Brahma Sutras (Shankara Bhashya)

by Swami Vireshwarananda | 1936 | 124,571 words | ISBN-10: 8175050063

This is the English translation of the Brahma-sutras including the commentary (Bhashya) of Shankara. The Brahma-sutra (or, Vedanta-sutra) is one of the three canonical texts of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy and represents an early exposition the Vedantic interpretation of the Upanishads. This edition has the original Sanskrit text, the r...

Chapter I, Section II, Adhikarana VII

Adhikarana summary: Vaisvanara is Brahman

In the last topic a general quality like invisibility equally applicable to Brahman and the Pradhana was interpreted to refer to Brahman taking into consideration qualities like all-knowingness etc. mentioned later on in the section. Following this argument the objector takes some texts for discussion and insists that the Vaisvanara referred to in them must be the ordinary fire in view of specifications like “the support of sacrifice” mentioned later on.


Brahma-Sutra 1.2.24: Sanskrit text and English translation.

वैश्वानरः साधारणशब्दविशेषात् ॥ २४ ॥

vaiśvānaraḥ sādhāraṇaśabdaviśeṣāt || 24 ||

vaiśvānaraḥ—Vaisvanara; sādhāraṇa śabda-viśeṣāt—because of the qualifying adjuncts to the common words (Vaisvanara and self).

24. Vaisvanara (is Brahman), because of the qualifying adjuncts to the common words (‘Vaisvanara’ and ‘Self’).

“But he who worships this Vaisvanara Self extending from heaven to the earth as identical with his own self, eats food in all beings, in all selves; of that Vaisvanara self Sutejas (heaven) is the head, the sun the eye”, etc. (Chh. 5. 18. 1-2).

Now what is this Vaisvanara Self? ‘Vaisvanara’ generally means fire, the presiding deity of fire and the gastric fre. ‘Self’ refers to both the individual soul and the Supreme Self. Which of these is referred to in the passage? Whatever be the ordinary meaning of these two words, the Sutra says that here the Supreme Self is referred to, on account of the qualifying adjuncts to these words. The adjuncts are:

Heaven is the head of this Vaisvanara Self, the sun its eyes, etc., and this is possible only in the case of the Supreme Self. Again the result of meditation on this Vaisvanara Self having the parts stated is the attainment of all desires, and freedom from all sin. (Vide Chh. 5. 24. 8). This also can be true if the Highest Self is meant. Moreover the chapter begins with the inquiry, “What is our Self? What is Brahman?”—where the word ‘Brahman’ is used in its primary sense, and so it is proper to think that the whole chapter delineates Brahman.


Brahma-Sutra 1.2.25: Sanskrit text and English translation.

स्मर्यमाणमनुमानं स्यादिति ॥ २५ ॥

smaryamāṇamanumānaṃ syāditi || 25 ||

smaryamāṇaṃ—Described in the Smriti; anumānaṃ—indicatory mark; syāt—must be; iti—because.

25. Because that (cosmic form of the Supreme Lord) which is described in the Smriti must be an indicatory mark (from which we arrive at the meaning of this Sruti text under discussion).

The Smritis are interpretations of Sruti texts. So where a doubt arises as to the meaning of a Sruti the former may be consulted to throw light on the subject. The Smriti describes the cosmic form of the Supreme Lord as,

“He whose mouth is fire, whose head is heaven, . . . whose ears are the regions—salutation to Him, whose body is the universe”,

which agrees with the description in the text under discussion. Hence we have to conclude that the Highest Lord is referred to in the text.


Brahma-Sutra 1.2.26: Sanskrit text and English translation.

शब्दादिभ्योऽन्तः प्रतिष्ठानाच्च नेति चेत्, न, तथा दृष्ट्युपदेशात्, असंभवात्, पुरुषमपि चैनमधीयते ॥ २६ ॥

śabdādibhyo'ntaḥ pratiṣṭhānācca neti cet, na, tathā dṛṣṭyupadeśāt, asaṃbhavāt, puruṣamapi cainamadhīyate || 26 ||

śabdādibhyaḥ—Because of the word and other reasons; antaḥ—inside; pratiṣṭhānāt—on account of (its) existing; ca—and; na—not; iti cet—if it be said; na—not so; tathā—as such; dṛṣṭyupadeśāt—on account of the instruction to conceive it; asaṃbhavāt—being impossible; puruṣam—as person; api—also; ca—also; enam—him; adhīyate—(they) describe.

26. If it be said that (Vaisvanara) is not (Brahman) because of the word (‘Vaisvanara’, which has a definite meaning, viz. gastric fire) and other reasons, and on account of its existing inside (which is true of gastric fire), (we say) not so, because there is the instruction to conceive (Brahman) as such (as the gastric fire), because it is impossible (for the gastric fire to have the heaven etc. for its head and other limbs) and also because (the Vajasaneyins) describe him (Vaisvanara) as a person (which the gastric fire is not).

Objection: The ordinary meaning of ‘Vaisvanara’ is fire and the Sruti also savs that it is seated inside: “He who knows this Vaisvanara abiding within man” (Sat. Br. 10. 6. 1. 11), which applies to the gastric fire only. Hence it alone, and not Brahman, is referred to in the text under discussion.

The Sutra refutes this objection firstly because the scripture here teaches the worship of Brahman in the gastric fire by way of meditation (Upasana), even as in the passage, “Let a man meditate on the mind as Brahman” (Chh. 3. 18. 1), Secondly because the gastric fire cannot have heaven for its head, and so on. Thirdly because Vaisvanara is conceived as a person by the Vajasaneyins : “This Agni Vaisvanara is a person” etc. (Sat, Br. 10. 6. 1. 11). Hence ‘Vaisvanara’ here refers to Brahman, which is all-pervading and can also be conceived of as a person.



Brahma-Sutra 1.2.27: Sanskrit text and English translation.

अत एव न देवता भूतं च ॥ २७ ॥

ata eva na devatā bhūtaṃ ca || 27 ||

ata eva—For the same reason; na—(is) not; devatā—deity; bhūtaṃ—element; ca—and.

27. For the same reason (Vaisvanara) is not the deity (fire) or the element (fire).

For the same reason—as stated in the previous Sutra.


Brahma-Sutra 1.2.28: Sanskrit text and English translation.

साक्षादप्यविरोधं जैमिनिः ॥ २८ ॥

sākṣādapyavirodhaṃ jaiminiḥ || 28 ||

sākṣāt—Directly; api—even; avirodhaṃ—no contradiction; jaiminiḥJaimini.

28. Even (if by ‘Vaisvanara’ Brahman is) directly (taken as the object of worship), there is no contradiction; (so says) Jaimini.

In the last Sutra it was explained that meditation on Brahman in the gastric ūre, taking it as a symbol, was taught. This Sutra says that ‘Vaisvanara’ can be taken directly to mean Brahman as an object of contemplation, for ‘Vaisvanara’ is the same as Visvanara, which means the universal man, i.e. the all-pervading Brahman Itself.


Brahma-Sutra 1.2.29: Sanskrit text and English translation.

अभिव्यक्तेरित्याश्मरथ्यः ॥ २९ ॥

abhivyakterityāśmarathyaḥ || 29 ||

abhivyakteḥ—On account of manifestation; iti—so; āśmarathyaḥ—(says) Asmarathya.

29. On account of manifestation—so says Asmarathya.

The reference to Vaisvanara in the text under discussion as extending from heavens to the earth is explained here. Even though the Lord is all-pervading, yet He specially manifests Himself as extending from heaven to the earth for the sake of the devotees.


Brahma-Sutra 1.2.30: Sanskrit text and English translation.

अनुस्मृतेर्बादरिः ॥ ३० ॥

anusmṛterbādariḥ || 30 ||

anusmṛteḥ—For the purpose of constant remembrance; bādariḥ—(so says) Badari.

30. For the purpose of constant remembrance—so says Badari.

The Highest Lord may be called “measured by a span” (to render the term ‘Pradesamatra’ differently), because He is remembered through the mind, which is seated in the heart, and the heart is of the size of a span.


Brahma-Sutra 1.2.31: Sanskrit text and English translation.

संपत्तेरिति जैमिनिः, तथा हि दर्शयति ॥ ३१ ॥

saṃpatteriti jaiminiḥ, tathā hi darśayati || 31 ||

saṃpatteḥ—Because of imaginary identity; iti—so; jaiminiḥ—(says) Jaimini; tathā hi—for so; darśayati—declares (the Sruti).

31. Because of imaginary identity (the Supreme Lord may be called span long), so says Jaimini; for so (the Sruti) declares.

Sampat Upasana is a kind of meditation in which something is imagined as identical with something else on account of some kind of similarity or likeness. As, for example, when the cosmic being (Purusha) is worshipped through the identification of His different limbs with the different parts of the worshipper’s body from the top of the head to the chin. The head of the worshipper is heaven, the eyes the sun and the moon, and so on. In this meditation of the cosmic Person He is limited to the size of a span, the distance from the top of the head to the chin. Therefore, says Jaimini, in the text under discussion, the Supreme Lord is regarded as of the size of a span.



Brahma-Sutra 1.2.32: Sanskrit text and English translation.

आमनन्ति चैनमस्मिन् ॥ ३२ ॥

āmananti cainamasmin || 32 ||

āmananti—Teach; ca—moreover; enam—this; asmin—in this.

32. Moreover (the Jabalas) teach that this (Supreme Lord is to be meditated upon) in this (space between the head and the chin).

See Jabala Upanishad 1.

Sutras 27—32 justify the reference to the Supreme Lord by the term ‘Pradesamatra’ “as extending from heaven to the earth” or “as measured by a span”).

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