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  By Edwin Arnold

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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.

5. On account of seeing (i.e. thinking) that which is not founded on Scripture (i.e. the Pradhâna) is not (what is taught by the texts referring to the origination of the world).

We have maintained that what is taught by the texts relative to the origination of the world is Brahman, omniscient, and so on. The present Sûtra and the following Sûtras now add that those texts can in no way refer to the Pradhâna and similar entities which rest on Inference only.

We read in the Khândogya, 'Being only was this in the beginning, one only, without a second.--It thought, may I be many, may I grow forth.--It sent forth fire' (VI, 2, 1 ff.)--Here a doubt arises whether the cause of the world denoted by the term 'Being' is the Pradhâna. assumed by others, which rests on Inference, or Brahman as defined by us.

The Pûrvapakshin maintains that the Pradhâna is meant. For he says, the Khândogya text quoted expresses the causal state of what is denoted by the word 'this', viz. the aggregate of things comprising manifold effects, such as ether. &c., consisting of the three elements of Goodness,

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[paragraph continues] Passion and Darkness, and forming the sphere of fruition of intelligent beings. By the 'effected' state we understand the assuming, on the part of the causal substance, of a different condition; whatever therefore constitutes the essential nature of a thing in its effected state the same constitutes its essential nature in the causal state also. Now the effect, in our case, is made up of the three elements Goodness, Passion and Darkness; hence the cause is the Pradhâna which consists in an equipoise of those three elements. And as in this Pradhâna all distinctions are merged, so that it is pure Being, the Khândogya text refers to it as 'Being, one only, without a second.' This establishes the non-difference of effect and cause, and in this way the promise that through the knowledge of one thing all things are to be known admits of being fulfilled. Otherwise, moreover, there would be no analogy between the instance of the lump of clay and the things made of it, and the matter to be illustrated thereby. The texts speaking of the origination of the world therefore intimate the Pradhâna taught by the great Sage Kapila. And as the Khândogya passage has, owing to the presence of an initial statement (pratiâ) and a proving instance, the form of an inference, the term 'Being' means just that which rests on inference, viz. the Pradhâna.

This primâ facie view is set aside by the words of the Sûtra. That which does not rest on Scripture, i.e. the Pradhâna, which rests on Inference only, is not what is intimated by the texts referring to the origination of the world; for the text exhibits the root 'îksh '--which means 'to think'--as denoting a special activity on the part of what is termed 'Being.' 'It thought, may I be many, may I grow forth.' 'Thinking' cannot possibly belong to the non-sentient Pradhâna: the term 'Being' can therefore denote only the all-knowing highest Person who is capable of thought. In agreement with this we find that, in all sections which refer to creation, the act of creation is stated to be preceded by thought. 'He thought, shall I send forth worlds. He sent forth these worlds' (Ait. Âr. II, 4, 1, 2); 'He thought he sent forth Prâna' (Pr. Up. VI, 3);

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and others.--But it is a rule that as a cause we must assume only what corresponds to the effect!--Just so; and what corresponds to the total aggregate of effects is the highest Person, all-knowing, all-powerful, whose purposes realise themselves, who has minds and matter in their subtle state for his body. Compare the texts 'His high power is revealed as manifold, as inherent, acting as force and knowledge' (Svet. Up. VI, 8); 'He who is all-knowing, all-perceiving' (Mu. Up. I, 1, 9); 'He of whom the Unevolved is the body, of whom the Imperishable is the body, of whom Death is the body, he is the inner Self of all things' (Subâl. Up. VII).--This point (viz. as to the body of the highest Person) will be established under Sû. II, 1, 4. The present Sûtra declares that the texts treating of creation cannot refer to the Pradhâna; the Sûtra just mentioned will dispose of objections. Nor is the Pûrvapakshin right in maintaining that the Khândogya passage is of the nature of an Inference; for it does not state a reason (hetu--which is the essential thing in an Inference). The illustrative instance (of the lump of clay) is introduced merely in order to convince him who considers it impossible that all things should be known through one thing--as maintained in the passage 'through which that is heard which was not heard,' &c.,--that this is possible after all. And the mention made in the text of 'seeing' clearly shows that there is absolutely no intention of setting forth an Inference.

Let us assume, then, the Pûrvapakshin resumes, that the 'seeing' of the text denotes not 'seeing' in its primary, direct sense--such as belongs to intelligent beings only; but 'seeing' in a secondary, figurative sense which there is ascribed to the Pradhâna in the same way as in passages immediately following it is ascribed to fire and water--'the fire saw'; 'the water saw' (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 3). The transference, to non-existent things, of attributes properly belonging to sentient beings is quite common; as when we say 'the rice-fields look out for rain'; 'the rain delighted the seeds.'--This view is set aside by the next Sûtra.

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