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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.

16. Because it denotes the world.

The Sânkhya comes forward with a further objection. Although the Vedânta-texts teach an intelligent principle to be the cause of the world, they do not present to us as objects of knowledge anything that could be the cause of

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the world, apart from the Pradhâna and the soul as established by the Sânkhya-system. For the Kaushîtakins declare in their text, in the dialogue of Bâlâki and Agâtasatru, that none but the enjoying(individual) soul is to be known as the cause of the world, 'Shall I tell you Brahman? He who is the maker of those persons and of whom this is the work (or "to whom this work belongs") he indeed is to be known' (Kau. Up. IV, 19). Bâlâki at the outset proposes Brahman as the object of instruction, and when he is found himself not to know Brahman, Agâtasatru instructs him about it, 'he indeed is to be known.' But from the relative clause 'to whom this work belongs,' which connects the being to be known with work, we infer that by Brahman we have here to understand the enjoying soul which is the ruler of Prakriti, not any other being. For no other being is connected with work; work, whether meritorious or the contrary, belongs to the individual soul only. Nor must you contest this conclusion on the ground that 'work' is here to be explained as meaning the object of activity, so that the sense of the clause would be 'he of whom this entire world, as presented by perception and the other means of knowledge, is the work.' For in that case the separate statements made in the two clauses, 'who is the maker of those persons' and 'of whom this is the work,' would be devoid of purport(the latter implying the former). Moreover, the generally accepted meaning of the word 'karman,' both in Vedic and worldly speech, is work in the sense of good and evil actions. And as the origination of the world is caused by actions of the various individual souls, the designation of 'maker of those persons' also suits only the individual soul. The meaning of the whole passage therefore is 'He who is the cause of the different persons that have their abode in the disc of the sun, and so on, and are instrumental towards the retributive experiences of the individual souls; and to whom there belongs karman, good and evil, to which there is due his becoming such a cause; he indeed is to be known, his essential nature is to be cognised in distinction from Prakriti.' And also in what follows, 'The two came to a person who was asleep. He

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pushed him with a stick,' &c., what is said about the sleeping man being pushed, roused, &c., all points only to the individual soul being the topic of instruction. Further on also the text treats of the individual soul only, 'As the master feeds with his people, nay as his people feed on the master, thus does this conscious Self feed with the other Selfs.' We must consider also the following passage--which contains the explanation given by Agatasatru to Bâlâki, who had been unable to say where the soul goes at the time of deep sleep--' There are the arteries called Hitas. In these the person is; when sleeping he sees no dream, then he (or that, i.e. the aggregate of the sense-organs) becomes one with this prâna alone. Then speech goes to him with all names,&c., the mind with all thoughts. And when he awakes, then, as from a burning fire sparks proceed in all directions, thus from that Self the prânas proceed each towards its place, from the prânas the gods, from the gods the worlds.' The individual soul which passes through the states of dream, deep sleep and waking, and is that into which there are merged and from which there proceed speech and all the other organs, is here declared to be the abode of deep sleep 'then it (viz. the aggregate of the organs) becomes one in that prâna.' Prâna here means the individual soul in so far as supporting life; for the text continues 'when that one awakes' and neither the vital breath nor the Lord (both of whom might be proposed as explanations of prâna) can be said to be asleep and to wake. Or else 'asmin prâne' might be explained as 'in the vital breath (which abides) in the individual soul,' the meaning of the clause being 'all the organs, speech and so on, become one in the vital breath which itself abides in this soul.' The word 'prâna' would thus be taken in its primary literal sense; yet all the same the soul constitutes the topic of the section, the vital breath being a mere instrument of the soul. The Brahman mentioned at the outset therefore is none other than the individual soul, and there is nothing to prove a lord different from it. And as the attributes which the texts ascribe to the general cause, viz. thought and so on, are attributes of

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intelligent beings only, we arrive at the conclusion that what constitutes the cause of the world is the non-intelligent Pradhâna guided by the intelligent soul.

This primâ facie view the Sûtra disposes of, by saying 'because (the work) denotes the world.' It is not the insignificant individual soul--which is under the influence of its good and evil works, and by erroneously imputing to itself the attributes of Prakriti becomes the cause of the effects of the latter--that is the topic of our text; but rather the Supreme Person who is free from all shadow of imperfection such as Nescience and the like, who is a treasure of all possible auspicious qualities in their highest degree of perfection, who is the sole cause of this entire world. This is proved by the circumstance that the term 'work' connected with 'this' (in 'of whom this (is) the work') denotes the Universe which is an effect of the Supreme Person. For the word 'this' must, on account of its sense, the general topic of the section and so on, be taken in a non-limited meaning, and hence denotes the entire world, as presented by Perception and the other means of knowledge, with all its sentient and non-sentient beings. That the term 'work' does not here denote good and evil actions, appears from the following consideration of the context. Bâlâki at first offers to teach Brahman ('Shall I tell you Brahman?') and thereupon holds forth on various persons abiding in the sun, and so on, as being Brahman. Agatasatru however refuses to accept this instruction as not setting forth Brahman, and finally, in order to enlighten Bâlâki, addresses him 'He, O Bâlâki, who is the maker of those persons,' &c. Now as the different personal souls abiding in the sun, &c., and connected with karman in the form of good and evil actions, are known already by Bâlâki, the term 'karman'- met with in the next clause--is clearly meant to throw light on some Person so far not known to Bâlâki, and therefore must be taken to mean not good and evil deeds or action in general, but rather the entire Universe in so far as being the outcome of activity. On this interpretation only the passage gives instruction about something not

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known before. Should it be said that this would be the case also if the subject to which the instruction refers were the true essential nature of the soul, indicated here by its connexion with karman, we reply that this would involve the (objectionable) assumption of so-called implication (lakshanâ), in so far namely as what the clause would directly intimate is (not the essential nature of the soul as free from karman but rather) the connexion of the soul with karman. Moreover if the intention of the passage were this, viz. to give instruction as to the soul, the latter being pointed at by means of the reference to karman, the intention would be fully accomplished by saying 'to whom karman belongs, he is to be known;' while in the text as it actually stands 'of whom this is the karman' the 'this' would be unmeaning. The meaning of the two separate clauses 'who is the maker of those persons' and 'of whom this is the work' is as follows. He who is the creator of those persons whom you called Brahman, and of whom those persons are the creatures; he of whom this entire world is the effect, and before whom all things sentient and non-sentient are equal in so far as being produced by him; he, the highest and universal cause, the Supreme Person, is the object to be known. The meaning implied here is--although the origination of the world has for its condition the deeds of individual souls, yet those souls do not independently originate the means for their own retributive experience, but experience only what the Lord has created to that end in agreement with their works. The individual soul, hence, cannot stand in creative relation to those persons.--What the text under discussion inculcates as the object of knowledge therefore is the highest Brahman which is known from all Vedânta-texts as the universal cause.

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