Brahma Sutras (Nimbarka commentary)

by Roma Bose | 1940 | 290,526 words

English translation of the Brahma-sutra 2.2.37, 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 2.2.37

English of translation of Brahmasutra 2.2.37 by Roma Bose:

“(The doctrine) of the Lord (is untenable), on account of inconsistency.”

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

The Pāśupata doctrine is to be rejected, because it is opposed to the Veda, which establishes a non-distinct efficient and material cause; and because it initiates a false faith.

Śrīnivāsa’s commentary (Vedānta-kaustubha)

Now, the Pāśupata doctrine is being disposed of.

The maintainers of doctrines opposed to the Veda have been refuted above. The Māheśvaras, too, are such. They are of four kinds, viz. Kāpālas, Kālāmukhas, Pāśupatas and Śaivas. The basis of their doctrines is the treatise composed by Paśupati. The ‘Pañcādhyāyī’[1] is celebrated to be composed by the great Lord Paśupati Himself. Five categories are mentioned there, viz. cause, effect, concentrated meditation, injunction, and end of suffering.[2] The cause is pradhāna and the Lord. Among them, pradhāna is supposed to be the material cause, the Lord the efficient cause. The effect is mahat and the rest. Concentrated meditation is stated in the passage; “Through the meditation on the Oṃ-kāra once, one should hold (one’s self)”. Injunction consists in secret rituals like three ablutions and the rest. The end of suffering is salvation.

Among these, the Pāśupatas and the Kāpālas hold that during its state of bondage, the soul becomes (non-sentient) like a stone. And the Śaivas hold that the freed soul is consciousness. They have minor treatises of their own, designating their mutual differences.

These Māheśvaras, with their intelligence deluded by the Māyā of the Lord, maintain and practise, just as they like—as the means to the highest end—what is “opposed” to the Veda and not practised by the wise. As the Kāpālas say: “He who knows the six mudrās, he who is versed in the supreme mudra, he attains nirvana by meditating on himself as in the posture of bhagāsana. The necklace, the gold ornament, the ear-ring, head-jewel, ashes, and the holy thread are said to be the six mudrās. He whose body is marked with (mudrās) is not re-born on earth” and so on. Likewise, the Kālamukhas hold: “Using a skull (as the drinking vessel), besmearing one’s self with the ashes of a dead body, eating the flesh of such a body, carrying a heavy stick, setting up a liquor-jar, worshipping the gods placed on it, and the rest, are means to obtaining all desired results in this world, as well as in the next”. In the treatise of the Śaivas, too, it is said: “A bracelet made of the Rudrākṣa-beads on the arm, matted hair on the head, a skull, besmearing one’s self with ashes”, and so on.

Moreover, it is clearly demonstrated in the Mahābhārata in the story of the Mātaṅga, distressed by the sharp words of a she-ass [see notes regarding Mātaṅga] and so on, that it is very difficult for a man of another caste to obtain Brāhmaṇa-hood even by means of penance accumulated through thousands of years. But they hold that it is easily obtainable by a man of a different caste thus: “By merely entering in the initiatory ceremony, one becomes a Brāhmaṇa at once. By understanding the Kāpāla rite, a man becomes an ascetic”.

(Correct conclusion:) With regard to this, we reply: “Of the Lord” and so on. The term ‘no’ is to be supplied. “Of the Lord,” i.e. the view of Paśupati is not justifiable. Why? “On account of inconsistency,” i.e. because of the inconsistency in their view by reason of establishing two causes[3] in direct contradiction to the scriptural texts like “He thought: ‘May I be many’” (Chāndogya-upaniṣad 6,2.3), ‘He became existent and that’ (Taittirīya-upaniṣad 2.6), ‘All this has that for its soul’ (Chāndogya-upaniṣad 6.8.7, etc.). Moreover, since the practices like meditation preceded by the praṇava, besmearing one’s self with the ashes of a corpse and so on, are mutually contradictory, their view is indeed inconsistent.

Comparative views of Śaṅkara and Bhāskara:

This is sūtra 34 in Bhāskara’s Commentary. They do not take this adhikaraṇa as a refutation of the Pāśupata doctrine only, but of the Sāṃkhya-yoga as well, in fact of all the doctrines generally, which maintain the Lord to be the efficient cause only and not the material cause of the world.[4]

Comparative views of Śrīkaṇṭha:

He takes this adhikaraṇa to be concerned with the refutation of the doctrine of the Ekadeśī Tāntrikas only or of those Śaivas according to whom the Lord is the efficient cause only, while Māyā is the material cause, śakti the instrument.[5]

Footnotes and references:


Or having five chapters.


Kāraṇa, Kāryya [kārya], Yoga, Vidhi, Duḥkhānta.


I.e. two causes of the world material and efficient, different from each other.


Brahma-sūtras (Śaṅkara’s commentary) 2.2.37, p. 566; Brahma-sūtras (Bhāskara’s Commentary) 2.2.34 (written as 2.2.37 in conformity with Śaṅkara’s number), p. 127.


Brahma-sūtras (Śrīkaṇṭha’s commentary) 2.2.37.

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