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....

26. Also (beings) above them, (viz. men) (are qualified for the study and practice of the Veda), on account of the possibility (of it), according to Bādarāyaṇa.

It has been said above that the passage about him who is of the size of a thumb has reference to the human heart, because men are entitled to study and act according to the śāstra. This gives us an occasion for the following discussion.--It is true that the śāstra entitles men, but, at the same time, there is no exclusive rule entitling men only to the knowledge of Brahman; the teacher, Bādarāyaṇa, rather thinks that the śāstra entitles those (classes of beings) also which are above men, viz. gods, and so on.--On what account?--On the account of possibility.--For in their cases also the different causes on which the qualification depends, such as having certain desires, and so on, may exist. In the first place, the gods also may have the desire of final release, caused by the reflection that all effects, objects, and powers are non-permanent. In the second place, they may be capable of it as their corporeality appears from mantras, arthavādas, itihāsas, purāṇas, and ordinary experience. In the third place, there is no prohibition (excluding them like Śūdras). Nor does, in the fourth place, the scriptural rule about the upanayana-ceremony annul their title; for that ceremony merely subserves the study of the Veda, and to the gods the Veda is manifest of itself (without study). That the gods, moreover, for the purpose of acquiring knowledge, undergo discipleship, and the like, appears from such scriptural passages as 'One hundred and one years Indra lived as a disciple with Prajāpati' (Ch. Up. VIII, ii, 3), and 'Bhṛgu Vāruṇi went to his father Varuṇa, saying, "Sir, teach me Brahman"' (Taitt. Up. III, 1).--And the reasons which have been given above against gods and ṛṣis being entitled to perform religious works (such as sacrifices), viz. the circumstance of there being no other gods (to whom the gods could offer sacrifices), and of there being no other ṛṣis (who could be invoked during the sacrifice), do not apply to the case of branches of knowledge. For Indra and the other gods, when applying themselves to knowledge, have no acts to perform with a view to Indra, and so on; nor have Bhṛgu and other ṛṣis, in the same case, to do anything with the circumstance of their belonging to the same gotra as Bhṛgu, &c. What, then, should stand in the way of the gods' and ṛṣis' right to acquire knowledge?--Moreover, the passage about that which is of the size of a thumb remains equally valid, if the right of the gods, &c. is admitted; it has then only to be explained in each particular case by a reference to the particular size of the thumb (of the class of beings spoken of).

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