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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.

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1. (On the soul's) having approached (the highest light) there is manifestation; (as we infer) from the word 'own.'

The Sûras now proceed to consider the kind of superior existence (aisvarya) which the released souls enjoy.--The text says, 'Thus does that serene being, having risen from the body and having approached the highest light, manifest itself in its own form' (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, 3). Does this passage mean that the soul having approached the highest light assumes a new body, to be brought about then, as e.g. the body of a deva; or that it only manifests its own natural character?--The text must be understood in the former sense, the Pûrvapakshin holds. For otherwise the scriptural texts referring to Release would declare what is of no advantage to man. We do not observe that its own nature is of any advantage to the soul. In the state of dreamless sleep the body and the sense-organs cease to act, and you may say the pure soul then abides by itself, but in what way does this benefit man? Nor can it be said that mere cessation of pain constitutes the well-being of the soul which has approached the highest light, and that in this sense manifestation of its own nature may be called Release; for Scripture clearly teaches that the released soul enjoys an infinity of positive bliss, 'One hundred times the bliss of Pragâpati is one bliss of Brahman and of a sage free from desires'; 'for having tasted a flavour he experiences bliss' (Taitt. Up. II, 7). Nor can it be said that the true nature of the soul is consciousness of the nature of unlimited bliss which, in the Samsâra condition, is hidden by Nescience and manifests itself only when the soul reaches Brahman. For, as explained previously, intelligence which is of the nature of light cannot be hidden; hiding in that case would be neither more nor less than destruction. Nor can that which is mere light be of the nature of bliss; for bliss is pleasure, and to be of the nature

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of pleasure is to be such as to agree with the Self. But, if the Self is mere light, where is the being by which light is to be apprehended as agreeable to its own nature? (i.e. where is the knowing subject conscious of bliss?) He, therefore, who holds the Self to be mere light, can in no way prove that it is of the nature of bliss. If, moreover, that which the soul effects on approaching the highest light is merely to attain to its own true nature, we point out that that nature is something eternally accomplished, and that hence the declaration that 'it manifests (accomplishes) itself in its own nature' would be purportless. We hence conclude that on approaching the highest light the soul connects itself with a new form only then brought about. On this view the term 'accomplishes itself is taken in its direct sense, and the expression 'in its own shape' also is suitable in so far as the soul accomplishes itself in a nature specially belonging to it and characterised by absolute bliss.--This view the Sûtra rejects. That special condition into which the soul passes on having, on the path of the Gods, approached the highest light is a manifestation of its own true nature, not an origination of a new character. For this is proved--by the specification implied in the term 'own,' in the phrase 'in its own nature.' If the soul assumed a new body, this specification would be without meaning; for, even without that, it would be clear that the new body belongs to the soul.--Against the assertion that the soul's own true nature is something eternally accomplished, and that hence a declaration of that nature 'accomplishing itself would be unmeaning, the next Sûtra declares itself.

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