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  Srimad Bhagavatam

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  Sankara Bhashya
  By Edwin Arnold

  Brahma Sutra
  Sankara Bhashya I
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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.

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1. Not that which is inferred, on account of the impossibility of construction, and on account of activity.

The Sûtras have so far set forth the doctrine that the highest Brahman is the cause of the origination and so on of the world, and have refuted the objections raised by others. They now, in order to safeguard their own position, proceed to demolish the positions held by those very adversaries. For otherwise it might happen that some slow-witted persons, unaware of those other views resting on mere fallacious arguments, would imagine them possibly to be authoritative, and hence might be somewhat shaken in their belief in the Vedic doctrine. Another pâda therefore is begun to the express end of refuting the theories of others. The beginning is made with the theory of Kapila, because that theory has several features, such as the view of the existence of the effect in the cause, which are approved of by the followers of the Veda, and hence is more likely, than others, to give rise to the erroneous view of its being the true doctrine. The Sûtras I, 1, 5 and ff. have proved only that the Vedic texts do not set forth the Sânkhya view, while the task of the present pâda is to demolish that view itself: the Sûtras cannot therefore be charged with needless reiteration.

The outline of the Sânkhya doctrine is as follows. 'There is the fundamental Prakriti, which is not an effect; there are the seven effects of Prakriti, viz. the Mahat and so on, and the sixteen effects of those effects; and there is the soul, which is neither Prakriti nor effect'--such is the comprehensive statement of the principles. The entity called 'fundamental Prakriti' is constituted by the three

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substances called Sattva, Ragas, and Tamas, (when) in a state of complete equipoise, none of the three being either in defect or in excess; the essential nature of those three consists respectively in pleasure, pain, and dullness; they have for their respective effects lightness and illumination, excitement and mobility, heaviness and obstruction; they are absolutely non-perceivable by means of the senses, and to be defined and distinguished through their effects only. Prakriti, consisting in the equipoise of Sattva, Ragas, and Tamas is one, itself non-sentient but subserving the enjoyment and final release of the many sentient beings, eternal, all-pervading, ever active, not the effect of anything, but the one general cause. There are seven Principles which are the effects of Prakriti and the causal substances of everything else; these seven are the Mahat, the ahankâra, the subtle matter (tanmâtra) of sound, the subtle matter of touch, the subtle matter of colour, the subtle matter of taste, and the subtle matter of smell. The ahankâra is threefold, being either modified (vaikârika), or active (taigasa), or the originator of the elements (bhûtâdi).

The vaikârika is of sattva-nature and the originator of the sense--organs; the bhûtâdi is of tamas--nature. and the cause of those subtle matters (tanmâtra) which in their turn are the cause of the gross elements; the taigasa is of the nature of ragas, and assists the other two. The five gross elements are the ether and so on; the five intellectual senses are hearing and so on; the five organs of action are speech and so on. With the addition of the internal organ (manas) these are the sixteen entities which are mere effects.--The soul, not being capable of any change, is not either the causal matter or the effect of anything. For the same reason it is without attributes, consisting of mere intelligence, eternal, non-active, all-pervading, and different in each body. Being incapable of change and non-active, it can neither be an agent nor an enjoyer; but although this is so, men in their confusion of mind, due to the closeness to each other of Prakriti and the soul, erroneously attribute to Prakriti the intelligence of the soul, and to the soul the activity of Prakriti--just as the redness of the rose

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superimposes itself on the crystal near it,--and thus consider the soul to be an 'I' and an enjoyer. Fruition thus results from ignorance, and release from knowledge of the truth. This their theory the Sânkhyas prove by means of perception, inference, and authoritative tradition. Now with regard to those matters which are proved by perception, we Vedântins have no very special reason for dissenting from the Sânkhyas; and what they say about their authoritative tradition, claiming to be founded on the knowledge of all-knowing persons such as Kapila, has been pretty well disproved by us in the first adhyâya. If, now, we further manage to refute the inference which leads them to assume the Pradhâna as the cause of the--world, we shall have disestablished their whole theory. We therefore proceed to give this refutation.

On this point the Sânkhyas reason as follows. It must necessarily be admitted that the entire world has one cause only; for if effects were assumed to originate from several causes we should never arrive at an ultimate cause. Assume that parts such as e.g. threads produce a whole (i.e. in the case of threads, a piece of cloth) in the way of their being joined together by means of their six sides, which are parts of the threads. You must then further assume that the threads themselves are in the same way produced by their parts, having a similar constitution. And these parts again by their parts, until you reach the atoms; these also must be assumed to produce their immediate effects by being joined together with their six sides, for otherwise solid extension (prathiman) could not be brought about. And then the atoms also as being wholes, consisting of parts 1, must be viewed as produced by their parts, and these again by their parts and so on, so that we never arrive at an ultimate cause. In order therefore to establish such an ultimate cause we must have recourse to the hypothesis of the general cause being constituted by one substance, which possesses the power of transforming itself in various different ways, without at the

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same time forfeiting its own essential nature, and which forms the general substrate for an infinity of different effects, from the Mahat downwards. This one general cause is the Pradhâna constituted by the equipoise of the three gunas. The reasons for the assumption of this Pradhâna are as follows:--'On account of the limitedness of particular things; of connexion (anvaya); of activity proceeding from special power; and of the difference and non-difference of cause and effect--the Non-evolved (Pradhâna) is the general cause of this many-natured Universe' (vaisvarûpya) (Sânkhya Kâ. I, 15; 16).--The term 'vaisvarûpya' denotes that which possesses all forms, i.e. the entire world with its variously constituted parts--bodies, worlds, and so on. This world, which on account of its variegated constitution must be held to be an effect, has for its cause the Unevolved (avyakta = Prakriti), which is of the same nature as the world. Why so? Because it is an effect; for we perceive that every effect is different from its special cause--which has the same nature as the effect--and at the same time is non-different. Such effected things as e.g. a jar and a gold ornament are different from their causes, i.e. clay and gold, which have the same nature as the effects, and at the same time non-different. Hence the manifold-natured world originates from the Pradhâna which has the same nature, and is again merged in it: the world thus has the Pradhâna alone for its cause. This Pradhâna is constituted by the equipoise of the three gunas, and thus is a cause possessing a nature equal to that of its effect, i.e. the world; for the world is of the nature of pleasure, pain, and dullness, which consist of sattva, ragas, and tamas respectively. The case is analogous to that of a jar consisting of clay; of that also the cause is none other than the substance clay. For in every case observation shows that only such causal substances as are of the same nature as the effects possess that power which is called the origination of the effect. That the general cause can be found only in the unevolved Pradhâna, which consists of the three gunas in a state of equipoise and is unlimited with regard to space as well as time, follows from the limitedness of the particular

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things, viz. the Mahat, the ahankâra, and so on. These latter things are limited like jars and so on, and hence incapable of originating the entire world. Hence it follows that this world, consisting of the three gunas, has for its only cause the Pradhâna, which is constituted by those three gunas in a state of equipoise.

Against this argumentation the Sûtra says, 'Not that which is inferred, on account of the impossibility of construction, and on account of activity.'--'Inference' means 'that which is inferred,' i.e. the Pradhâna. The Pradhâna postulated by you is not capable of constructing this manifold-natured world, because while itself being non-intelligent it is not guided by an intelligent being understanding its nature. Whatever is of this latter kind is incapable of producing effects; as e.g. wood and the like by themselves are not capable of constructing a palace or a carriage. As it is matter of observation that non-intelligent wood, not guided by an intelligent agent understanding its nature, cannot produce effects; and as it is observed that if guided by such an agent matter does enter on action so as to produce effects; the Pradhâna, which is not ruled by an intelligent agent, cannot be the general cause. The 'and' in the Sûtra is meant to add as a further argument that 'presence' (anvaya) has no proving force. For whiteness present in cows and so on is not invariably accompanied by the quality of being the cause of the class characteristics of cows. Nor must it be said that qualities such as whiteness, although present in the effect, may not indeed be causes, but that substances such as gold and the like which are present in certain effects are invariably accompanied by the quality of being causes, and that hence also the substances called sattva, ragas, and tamas, which are found present in all effects, are proved to be the causes of all those effects. For sattva and so on are attributes of substances, but not themselves substances. Sattva and so on are the causes of the lightness, light, &c.. belonging to substances such as earth and the like, and hence distinctive attributes of the essential nature of those substances, but they are not observed to be present in any effects in

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a substantial form, as clay, gold, and other substances are. It is for this reason that they are known as 'gunas.' You have further said that the world's having one cause only must be postulated in order that an ultimate cause may be reached. But as the sattva, ragas, and tamas are not one but three, you yourself do not assume one cause, and hence do not manage to arrive at an ultimate cause. For your Pradhâna consists in the equipoise of the three gunas; there are thus several causes, and you have no more an ultimate cause than others. Nor can you say that this end is accomplished through the three gunas being unlimited. For if the three gunas are all alike unlimited, and therefore omnipresent, there is nowhere a plus or minus of any of them, and as thus no inequality can result, effects cannot originate. In order to explain the origination of results it is therefore necessary to assume limitation of the gunas.

Nor is our view confirmed by those cases only in which it is clearly perceived that matter produces effects only when guided by an intelligent principle; other cases also (where the fact is not perceived with equal clearness) are in favour of our view. This the next Sûtra declares.

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