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....

31. On the ground of imaginative identification (the highest Lord may be called prādeśamātra), Jaimini thinks; for thus (Scripture) declares.

Or else the passage about him who is measured by a span may be considered to rest on imaginative combination.--Why?--Because the passage of the Vājasaneyi-brāhmaṇa which treats of the same topic identifies heaven, earth, and so on--which are the members of Vaiśvānara viewed as the Self of the threefold world--with certain parts of the human frame, viz. the parts comprised between the upper part of the head and the chin, and thus declares the imaginative identity of Vaiśvānara with something whose measure is a span. There we read, 'The Gods indeed reached him, knowing him as measured by a span as it were. Now I will declare them (his members) to you so as to identify him (the Vaiśvānara) with that whose measure is a span; thus he said. Pointing to the upper part of the head he said: This is what stands above (i.e. the heavenly world) as Vaiśvānara (i.e. the head of Vaiśvānara[1]). Pointing to the eyes he said: This is he with good light (i.e. the sun) as Vaiśvānara (i.e. the eye of V.). Pointing to the nose he said: This is he who moves on manifold paths (i.e. the air) as Vaiśvānara (i.e. the breath of V.). Pointing to the space (ether) within his mouth he said: This is the full one (i.e. the ether) as Vaiśvānara. Pointing to the saliva within his mouth he said: This is wealth as Vaiśvānara (i.e. the water in the bladder of V.). Pointing to the chin he said: This is the base as Vaiśvānara (i.e. the feet of V.).'--Although in the Vājasaneyi-brāhmaṇa the heaven is denoted as that which has the attribute of standing above and the sun as that which has the attribute of good light, while in the Chāndogya the heaven is spoken of as having good light and the sun as being multiform; still this difference does not interfere (with the unity of the vidyā)[2], because both texts equally use the term 'measured by a span,' and because all śākhās intimate the same.--The above explanation of the term 'measured by a span,' which rests on imaginative identification, the teacher Jaimini considers the most appropriate one.

Footnotes and references:


Atra sarvatra vaiśvānaraśabdas tadaṅgaparaḥ. Go. Ān.


Which unity entitles us to use the passage from the Śat. Brā. for the explanation of the passage from the Ch. Up.

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