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....

23. (The stories told in the Upaniṣads) are for the purpose of the pāriplava; we deny this on account of (certain stories only) being specified.

'Yājñavalkya had two wives, Maitreyī and Kātyāyani' (Bṛ. Up. IV, 5, 1); 'Pratardana, forsooth, the son of Divodāsa came to the beloved abode of Indra' (Kau. Up. III, 1); 'There lived once upon a time Jānaśruti Pautrāyaṇa, who was a pious giver, giving much and keeping open house' (Ch. Up. IV, 1, 1); with regard to these and similar stories met with in the Vedānta portions of scripture there arises a doubt whether they are meant to subserve the performance of the pāriplava[1], or to introduce the vidyās standing in proximity to them.

The pūrvapakṣin maintains that those scriptural stories subserve the pāriplava because they are stories like others, and because the telling of stories is enjoined for the pāriplava. And from this it follows that the Vedānta-texts do not chiefly aim at knowledge, because like mantras they stand in a complementary relation to sacrificial performances.

This conclusion we deny 'on account of the specification.' Under the heading 'he is to recite the pāriplava,' scripture specifies certain definite stories such as that of 'Manu Vivasvat's son the king.' If, now, for the reason that all tales as such are alike, all tales were admitted for the pāriplava, the mentioned specification would be devoid of meaning. We therefore conclude that those scriptural stories are not meant to be told at the pāriplava.

Footnotes and references:


I.e. have to be recited at stated intervals during the year occupied by the aśvamedha sacrifice.

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