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  Srimad Bhagavatam

  Rig Veda
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  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

14. The non-difference of them (i.e. of cause and effect) results from such terms as 'origin' and the like.

The 1 refutation contained in the preceding Sûtra was set forth on the condition of the practical distinction of enjoyers and objects of enjoyment being acknowledged. In reality, however, that distinction does not exist because there is understood to be non-difference (identity) of cause and effect. The effect is this manifold world consisting of ether and so on; the cause is the highest Brahman. Of the effect it is understood that in reality it is non-different from the cause, i.e. has no existence apart from the cause.--How so?--'On account of the scriptural word "origin" and others.' The word 'origin' is used in connexion with a simile, in a passage undertaking to show how through the knowledge of one thing everything is known; viz. Kh. Up. VI, 1, 4, 'As, my dear, by one clod of clay all that is made of clay is known, the modification (i.e. the effect; the thing made of clay) being a name merely which has its origin in speech, while the truth is that it is clay merely; thus,' &c.--The meaning of this passage is that, if there is known a lump of clay which really and truly is nothing but clay 2, there are known thereby likewise all things made of clay, such as jars, dishes, pails, and so on, all of which agree in having clay for their true nature. For these modifications or effects are names only, exist through or originate from speech only, while in reality there exists no such thing as a modification. In so far as they are names (individual effects distinguished by names) they are untrue; in so far

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as they are clay they are true.--This parallel instance is given with reference to Brahman; applying the phrase 'having its origin in speech' to the case illustrated by the instance quoted we understand that the entire body of effects has no existence apart from Brahman.--Later on again the text, after having declared that fire, water, and earth are the effects of Brahman, maintains that the effects of these three elements have no existence apart from them, 'Thus has vanished the specific nature of burning fire, the modification being a mere name which has its origin in speech, while only the three colours are what is true' (Kh. Up. VI, 4, 1).--Other sacred texts also whose purport it is to intimate the unity of the Self are to be quoted here, in accordance with the 'and others' of the Sûtra. Such texts are, 'In that all this has its Self; it is the True, it is the Self, thou art that' (Kh. Up. VI, 8, 7); 'This everything, all is that Self' (Bri. Up. II, 4, 6); 'Brahman alone is all this' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 11); 'The Self is all this' (Kh. Up. VII, 25, 2); 'There is in it no diversity' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 25).--On any other assumption it would not be possible to maintain that by the knowledge of one thing everything becomes known (as the text quoted above declares). We therefore must adopt the following view. In the same way as those parts of ethereal space which are limited by jars and waterpots are not really different from the universal ethereal space, and as the water of a mirage is not really different from the surface of the salty steppe--for the nature of that water is that it is seen in one moment and has vanished in the next, and moreover, it is not to be perceived by its own nature (i. e. apart from the surface of the desert 1)--; so this manifold world with its objects of enjoyment, enjoyers and so on has no existence apart from Brahman.--But--it might be objected--Brahman has in itself elements of manifoldness. As the tree has many branches, so Brahman possesses many powers

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and energies dependent on those powers. Unity and manifoldness are therefore both true. Thus, a tree considered in itself is one, but it is manifold if viewed as having branches; so the sea in itself is one, but manifold as having waves and foam; so the clay in itself is one, but manifold if viewed with regard to the jars and dishes made of it. On this assumption the process of final release resulting from right knowledge may be established in connexion with the element of unity (in Brahman), while the two processes of common worldly activity and of activity according to the Veda--which depend on the karmakânda--may be established in connexion with the element of manifoldness. And with this view the parallel instances of clay &c. agree very well.

This theory, we reply, is untenable because in the instance (quoted in the Upanishad) the phrase 'as clay they are true' asserts the cause only to be true while the phrase 'having its origin in speech' declares the unreality of all effects. And with reference to the matter illustrated by the instance given (viz. the highest cause, Brahman) we read, 'In that all this has its Self;' and, again, 'That is true;' whereby it is asserted that only the one highest cause is true. The following passage again, 'That is the Self; thou art that, O Svetaketu!' teaches that the embodied soul (the individual soul) also is Brahman. (And we must note that) the passage distinctly teaches that the fact of the embodied soul having its Self in Brahman is self-established, not to be accomplished by endeavour. This doctrine of the individual soul having its Self in Brahman, if once accepted as the doctrine of the Veda, does away with the independent existence of the individual soul, just as the idea of the rope does away with the idea of the snake (for which the rope had been mistaken). And if the doctrine of the independent existence of the individual soul has to be set aside, then the opinion of the entire phenomenal world--which is based on the individual soul--having an independent existence is likewise to be set aside. But only for the establishment of the latter an element of manifoldness would have to be assumed in Brahman, in

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addition to the element of unity.--Scriptural passages also (such as, 'When the Self only is all this, how should he see another?' Bri. Up. II, 4, 13) declare that for him who sees that everything has its Self in Brahman the whole phenomenal world with its actions, agents, and results of actions is non-existent. Nor can it be said that this non-existence of the phenomenal world is declared (by Scripture) to be limited to certain states; for the passage 'Thou art that' shows that the general fact of Brahman being the Self of all is not limited by any particular state. Moreover, Scripture, showing by the instance of the thief (Kh. VI, 16) that the false-minded is bound while the true-minded is released, declares thereby that unity is the one true existence while manifoldness is evolved out of wrong knowledge. For if both were true how could the man who acquiesces in the reality of this phenomenal world be called false-minded 1? Another scriptural passage ('from death to death goes he who perceives therein any diversity,' Bri. Up. IV, 4, 19) declares the same, by blaming those who perceive any distinction.--Moreover, on the doctrine, which we are at present impugning, release cannot result from knowledge, because the doctrine does not acknowledge that some kind of wrong knowledge, to be removed by perfect knowledge, is the cause of the phenomenal world. For how can the cognition of unity remove the cognition of manifoldness if both are true?

Other objections are started.--If we acquiesce in the doctrine of absolute unity, the ordinary means of right knowledge, perception, &c., become invalid because the absence of manifoldness deprives them of their objects; just as the idea of a man becomes invalid after the right idea of the post (which at first had been mistaken for a man) has presented itself. Moreover, all the texts embodying injunctions and prohibitions will lose their purport if the distinction on which their validity depends

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does not really exist. And further, the entire body of doctrine which refers to final release will collapse, if the distinction of teacher and pupil on which it depends is not real. And if the doctrine of release is untrue, how can we maintain the truth of the absolute unity of the Self, which forms an item of that doctrine?

These objections, we reply, do not damage our position because the entire complex of phenomenal existence is considered as true as long as the knowledge of Brahman being the Self of all has not arisen; just as the phantoms of a dream are considered to be true until the sleeper wakes. For as long as a person has not reached the true knowledge of the unity of the Self, so long it does not enter his mind that the world of effects with its means and objects of right knowledge and its results of actions is untrue; he rather, in consequence of his ignorance, looks on mere effects (such as body, offspring, wealth, &c.) as forming part of and belonging to his Self, forgetful of Brahman being in reality the Self of all. Hence, as long as true knowledge does not present itself, there is no reason why the ordinary course of secular and religious activity should not hold on undisturbed. The case is analogous to that of a dreaming man who in his dream sees manifold things, and, up to the moment of waking, is convinced that his ideas are produced by real perception without suspecting the perception to be a merely apparent one.--But how (to restate an objection raised above) can the Vedânta-texts if untrue convey information about the true being of Brahman? We certainly do not observe that a man bitten by a rope-snake (i.e. a snake falsely imagined in a rope) dies, nor is the water appearing in a mirage used for drinking or bathing 1.--This objection, we reply, is without force (because as a matter of fact we do see real effects to result from unreal causes), for we observe that death sometimes takes place from imaginary venom, (when a man imagines himself to have been bitten by a venomous snake,)

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and effects (of what is perceived in a dream) such as the bite of a snake or bathing in a river take place with regard to a dreaming person.--But, it will be said, these effects themselves are unreal!--These effects themselves, we reply, are unreal indeed; but not so the consciousness which the dreaming person has of them. This consciousness is a real result; for it is not sublated by the waking consciousness. The man who has risen from sleep does indeed consider the effects perceived by him in his dream such as being bitten by a snake, bathing in a river, &c. to be unreal, but he does not on that account consider the consciousness he had of them to be unreal likewise.--(We remark in passing that) by this fact of the consciousness of the dreaming person not being sublated (by the waking consciousness) the doctrine of the body being our true Self is to be 'considered as refuted  1.--Scripture also (in the passage, 'If a man who is engaged in some sacrifice undertaken for some special wish sees in his dream a woman, he is to infer therefrom success in his work') declares that by the unreal phantom of a dream a real result such as prosperity may be obtained. And, again, another scriptural passage, after having declared that from the observation of certain unfavourable omens a man is to conclude that he will not live long, continues 'if somebody sees in his dream a black man with black teeth and that man kills him,' intimating thereby that by the unreal dream-phantom a real fact, viz. death, is notified.--It is, moreover, known from the experience of persons who carefully observe positive and negative instances that such and such dreams are auspicious omens, others the reverse. And (to quote another example that something true can result from or be known through something untrue) we see that the knowledge of the real sounds A. &c. is reached by means of the unreal written letters. Moreover, the reasons which establish the unity of the

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[paragraph continues] Self are altogether final, so that subsequently to them nothing more is required for full satisfaction 1. An injunction as, for instance, 'He is to sacrifice' at once renders us desirous of knowing what is to be effected, and by what means and in what manner it is to be effected; but passages such as, 'Thou art that,' 'I am Brahman,' leave nothing to be desired because the state of consciousness produced by them has for its object the unity of the universal Self. For as long as something else remains a desire is possible; but there is nothing else which could be desired in addition to the absolute unity of Brahman. Nor can it be maintained that such states of consciousness do not actually arise; for scriptural passages such as, 'He understood what he said' (Kh. Up. VII, 18, 2), declare them to occur, and certain means are enjoined to bring them about, such as the hearing (of the Veda from a teacher) and the recital of the sacred texts. Nor, again, can such consciousness be objected to on the ground either of uselessness or of erroneousness, because, firstly, it is seen to have for its result the cessation of ignorance, and because, secondly, there is no other kind of knowledge by which it could be sublated. And that before the knowledge of the unity of the Self has been reached the whole real-unreal course of ordinary life, worldly as well as religious, goes on unimpeded, we have already explained. When, however, final authority having intimated the unity of the Self, the entire course of the world which was founded on the previous distinction is sublated, then there is no longer any opportunity for assuming a Brahman comprising in itself various elements.

But--it may be said--(that would not be a mere assumption, but) Scripture itself, by quoting the parallel instances of clay and so on, declares itself in favour of a Brahman

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capable of modification; for we know from experience that clay and similar things do undergo modifications.--This objection--we reply--is without force, because a number of scriptural passages, by denying all modification of Brahman, teach it to be absolutely changeless (kûtastha). Such passages are, 'This great unborn Self; undecaying, undying, immortal, fearless, is indeed Brahman' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 25); 'That Self is to be described by No, no' (Bri. Up. III, 9, 26); 'It is neither coarse nor fine' (Bri. Up. III, 8, 8). For to the one Brahman the two qualities of being subject to modification and of being free from it cannot both be ascribed. And if you say, 'Why should they not be both predicated of Brahman (the former during the time of the subsistence of the world, the latter during the period of reabsorption) just as rest and motion may be predicated (of one body at different times)?' we remark that the qualification, 'absolutely changeless' (kûtastha), precludes this. For the changeless Brahman cannot be the substratum of varying attributes. And that, on account of the negation of all attributes, Brahman really is eternal and changeless has already been demonstrated.--Moreover, while the cognition of the unity of Brahman is the instrument of final release, there is nothing to show that any independent result is connected with the view of Brahman, by undergoing a modification, passing over into the form of this world. Scripture expressly declares that the knowledge of the changeless Brahman being the universal Self leads to a result; for in the passage which begins, 'That Self is to be described by No, no,' we read later on, 'O Ganaka, you have indeed reached fearlessness' (Bri. Up. IV, 2, 4). We have then 1 to accept the following conclusion that, in the sections treating of Brahman, an independent result belongs only to the knowledge of Brahman as devoid of all attributes and distinctions, and that hence whatever is stated as having no special fruit of its own--as, for instance, the passages about Brahman modifying itself into the form of this

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world--is merely to be applied as a means for the cognition of the absolute Brahman, but does not bring about an independent result; according to the principle that whatever has no result of its own, but is mentioned in connexion with something else which has such a result, is subordinate to the latter  1. For to maintain that the result of the knowledge of Brahman undergoing modifications would be that the Self (of him who knows that) would undergo corresponding modifications  2 would be inappropriate, as the state of filial release (which the soul obtains through the knowledge of Brahman) is eternally unchanging.

But, it is objected, he who maintains the nature of Brahman to be changeless thereby contradicts the fundamental tenet according to which the Lord is the cause of the world, since the doctrine of absolute unity leaves no room for the distinction of a Ruler and something ruled.--This objection we ward off by remarking that omniscience, &c. (i.e. those qualities which belong to Brahman only in so far as it is related to a world) depend on the evolution of the germinal principles called name and form, whose essence is Nescience. The fundamental tenet which we maintain (in accordance with such scriptural passages as, 'From that Self sprang ether,' &c.; Taitt. Up. II, 1; is that the creation, sustentation, and reabsorption of the world proceed from an omniscient, omnipotent Lord, not from a non-intelligent pradhâna or any other principle. Thai tenet we have stated in I, 1, 4, and here we do not teach anything contrary to it.--But how, the question may be asked, can you make this last assertion while all the while you maintain the absolute unity and non-duality of the Self?--Listen how. Belonging to the Self, as it were, of the omniscient Lord, there are name and form, the figments of Nescience, not to be defined either

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as being (i.e. Brahman), nor as different from it 1, the germs of the entire expanse of the phenomenal world, called in Sruti and Smriti the illusion (mâyâ), power (saktî), or nature (prakriti) of the omniscient Lord. Different from them is the omniscient Lord himself, as we learn from scriptural passages such as the following, 'He who is called ether is the revealer of all forms and names; that within which these forms and names are contained is Brahman' (Kh. Up. VIII, 14, 1); 'Let me evolve names and forms' (Kh. Up. VI, 3, 2); 'He, the wise one, who having divided all forms and given all names, sits speaking (with those names)' (Taitt. Âr. III, 12, 7); 'He who makes the one seed manifold' (Sve. Up. VI, l2).--Thus the Lord depends (as Lord) upon the limiting adjuncts of name and form, the products of Nescience; just as the universal ether depends (as limited ether, such as the ether of a jar, &c.) upon the limiting adjuncts in the shape of jars, pots, &c. He (the Lord) stands in the realm of the phenomenal in the relation of a ruler to the so-called gîvas (individual souls) or cognitional Selfs (viânâtman), which indeed are one with his own Self--just as the portions of ether enclosed in jars and the like are one with the universal ether--but are limited by aggregates of instruments of action (i.e. bodies) produced from name and form, the presentations of Nescience. Hence the Lord's being a Lord, his omniscience, his omnipotence, &c. all depend on the limitation due to the adjuncts whose Self is Nescience; while in reality none of these qualities belong to the Self whose true nature is cleared, by right knowledge, from all adjuncts whatever. Thus Scripture also says, 'Where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, understands nothing else, that is the Infinite' (Kh. Up. VII, 24, 1); 'But when the Self only has become all this, how should he see another?' (Bri. Up. II, 4, 13.) In this manner the Vedânta-texts declare that for him who has reached the

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state of truth and reality the whole apparent world does not exist. The Bhagavadgîtâ also ('The Lord is not the cause of actions, or of the capacity of performing actions, or of the connexion of action and fruit; all that proceeds according to its own nature. The Lord receives no one's sin or merit. Knowledge is enveloped by Ignorance; hence all creatures are deluded;' Bha. Gî. V, 14; 15) declares that in reality the relation of Ruler and ruled does not exist. That, on the other hand, all those distinctions are valid, as far as the phenomenal world is concerned, Scripture as well as the Bhagavadgîtâ states; compare Bri. Up. IV, 4, 22, 'He is the Lord of all, the king of all things, the protector of all things; he is a bank and boundary, so that these worlds may not be confounded;' and Bha. Gî. XVIII, 61, 'The Lord, O Arguna, is seated in the region of the heart of all beings, turning round all beings, (as though) mounted on a machine, by his delusion.' The Sûtrakâra also asserts the non-difference of cause and effect only with regard to the state of Reality; while he had, in the preceding Sûtra, where he looked to the phenomenal world, compared Brahman to the ocean, &c., that comparison resting on the assumption of the world of effects not yet having been refuted (i.e. seen to be unreal).--The view of Brahman as undergoing modifications will, moreover, be of use in the devout meditations on the qualified (saguna) Brahman.

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