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 ...

55. But the (meditations) connected with members (of sacrificial acts are) not (restricted) to (particular) Śākhās, according to the Veda (to which they belong).

The above occasional discussion being terminated, we return to the discussion of the matter in hand.--We meet in the different Śākhās of each Veda with injunctions of vidyās connected with certain members of sacrificial acts, such as the udgītha and the like. Cp. e.g. 'Let a man meditate on the syllable Om (as) the udgītha' (Ch. Up. I, 1, 1); 'Let a man meditate on the fivefold Sāman as the five worlds' (Ch. Up. II, 2, I); 'People say: "Hymns, hymns!" the hymn is truly this earth' (Ait. Ār. II, 1, 2, 1); 'The piled up fire-altar truly is this world' (Śat. Brā. X, 5, 4, 1). A doubt here arises whether the vidyās are enjoined with reference to the udgītha and so on as belonging to a certain Śākhā only or as belonging to all Śākhās. The doubt is raised on the supposition that the udgītha and so on differ in the different Śākhās because the accents, &c. differ.

Here the pūrvapakṣin maintains that the vidyās are enjoined only with reference to the udgītha and so on which belong to the particular Śākhā (to which the vidyā belongs).--Why?--On account of proximity. For as such general injunctions as 'Let a man meditate on the udgītha' are in need of a specification, and as this need is satisfied by the specifications given in the same Śākhā which stand in immediate proximity, there is no reason for passing over that Śākhā and having recourse to specifications enjoined in other Śākhās. Hence the vidyās are to be held apart, according to the Śākhās to which they belong.

To this the Sūtra replies 'but those connected with members,' &c.--The word 'but' discards the primā facie view. The meditations are not restricted to their own Śākhās according to the Veda to which they belong, but are valid for all Śākhās.--Why?--Because the direct statements of the texts about the udgītha and so on enounce no specification. For to such general injunctions as 'Let a man meditate on the udgītha'--which say nothing about specifications--violence would be done, if on the ground of proximity we restricted them to something special belonging to its own Śākhā, and that would be objectionable because direct statement has greater weight than proximity. There is, on the other hand, no reason why the vidyā should not be of general reference. We therefore conclude that, although the Śākhās differ as to accents and the like, the vidyās mentioned refer to the udgītha and so on belonging to all Śākhās, because the text speaks only of the udgītha and so on in general.

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