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  Sankara Bhashya
  By Edwin Arnold

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  Sankara Bhashya I
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  Ramanuja SriBhashya


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

4. (Brahman can)not (be the cause of the world) on account of the difference of character of that, (viz. the world); and its being such, (i.e. different from Brahman) (we learn) from Scripture.

The objections, founded on Smriti, against the doctrine of Brahman being the efficient and the material cause of this world have been refuted; we now proceed to refute those founded on Reasoning.--But (to raise an objection at the outset) how is there room for objections founded on Reasoning after the sense of the sacred texts has once been settled? The sacred texts are certainly to be considered absolutely authoritative with regard to Brahman as well as with regard to religious duty (dharma),--(To this the pûrvapakshin replies), The analogy between Brahman and dharma would hold good if the matter in hand were to be known through the holy texts only, and could not be approached by the other means of right knowledge also. In the case of religious duties, i.e. things to be done, we indeed entirely depend on Scripture. But now we are concerned with Brahman which is an accomplished existing thing, and in the case of accomplished things there is room for other means of right knowledge also, as, for instance, the case of earth and the other elements shows. And just as in the case of several conflicting scriptural passages we explain all of them in such a manner as to make them accord with one, so Sruti, if in conflict with other means of right knowledge, has to be bent so as to accord with the letter. Moreover, Reasoning, which enables us to infer something not actually perceived in consequence of its having a certain equality of attributes with what is actually perceived, stands nearer to perception than Sruti which conveys its sense by tradition merely. And the knowledge

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of Brahman which discards Nescience and effects final release terminates in a perception (viz. the intuition--sâkshâtkâra--of Brahman), and as such must be assumed to have a seen result (not an unseen one like dharma) 1. Moreover, the scriptural passage, 'He is to be heard, to be thought,' enjoins thought in addition to hearing, and thereby shows that Reasoning also is to be resorted to with regard to Brahman. Hence an objection founded on Reasoning is set forth, 'Not so, on account of the difference of nature of this (effect)'--The Vedântic opinion that the intelligent Brahman is the material cause of this world is untenable because the effect would in that case be of an altogether different character from the cause. For this world, which the Vedântin considers as the effect of Brahman, is perceived to be non-intelligent and impure, consequently different in character from Brahman; and Brahman again is declared by the sacred texts to be of a character different from the world, viz. intelligent and pure. But things of an altogether different character cannot stand to each other in the relation of material cause and effect. Such effects, for instance, as golden ornaments do not have earth for their material cause, nor is

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gold the material cause of earthen vessels; but effects of an earthy nature originate from earth and effects of the nature of gold from gold. In the same manner this world, which is non-intelligent and comprises pleasure, pain, and dulness, can only be the effect of a cause itself non-intelligent and made up of pleasure, pain, and dulness; but not of Brahman which is of an altogether different character. The difference in character of this world from Brahman must be understood to be due to its impurity and its want of intelligence. It is impure because being itself made up of pleasure, pain, and dulness, it is the cause of delight, grief, despondency, &c., and because it comprises in itself abodes of various character such as heaven, hell, and so on. It is devoid of intelligence because it is observed to stand to the intelligent principle in the relation of subserviency, being the instrument of its activity. For the relation of subserviency of one thing to another is not possible on the basis of equality; two lamps, for instance, cannot be said to be subservient to each other (both being equally luminous).--But, it will be said, an intelligent instrument also might be subservient to the enjoying soul; just as an intelligent servant is subservient to his master.--This analogy, we reply, does not hold good, because in the case of servant and master also only the non-intelligent element in the former is subservient to the intelligent master. For a being endowed with intelligence subserves another intelligent being only with the non-intelligent part belonging to it, viz. its internal organ, sense organs, &c.; while in so far as it is intelligent itself it acts neither for nor against any other being. For the Sânkhyas are of opinion that the intelligent beings (i.e. the souls) are incapable of either taking in or giving out anything 1, and are non-active. Hence that only which is devoid of intelligence can be an instrument. Nor  2 is there anything

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to show that things like pieces of wood and clods of earth are of an intelligent nature; on the contrary, the dichotomy of all things which exist into such as are intelligent and such as are non-intelligent is well established. This world therefore cannot have its material cause in Brahman from which it is altogether different in character.--Here somebody might argue as follows. Scripture tells us that this world has originated from an intelligent cause; therefore, starting from the observation that the attributes of the cause survive in the effect, I assume this whole world to be intelligent. The absence of manifestation of intelligence (in this world) is to be ascribed to the particular nature of the modification 1. Just as undoubtedly intelligent beings do not manifest their intelligence in certain states such as sleep, swoon, &c., so the intelligence of wood and earth also is not manifest (although it exists). In consequence of this difference produced by the manifestation and non-manifestation of intelligence (in the case of men, animals, &c., on the one side, and wood, stones, &c. on the other side), and in consequence of form, colour, and the like being present in the one case and absent in the other, nothing prevents the instruments of action (earth, wood, &c.) from standing to the souls in the relation of a subordinate to a superior thing, although in reality both are equally of an intelligent nature. And just as such substances as flesh, broth, pap, and the like may, owing to their individual differences, stand in the relation of mutual subserviency, although fundamentally they are all of the same nature, viz. mere modifications of earth, so it will be in the case under discussion also, without there being done any violence to the well-known distinction (of beings intelligent and non-intelligent).--This reasoning--the pûrvapakshin replies--if valid might remove to a certain extent that difference of character between

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[paragraph continues] Brahman and the world which is due to the circumstance of the one being intelligent and the other non-intelligent; there would, however, still remain that other difference which results from the fact that the one is pure and the other impure. But in reality the argumentation of the objector does not even remove the first-named difference; as is declared in the latter part of the Sûtra, 'And its being such we learn from Scripture.' For the assumption of the intellectuality of the entire world--which is supported neither by perception nor by inference, &c.--must be considered as resting on Scripture only in so far as the latter speaks of the world as having originated from an intelligent cause; but that scriptural statement itself is contradicted by other texts which declare the world to be 'of such a nature,' i.e. of a nature different from that of its material cause. For the scriptural passage, 'It became that which is knowledge and that which is devoid of knowledge' (Taitt. Up. II, 6), which teaches that a certain class of beings is of a non-intelligent nature intimates thereby that the non-intelligent world is different from the intelligent Brahman.--But--somebody might again object--the sacred texts themselves sometimes speak of the elements and the bodily organs, which are generally considered to be devoid of intelligence, as intelligent beings. The following passages, for instance, attribute intelligence to the elements. 'The earth spoke;' 'The waters spoke' (Sat. Br. VI, 1, 3, 2; 4); and, again, 'Fire thought;' 'Water thought' (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 3; 4). Other texts attribute intelligence to the bodily organs, 'These prânas when quarrelling together as to who was the best went to Brahman' (Bri. Up. VI, 1, 7); and, again, 'They said to Speech: Do thou sing out for us' (Bri. Up. I, 3, 2).--To this objection the pûrvapakshin replies in the following Sûtra.

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