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 IV, Section III, Adhikarana II

Adhikarana summary: The departing soul reaches the deity of the year and then the deity of the air

 Sutra 4,3.2

वायुमब्दात्, अविशेषविशेषाभ्याम् ॥ २ ॥

vāyumabdāt, aviśeṣaviśeṣābhyām || 2 ||

vāyum—The deity of the air; abdāt—from the deity of the year; aviśeṣa-viśeṣābhyām—on account of the absence and presence of specification.

2. (The departed soul of a knower of the Saguna Brahman goes) from the deity of the year to the deity of the air, on account of the absence and presence of specification.

In the last Sutra it was stated that the different texts give different particulars or stages of the same path. This Sutra fixes the order of the stages.

The Kaushitaki describes the path as follows:

“The Upasaka, having reached the path of the gods, reaches the world of Agni (fire), of Vayu (air), of Varuna, of Indra, of Prajapati, and then of Brahman” (Kau. 1. 3).

Again the Chhandogya Upanishad describes the path as follows:

“They reach the deity identified with the flame, from him to the deity of the day, from him to the deity of the bright half of the month, from him to the deities identified with the six months of the northern path of the sun, from them to the deity of the year, from him to the deity of the sun, from him to the deity of the moozt, from him to the deity of lightning” (Chh. 5. 10. 1).

In these two texts the first deity they reach is said to be the deity of the flame or fire. So the starting point is clearly pointed out by both texts, for they say that having reached the path of the gods the departed souls reach this deity. Combining these two texts we have to place the deity of air in between the deity of che year and the deity of the sun. Why? Because of the absence and presence of specification.

“When a man departs from this world, he reaches the (deity identified with) air, which makes an opening for him . . . He goes upwards through that and reaches the (deity of the) sun” (Brih. 5. 10. 1).

This text fixes that air comes immediately before the sun because we perceive a regular order of succession. But as regards air coming after the deity of the flame there is no specification, but simply a statement; “He comes from the world of fire to that of air.” In between these two stages we have several other stages which the Chhandogya text mentions.

Again in the text,

“From the deities identified with the six months in which the sun travels northward he reaches the deity identified with the world of the gods” (Brih. 6. 2. 15).

To keep the immediate sequence of the deity identified with air and that identified with the sun, we must understand that the soul passes from the deity of the world of the gods to the deity of the air. Again in the texts of the Chhandogya and the Brihadaranyaka, the deity of the world of the gods is not mentioned in the former and the deity of the year in the latter. Both have to be included in the full description of the path, and since the year is connected with the months, the deity of the year precedes the deity of the world of the gods.