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....

21. If it be said that (texts such as the one about the udgītha are) mere glorification, on account of their reference (to parts of sacrifices); we deny that, on account of the newness (of what they teach, if viewed as injunctions).

'That udgītha is the best of all essences, the highest, holding the highest place, the eighth' (Ch. Up. I, 1, 3); 'This earth is the Ṛc, the fire is Sāman' (Ch. Up. I, 6, 1); 'This world in truth is that piled-up fire-altar' (Śat. Brā. X, I, 2, 2); 'That hymn is truly that earth' (Ait. Ār. II, 1, 2, 1); with reference to these and other similar passages a doubt arises whether they are meant to glorify the udgītha and so on, or to enjoin devout meditations.

The pūrvapakṣin maintains that their aim is glorification, because the text exhibits them with reference to subordinate members of sacrificial actions, such as the udgītha and so on. They are, he says, analogous to passages such as 'This earth is the ladle;' 'the sun is the tortoise;' 'the heavenly world is the Āhavanīya,' whose aim it is to glorify the ladle and so on. To this the Sūtrakāra replies as follows. We have no right to consider the purpose of those passages to be mere glorification, on account of the newness. If they aim at injunction, a new matter is enjoined by them; if, on the other hand, they aimed at glorification they would be devoid of meaning. For, as explained in the Pū. Mīm. Sū., glorificatory passages are of use in so far as entering into a complementary relation to injunctive passages; but the passages under discussion are incapable of entering into such a relation to the udgītha and so on which are enjoined in altogether different places of the Veda, and would therefore be purposeless as far as glorification is concerned. Passages such as 'This earth is the ladle' are not analogous because they stand in proximity to injunctive passages.--Therefore texts such as those under discussion have an injunctive purpose.

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