reading same, interpretation of the word ‘tad-yogam’ different, viz. ‘union with fearlessness’. Quotes the passage quoted by Śrīnivāsa.[7]

Footnotes and references:


Note that while according to Nimbārka, the word ‘tad-yogam’ means ‘union with bliss’, according to Śrīnivāsa, it means ‘union with the Highest Self’, or salvation, though ultimately these two interpretations come to the same thing.


Note that here Nimbārka and Śrīnivāsa understand the word ‘śāsti’ as referring to two different portions of the same passage, viz. Taittirīya-upaniṣad 2.7, Nimbārka to the first part, Śrīnivāsa to the last.


Vide Brahma-sūtras (Śaṅkara’s commentary) 1.1.12, p. 217; ‘Para evātmā ānanda-mayo bhavitum arhati’. In this very sūtra also, it is said:—‘Tasmād ānanda-mayaḥ paramātmā iti sthitam’. Brahma-sūtras (Śaṅkara’s commentary) 1.1.19, p. 223.


Vide Brahma-sūtras (Śaṅkara’s commentary) 1.1.19, pp. 225-26.


Brahma-sūtras (Bhāskara’s Commentary) 1.1.19, p. 26.


Brahma-sūtras (Śrīkaṇṭha’s commentary) 1.1.20, pp. 240-241, Part 3.


Govinda-bhāṣya 1.1.19, pp. 76-77, Chap. 1.

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