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....

15. Those who do not take their stand on symbols he leads, thus Bādarāyaṇa (opines); there being no fault in the twofold relation (resulting from this opinion); and the meditation on that (i.e. Brahman) (is the reason of this twofold relation).

It is a settled conclusion that all going has reference to the effected Brahman, not to the highest Brahman. Another doubt now arises here. Does that person who is not a man lead to the world of Brahman all those who take their stand on the effected Brahman, without any difference; or only some of them?

The pūrvapakṣin maintains that all those who possess knowledge--provided that knowledge be not of the highest Brahman--go to the world of Brahman. For in Sūtra III,

3, 31 that going was put in connexion with all the different vidyās (of the qualified Brahmans), without any distinction.

To this the Sūtrakāra replies, 'Those who do not take their stand on symbols.' That means: Excepting those who take their stand on symbols (i.e. who meditate on certain things as symbolically representing Brahman), that person who is not a man leads all others who take their stand (i.e. who meditate) on the effected Brahman, to the world of Brahman; this is the opinion of the teacher Bādarāyaṇa. For in acknowledging in this way a twofold relation there is no fault; since the argumentation as to the non-restriction of going (Sūtra III, 3, 31) may be understood as referring to all meditations with the exception of those on symbols. The words, 'and the meditation on that,' state the reason for this twofold relation. For he whose meditation is fixed on Brahman reaches lordship like that of Brahman, according to the scriptural relation, 'In whatever form they meditate on him, that they become themselves.' In the case of symbols, on the other hand, the meditation is not fixed on Brahman, the symbol being the chief element in the meditation.--But scripture says also that persons whose mind is not fixed on Brahman go to it; so in the knowledge of the five fires, 'He leads them to Brahman' (Ch. Up. V, 10, 2).--This may be so where we observe a direct scriptural declaration. We only mean to say that where there is no such declaration the general rule is that those only whose purpose is Brahman go to it, not any others.

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