Brahma Sutras (Nimbarka commentary)

by Roma Bose | 1940 | 290,526 words

English translation of the Brahma-sutra 3.3.31, 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 3.3.31

English of translation of Brahmasutra 3.3.31 by Roma Bose:

“(There is) no restriction (with regard to the going through the path of gods, but it belongs) to all (the worshippers of Brahman), (there is) non-contradiction on account of word (i.e. Scripture) and inference (i.e. Smṛti).”

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

There is “no restriction” that the going which is mentioned in the Upakosala-vidyā[1], Pañcāgni-vidyā[2] and so on belongs only to those who are possessed of those vidyās; but it belongs “to all” the worshippers of Brahman. Thus, if the going be common to all, then (alone) there is “non-contradiction” of Scripture and Smṛti, viz. “Those who know this and those who worship faith and truth in the forest, pass over to light” (Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 6.2.15[3]), “Fire, light, day, bright fortnight, the six months of the northern progress of the sun,—departing through these, the knowers of Brahman go to Brahman” (Gītā 8.24[4]) and so on.

Śrīnivāsa’s commentary (Vedānta-kaustubha)

Previously, it has been stated that the going has a meaning only if there be the cessation of both good and bad deeds at the time of the decay of the gross body. Now, the question is being considered whether all those who possess Brahma-vidyā are entitled to such a supremely excellent journey, or only those who possess the vidyās in which it is mentioned.

The path beginning with light is mentioned in certain vidyās, such as, Upakosala-vidyā[5], Pañcāgni-vidyā[6], Dahara-vidyā[7] and so on, but is not mentioned in the Madhu-vidyā[8], Śāṇḍilya-vidyā[9], Vaiśvānara-vidyā[10] and the rest. Hence the doubt is as to whether the path belongs only to those who are possessed of the Upakosala-vidyā and the rest, or to all those who possess the Brahma-vidyā. With regard to it, the prima facie view is as follows: It is proper that the path should belong only to those who are possessed of the vidyās in which it is mentioned, on account of the force of the general subject-matter, and not to others,—so is the restriction.

With regard to it, we reply: “No restriction”, i.e. there is no restriction that the path belongs only to those who possess the vidyās in which it is mentioned, but this path is open to all those who possess Brahma-vidyā.

If it be objected that in that case, there will result contradiction with the general subject-matter, we say: “non-contradiction”, since the general subject-matter is set aside by text.[11] Whence is this known? “From word and inference,” i.e. from Scripture and Smṛti, viz. from the scriptural texts: “Those who know this thus and those who worship faith and truth in the forest, they pass over to light” (Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 6.2.15) and so on; and from the Smṛti passage: “Fire, light, the day, the bright fortnight, the six months of the northern progress of the sun,—departing through these those who know Brahman go to Brahman” (Gītā 8.24) and so on. Here having stated that those who are devoted to the five fires and who know this heaven-world and the rest as fire pass over to light, Scripture goes on to say in the text: “And those who in forest” (Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 7.2.15) that those too who meditate with faith on the true Brahman, celebrated in another scriptural text: “Brahman is truth, knowledge, infinite” (Taittirīya-upaniṣad 2.1), pass over to light. In this manner, truly, the path is attained by all those who possess Brahma-vidyā, as by those who possess the Pañcāgni-vidyā. Hence it is ascertained that the general subject-matter is set aside by the texts, designating such a journey through the path of light, which are of a greater force. Similarly, by Smṛti as well the journey of ail worshippers of Brahman through this path alone is established. Hence it is established that the path beginning with light, which is indeed met with in all the vidyās, is (only) re-mentioned (in the Upakosala-vidyā) and so on.

Here ends the section entitled “Non-restriction” (13).

Comparative views of Śaṅkara:

He reads “sarvasām” (feminine gender) instead of “sarveṣam” (masculine gender), and interprets the sūtra thus: “(There is) no restriction (with regard to the going through path of light, but it is valid) for all (the saguṇa-vidyās or meditations on the qualified Brahman), (there is) non-contradiction on account of work and inference”.[12] Thus, literally he interprets the sūtra like Nimbārka, but while he speaks here of saguṇa-vidyās only, which, according to him, do not directly lead to release, Nimbārka does not do so.

Comparative views of Rāmānuja and Śrīkaṇṭha:

They revert the order of this sūtra and the next thus:—

Nimbārka and others:

“Aniyamaḥ.....” (sūtra 31).
“Yāvadhikāram....” (sūtra 32).

Comparative views of Rāmānuja and Śrīkaṇṭha:

“Yāvadhikāram.....” (sūtra 31).
“Aniyamaḥ....” (sūtra 32)

Interpretation same, only Rāmānuja does not take sūtra 31 (sūtra 32 according to Nimbārka) as forming an adhikaraṇa by itself, but includes it under the section entitled “The Passing Away” (section 12 according to Nimbārka). He, however, takes 32 (sūtra 31 according to Nimbārka) as forming a section by, itself, like Nimbārka. Śrīkaṇṭha takes each of these two sūtras as constituting an adhikaraṇa by itself, like Nimbārka.

Comparative views of Baladeva:

This is sūtra 32 in his commentary. He too begins a new adhikaraṇa here, but concerned with an entirely different topic. He reads “avirodhāt” instead of “avirodhaḥ”. Thus: “(There is) no rule (that meditation, muttering prayers, singing the name of the Lord and the rest are to be performed conjointly always as a means to salvation, since any one of them may singly lead to salvation), since there is no contradiction of all (texts), on account of word and inference”.[13]

Footnotes and references:


Vide footnote 1, p. 640.


Vide footnote 2, p. 640.


Quoted by Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, Bhāskara and Śrīkaṇṭha.


Quoted by Rāmānuja and Śrīkaṇṭha.


Upakosala-vidyā or the knowledge obtained by Upakosala, the disciple of Satyakāma Jābala. Vide Chāndogya-upaniṣad 4.10-4.15. The story begins thns: Upakosala Kāmalāyana dwelt with Satyakāma Jābala as a student of sacred knowledge, and for twelve years he tended the fires. But his teacher did not allow him to return home, nor did he teach him the knowledge of Brahman, but went off on a journey. Thereupon, Upakosala, filled with grief, began to fast. At this the three fires, Gārhapatya, Anvāhāryya [Anvāhārya] and Āhavanīya took pity on him and each taught him the Agni-vidyā and the Ātma-vidyā, and told him that the teacher would teach him the path. When the teacher returned, he proceeded to instruct Upakosala further thus: “That Person who is seen within the eye is the soul, that is the immortal, the fearless, that is Brahman” (Chāndogya-upaniṣad 4.15.1).—“Now, whether they perform cremation obsequies in the case of such a person, (i,e. who knows this vidyā), or not, they (i.e. the dead) pass over to light, from light to the day, from day to the fortnight of the waxing moon, from the fortnight of the waxing moon to the six months of the northern progress of the sun, from those months to the year, from the year to the sun, from the sun to the moon, from the moon to lightning”. Chāndogya-upaniṣad 4.15.5. Vide Vedānta-kaustubha 1.2.13.


Pañcāgni-vidyā or the doctrine of the five fires, taught to Gautama by King Pravāhaṇa. Vide Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 6.2; Chāndogya-upaniṣad 5.4-5.10. For detailed account see Vedānta-kaustubha 3.1.1.


Dahara-vidyā or the doctrine of the Small, i.e. the doctrine that the Universal Soul is within the heart of man. Vide Chāndogya-upaniṣad 8.1-8.6; Mahānārāyaṇa-upaniṣad 10.7. The doctrine begins thus: “Now, what is here in this city of Brahman is a small lotus-chamber, small is the ether within that. What is within that should be searched for, that certainly is what one should desire to understand” (Chāndogya-upaniṣad 8.1.1), and ends: “Now, as a great extending highway goes to two villages, this one and the yonder, even so these rays of the sun go to two worlds, this one and the yonder. They extend from the yonder sun and enter into these veins. They extend from the veins and enter into the yonder sun” (Chāndogya-upaniṣad 8.6.2). “But when he thus departs from the body, then he ascends upwards through those very rays of the sun. With the thought ‘Om’, forsooth, he passes up. As quickly as one could direct one’s mind to it, he goes to the sun. That, certainly, is the door to the world (of Brahman), an entrance for knowers, a stopping for non-knowers” (Chāndogya-upaniṣad 8.6.5). Vide Vedānta-kaustubha 1.3.14-23; 3.3.38.


Madhu-vidyā or the doctrine of the honey, i.e. the doctrine of the co-relativity of all things, cosmic and personal, and the immanence of the soul, taught to the two Aśvinis by Dadhyañc Ātharvaṇa. Vide Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 2.5.6-19. It begins: “This earth is the honey for all creatures and all creatures are honey for this earth. This shining immortal Person who is in this earth, and with reference to the self, this shining immortal Person who is in the embodied soul,—he, indeed, is this Soul, this Immortal, this ALL” (Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 2.5.1) and goes on with similar designations of water, fire, air, the sun, the quarters, the moon, lightning thunder, space, law, truth, mankind, and soul.

There is a different Madhu-vidyā, or the representation of the sun as the honey extracted from all the Vedas in the Chāndogya (Chāndogya-upaniṣad 3.1-3.11), For detailed account, vide Vedānta-kaustubha 1.3.33, footnote 1, p. 335.


Śāṇḍilya-vidyā or the doctrine taught by Śāṇḍilya. Vide Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 5.6; Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa 10.6.3; Chāndogya-upaniṣad 3.14. For detailed account vide Vedānta-kaustubha 3.3.19.


Vaiśvānara-vidyā or the doctrine of the Universal Soul taught to six Brāhmaṇas, Prācīnaśāla and the rest, by King Aśvapati, vide Chāndogya-upaniṣad 5.11-5.18. The story begins: Six great house-holders, Prācīnaśāla and the rest assembled and pondered: ‘“Who is our Soul? Who is Brahman?”’ Unable to decide, they approached Uddālaka Āruṇi with a view to learning about the Vaiśvānara Ātman or the Universal Soul from him. The latter directed them to King Aśvapati. Aśvapati asked each of the six: ‘“Whom do you reverence as the Universal Soul?”’ They successively answered: the heaven, the sun, the wind, the ether, water and the earth. Thereupon Aśvapati taught them that the Universal Soul is not thus separate, i.e. either the heaven, or the sun, etc., but is the Universal Being, comprehending everything. Vide Vedānta-kaustubha 1.2.25; 3.3.55.


Brahma-sūtras (Śaṅkara’s commentary) 3.3.31, p. 805.


Govinda-bhāṣya 3.3.32, pp. 164-165, Chap. 3.

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