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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.

23. (Brahman is) the material cause on account of this not being in conflict with the promissory statements and the illustrative instances.

The claims raised by the atheistic Sânkhya having thus been disposed of, the theistic Sânkhya comes forward as an opponent. It must indeed be admitted, he says, that the Vedânta-texts teach the cause of the world to be an all-knowing Lord; for they attribute to that cause thought and similar characteristics. But at the same time we learn from those same texts that the material cause of the world is none other than the Pradhâna; with an all-knowing, unchanging superintending Lord they connect a Pradhâna,

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ruled by him, which is non-intelligent and undergoes changes, and the two together only they represent as the cause of the world. This view is conveyed by the following texts, 'who is without parts, without actions, tranquil, without fault, without taint' (Svet. Up. VI, 18); 'This great unborn Self, undecaying, undying' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 25); 'He knows her who produces all effects, the non-knowing one, the unborn one, wearing eight forms, the firm one. Ruled by him she is spread out, and incited and guided by him gives birth to the world for the benefit of the souls. A cow she is without beginning and end, a mother producing all beings' (see above, p. 363). That the Lord creates this world in so far only as guiding Prakriti, the material cause, we learn from the following text, 'From that the Lord of Mâya creates all this. Know Mâya to be Prakriti and the Lord of Mâya the great Lord' (Svet. Up. IV, 9, 10). And similarly Smriti, 'with me as supervisor Prakriti brings forth the Universe of the movable and the immovable' (Bha. GÎ. IX, 10). Although, therefore, the Pradhâna is not expressly stated by Scripture to be the material cause, we must assume that there is such a Pradhâna and that, superintended by the Lord, it constitutes the material cause, because otherwise the texts declaring Brahman to be the cause of the world would not be fully intelligible. For ordinary experience shows us on all sides that the operative cause and the material cause are quite distinct: we invariably have on the one side clay, gold, and other material substances which form the material causes of pots, ornaments, and so on, and on the other hand, distinct from them, potters, goldsmiths, and so on, who act as operative causes. And we further observe that the production of effects invariably requires several instrumental agencies. The Vedânta-texts therefore cannot possess the strength to convince us, in open defiance of the two invariable rules, that the one Brahman is at the same time the material and the operative cause of the world; and hence we maintain that Brahman is only the operative but not the material cause, while the material cause is the Pradhâna guided by Brahman.

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This primâ facie view the Sûtra combats. Prakriti, i.e. the material cause, not only the operative cause, is Brahman only; this view being in harmony with the promissory declaration and the illustrative instances. The promissory declaration is the one referring to the knowledge of all things through the knowledge of one, 'Did you ever ask for that instruction by which that which is not heard becomes heard?' &c. (Kh, Up. VI, 1, 3). And the illustrative instances are those which set forth the knowledge of the effect as resulting from the knowledge of the cause, 'As by one lump of clay there is made known all that is made of clay; as by one nugget of gold, &c.; as by one instrument for paring the nails,' &c. (Kh. Up. VI, 1, 4). If Brahman were merely the operative cause of the world, the knowledge of the entire world would not result from the knowledge of Brahman; not any more than we know the pot when we know the potter. And thus scriptural declaration and illustrative instances would be stultified. But if Brahman is the general material cause, then the knowledge of Brahman implies the knowledge of its effect, i.e. the world, in the same way as the knowledge of such special material causes as a lump of clay, a nugget of gold, an instrument for paring the nails, implies the knowledge of all things made of clay, gold or iron--such as pots, bracelets, diadems, hatchets, and so on. For an effect is not a substance different from its cause, but the cause itself which has passed into a different state. The initial declaration thus being confirmed by the instances of clay and its products, &c., which stand in the relation of cause and effect, we conclude that Brahman only is the material cause of the world. That Scripture teaches the operative and the material causes to be separate, is not true; it rather teaches the unity of the two. For in the text, 'Have you asked for that âdesa (above, and generally, understood to mean "instruction"), by which that which is not heard becomes heard?' the word 'âdesa' has to be taken to mean ruler, in agreement with the text, 'by the command--or rule--of that Imperishable sun and moon stand apart' (Bri. Up. III, 8, 9), so that the passage means, 'Have you asked for that

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[paragraph continues] Ruler by whom, when heard and known, even that which is not heard and known, becomes heard and known?' This clearly shows the unity of the operative (ruling or supervising) cause and the material cause; taken in conjunction with the subsequent declaration of the unity of the cause previous to creation, 'Being only, this was in the beginning, one only,' and the denial of a further operative cause implied in the further qualification 'advitîyam,' i.e. 'without a second.'--But how then have we to understand texts such as the one quoted above (from the Kûlika-Upanishad) which declare Prakriti to be eternal and the material cause of the world?--Prakriti, we reply, in such passages denotes Brahman in its causal phase when names and forms are not yet distinguished. For a principle independent of Brahman does not exist, as we know from texts such as 'Everything abandons him who views anything as apart from the Self; and 'But where for him the Self has become all, whereby should he see whom?' (Bri. Up. II, 4, 6; 15). Consider also the texts, 'All this is Brahman' (Kh. Up. III, 14, 1); and 'All this has its Self in that' (Kh. Up. VI, 8, 7); which declare that the world whether in its causal or its effected condition has Brahman for its Self. The relation of the world to Brahman has to be conceived in agreement with scriptural texts such as 'He who moves within the earth,' &c., up to 'He who moves within the Imperishable'; and 'He who dwells within the earth,' &c., up to 'He who dwells within the Self (Bri. Up. III, 7, 3-23). The highest Brahman, having the whole aggregate of non-sentient and sentient beings for its body, ever is the Self of all. Sometimes, however, names and forms are not evolved, not distinguished in Brahman; at other times they are evolved, distinct. In the latter state Brahman is called an effect and manifold; in the former it is called one, without a second, the cause. This causal state of Brahman is meant where the text quoted above speaks of the cow without beginning and end, giving birth to effects, and so on.--But, the text, 'The great one is merged in the Unevolved, the Unevolved is merged in the Imperishable,' intimates that the Unevolved originates

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and again passes away; and similarly the Mahâbhârata says, 'from that there sprung the Non-evolved comprising the three gunas; the Non-evolved is merged in the indivisible Person.'--These texts, we reply, present no real difficulty. For Brahman having non-sentient matter for its body, that state which consists of the three gunas and is denoted by the term 'Unevolved' is something effected. And the text, 'When there was darkness, neither day nor night,' states that also in a total pralaya non-sentient matter having Brahman for its Self continues to exist in a highly subtle condition. This highly subtle matter stands to Brahman the cause of the world in the relation of a mode (prakâra), and it is Brahman viewed as having such a mode that the text from the Kûl. Upanishad refers to. For this reason also the text, 'the Imperishable is merged in darkness, darkness becomes one with the highest God,' declares not that darkness is completely merged and lost in the Divinity but only that it becomes one with it; what the text wants to intimate is that state of Brahman in which, having for its mode extremely subtle matter here called 'Darkness,' it abides without evolving names and forms. The mantra, 'There was darkness, hidden in darkness,' &c. (Ri. Samh. X, 129, 3), sets forth the same view; and so does Manu (I, 5), 'This universe existed in the shape of Darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed as it were in deep sleep.' And, as to the text, 'from that the Lord of Mâya creates everything,' we shall prove later on the unchangeableness of Brahman, and explain the scriptural texts asserting it.

As to the contention raised by the Pûrvapakshin that on the basis of invariable experience it must be held that one and the same principle cannot be both material and operative cause, and that effects cannot be brought about by one agency, and that hence the Vedânta-texts can no more establish the view of Brahman being the sole cause than the command 'sprinkle with fire' will convince us that fire may perform the office of water; we simply remark that the highest Brahman which totally differs in nature from

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all other beings, which is omnipotent and omniscient, can by itself accomplish everything. The invariable rule of experience holds good, on the other hand, with regard to clay and similar materials which are destitute of intelligence and hence incapable of guiding and supervising; and with regard to potters and similar agents who do not possess the power of transforming themselves into manifold products, and cannot directly realise their intentions.--The conclusion therefore remains that Brahman alone is the material as well as the operative cause of the Universe.

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