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  Srimad Bhagavatam

  Rig Veda
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  Bhagavad Gita
  Sankara Bhashya
  By Edwin Arnold

  Brahma Sutra
  Sankara Bhashya I
  Sankara Bhashya II
  Ramanuja SriBhashya


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  Brahma Sutras

Brahma Sutra Bhashya of Sri Adi Sanakara - Part I
translated by George Thibaut

3. (Such a previous seminal condition of the world may be admitted) on account of its dependency on him (the Lord); (for such an admission is) according to reason.

Here a new objection is raised.--If, the opponent says, in order to prove the possibility of the body being called undeveloped you admit that this world in its antecedent seminal condition before either names or forms are evolved can be called undeveloped, you virtually concede the doctrine that the pradhâna is the cause of the world. For we Sânkhyas understand by the term pradhâna nothing but that antecedent condition of the world.

Things lie differently, we rejoin. If we admitted some antecedent state of the world as the independent cause of the actual world, we should indeed implicitly, admit the

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pradhâna doctrine. What we admit is, however, only a previous state dependent on the highest Lord, not an independent state. A previous stage of the world such as the one assumed by us must necessarily be admitted, since it is according to sense and reason. For without it the highest Lord could not be conceived as creator, as he could not become active if he were destitute of the potentiality of action. The existence of such a causal potentiality renders it moreover possible that the released souls should not enter on new courses of existence, as it is destroyed by perfect knowledge. For that causal potentiality is of the nature of Nescience; it is rightly denoted by the term 'undeveloped;' it has the highest Lord for its substratum; it is of the nature of an illusion; it is a universal sleep in which are lying the transmigrating souls destitute for the time of the consciousness of their individual character.  1 This undeveloped principle is sometimes denoted by the term âkâsa, ether; so, for instance, in the passage, 'In that Imperishable then, O Gârgî, the ether is woven like warp and woof' (Bri. Up. III, 8, 11). Sometimes, again, it is denoted by the term akshara, the Imperishable; so, for instance (Mu. Up. II, 1, 2), 'Higher, than the high Imperishable.' Sometimes it is spoken of as Mâyâ, illusion; so, for instance (Sve. Up. IV, 10), 'Know then Prakriti is Mâyâ, and the great Lord he who is affected with Mâyâ.' For Mâyâ is properly called undeveloped or non-manifested since it cannot be defined either as that which is or that which is not.--The statement of the Kâthaka that 'the Undeveloped is beyond the Great

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one' is based on the fact of the Great one originating from the Undeveloped, if the Great one be the intellect of Hiranyagarbha. If, on the other hand, we understand by the Great one the individual soul, the statement is founded on the fact of the existence of the individual soul depending on the Undeveloped, i.e. Nescience. For the continued existence of the individual soul as such is altogether owing to the relation in which it stands to Nescience. The quality of being beyond the Great one which in the first place belongs to the Undeveloped, i.e. Nescience, is attributed to the body which is the product of Nescience, the cause and the effect being considered as identical. Although the senses, &c. are no less products of Nescience, the term 'the Undeveloped' here refers to the body only, the senses, &c. having already been specially mentioned by their individual names, and the body alone being left.--Other interpreters of the two last Sûtras give a somewhat different explanation  1.--There are, they say, two kinds of body, the gross one and the subtle one. The gross body is the one which is perceived; the nature of the subtle one will be explained later on. (Ved. Sû. III, 1, 1.) Both these bodies together were in the simile compared to the chariot; but here (in the passage under discussion) only the subtle body is referred to as the Undeveloped, since the subtle body only is capable of being denoted by that term. And as the soul's passing through bondage and release depends on the subtle body, the latter is said to be beyond the soul, like the things (arthavat), i.e. just as the objects are said to be beyond the senses because the activity of the latter depends on the objects.--But how--we ask interpreters--is it possible that the word 'Undeveloped' should refer to the subtle body only, while, according to your opinion, both bodies had in the simile been represented as a chariot, and so equally constitute part of the topic of the chapter, and equally remain (to be mentioned in the

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passage under discussion)?--If you should rejoin that you are authorised to settle the meaning of what the text actually mentions, but not to find fault with what is not mentioned, and that the word avyakta which occurs in the text can denote only the subtle body, but not the gross body which is vyakta, i.e. developed or manifest; we invalidate this rejoinder by remarking that the determination of the sense depends on the circumstance of the passages interpreted constituting a syntactical whole. For if the earlier and the later passage do not form a whole they convey no sense, since that involves the abandonment of the subject started and the taking up of a new subject. But syntactical unity cannot be established unless it be on the ground of there being a want of a complementary part of speech or sentence. If you therefore construe the connexion of the passages without having regard to the fact that the latter passage demands as its complement that both bodies (which had been spoken of in the former passage) should be understood as referred to, you destroy all syntactical unity and so incapacitate yourselves from arriving at the true meaning of the text. Nor must you think that the second passage occupies itself with the subtle body only, for that reason that the latter is not easily distinguished from the Self, while the gross body is easily so distinguished on account of its readily perceived loathsomeness. For the passage does not by any means refer to such a distinction--as we conclude from the circumstance of there being no verb enjoining it--but has for its only subject the highest place of Vishnu, which had been mentioned immediately before. For after having enumerated a series of things in which the subsequent one is always superior to the one preceding it, it concludes by saying that nothing is beyond the Person.--We might, however, accept the interpretation just discussed without damaging our general argumentation; for whichever explanation we receive, so much remains clear that the Kâthaka passage does not refer to the pradhâna.

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