Brahma Sutras (Nimbarka commentary)

by Roma Bose | 1940 | 290,526 words

English translation of the Brahma-sutra 2.3.45, 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 2.3.45

English of translation of Brahmasutra 2.3.45 by Roma Bose:

“But like light and the rest, not so the highest.”

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

Though the individual soul is a part of the Supreme Person, yet the whole (i.e. the Lord) does not experience pleasure and pain, just as “light and the rest” are devoid of the virtue or vice inhering in their parts.

Śrīnivāsa’s commentary (Vedānta-kaustubha)

To the objection, viz. then the virtue or vice pertaining to the individual soul may belong to the Supreme Soul too, seeing that a part has no separate existence from the whole,—the author replies here:

“The Highest,” i.e. the Supreme Soul, does “not” become “so”, i.e. does not come to share the virtue and vice pertaining to the individual soul. The author states a parallel instance: “Like light and the rest”, i.e. just as “light”, i.e. the sun and the rest, are not touched by the attributes of their rays which are their parts, i,e. by their contact and the rest with pure and impure objects. By the phrase: “and the rest”, the ether and the like are understood; i.e. just as the ether and the like are not touched by the good qualities found in the sound of conch-shell, cuckoos and so on, nor by the bad qualities found in the sound of crows and the like. The term “but” is suggestive of the absence of an intermixture of the attributes of the part and the whole. The objections, resulting from the apprehension that the Highest Being is subject to karmas by reason of His connection with the hearts of individual souls which are subject to karmas, have been disposed of, on the ground that the Lord is not subject to karmas, under the aphorism: “Enjoyment results” (Brahma-sūtra 1.2.8). Under the aphorism: “Not even on account of place” (Brahma-sūtra 3.2.1), we shall dispose of (the objection based on Brahman’s being connected with ‘places’, viz. the hearts) on the ground that the Lord, having the ‘places’ by nature, is yet not subject to karmas. Here, on the other hand, it should be known that the objections raised on the ground of His own parts are disposed of.[1]

Comparative views of Śaṅkara:

This is sūtra 46 in his commentary. The general import of the sūtra, as well as the interpretation of the phrase: i.e. “prakāśādivat” different. He develops his doctrine of upādhi here. Thus, the sūtra means, according to him: Just as the light of the sun and the moon, pervading the entire expanse of the ether, appears to be straight or bent accordingly as the limiting adjunct with which it is in contact, viz. finger, etc. are straight or bent, but does not become so really; or just as the ether, though imagined to move when jars are moving, does not really move; or just as the sun does not really tremble when its images on water tremble, so although the individual soul undergoes pleasure and pain, Brahman does not, since the soul is but a fictitious part of Brahman, due to limiting adjuncts, and not a real part.[2]

Comparative views of Rāmānuja and Śrīkaṇṭha:

They too develop here their peculiar theory of Viśiṣṭādvaita. Thus, the sūtra means, according to them: “(The individual soul is a part of Brahman) as light and the rest (of the sun, etc. is of the sun and so on), not so the highest (i.e. Brahman is not of the same nature as the soul)”. That is, the soul is a part of Brahman in the sense of being an attribute (viśeṣaṇa) of Brahman; and just as the attribute and its substratum are not identical, so the soul and Brahman are not.[3] They continue the same topic in the following two sūtras.

Comparative views of Baladeva:

This is sūtra 44 in his commentary. Interpretation absolutely different. He begins a new adhikaraṇa here (five sūtras) concerned with the question of the Lord’s incarnations. Thus, this sūtra means, according to him: “But supreme (incarnations of the Lord are) not so; (i.e. parts of the Lord as the individual souls are), as in the case of light”. That is, just as though the sun and the fire-fly are both called ‘light’, yet the word has a different meaning when applied to the sun, so though the incarnations and ordinary individual souls are both called ‘parts’ of the Lord, yet the word has a different meaning when applied to the incarnations, i.e. it means then the entire Lord.[4]

Footnotes and references:


I.e. there is no repetition here. Under Brahma-sūtra 1.2.8, it has been shown that Brahman, though connected with the hearts of individual souls is not subject to their pleasures and pain. In this sūtra it is shown that Brahman, though connected with the individual souls as their whole, is not yet subject to their pleasure and pain. And under Brahma-sūtra 3.2.1, it will be shown that Brahman, though the inner controller, is not subject to the states and faults of souls.


Brahma-sūtras (Śaṃkara’s commentary) 2.3.46, pp. 638-639.


Śrī-bhāṣya (Madras edition) 2.3.45, pp. 161-62, Part 2; Brahma-sūtras (Śrīkaṇṭha’s commentary) 2.3.45, pp. 161-652, Parts 7 and 8.


Govinda-bhāṣya 2.3.44, pp. 223-24, Chap. 2.

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