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  Sankara Bhashya
  By Edwin Arnold

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  Ramanuja SriBhashya


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Ramanujacharya's Brahma Sutra Bhashya translated By George Thibaut
SriBhashya - Ramanuja's Commentary On Brahma Sutra (Vedanta Sutra)

Sri Bhashya (also spelled as Sri Bhasya) is a commentary of Ramanujacharya on the Brama Sutras (also known as Vedanta Sutras) of Badarayana. In this bhashya, Ramanuja presents the fundamental philosophical principles of Visistadvaita based on his interpretation of the Upanishads, Bhagavad-gita and other smrti texts. In his Sri-bhashya he describes the three categories of reality (tattvas): God, soul and matter, which have been used by the later Vaisnava theologians including Madhva. The principles of bhakti as a means to liberation were also developed.

Scripture does not teach that Release is due to the knowledge of a non-qualified Brahman.--the meaning of 'tat tvam asi.'

Nor can we admit the assertion that Scripture teaches the cessation of avidyâ to spring only from the cognition of a Brahman devoid of all difference. Such a view is clearly negatived by passages such as the following: 'I know that great person of sun-like lustre beyond darkness; knowing him a man becomes immortal, there is no other

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path to go' (Svet. Up. III, 8); 'All moments sprang from lightning, the Person--none is lord over him, his name is great glory--they who know him become immortal' (Mahânâ. Up. I, 8-11). For the reason that Brahman is characterised by difference all Vedic texts declare that final release results from the cognition of a qualified Brahman. And that even those texts which describe Brahman by means of negations really aim at setting forth a Brahman possessing attributes, we have already shown above.

In texts, again, such as 'Thou art that,' the co-ordination of the constituent parts is not meant to convey the idea of the absolute unity of a non-differenced substance: on the contrary, the words 'that' and 'thou' denote a Brahman distinguished by difference. The word 'that' refers to Brahman omniscient, &c., which had been introduced as the general topic of consideration in previous passages of the same section, such as 'It thought, may I be many'; the word 'thou,' which stands in co-ordination to 'that,' conveys the idea of Brahman in so far as having for its body the individual souls connected with non-intelligent matter. This is in accordance with the general principle that co-ordination is meant to express one thing subsisting in a twofold form. If such doubleness of form (or character) were abandoned, there could be no difference of aspects giving rise to the application of different terms, and the entire principle of co-ordination would thus be given up. And it would further follow that the two words co-ordinated would have to be taken in an implied sense (instead of their primary direct meaning). Nor is there any need of our assuming implication (lakshanâ) in sentences 1 such as 'this person is that Devadatta (known to me from former occasions)'; for there is no contradiction in the cognition of the oneness of a thing connected with the past on the one hand, and the present on the other, the contradiction that arises from difference of place being removed

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by the accompanying difference of time. If the text 'Thou art that' were meant to express absolute oneness, it would, moreover, conflict with a previous statement in the same section, viz. 'It thought, may I be many'; and, further, the promise (also made in the same section) that by the knowledge of one thing all things are to be known could not be considered as fulfilled. It, moreover, is not possible (while, however, it would result from the absolute oneness of 'tat' and 'tvam') that to Brahman, whose essential nature is knowledge, which is free from all imperfections, omniscient, comprising within itself all auspicious qualities, there should belong Nescience; and that it should be the substrate of all those defects and afflictions which spring from Nescience. If, further, the statement of co-ordination ('thou art that') were meant to sublate (the previously existing wrong notion of plurality), we should have to admit that the two terms 'that' and 'thou' have an implied meaning, viz. in so far as denoting, on the one hand, one substrate only, and, on the other, the cessation of the different attributes (directly expressed by the two terms); and thus implication and the other shortcomings mentioned above would cling to this interpretation as well. And there would be even further difficulties. When we form the sublative judgment 'this is not silver,' the sublation is founded on an independent positive judgment, viz. 'this is a shell': in the case under discussion, however, the sublation would not be known (through an independent positive judgment), but would be assumed merely on the ground that it cannot be helped. And, further, there is really no possibility of sublation, since the word 'that' does not convey the idea of an attribute in addition to the mere substrate. To this it must not be objected that the substrate was previously concealed, and that hence it is the special function of the word 'that' to present the substrate in its non-concealed aspect; for if, previously to the sublative judgment, the substrate was not evident (as an object of consciousness), there is no possibility of its becoming the object either of an error or its sublation.--Nor can we allow you to say that, previously to sublation, the substrate was non-concealed

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in so far as (i.e. was known as) the object of error, for in its 'non-concealed' aspect the substrate is opposed to all error, and when that aspect shines forth there is no room either for error or sublation.--The outcome of this is that as long as you do not admit that there is a real attribute in addition to the mere substrate, and that this attribute is for a time hidden, you cannot show the possibility either of error or sublation. We add an illustrative instance. That with regard to a man there should arise the error that he is a mere low-caste hunter is only possible on condition of a real additional attribute--e.g. the man's princely birth--being hidden at the time; and the cessation of that error is brought about by the declaration of this attribute of princely birth, not by a mere declaration of the person being a man: this latter fact being evident need not be declared at all, and if it is declared it sublates no error.--If, on the other hand, the text is understood to refer to Brahman as having the individual souls for its body, both words ('that' and 'thou') keep their primary denotation; and, the text thus making a declaration about one substance distinguished by two aspects, the fundamental principle of 'co-ordination' is preserved, On this interpretation the text further intimates that Brahman--free from all imperfection and comprising within itself all auspicious qualities--is the internal ruler of the individual souls and possesses lordly power. It moreover satisfies the demand of agreement with the teaching of the previous part of the section, and it also fulfils the promise as to all things being known through one thing, viz. in so far as Brahman having for its body all intelligent and non-intelligent beings in their gross state is the effect of Brahman having for its body the same things in their subtle state. And this interpretation finally avoids all conflict with other scriptural passages, such as 'Him the great Lord, the highest of Lords' (Svet. Up. VI, 7); 'His high power is revealed as manifold' (ibid. VI, 8); 'He that is free from sin, whose wishes are true, whose purposes are true' (Kh. Up. VIII, 7, 1), and so on.

But how, a question may be asked, can we decide, on

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your interpretation of the text, which of the two terms is meant to make an original assertion with regard to the other?--The question does not arise, we reply; for the text does not mean to make an original assertion at all, the truth which it states having already been established by the preceding clause, 'In that all this world has its Self.' This clause does make an original statement--in agreement with the principle that 'Scripture has a purport with regard to what is not established by other means'--that is, it predicates of 'all this,' i.e. this entire world together with all individual souls, that 'that,' i.e. Brahman is the Self of it. The reason of this the text states in a previous passage, 'All these creatures have their root in that which is, their dwelling and their rest in that which is'; a statement which is illustrated by an earlier one (belonging to a different section), viz. 'All this is Brahman; let a man meditate with calm mind on this world as beginning, ending, and breathing in Brahman' (Kh. Up. III. 14, 1). Similarly other texts also teach that the world has its Self in Brahman, in so far as the whole aggregate of intelligent and non-intelligent beings constitutes Brahman's body. Compare 'Abiding within, the ruler of beings, the Self of all'; 'He who dwells in the earth, different from the earth, whom the earth does not know, whose body the earth is, who rules the earth within--he is thy Self, the ruler within, the immortal. He who dwells in the Self,'&c. (Bri. Up. III, 7,3; 22); 'He who moving within the earth, and so on--whose body is death, whom death does not know, he is the Self of all beings, free from sin, divine, the one God, Nårâyana' (Subâl. Up. VII, 1); 'Having created that he entered into it; having entered it he became sat and tyat' (Taitt. Up. II, 6). And also in the section under discussion the passage 'Having entered into them with this living Self let me evolve names and forms,' shows that it is only through the entering into them of the living soul whose Self is Brahman, that all things possess their substantiality and their connexion with the words denoting them. And as this passage must be understood in connexion with Taitt. Up. II, 6 (where the

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[paragraph continues] 'sat' denotes the individual soul) it follows that the individual soul also has Brahman for its Self, owing to the fact of Brahman having entered into it.--From all this it follows that the entire aggregate of things, intelligent and non-intelligent, has its Self in Brahman in so far as it constitutes Brahman's body. And as, thus, the whole world different from Brahman derives its substantial being only from constituting Brahman's body, any term denoting the world or something in it conveys a meaning which has its proper consummation in Brahman only: in other words all terms whatsoever denote Brahman in so far as distinguished by the different things which we associate with those terms on the basis of ordinary use of speech and etymology.--The text 'that art thou' we therefore understand merely as a special expression of the truth already propounded in the clause 'in that all this has its Self.'

This being so, it appears that those as well who hold the theory of the absolute unity of one non-differenced substance, as those who teach the doctrine of bhedâbheda (co-existing difference and non-difference), and those who teach the absolute difference of several substances, give up all those scriptural texts which teach that Brahman is the universal Self. With regard to the first-mentioned doctrine, we ask 'if there is only one substance; to what can the doctrine of universal identity refer?'--The reply will perhaps be 'to that very same substance.'--But, we reply, this point is settled already by the texts defining the nature of Brahman 1, and there is nothing left to be determined by the passages declaring the identity of everything with Brahman.--But those texts serve to dispel the idea of fictitious difference!--This, we reply, cannot, as has been shown above, be effected by texts stating universal identity in the way of co-ordination; and statements of co-ordination, moreover, introduce into Brahman a doubleness of aspect, and thus contradict the theory of absolute oneness.--The bhedâbheda view implies that owing to Brahman's connexion with limiting adjuncts (upâdhi) all the imperfections

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resulting therefrom--and which avowedly belong to the individual soul--would manifest themselves in Brahman itself; and as this contradicts the doctrine that the Self of all is constituted by a Brahman free from all imperfection and comprising within itself all auspicious qualities, the texts conveying that doctrine would have to be disregarded. If, on the other hand, the theory be held in that form that 'bhedâbheda' belongs to Brahman by its own nature (not only owing to an upâdhi), the view that Brahman by its essential nature appears as individual soul, implies that imperfections no less than perfections are essential to Brahman, and this is in conflict with the texts teaching that everything is identical with Brahman free from all imperfections.--For those finally who maintain absolute difference, the doctrine of Brahman being the Self of all has no meaning whatsoever--for things absolutely different can in no way be one--and this implies the abandonment of all Vedânta-texts together.

Those, on the other hand, who take their stand on the doctrine, proclaimed by all Upanishads, that the entire world forms the body of Brahman, may accept in their fulness all the texts teaching the identity of the world with Brahman. For as genus (gâti) and quality (guna), so substances (dravya) also may occupy the position of determining attributes (viseshana), in so far namely as they constitute the body of something else. Enunciations such as 'the Self (soul) is, according to its works, born either (as) a god, or a man, or a horse, or a bull,' show that in ordinary speech as well as in the Veda co-ordination has to be taken in a real primary (not implied) sense. In the same way it is also in the case of generic character and of qualities the relation of 'mode' only (in which generic character and qualities stand to substances) which determines statements of co-ordination, such as 'the ox is broken-horned,' 'the cloth is white.' And as material bodies bearing the generic marks of humanity are definite things, in so far only as they are modes of a Self or soul, enunciations of co-ordination such as 'the soul has been born as a man, or a eunuch, or a woman,' are in every way

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appropriate. What determines statements of co-ordination is thus only the relation of 'mode' in which one thing stands to another, not the relation of generic character, quality, and so on, which are of an exclusive nature (and cannot therefore be exhibited in co-ordination with substances). Such words indeed as denote substances capable of subsisting by themselves occasionally take suffixes, indicating that those substances form the distinguishing attributes of other substances--as when from danda, 'staff,' we form dandin, 'staff-bearer'; in the case, on the other hand, of substances not capable of subsisting and being apprehended apart from others, the fact of their holding the position of attributes is ascertained only from their appearing in grammatical co-ordination.--But, an objection is raised, if it is supposed that in sentences such as 'the Self is born, as god, man, animal,' &c., the body of a man, god, &c., stands towards the Self in the relation of a mode, in the same way as in sentences such as 'the ox is broken-horned,' 'the cloth is white,' the generic characteristic and the quality stand in the relation of modes to the substances ('cow,' 'cloth') to which they are grammatically co-ordinated; then there would necessarily be simultaneous cognition of the mode, and that to which the mode belongs, i.e. of the body and the Self; just as there is simultaneous cognition of the generic character and the individual. But as a matter of fact this is not the case; we do not necessarily observe a human, divine, or animal body together with the Self. The co-ordination expressed in the form 'the Self is a man,' is therefore an 'implied' one only (the statement not admitting of being taken in its primary literal sense).--This is not so, we reply. The relation of bodies to the Self is strictly analogous to that of class characteristics and qualities to the substances in which they inhere; for it is the Self only which is their substrate and their final cause (prayogana), and they are modes of the Self. That the Self only is their substrate, appears from the fact that when the Self separates itself from the body the latter perishes; that the Self alone is their final cause, appears from the fact that they exist to

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the end that the fruits of the actions of the Self may be enjoyed; and that they are modes of the Self, appears from the fact that they are mere attributes of the Self manifesting itself as god, man, or the like. These are just the circumstances on account of which words like 'cow' extend in their meaning (beyond the class characteristics) so as to comprise the individual also. Where those circumstances are absent, as in the case of staffs, earrings, and the like, the attributive position is expressed (not by co-ordination but) by means of special derivative forms--such as dandin (staff-bearer), kundalin (adorned with earrings). In the case of bodies divine, human, &c., on the other hand, the essential nature of which it is to be mere modes of the Self which constitutes their substrate and final cause, both ordinary and Vedic language express the relation subsisting between the two, in the form of co-ordination, 'This Self is a god, or a man,' &c. That class characteristics and individuals are invariably observed together, is due to the fact of both being objects of visual perception; the Self, on the other hand, is not such, and hence is not apprehended by the eye, while the body is so apprehended. Nor must you raise the objection that it is hard to understand how that which is capable of being apprehended by itself can be a mere mode of something else: for that the body's essential nature actually consists in being a mere mode of the Self is proved--just as in the case of class characteristics and so on--by its having the Self only for its substrate and final cause, and standing to it in the relation of a distinguishing attribute. That two things are invariably perceived together, depends, as already observed, on their being apprehended by means of the same apparatus, visual or otherwise. Earth is naturally connected with smell, taste, and so on, and yet these qualities are not perceived by the eye; in the same way the eye which perceives the body does not perceive that essential characteristic of the body which consists in its being a mere mode of the Self; the reason of the difference being that the eye has no capacity to apprehend the Self. But this does not imply that the body does not possess that essential

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nature: it rather is just the possession of that essential nature on which the judgment of co-ordination ('the Self is a man, god,' &c.) is based. And as words have the power of denoting the relation of something being a mode of the Self, they denote things together with this relation.--But in ordinary speech the word 'body' is understood to mean the mere body; it does not therefore extend in its denotation up to the Self!--Not so, we reply. The body is, in reality, nothing but a mode of the Self; but, for the purpose of showing the distinction of things, the word 'body' is used in a limited sense. Analogously words such as 'whiteness,' 'generic character of a cow,' 'species,''quality,' are used in a distinctive sense (although 'whiteness' is not found apart from a white thing, of which it is the prakâra, and so on). Words such as 'god,' 'man,' &c., therefore do extend in their connotation up to the Self. And as the individual souls, distinguished by their connexion with aggregates of matter bearing the characteristic marks of humanity, divine nature, and so on, constitute the body of the highest Self, and hence are modes of it, the words denoting those individual souls extend in their connotation up to the very highest Self. And as all intelligent and non-intelligent beings are thus mere modes of the highest Brahman, and have reality thereby only, the words denoting them are used in co-ordination with the terms denoting Brahman.--This point has been demonstrated by me in the Vedârthasamgraha. A Sûtra also (IV, 1, 3) will declare the identity of the world and Brahman to consist in the relation of body and Self; and the Vâkyakâra too says 'It is the Self--thus everything should be apprehended.'

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