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 III, Section III, Adhikarana XXIX

Adhikarana summary: The fires in Agnirahasya of the Brihadaranyaka are not part of the sacrificial act, but constitute a separate Vidya

 Sutra 3,3.44

लिङ्गभूयस्त्वात्, तद्धि बलीयः, तदपि ॥ ४४ ॥

liṅgabhūyastvāt, taddhi balīyaḥ, tadapi || 44 ||

liṅga-bhūyastvāt—On account of the abundance of indicatory marks; tat—it (an indicatory mark); hi—for; balīyaḥ—is stronger; tat—that; api—also.

44. On account of the abundance of indicatory marks (the fires of the mind, speech, etc. in the Agnirahasya of the Vajasaneyins do not form part of the sacrifice), for it (an indicatory mark) is stronger (than the context). That also (has been stated by Jaimini).

In Agnirahasya of the Satapatha Brahmana certain fires, named after mind, speech, eyes, etc. are mentioned. The question is whether these form part of the sacrifice mentioned therein, or form an independent Vidya. The Sutra says that in spite of the prima facie view which arises from the context, these constitute an independent Vidya. For there are many indicatory marks to show that these fires form a Vidya; and indicatory marks are more forceful than the context, according to Purva Mimamsa.


Brahma-Sutra 3.3.45: Sanskrit text and English translation.

पूर्वविकल्पः प्रकरणात्स्यात्क्रिया, मानसवत् ॥ ४५ ॥

pūrvavikalpaḥ prakaraṇātsyātkriyā, mānasavat || 45 ||

pūrva-vikalpaḥ—Alternative forms of the one mentioned first; prakaraṇāt—on account of the context; syāt—ought to be; kriyā—part of the sacrifice; mānasavat—like the imaginary drink.

45. (The fires spoken of in the previous Sutra are) alternative forms of the one mentioned first (i.e. the actual sacrificial fire) on account of the context; (they) ought to be part of the sacrifice like the imaginary drink.

The opponent raises a fresh objection. In a certain sacrifice a Soma drink is offered to Prajapati, wherein the earth is regarded as the cup and the sea as the Soma. This is a mental act only, and yet it forms a part of the sacrifice. So these fires also, though mental, i.e. imaginary, are yet part of the sacrifice, and not an independent Vidya, because of the context. They are rather an alternative form of the first-mentioned actual tire.


Brahma-Sutra 3.3.46: Sanskrit text and English translation.

अतिदेशाच्च ॥ ४६ ॥

atideśācca || 46 ||

atideśāt—On account of the extension (of the attributes of the first to these fires); ca—and.

46. And on account of the extension (of the attributes of the actual fire to these imaginary fires).

The opponent gives a further reason in support of his view. The Sruti in that passage attributes all the qualities of the actual fire to these imaginary fires. Hence they are part of the sacrifice.


Brahma-Sutra 3.3.47: Sanskrit text and English translation.

विद्यैव तु, निर्धारणात् ॥ ४७ ॥

vidyaiva tu, nirdhāraṇāt || 47 ||

vidyā—Vidya; eva—indeed; tu—but; nirdhāraṇāt—because (the Sruti) asserts it.

47. But (the fires) rather form a Vidya, because (the Sruti) asserts it.

‘But’ refutes the opponent. The Sutra says that the fires constitute a Vidya, for the text asserts that “They are made of knowledge only,” and that “By knowledge and meditation they are made for him.”


Brahma-Sutra 3.3.48: Sanskrit text and English translation.

दर्शनाच्च ॥ ४८ ॥

darśanācca || 48 ||

darśanāt—Because (of the indicatory marks) seen; ca—and.

48. And because (of the indicatory marks) seen.

The indicatory marks are those referred to in Sutra 44.


Brahma-Sutra 3.3.49: Sanskrit text and English translation.

श्रुत्यादिबलीयस्त्वाच्च न बाधः ॥ ४९ ॥

śrutyādibalīyastvācca na bādhaḥ || 49 ||

śrutyādi-balīyastvāt—Because of the greater force of the Sruti etc. (i.e. indicatory mark and syntactical connection); ca—and; na bādhaḥ—cannot be refuted.

49. And because of the greater force of the Sruti etc. (i.e. indicatory mark and syntactical connection), (the view that the fires constitute a Vidya) cannot be refuted.

The Sruti directly says, “All these fires are kindled with knowledge alone.” The indicatory mark is this: “All beings kindle these fires for him, even when he is asleep.” This continuity of the fires indicates that they are mental ones. An actual sacrifice is not continued during sleep. The syntactical connection is: “Through meditation alone are these fires of the vorshipper kindled.” These three are more forcible fhan mere context.


Brahma-Sutra 3.3.50: Sanskrit text and English translation.

अनुबन्धादिभ्यः प्रज्ञान्तरपृथक्त्ववत्, दृष्टश्च, तदुक्तम् ॥ ५० ॥

anubandhādibhyaḥ prajñāntarapṛthaktvavat, dṛṣṭaśca, taduktam || 50 ||

anubandhādibhyaḥ—From the connection and soon (extension etc.); prajñāntara-pṛthaktvavat—even as other Vidyas are separate; dṛṣṭaḥ—(it is) seen; ca—and; tat-uktam—this has been said (by Jaimini).

50. From the connection and so on (extension etc.) (the fires constitute a separate Vidya), even as other Vidyas (like the Sandilya Vidya) are separate. And (it is) seen (that in spite of the context a sacrifice is treated as independent). This has been said (by Jaimini in Purva Mimamsa-Sutras).

This Sutra gives additional reasons in support of the view set forth in Sutra 47. The text connects for purposes of Sampad Upasana (meditations based on resemblance) parts of a sacrifice with mental activities, e.g. “These fires are started mentally, the altars are set up mentally . . . everything connected with this sacrifice are done mentally.” This is possible only if there is a sharp difference between things resembling e.ach other.

The fires form a separate Vidya, even as the Sandilya Vidya, Dahara Vidya, etc. form separate Vidyas, although mentioned along with sacrificial acts. Moreover, it is seen in the sacrificial portion of the Vedas the sacrifice Aveshti, though mentioned along with the Rajasuya sacrifice, is yet regarded as an independent sacrifice by Jaimini in his Purva Mimamsa-Sutras.


Brahma-Sutra 3.3.51: Sanskrit text and English translation.

न सामान्यादपि, उपलब्धेः, मृत्युवत्, नहि लोकापत्तिः ॥ ५१ ॥

na sāmānyādapi, upalabdheḥ, mṛtyuvat, nahi lokāpattiḥ || 51 ||

na—Not; sāmānyāt-api—in spite of the resemblance; upalabdheḥ—for it is seen; mṛtyuvat—as in the case of death; na hi lokāpattiḥ—for the world does not become (fire because of certain resemblances).

51. In spite of the resemblance (of the fires to the imaginary drink, they do) not (form part of the sacrificial act), for it is seen (from the reasons adduced that they constitute an independent Vidya); (the mental affair here is) as in the case of death, for the world does not become (fire because of certain resemblances).

This Sutra refutes the argument of the opponent given in Sutra 45. The resemblance cited by the opponent there cannot stand, for on account of the reasons already adduced, viz. the Sruti, indicatory mark, etc., the fires in question subserve the purpose of man only, and not any sacrifice. Mere resemblance cannot justify the opposite view. Anything can resemble anything in certain respects; still the things are different. The resemblance cited is like the common epithet ‘death’ applied to fire and the being in the sun. “The being in that orb is death indeed” (Sat. Br, 10. 5. 2. 8). “Fire is death” (Brih. 3. 2. 10). This resemblance cannot make fire and the being in the sun one. Again we have: “This world is a fire indeed, O Gocama, the sun its fuel” etc, (Chh. 5. 4. 1) Here from the similarity of fuel and so on the earth does not actually become fire.


Brahma-Sutra 3.3.52: Sanskrit text and English translation.

परेण च शब्दस्य ताद्विध्यम्, भूयस्त्वात्त्वनुबन्धः ॥ ५२ ॥

pareṇa ca śabdasya tādvidhyam, bhūyastvāttvanubandhaḥ || 52 ||

pareṇa—From the- subsequent (Brahmana); ca—and; śabdasya—of the text; tādvidhyam—the fact of being such; bhūyastvāt—on account of the abundance; tu—but; anubandhaḥ—connection

52. And from the subsequent (Brahmana) the fact of the text (under discussion) being such (i.e. enjoining a separate Vidya) (is known). But the connection (of the imaginary fires with the actual fire is) on account of the abundance (of the attributes of the latter that are imagined in these fires).

In a subsequent Brahmana we have, “By knowledge they ascend there where all wishes are attained. Those skilled in works do not go there” etc. Here Vidya is praised and work depreciated. From this we find that what has been shown, viz. that the fires form a Vidya, is the injunction of the Sruti. The connection of the fires with the actual fire is not because they form part of the sacrifice, but because many of the attributes of the real fire are imagined in the fires of the Vidya.

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