Brahma Sutras (Nimbarka commentary)

by Roma Bose | 1940 | 290,526 words

English translation of the Brahma-sutra 2.2.33, 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 2.2.33

English of translation of Brahmasutra 2.2.33 by Roma Bose:

“(The Jaina doctrine is) not (tenable), on account of the impossibility (of contradictory attributes) in one (and the same thing).”

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

The Jainas ascribe contradictory attributes like existence and non-existence and so on to all things. This does not stand to reason, because the co-existence of contradictory attributes, like existence and non-existence and the rest, is impossible, like that of shadow and light.

Śrīnivāsa’s commentary (Vedānta-kaustubha)

The view of the Buddhists, who leave the hem of their lower garment loose and untucked, has been disposed of. Now the view of the Jainas, the naked, are being disposed of.

They hold that the universe comprises souls and non-souls, and is without a Lord. They maintain also that atoms are the causes of the world. They imagine couples of contradictory attributes, like existence and non-existence, in all the categories. Thus, according to them, there are seven categories, summing up all scriptural teachings, viz. soul, non-soul, influx (of foreign matter into the soul), (its) stoppage, freedom from decay, bondage and release. [1]

Among these, the souls are sentient, and endowed with the attributes of knowledge, perception, happiness and strength. Thus, knowledge means the apprehension of the real nature of objects through the right discrimination between the soul and the non-soul. Perception means cognizing objects, being free from attachment and detachment. The souls in bondage have worldly happiness, while the freed souls have the happiness which inheres in themselves. Likewise strength means proper endurance. These souls are possessed of parts, and are of the size of the body. Among them, some are souls in bondage, some are freed souls, some are ever-perfect. The freed souls are omniscient and possessed of unsurpassed happiness.

The non-soul is the group of objects to he enjoyed by the souls. It is divided into merit, demerit, matter, time and space.[2] Thus, merit is a special kind of substance, inferrible from proper actions. Demerit is the cause of the existence of the non-freed. Matter is a substance possessed of colour, smell, taste and touch. It is of two kinds, viz. atoms, and their aggregates. The atoms are the causes of the earth and the rest; and they are not of four kinds, as held by the logicians, but are identical in nature. The distinctions of the earth and the rest are due to the modifications of these atoms. The four-fold elements beginning with the earth, as well as the body, the worlds and so on, are their aggregates. Time, on the other hand, is a special kind of substance which is the cause of the conventional distinctions of long, quick and fast and so on, and is atomic in form. Space is the absence of covering. It is of two kinds, viz. worldly-space which is mundane, and non-worldly-space,[3] which is the abode of the freed souls.

Influx means the activity of the sense-organs which causes a person to know[4] sense-objects. Or else, influx means karma which complies to,[5] i.e. follows after, pervading the agent (i.e. pertains to him).

Stoppage means that which stops[6] the activities of the sense-organs, i.e. the stoppage of the sense-organs, consisting in a deep meditation.

Freedom from decay means that which destroys[7] the prior-accumulated sins, i.e. austerities known from the teaching of the Arhatas, consisting in not bathing, not speaking, squatting on the thighs with the lower legs crossed over each other,[8] eating what is spit out from the mouth, mounting on heated stone, plucking out the hairs on the head and so on.

Bondage means karma, and is of eight kinds. Among these, there are four destruetive-karmas,[9]—viz. relating to the obscuration of knowledge, relating to the mental blindness of perception, relating to delusion, and relating to what hinders[10]—which obstruct the attributes of the souls, viz. knowledge, perception, happiness and strength. And, there are four non-destructive karmas,[11]—viz. relating to the knowable, relating to the name, relating to family descent and relating to life,[12]—which are the causes of the body, its sense of egoity, regard and disregard for the happiness and the rest due thereto.

On the cessation of bondage, there is salvation, or the manifestation of the natural and real nature of the soul through the grace of the ever-perfect Arhatas.

They have also a set of different categories, consisting in five ontological categories,[13] viz. the category of the soul, the category of matter, the category of merit, the category of demerit and the category of space.[14] The term ontological category (astikāya) is denotative of conventional objects occupying many places. (The compound ‘jīvāstikāya’ is to be explained as) a Karma-dhāraya thus: The soul is the category,[15] and so on in all other cases too. To all these, they apply the system of seven paralogisms,[16] viz. May be it is, may be it is not, may be it is not predicable, may be it is and is not, may be it is and is not predicable, may be it is not and is not predicable, may be it is, it is not, and is not predicable.[17] (The compound ‘Sapta-bhaṅgī-naya’ is to be explained thus:) The aggregate of the seven dialectical formula is ‘sapta-bhaṅgī,[18] its reasoning’ (sapta-bhaṅgī-naya). The word ‘may’ (syāt) is an indeclinable represented by a verbal ending, and should he understood to have the meaning of ‘littleness’. Thus, it is to be construed as—It exists partly and does not exist partly, and so on. The sense is this: The whole mass of object, consisting of substances and modifications[19] is variable. The form of the substance being one, permanent and conceivable as existent, existence, oneness, permanence and the rest are justifiable in reference to it. The modifications are the particular states of the substance, having the forms of pots, pieces of cloth and the rest. And they being many, non-permanent and conceivable as non-existent, non-existence, nonpermanence and the rest are justifiable in reference to them.

With regard to it we reply: This cannot be said. Why? Because the seven-fold reasoning, like partly existent, partly non-existent and the rest, is not possible “in one object”. The simultaneous co-existence of darkness and light is never seen or heard. In the same manner, couples of contradictory attributes like existence and non-existence and so on are indeed impossible in the same place.

If it be objected: Your own view, too, admits couples of contradictory attributes in one and the same substratum, e.g. in the text “All this, verily, is Brahman” (Chāndogya-upaniṣad 3.14.1), Unity is established: while in the texts: “The Lord of matter and soul, the Controller of the guṇas” (Śvetāśvatara-upaniṣad 6.16), “Two birds” (Muṇḍaka-upaniṣad 3.1.1; Śvetāśvatara-upaniṣad 4.6), plurality is established,—(we reply:) No, because this view is not based on reasoning,[20] since the real view can he determined, as mutually non-contradictory, through Scripture alone. Thus, it being impossible for the entire universe, consisting of the sentient and the non-sentient, to be non-different from Brahman by nature, it is non-different from Him only as having its existence and activity under His control (and not by nature), as indicated by the phrase ‘emanating from Him’ and so on.[21] But there is indeed a difference of nature between the categories, viz. the sentient, the non-sentient and Brahman, because the texts designating duality, too, are no less authoritative,—just as leaves, flowers and the rest are different by nature from the tree and are non-different from it on account of having no separate existence; and just as in spite of the difference of the sense-organs from the vital-breath by nature, their non-difference from it, as being under its control, is not incompatible. In the same manner, the difference and non-difference between the Universe and Brahman are natural and established in Scripture and Smṛti. What contradiction is there ? In the very same manner, the complementary passage confirms the relation of difference-non-difference between the Universe and Brahman. The phrase ‘emanating from Him’ (tajjātān) is denotative of the reason, (meaning) because it emanates from that Supreme Cause (tajja), disappears in Him (talla) and breathes, i.e. acts in Him (tadana). The elision of the parts is in accordance with Vedic use.

Moreover, a single cause of the world being established by correct evidence, the causality of a plurality of atoms does not stand to reason, because that would involve unnecessary cumbrousness and also because causality is impossible on their parts, owing to their non-sentience.

Further, the one reality, knowable from the Veda, being the giver of salvation, it is difficult for salvation to result from the grace of the perfect souls,[22] that being impossible. Does the grace of the perfect souls depend on meditation or not? If the first, then, salvation cannot arise through the meditation on one perfect soul among many perfect souls of the same nature, for there will be the fault of disregarding many other equally perfect souls. If there he meditation on all, that would involve unnecessary complication. If it he said that there is one great (soul higher than the others), then you fall in with a theistic view. On the second alternative, the consequence would he a universal release. Moreover, there being no evidence of direct perception and the rest for the existence of perfect souls, it is, impossible that salvation can result from their grace.

Footnotes and references:


Jīva, ajīva, āśrava, saṃvara, nirjara, bandha and mokṣa.


Dharma, adharma, pudgala, kāla and ākāśa.


Lokākāśa and alokākāśa.


Āśrāvayati iti āśrava.


Āśravati iti āśrava.


Saṃvṛṇoti iti saṃvara.


Nirjarayati iti Nirjara.




Jñānāvaraṇīya, darśanāvaraṇīya, mohanīya and antarīya.




Vedanīya, nāmika, gotrika, āyuṣka.




Jīvāstikāya, pudgalāstikāya, adharmāstikāya, ākāśāstikāya.


Jīvaś cāsau astikāyaś ca.




Syād asti, syān nāsti, syād avyaktavya, syād asti ca nāsti ca, syād asti cāvyaktavyaś ca, syān nāsti cāvyaktavyaś ca, syād asti ca nāsti cāvyaktavyaś ca.


Here the ending ‘ī’ is in accordance with Pāṇini-sūtra 2.4.17; Siddhānta-kaumudī 821, as modified by the Vārttika-sūtra of Kātyāyana 1556, “Akārāntottarapado dviguḥ striyām iṣṭaḥ”. Vide Bāla-manoramā, p. 548, vol. 1.


Dravya and paryyāya.


So that it might be controverted by reason.


The text is: “All this, verily, Is Brahman, emanating from Him, disappearing into Him and breathing in Him” (Chāndogya-upaniṣad 3.14.1).


Siddhas or semi-divine beings, supposed to be of great purity and holiness and characterized by the eight supernatural attributes.

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