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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.

21. The one within (the sun and the eye); on account of his qualities being declared.

It is said in the Khândogya: 'Now that person bright as gold, who is seen within the sun, with beard bright as gold and hair bright as gold, golden altogether to the very tips of his nails, whose eyes are like blue lotus; his name is Ut, for he has risen (udita) above all evil. He also who knows this rises above all evil. Rik and Sâman are his joints.- So much with reference to the devas.--Now with reference to the body.--Now that person who is seen within the eye, he is Rik, he is Sâman, Uktha, Yagus, Brahman. The form of this person (in the eye) is the same as of that person yonder (in the sun), the joints of the one are the

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joints of the other, the name of the one is the--name of the other' (Kh. Up. I, 7).--Here there arises the doubt whether that person dwelling within the eye and the sun be the individual soul called Âditya, who through accumulation of religious merit possesses lordly power, or the highest Self other than that soul.

That individual soul of high merit, the Pûrvapakshin maintains. For the text states that that person has a body, and connexion with a body belongs to individual souls only, for it is meant to bring the soul into contact with pleasure and pain, according to its deserts. It is for this reason that Scripture describes final Release where there is no connexion with works as a state of disembodiedness. 'So long as he is in the body he cannot get free from pleasure and pain. But when he is free from the body, then neither pleasure nor pain touches him' (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, 1). And a soul of transcendent merit may possess surpassing wisdom and power, and thus be capable of being lord of the worlds and the wishes (I, 6, 8). For the same reason such a soul may be the object of devout meditation, bestow rewards, and by being instrumental in destroying evil, be helpful towards final release. Even among men some are seen to be of superior knowledge and power, owing to superior religious merit; and this holds good with regard to the Siddhas and Gandharvas also; then with regard to the devas; then with regard to the divine beings, beginning with Indra. Hence, also, one among the divine beings, beginning with Brahmâ, may in each kalpa reach, through a particularly high degree of merit, vast lordly power and thus effect the creation of the world, and so on. On this supposition the texts about that which constitutes the cause of the world and the inward Self of the world must also be understood to refer to some such soul which, owing to superiority of merit, has become all-knowing and all-powerful. A so-called highest Self, different from the individual souls, does not therefore exist. Where the texts speak of that which is neither coarse nor fine nor short, &c., they only mean to characterise the individual soul; and those texts also which refer to final

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[paragraph continues] Release aim only at setting forth the essential nature of the individual soul and the means of attaining that essential nature.

This primâ facie view is set aside by the Sûtra. The person who is perceived within the sun and within the eye, is something different from the individual soul, viz. the highest Self; because there are declared qualities belonging to that. The text ascribes to him the quality of having risen above, i.e. being free from all evil, and this can belong to the highest Self only, not to the individual soul. For to be free from all evil means to be free from all influence of karman, and this quality can belong to the highest Self only, differing from all individual souls which, as is shown by their experience of pleasure and pain, are in the bonds of karman. Those essential qualities also which presuppose freedom from all evil (and which are mentioned in other Vedic passages), such as mastery over all worlds and wishes, capability of realising one's purposes, being the inner Self of all, &c., belong to the highest Self alone. Compare passages such as 'It is the Self free from evil, free from old age, from death and grief, from hunger and thirst, whose wishes come true, whose purposes come true' (Kh. Up. VIII, 1, 5); and 'He is the inner Self of all, free from evil, the divine one, the one god Nârâyana' (Subâ. Up.). Attributes such as the attribute of being the creator of the whole universe--which presupposes the power of realising one's wishes--(cp. the passage 'it desired, may I be many'); the attribute of being the cause of fear and fearlessness; the attribute of enjoying transcending bliss not limited by the capabilities of thought and speech and the like, are essential characteristics of that only which is not touched by karman, and they cannot therefore belong to the individual soul.--Nor is there any truth in the contention that the person within the sun, &c., cannot be a being different from individual souls because it possesses a body. For since a being which possesses the power of realising all its desires can assume a body through its mere wish, it is not generally true that embodiedness proves dependence on karman.--But, it may be said, by a body we understand

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a certain combination of matter which springs from the primal substance (prakriti) with its three constituents. Now connexion with such a body cannot possibly be brought about by the wish of such souls even as are free from all evil and capable of realising their desires; for such connexion would not be to the soul's benefit. In the case, on the other hand, of a soul subject to karman and not knowing its own essential nature, such connexion with a body necessarily takes place in order that the soul may enjoy the fruit of its actions--quite apart from the soul's desire.--Your objection would be well founded, we reply, if the body of the highest Self were an effect of Prakriti with its three constituents; but it is not so, it rather is a body suitable to the nature and intentions of that Self. The highest Brahman, whose nature is fundamentally antagonistic to all evil and essentially composed of infinite knowledge and bliss--whereby it differs from all other souls--possesses an infinite number of qualities of unimaginable excellence, and, analogously, a divine form suitable to its nature and intentions, i.e. adorned with infinite, supremely excellent and wonderful qualities--splendour, beauty, fragrance, tenderness, loveliness, youthfulness, and so on. And in order to gratify his devotees he individualises that form so as to render it suitable to their apprehension--he who is a boundless ocean as it were of compassion, kindness and lordly power, whom no shadow of evil may touch---he who is the highest Self, the highest Brahman, the supreme soul, Nârâyana!--Certain texts tell us that the highest Brahman is the sole cause of the entire world: 'From which these beings originate' (Taitt. Up.); 'Being only was this in the beginning' (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 1); 'The Self only was this in the beginning' (Ai. Up. I, 1); 'Nârâyana alone existed, not Brahmâ nor Siva.' Other texts define his nature: 'The True, knowledge, infinite is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. II, 1, 1); 'Knowledge, bliss is Brahman' (Bri. Up. III. 9. 28); and others again deny of Brahman all connexion with evil qualities and inferior bodies sprung from Prakriti, and all dependence on karman, and proclaim his glorious qualities and glorious forms: 'Free from

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qualities' (?); 'Free from taint' (Svet. Up. VI, 19); 'Free from old age, from death and grief, from hunger and thirst, realising his wishes and purposes' (Kh. Up. VIII, 1, 5); 'There is no effect and no cause known of him, no one is seen like to him or superior: his high power is revealed as manifold, as inherent action of force and knowledge' (Svet. Up. VI, 8); 'That highest great lord of lords, the highest deity of deities' (Svet. Up. VI, 7); 'He is the cause, the lord of the lords of the organs, and there is of him neither parent nor lord' (Svet. Up. VI, 9); 'Having created all forms and given names to them the wise one goes on calling them by those names' (Taitt. Âr. III, 12, 7); 'I know that great Person of sunlike lustre beyond the darkness' (Svet. Up. III, 8); 'All moments originated from the Person shining like lightning' (Mahânâr. Up. I, 6).--This essential form of his the most compassionate Lord by his mere will individualises as a shape human or divine or otherwise, so as to render it suitable to the apprehension of the devotee and thus satisfy him. This the following scriptural passage declares, 'Unborn he is born in many ways' (Gau. Kâ. III, 24); and likewise Smriti. 'Though unborn I, the imperishable Self, the Lord of the beings, presiding over my Nature, manifest myself by my Mâya for the protection of the Good and the destruction of the evil doers '(Bha. Gî. IV, 6. 8). The 'Good' here are the Devotees; and by 'Mâya' is meant the purpose, the knowledge of the Divine Being--; in agreement with the Naighantukas who register 'Mâya' as a synonym of âna (knowledge). In the Mahâbhârata also the form assumed by the highest Person in his avatâras is said not to consist of Prakriti, 'the body of the highest Self does not consist of a combination of material elements.'--For these reasons the Person within the Sun and the eye is the highest Self which is different from the individual soul of the Sun,&c.

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