Brahma Sutras (Shankaracharya)

by George Thibaut | 1890 | 203,611 words

English translation of the Brahma sutras (aka. Vedanta Sutras) with commentary by Shankaracharya (Shankara Bhashya): One of the three canonical texts of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy. The Brahma sutra is the exposition of the philosophy of the Upanishads. It is an attempt to systematise the various strands of the Upanishads which form the ...

28. Jaimini (declares that there is) no contradiction even on the assumption of a direct (worship of the highest Lord as Vaiśvānara).

Above (Sūtra 26) it has been said that Vaiśvānara is the highest Lord, to be meditated upon as having the gastric fire either for his outward manifestation or for his limiting condition; which interpretation was accepted in deference to the circumstance that he is spoken of as abiding within--and so on.--The teacher Jaimini however is of opinion that it is not necessary to have recourse to the assumption of an outward manifestation or limiting condition, and that there is no objection to refer the passage about Vaiśvānara to the direct worship of the highest Lord.--But, if you reject the interpretation based on the gastric fire, you place yourself in opposition to the statement that Vaiśvānara abides within, and to the reasons founded on the term, &c. (Sū. 26).--To this we reply that we in no way place ourselves in opposition to the statement that Vaiśvānara abides within. For the passage, 'He knows him as man-like, as abiding within man,' does not by any means refer to the gastric fire, the latter being neither the general topic of discussion nor having been mentioned by name before.--What then does it refer to?--It refers to that which forms the subject of discussion, viz. that similarity to man (of the highest Self) which is fancifully found in the members of man from the upper part of the head down to the chin; the text therefore says, 'He knows him as man-like, as abiding within man,' just as we say of a branch that it abides within the tree[1].--Or else we may adopt another interpretation and say that after the highest Self has been represented as having the likeness to man as a limiting condition, with regard to nature as well as to man, the passage last quoted ('He knows him as abiding within man') speaks of the same highest Self as the mere witness (sākṣin; i.e. as the pure Self, non-related to the limiting conditions).--The consideration of the context having thus shown that the highest Self has to be resorted to for the interpretation of the passage, the term 'Vaiśvānara' must denote the highest Self in some way or other. The word 'Viśvānara' is to be explained either as 'he who is all and man (i.e. the individual soul),' or 'he to whom souls belong' (in so far as he is their maker or ruler), and thus denotes the highest Self which is the Self of all. And the form 'Vaiśvānara' has the same meaning as 'Viśvānara,' the taddhita-suffix, by which the former word is derived from the latter, not changing the meaning; just as in the case of rākṣasa (derived from rakṣas), and vāyasa (derived from vayas).--The word 'Agni' also may denote the highest Self if we adopt the etymology agni = agraṇī, i.e. he who leads in front.--As the Gārhapatya-fire finally, and as the abode of the oblation to breath the highest Self may be represented because it is the Self of all.

But, if it is assumed that Vaiśvānara denotes the highest Self, how can Scripture declare that he is measured by a span?--On the explanation of this difficulty we now enter.

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Whereby we mean not that it is inside the tree, but that it forms a part of the tree.--The Vaiśvānara Self is identified with the different members of the body, and these members abide within, i.e. form parts of the body.

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