Brahma Sutras (Vedanta Sutras)

With the Commentary by Śaṅkarācārya

by George Thibaut | 1890 | 203,611 words

The Brahma sūtras (aka. Vedānta Sūtras) are one of the three canonical texts of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. The Brahma sūtra is the exposition of the philosophy of the Upanishads. It is an attempt to systematise the various strands of the Upanishads which form the background of the orthodox systems of thought....

First Adhyāya

The first five adhikaraṇas lay clown the fundamental positions with regard to Brahman. Adhik. I (1)[1] treats of what the study of the Vedānta presupposes. Adhik. II (2) defines Brahman as that whence the world originates, and so on. Adhik. III (3) declares that Brahman is the source of the Veda. Adhik. IV (4) proves Brahman to be the uniform topic of all Vedānta-texts. Adhik. V (5-11) is engaged in proving by various arguments that the Brahman, which the Vedanta-texts represent as the cause of the world, is an intelligent principle, and cannot be identified with the non-intelligent pradhāna from which the world springs according to the Sānkhyas.

With the next adhikaraṇa there begins a series of discussions of essentially similar character, extending up to the end of the first adhyāya. The question is throughout whether certain terms met with in the Upaniṣads denote Brahman or some other being, in most cases the jīva, the individual soul. Śaṅkara remarks at the outset that, as the preceding ten Sūtras had settled the all-important point that all the Vedānta-texts refer to Brahman, the question now arises why the enquiry should be continued any further, and thereupon proceeds to explain that the acknowledged distinction of a higher Brahman devoid of all qualities and a lower Brahman characterised by qualities necessitates an investigation whether certain Vedic texts of primā facie doubtful import set forth the lower Brahman as the object of devout meditation, or the higher Brahman as the object of true knowledge. But that such an investigation is actually carried on in the remaining portion of the first adhyāya, appears neither from the wording of the Sūtras nor even from Śaṅkara's own treatment of the Vedic texts referred to in the Sūtras. In I, 1, 20, for instance, the question is raised whether the golden man within the sphere of the sun, with golden hair and beard and lotus-coloured eyes--of whom the Chāndogya Upaniṣad speaks in I, 6, 6--is an individual soul abiding within the sun or the highest Lord. Śaṅkara's answer is that the passage refers to the Lord, who, for the gratification of his worshippers, manifests himself in a bodily shape made of Māyā. So that according to Śaṅkara himself the alternative lies between the saguṇa Brahman and some particular individual soul, not between the saguṇa Brahman and the nirguṇa Brahman.

Adhik. VI (12-19) raises the question whether the ānandamaya, mentioned in Taittirīya Upaniṣad II, 5, is merely a transmigrating individual soul or the highest Self. Śaṅkara begins by explaining the Sūtras on the latter supposition--and the text of the Sūtras is certainly in favour of that interpretation--gives, however, finally the preference to a different and exceedingly forced explanation according to which the Sūtras teach that the ānandamaya is not Brahman, since the Upaniṣad expressly says that Brahman is the tail or support of the ānandamaya[2].--Rāmānuja's interpretation of Adhikaraṇa VI, although not agreeing in all particulars with the former explanation of Śaṅkara, yet is at one with it in the chief point, viz. that the ānandamaya is Brahman. It further deserves notice that, while Śaṅkara looks on Adhik. VI as the first of a series of interpretatory discussions, all of which treat the question whether certain Vedic passages refer to Brahman or not, Rāmānuja separates the adhikaraṇa from the subsequent part of the pāda and connects it with what had preceded. In Adhik. V it had been shown that Brahman cannot be identified with the pradhāna; Adhik. VI shows that it is different from the individual soul, and the proof of the fundamental position of the system is thereby completed[3].--Adhik. VII (20, 31) demonstrates that the golden person seen within the sun and the person seen within the eye, mentioned in Ch. Up. I, 6, are not some individual soul of high eminence, but the supreme Brahman.--Adhik. VIII (22) teaches that by the ether from which, according to Ch. Up. I, 9, all beings originate, not the elemental ether has to be understood but the highest Brahman.--Adhik. IX (23). The prāṇa also mentioned in Ch. Up. I, ii, 5 denotes the highest Brahman[4]--Adhik. X (24-27) teaches that the light spoken of in Ch. Up. III, 13, 7 is not the ordinary physical light but the highest Brahman[5].--Adhik. XI (28-31) decides that the prāṇa mentioned in Kau. Up. III, 2 is Brahman.


Adhik. I (1-8) shows that the being which consists of mind, whose body is breath, &c., mentioned in Ch. Up. III, 14, is not the individual soul, but Brahman. The Sūtras of this adhikaraṇa emphatically dwell on the difference of the individual soul and the highest Self, whence Śaṅkara is obliged to add an explanation--in his comment on Sūtra 6--to the effect that that difference is to be understood as not real, but as due to the false limiting adjuncts of the highest Self.--The comment of Rāmānuja throughout closely follows the words of the Sūtras; on Sūtra 6 it simply remarks that the difference of the highest Self from the individual soul rests thereon that the former as free from all evil is not subject to the effects of works in the same way as the soul is[6].--Adhik. II (9, 10) decides that he to whom the Brahmans and Kṣattriyas are but food (Kaṭha. Up. I, 2, 25) is the highest Self.--Adhik. III (11, 12) shows that the two entered into the cave (Kaṭha Up. I, 3, 1) are Brahman and the individual soul[7].--Adhik. IV (13-17) shows that the person within the eye mentioned in Ch. Up. IV, 15, 1 is Brahman.--Adhik. V (18-20) shows that the ruler within (antaryāmin) described in Bṛ. Up. III, 7, 3 is Brahman. Sūtra 2,0 clearly enounces the difference of the individual soul and the Lord; hence Śaṅkara is obliged to remark that that difference is not real.--Adhik. VI (21-23) proves that that which cannot be seen, &c, mentioned in Muṇḍaka Up. I, 1, 3 is Brahman.--Adhik. VII (24-32) shows that the ātman vaiśvānara of Ch. Up. V, 11, 6 is Brahman.


Adhik. I (1-7) proves that that within which the heaven, the earth, &c. are woven (Muṇḍ. Up. II, 2, 5) is Brahman.--Adhik. II (8, 9) shows that the bhūman referred to in Ch. Up. VII, 23 is Brahman.--Adhik. III (10-12) teaches that the Imperishable in which, according to Bṛ. Up. III, 8, 8, the ether is woven is Brahman.--Adhik. IV (13) decides that the highest person who is to be meditated upon with the syllable Om, according to Praśna Up. V, 5, is not the lower but the higher Brahman.--According to Rāmānuja the two alternatives are Brahman and Brahmā (jīvasa-maṣṭirūpo ' ṇḍādhipatiś caturmukhaḥ).--Adhik. V and VI (comprising, according to--Śaṅkara, Sūtras 14-21)[8] discuss the question whether the small ether within the lotus of the heart mentioned in Ch. Up. VIII, 1 is the elemental ether or the individual soul or Brahman; the last alternative being finally adopted. In favour of the second alternative the pūrvapakṣin pleads the two passages Ch. Up. VIII, 3, 4 and VIII, 12, 3, about the serene being (samprasāda); for by the latter the individual soul only can be understood, and in the chapter, of which the latter passage forms part, there are ascribed to it the same qualities (viz. freeness from sin, old age, death, &c.) that were predicated in VIII, 1, of the small ether within the heart.--But the reply to this is, that the second passage refers not to the (ordinary) individual soul but to the soul in that state where its true nature has become manifest, i.e. in which it is Brahman; so that the subject of the passage is in reality not the so-called individual soul but Brahman. And in the former of the two passages the soul is mentioned not on its own account, but merely for the purpose of intimating that the highest Self is the cause through which the individual soul manifests itself in its true nature.--What Rāmānuja understands by the āvirbhāva of the soul will appear from the remarks on IV, 4.

The two next Sūtras (22, 23) constitute, according to Śaṅkara, a new adhikaraṇa (VII), proving that he 'after whom everything shines, by whose light all this is lighted' (Kaṭha Up. II, 5,15) is not some material luminous body, but Brahman itself.--According to Rāmānuja the two Sūtras do not start a new topic, but merely furnish some further arguments strengthening the conclusion arrived at in the preceding Sūtras.)

[9]Adhik. VIII (24, 25) decides that the person of the size of a thumb mentioned in Kaṭha Up. II, 4, 12 is not the individual soul but Brahman.

The two next adhikaraṇas are of the nature of a digression. The passage about the aṅguṣṭhamātra was explained on the ground that the human heart is of the size of a span; the question may then be asked whether also such individuals as belong to other classes than mankind, more particularly the Gods, are capable of the knowledge of Brahman: a question finally answered in the affirmative.--This discussion leads in its turn to several other digressions, among which the most important one refers to the problem in what relation the different species of beings stand to the words denoting them (Sūtra 28). In connexion herewith Śaṅkara treats of the nature of words (śabda), opposing the opinion of the Mīmāṃsaka Upavarṣa, according to whom the word is nothing but the aggregate of its constitutive letters, to the view of the grammarians who teach that over and above the aggregate of the letters there exists a super-sensuous entity called 'sphoṭa,' which is the direct cause of the apprehension of the sense of a word (Adhik. IX; Sūtras 26-33).

Adhik. X (34-38) explains that Śūdras are altogether disqualified for Brahmavidyā.

Sūtra 39 constitutes, according to Śaṅkara, a new adhikaraṇa (XI), proving that the prāṇa in which everything trembles, according to Caṭha Up. II, 6, 2, is Brahman.--According to Rāmānuja the Sūtra does not introduce a new topic but merely furnishes an additional reason for the decision arrived at under Sūtras 24, 25, viz. that the aṅguṣṭhamātra is Brahman. On this supposition, Sūtras 24-39 form one adhikaraṇa in which 26-38 constitute a mere digression led up to by the mention made of the heart in 25.--The aṅguṣṭhamātra is referred to twice in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad, once in the passage discussed (II, 4, 12), and once in II, 6, 17 ('the Person not larger than a thumb'). To determine what is meant by the aṅguṣṭhamātra, Rāmānuja says, we are enabled by the passage II, 6, 2, 3, which is intermediate between the two passages concerning the aṅguṣṭhamātra, and which clearly refers to the highest Brahman, of which alone everything can be said to stand in awe.

The next Sūtra (40) gives rise to a similar difference of opinion. According to Śaṅkara it constitutes by itself a new adhikaraṇa (XII), proving that the 'light' (jyotis) mentioned in Ch. Up. VIII, 12, 3 is the highest Brahman.--According to Rāmānuja the Sūtra continues the preceding adhikaraṇa, and strengthens the conclusion arrived at by a further argument, referring to Kaṭha Up. II, 5, 15--a passage intermediate between the two passages about the aṅguṣṭhamātra--which speaks of a primary light that cannot mean anything but Brahman. The Sūtra has in that case to be translated as follows: '(The aṅguṣṭhamātra is Brahman) because (in a passage intervening between the two) a light is seen to be mentioned (which can be Brahman only).'

The three last Sūtras of the pāda are, according to Śaṅkara, to be divided into two adhikaraṇas (XIII and XIV), Sūtra 41 deciding that the ether which reveals names and forms (Ch. Up. VIII, 14) is not the elemental ether but Brahman; and 42, 43 teaching that the vijñānamaya, 'he who consists of knowledge,' of Bṛ. Up. IV, 3, 7 is not the individual soul but Brahman.--According to Rāmānuja the three Sūtras make up one single adhikaraṇa discussing whether the Chandogya Upaniṣad passage about the ether refers to Brahman or to the individual soul in the state of release; the latter of these two alternatives being suggested by the circumstance that the released soul is the subject of the passage immediately preceding ('Shaking off all evil as a horse shakes off his hair,' &c.). Sūtra 41 decides that 'the ether (is Brahman) because the passage designates the nature of something else,' &c. (i.e. of something other than the individual soul; other because to the soul the revealing of names and forms cannot be ascribed, &c.)--But, an objection is raised, does not more than one scriptural passage show that the released soul and Brahman are identical, and is not therefore the ether which reveals names and forms the soul as well as Brahman?--(The two, Sūtra 42 replies, are different) 'because in the states of deep sleep and departing (the highest Self) is designated as different' (from the soul)--which point is proved by the same scriptural passages which Śaṅkara adduces;--and 'because such terms as Lord and the like' cannot be applied to the individual soul (43). Reference is made to IV, 4, 14, where all jagadvyāpāra is said to belong to the Lord only, not to the soul even when in the state of release.


The last pāda of the first adhyāya is specially directed against the Sāṅkhyas.

The first adhikaraṇa (1-7) discusses the passage Kaṭha Up. I, 3, 10; 11, where mention is made of the Great and the Undeveloped--both of them terms used with a special technical sense in the Śāṅkhya-śāstra, avyakta being a synonym for pradhāna.--Śaṅkara shows by an exhaustive review of the topics of the Kaṭha Upaniṣad that the term avyakta has not the special meaning which the Sāṅkhyas attribute to it, but denotes the body, more strictly the subtle body (sūkṣma śarīra), but at the same time the gross body also, in so far as it is viewed as an effect of the subtle one.

Adhik. II (8-10) demonstrates, according to Śaṅkara, that the tricoloured ajā spoken of in Śve. Up. IV, 5 is not the pradhāna of the Sāṅkhyas, but either that power of the Lord from which the world springs, or else the primary causal matter first produced by that power.--What Rāmānuja in contradistinction from Śaṅkara understands by the primary causal matter, follows from the short sketch given above of the two systems.

Adhik. III (11-13) shows that the pañca pañcajanāḥ mentioned in Bṛ. Up. IV, 4, 17 are not the twenty-five principles of the Sāṅkhyas.--Adhik. IV (14, 15) proves that Scripture does not contradict itself on the all-important point of Brahman, i.e. a being whose essence is intelligence, being the cause of the world.

Adhik. V (16-18) is, according to Śaṅkara, meant to prove that 'he who is the maker of those persons, of whom this is the work,' mentioned in Kau. Up. IV, 19, is not either the vital air or the individual soul, but Brahman.--The subject of the adhikaraṇa is essentially the same in Rāmānuja's view; greater stress is, however, laid on the adhikaraṇa being polemical against the Sāṅkhyas, who wish to turn the passage into an argument for the pradhāna doctrine.

The same partial difference of view is observable with regard to the next adhikaraṇa (VI; Sūtras 19-22) which decides that the 'Self to be seen, to be heard,' &c. (Bṛ. Up. II, 4, 5) is the highest Self, not the individual soul. This latter passage also is, according to Rāmānuja, made the subject of discussion in order to rebut the Sāṅkhya who is anxious to prove that what is there inculcated as the object of knowledge is not a universal Self but merely the Sāṅkhya puruṣa.

Adhik. VII (23-27) teaches that Brahman is not only the efficient or operative cause (nimitta) of the world, but its material cause as well. The world springs from Brahman by way of modification (pariṇāma; Sūtra 26).--Rāmānuja views this adhikaraṇa as specially directed against the Seśvara-sāṅkhyas who indeed admit the existence of a highest Lord, but postulate in addition an independent pradhāna on which the Lord acts as an operative cause merely.

Adhik. VIII (28) remarks that the refutation of the Sāṅkhya views is applicable to other theories also, such as the doctrine of the world having originated from atoms.

After this rapid survey of the contents of the first adhyāya and the succinct indication of the most important points in which the views of Śaṅkara and Rāmānuja diverge, we turn to a short consideration of two questions which here naturally present themselves, viz., firstly, which is the principle on which the Vedic passages referred to in the Sūtras have been selected and arranged; and, secondly, if, where Śaṅkara and Rāmānuja disagree as to the subdivision of the Sūtras into Adhikaraṇas, and the determination of the Vedic passages discussed in the Sūtras, there are to be met with any indications enabling us to determine which of the two commentators is right. (The more general question as to how far the Sūtras favour either Śaṅkara's or Rāmānuja's general views cannot be considered at present.)

The Hindu commentators here and there attempt to point out the reason why the discussion of a certain Vedic passage is immediately followed by the consideration of a certain other one. Their explanations--which have occasionally been referred to in the notes to the translation--rest on the assumption that the Sūtrakāra in arranging the texts to be commented upon was guided by technicalities of the Mīmāṃsā-system, especially by a regard for the various so-called means of proof which the Mīmāṃsaka employs for the purpose of determining the proper meaning and position of scriptural passages. But that this was the guiding principle, is rendered altogether improbable by a simple tabular statement of the Vedic passages referred to in the first adhyāya, such as given by Deussen on page 130; for from the latter it appears that the order in which the Sūtras exhibit the scriptural passages follows the order in which those passages themselves occur in the Upaniṣads, and it would certainly be a most strange coincidence if that order enabled us at the same time to exemplify the various pramāṇas of the Mīmāṃsā in their due systematic succession.

As Deussen's statement shows, most of the passages discussed are taken from the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, so many indeed that the whole first adhyāya may be said to consist of a discussion of all those Chāndogya passages of which it is doubtful whether they are concerned with Brahman or not, passages from the other Upaniṣads being brought in wherever an opportunity offers. Considering the prominent position assigned to the Upaniṣad mentioned, I think it likely that the Sūtrakāra meant to begin the series of doubtful texts with the first doubtful passage from the Chāndogya, and that hence the sixth adhikaraṇa which treats of the anāndamaya mentioned in the Taittirīya Upaniṣad has, in agreement with Rāmānuja's views, to be separated from the subsequent adhikaraṇas, and to be combined with the preceding ones whose task it is to lay down the fundamental propositions regarding Brahman's nature.--The remaining adhikaraṇas of the first pāda follow the order of passages in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, and therefore call for no remark; with the exception of the last adhikaraṇa, which refers to a Kauṣītaki passage, for whose being introduced in this place I am not able to account.--The first adhikaraṇa of the second pāda returns to the Chāndogya Upaniṣad. The second one treats of a passage in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad where a being is referred to which eats everything. The reason why that passage is introduced in this place seems to be correctly assigned in the Śrī-bhāṣya, which remarks that, as in the preceding Sūtra it had been argued that the highest Self is not an enjoyer, a doubt arises whether by that being which eats everything the highest Self can be meant[10].--The third adhikaraṇa again, whose topic is the 'two entered into the cave' (Kaṭha Up. I, 3, 1), appears, as Rāmānuja remarks, to come in at this place owing to the preceding adhikaraṇa; for if it could not be proved that one of the two is the highest Self, a doubt would attach to the explanation given above of the 'eater' since the 'two entered into the cave,' and the 'eater' stand under the same prakaraṇa, and must therefore be held to refer to the same matter.--The fourth adhikaraṇa is again occupied with a Chāndogya passage.--The fifth adhikaraṇa, whose topic is the Ruler within (antaryāmin), manifestly owes its place, as remarked by Rāmānuja also, to the fact that the Vedic passage treated had been employed in the preceding adhikaraṇa (I, 2, 14) for the purpose of strengthening the argument[11].--The sixth adhikaraṇa, again, which discusses 'that which is not seen' (adreśya; Muṇḍ. Up. I, 1, 6), is clearly introduced in this place because in the preceding adhikaraṇa it had been said that adṛṣṭa, &c. denote the highest Self;--The reasons to which the last adhikaraṇa of the second pāda and the first and third adhikaraṇas of the third pāda owe their places are not apparent (the second adhikaraṇa of the third pāda treats of a Chāndogya passage). The introduction, on the other hand, of the passage from the Praśna Upaniṣad treating of the akṣara Oṃkāra is clearly due to the circumstance that an akṣara, of a different nature, had been discussed in the preceding adhikaraṇa.--The fifth and sixth adhikaraṇas investigate Chāndogya passages.--The two next Sūtras (22, 23) are, as remarked above, considered by Śaṅkara to constitute a new adhikaraṇa treating of the 'being after which everything shines' (Muṇḍ. Up. II, 2, 10); while Rāmānuja looks on them as continuing the sixth adhikaraṇa. There is one circumstance which renders it at any rate probable that Rāmānuja, and not Śaṅkara, here hits the intention of the author of the Sūtras. The general rule in the first three pādas is that, wherever a new Vedic passage is meant to be introduced, the subject of the discussion, i.e. that being which in the end is declared to be Brahman is referred to by means of a special word, in most cases a nominative form[12]. From this rule there is in the preceding part of the adhyāya only one real exception, viz. in I, 2, 1, which possibly may be due to the fact that there a new pāda begins, and it therefore was considered superfluous to indicate the introduction of a new topic by a special word. The exception supplied by I, 3, 19 is only an apparent one; for, as remarked above, Sūtra 19 does not in reality begin a new adhikaraṇa. A few exceptions occurring later on will be noticed in their places.--Now neither Sutra 22 nor Sutra 23 contains any word intimating that a new Vedic passage is being taken into consideration, and hence it appears preferable to look upon them, with Rāmānuja, as continuing the topic of the preceding adhikaraṇa.--This conclusion receives an additional confirmation from the position of the next adhikaraṇa, which treats of the being 'a span long' mentioned in Kaṭha Up. II, 4, 12; for the reason of this latter passage being considered here is almost certainly the reference to the alpaśruti in Sūtra 21, and, if so, the aṅguṣṭhamātra properly constitutes the subject of the adhikaraṇa immediately following on Adhik. V, VI; which, in its turn, implies that Sutras 22, 23 do not form an independent adhikaraṇa.--The two next adhikaraṇas are digressions, and do not refer to special Vedic passages.--Sutra 39 forms anew adhikaraṇa, according to Śaṅkara, but not according to Rāmānuja, whose opinion seems again to be countenanced by the fact that the Sūtra does not exhibit any word indicative of a new topic. The same difference of opinion prevails with regard to Sūtra 40, and it appears from the translation of the Sūtra given above, according to Rāmānuja's view, that 'jyotiḥ' need not be taken as a nominative.--The last two adhikaraṇas finally refer, according to Rāmānuja, to one Chandogya passage only, and here also we have to notice that Sūtra 42 does not comprise any word intimating that a new passage is about to be discussed.

From all this we seem entitled to draw the following conclusions. The Vedic passages discussed in the three first pādas of the Vedānta-sūtras comprise all the doubtful--or at any rate all the more important doubtful--passages from the Chandogya Upaniṣad. These passages are arranged in the order in which the text of the Upaniṣad exhibits them. Passages from other Upaniṣads are discussed as opportunities offer, there being always a special reason why a certain Chandogya passage is followed by a certain passage from some other Upaniṣad. Those reasons can be assigned with sufficient certainty in a number of cases although not in all, and from among those passages whose introduction cannot be satisfactorily accounted for some are eliminated by our following the subdivision of the Sūtras into adhikaraṇas adopted by Rāmānuja, a subdivision countenanced by the external form of the Sūtras.

The fourth pāda of the first adhyāya has to be taken by itself. It is directed specially and avowedly against Sānkhya-interpretations of Scripture, not only in its earlier part which discusses isolated passages, but also--as is brought out much more clearly in the Śrī-bhāṣya than by Śaṅkara--in its latter part which takes a general survey of the entire scriptural evidence for Brahman being the material as well as the operative cause of the world.

Deussen (p. 221) thinks that the selection made by the Sūtrakāra of Vedic passages setting forth the nature of Brahman is not in all cases an altogether happy one. But this reproach rests on the assumption that the passages referred to in the first adhyāya were chosen for the purpose of throwing light on what Brahman is, and this assumption can hardly be upheld. The Vedānta-sūtras as well as the Pūrvā Mīmāṃsā-sūtras are throughout Mīmāṃsā i.e. critical discussions of such scriptural passages as on a primā facie view admit of different interpretations and therefore necessitate a careful enquiry into their meaning. Here and there we meet with Sutrās which do not directly involve a discussion of the sense of some particular Vedic passage, but rather make a mere statement on some important point. But those cases are rare, and it would be altogether contrary to the general spirit of the Sutrās to assume that a whole adhyāya should be devoted to the task of showing what Brahman is. The latter point is sufficiently determined in the first five (or six) adhikaraṇas; but after we once know what Brahman is we are at once confronted by a number of Upaniṣad passages concerning which it is doubtful whether they refer to Brahman or not. With their discussion all the remaining adhikaraṇas of the first adhyāya are occupied. That the Vedānta-sūtras view it as a particularly important task to controvert the doctrine of the Sāṅkhyas is patent (and has also been fully pointed out by Deussen, p. 23). The fifth adhikaraṇa already declares itself against the doctrine that the world has sprung from a non-intelligent principle, the pradhāna, and the fourth pāda of the first adhyāya returns to an express polemic against Sāṅkhya interpretations of certain Vedic statements. It is therefore perhaps not saying too much if we maintain that the entire first adhyāya is due to the wish, on the part of the Sūtrakāra, to guard his own doctrine against Sāṅkhya attacks. Whatever the attitude of the other so-called orthodox systems may be towards the Veda, the Sāṅkhya system is the only one whose adherents were anxious--and actually attempted--to prove that their views are warranted by scriptural passages. The Sāṅkhya tendency thus would be to show that all those Vedic texts which the Vedāntin claims as teaching the existence of Brahman, the intelligent and sole cause of the world, refer either to the pradhāna or some product of the pradhāna, or else to the puruṣa in the Sānkhya sense, i.e. the individual soul. It consequently became the task of the Vedāntin to guard the Upaniṣads against misinterpretations of the kind, and this he did in the first adhyāya of the Vedānta-sūtras, selecting those passages about whose interpretation doubts were, for some reason or other, likely to arise. Some of the passages singled out are certainly obscure, and hence liable to various interpretations; of others it is less apparent why it was thought requisite to discuss them at length. But this is hardly a matter in which we are entitled to find fault with the Sūtrakāra; for no modern scholar, either European or Hindu, is--or can possibly be--sufficiently at home, on the one hand, in the religious and philosophical views which prevailed at the time when the Sūtras may have been composed, and, on the other hand, in the intricacies of the Mīmāṃsā, to judge with confidence which Vedic passages may give rise to discussions and which not.

Footnotes and references:


The Roman numerals indicate the number of the adhikaraṇa; the figures in parentheses state the Sūtras comprised in each adhikaraṇa.


Deussen's supposition (pp. 30, 150) that the passage conveying the second interpretation is an interpolation is liable to two objections. In the first place, the passage is accepted and explained by all commentators; in the second place, Śaṅkara in the passage immediately preceding Sūtra 12 quotes the adhikaraṇa 'ānandamayo ' bhyāsāt' as giving rise to a discussion whether the param or the aparam brahman is meant. Now this latter point is not touched upon at all in that part of the bhāṣya which sets forth the former explanation, but only in the subsequent passage, which refutes the former and advocates the latter interpretation.


Evaṃ jijñasitasya brahmaṇaś cetanabhogyabhūtajaḍarūpasattvarajastamomayapradhānād vyāvṛttir uktā idānīṃ karmavaśvāt triguṇātmakaprakṛtisaṃsarganimittanānāvidhāntadukhasāgaranimagganenāśuddhāc ca pratyagātmano ' nyan nikhilaheyapratayanīkaṃ niratiśayānandam brahmeti pratipādyate, ānandamayo ' bhyāsāt.


There is no reason to consider the passage 'atra kecit' in Śaṅkara's bhaṣya on Sutra 23 an interpolation as Deussen does (p. 30). It simply contains a criticism passed by Śaṅkara on other commentators.


To the passages on pp. 150 and 153 of the Sanskrit text, which Deussen thinks to be interpolations, there likewise applies the remark made in the preceding note.


Jīvaysa iva parasyāpi brahmaṇaḥ śarīrantarvaititvam abbyupagataṃ cet tadvad eva śarīrasambandhaprayuktasukhadukhopabhogaprāptir iti cen na, hetuvaiśeṣyāt, na hi śarīrāntarvartitvam eva sukhadukhopabhogahetuḥ api tu puṇyapāparūpakarmaparavaśatvaṃ tac cāpahatapāpmanaḥ paramātmano na sambhavati.


The second interpretation given on pp. 184-5 of the Sanskrit text (beginning with apara āha) Deussen considers to be an interpolation, caused by the reference to the Paiṅgi-upaniṣad in Śaṅkara's comment on I, 3, 7 p. 232). But there is no reason whatsoever or such an assumption. The passage on p. 232 shows that Śaṅkara considered the explanation of the mantra given in the Paiṅgi-upaniṣad worth quoting, and is in fact fully intelligible only in case of its having been quoted before by Śaṅkara himself.--That the 'apara' quote the Bṛhadāraṇyaka not according to the Kāṇva text--to quote from which is Śaṅkara's habit--but from the Mādhyandina text, is due just to the circumstance of his being an 'apara,' i.e. not Śaṅkara.


Sutras 14-21 are divided into two adhikaraṇas by the Adhikaraṇaratnamālā, but really constitute a simple adhikaraṇa only.


Itaś caitad evam. Anukṛtes tasya ca. Tasya daharākāśasya parabrahmaṇo ' nukārād ayam apahatapāpmatvādiguṇako vimuktabandhaḥ pratyagātmā na daharākāśaḥ tadanukāras tatsāmyaṃ tathā hi pratyagātmano ' pi vimuktasya p. xxxvii parabrahmānukāraḥ srūyate yadā paśyaḥ paśyate rukmavarṇaṃ kartāram īśaṃ puruṣaṃ brahmayoniṃ tadā vidvān puṇyapāpe vidhūya nirañjanaḥ paramaṃ sāmyam upaitīty ato ' nukartā prajāpativākyanirdiṣṭaḥ anukāryaṃ paraṃ brahma na daharākāśaḥ. Api ca smaryate. Saṃsāriṇo ' pi muktāvasthāyāṃ paramasāmyāpattilakṣaṇaḥ parabrahmānukāraḥ smaryate idaṃ jñānam upāśritya, &c.--Kecid anukṛtes tasya cāpi smaryate iti ca sūtradvayam adhikaraṇāntaraṃ tam eva bhāntam anubhāti sarvaṃ tasya bhāsā sarvam idaṃ vibhātīty asyāḥ śruteḥ parabrahmaparatvanirṇayāya pravṛttaṃ vadanti. Tat tv adṛśyatvādiguṇako dharmokteḥ dyubhvādyāyatanaṃ svaśabdād ity adhi karaṇadvayena tasya prakaraṇasya brahmaviṣayatvapratipādanāt jyotiskaraṇābhidhānāt ity ādishu parasya brahmaṇo bhārūpatvāvagates ca pūrvapakṣānutthānād ayuktaṃ sūtrākṣaravairūpyāc ca.


Yadi paramātmā na bhoktā evaṃ tarhi bhoktṛtayā pratīyamāno jīva eva syād ity āsaṅkyāha attā.


Sthānādivyapadeśāc ca ity atra yaḥ cakṣushi tiṣṭhann ity ādinā pratipādyamānaṃ cakṣushi sthitiniyamanādikaṃ paramātmana eveti siddhaṃ kṛtvā akṣipuruṣasya paramātmatvaṃ sādhitam idāniṃ tad eva samarthayate antaryā °.


Ānandamayaḥ I, 1, 12; antaḥ I, 1, 20; ākāśaḥ I, 1, 22; prānaḥ I, 1, 23; jyotiḥ I, 1, 24; prānaḥ I, 1, 28; attā I, 2, 9; guhāṃ praviṣṭau I, 2, 11; antara I, 2,13; antaryāmī I, 2, 18; adṛśyatvādiguṇakaḥ I, 2, 21; vaiśvānaraḥ I, 2, 24; dyubhvādyāyatanam I, 3, 1; bhūmā I, 3, 8; akṣeram I, 3, 10; saḥ I, 3, 13; daharaḥ I, 3, 14; pramitaḥ I, 3, 24; (jyotiḥ I, 3, 40;) ākāśaḥ I, 3, 41.

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