I-1 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | Great Siddhānta 7
Nor do Smriti and Purāṇa teach such a doctrine.
Nor is it true that also according to Smriti and Purāṇas only non-differenced consciousness is real and everything else unreal.--'He who knows me as unborn and without a beginning, the supreme Lord of the worlds' (Bha. Gī. X, 3); 'All beings abide in me, I abide not in them. Nay, the beings abide not in me-- behold my lordly power. My Self bringing forth the beings supports them but does not abide in them' (Bha. Gī. IX, 4, 5); 'I am the origin and the dissolution of the entire world; higher than I there is nothing else: on me all this is strung as pearls on a thread' (Bha. Gī. VII, 6, 7); 'Pervading this entire Universe by a portion (of mine) I abide' (Bha. Gī. X, 42); 'But another, the highest Person, is called the highest Self who, pervading the three worlds supports them, the eternal Lord. Because I transcend the Perishable and am higher than the Imperishable even, I am among the people and in the Veda celebrated as the supreme Person' (Bha. Gī. XV, 17, 18).
'He transcends the fundamental matter of all beings, its modifications, properties and imperfections; he transcends all investing (obscuring) influences, he who is the Self of all. Whatever (room) there is in the interstices of the world is filled by him; all auspicious qualities constitute his nature. The whole creation of beings is taken out of a small part of his power. Assuming at will whatever form he desires he bestows benefits on the whole world effected by him. Glory, strength, dominion, wisdom, energy, power and other attributes are collected in him, Supreme of the supreme in whom no troubles abide, ruler over high and low, lord in collective and distributive form, non-manifest and manifest, universal lord, all-seeing, all- knowing, all-powerful, highest Lord. The knowledge by which that perfect, pure, highest, stainless homogeneous (Brahman) is known or perceived or comprehended--that is knowledge: all else is ignorance' (Vishnu Purāṇa VI, 5, 82-87).--'To that pure one of mighty power, the highest Brahman to which no term is applicable, the cause of all causes, the name "Bhāgavat" is suitable. The letter bha implies both the cherisher and supporter; the letter ga the leader, mover and creator. The two syllables bhaga indicate the six attributes--dominion, strength, glory, splendour, wisdom, dispassion. That in him-- the universal Self, the Self of the beings--all beings dwell and that he dwells in all, this is the meaning of the letter va. Wisdom, might, strength, dominion, glory, without any evil qualities, are all denoted by the word Bhāgavat. This great word Bhāgavat is the name of Vāsudeva who is the highest Brahman--and of no one else. This word which denotes persons worthy of reverence in general is used in its primary sense with reference to Vāsudeva only; in a derived sense with regard to other persons' (Vi. Pu. VI, 5, 72 ff.); 'Where all these powers abide, that is the form of him who is the universal form: that is the great form of Hari. That form produces in its sport forms endowed with all powers, whether of gods or men or animals. For the purpose of benefiting the worlds, not springing from work (karman) is this action of the unfathomable one; all-pervading, irresistible' (Vi. Pu. VI, 7, 69-71); 'Him who is of this kind, stainless, eternal, all-pervading, imperishable, free from all evil, named Vishnu, the highest abode' (Vi. Pu. I, 22,53); 'He who is the highest of the high, the Person, the highest Self, founded on himself; who is devoid of all the distinguishing characteristics of colour, caste and the like; who is exempt from birth, change, increase, decay and death; of whom it can only be said that he ever is. He is everywhere and in him everything abides; hence he is called Vāsudeva by those who know. He is Brahman, eternal, supreme, imperishable, undecaying; of one essential nature and ever pure, as free from all defects. This whole world is Brahman, comprising within its nature the Evolved and the Unevolved; and also existing in the form of the Person and in that of time' (Vi. Pu. I, 2, 10-14); 'The Prakriti about which I told and which is Evolved as well as Unevolved, and the Person--both these are merged in the highest Self. The highest Self is the support of all, the highest Lord; as Vishnu he is praised in the Vedas and the Vedānta-texts' (Vi. Pu. VI, 4, 38, 39). 'Two forms are there of that Brahman, one material, the other immaterial. These two forms, perishable and imperishable, are within all things: the imperishable one is the highest Brahman, the perishable one this whole world. As the light of a fire burning in one place spreads all around, so the energy of the highest Brahman constitutes this entire world' (Vi. Pu. I, 23,53-55). 'The energy of Vishnu is the highest, that which is called the embodied soul is inferior; and there is another third energy called karman or Nescience, actuated by which the omnipresent energy of the embodied soul perpetually undergoes the afflictions of worldly existence. Obscured by Nescience the energy of the embodied soul is characterised in the different beings by different degrees of perfection' (Vi. Pu. VI, 7, 61-63).
These and other texts teach that the highest Brahman is essentially free from all imperfection whatsoever, comprises within itself all auspicious qualities, and finds its pastime in originating, preserving, reabsorbing, pervading, and ruling the universe; that the entire complex of intelligent and non-intelligent beings (souls and matter) in all their different estates is real, and constitutes the form, i.e. the body of the highest Brahman, as appears from those passages which co-ordinate it with Brahman by means of terms such as śarīra (body), rūpa (form), tanu (body), amśa. (part), śakti (power), vibhūti (manifestation of power), and so on;--that the souls which are a manifestation of Brahman's power exist in their own essential nature, and also, through their connexion with matter, in the form of embodied souls (Kṣetrajña);--and that the embodied souls, being engrossed by Nescience in the form of good and evil works, do not recognise their essential nature, which is knowledge, but view themselves as having the character of material things.-- The outcome of all this is that we have to cognise Brahman as carrying plurality within itself, and the world, which is the manifestation of his power, as something real.
When now the text, in the śloka 'where all difference has vanished' (Vi. Pu. VI, 7, 53), declares that the Self, although connected with the different effects of Prakriti, such as divine, human bodies, and so on, yet is essentially free from all such distinctions, and therefore not the object of the words denoting those different classes of beings, but to be defined as mere knowledge and Being; to be known by the Self and not to be reached by the mind of the practitioner of Yoga (yogayug); this must in no way be understood as denying the reality of the world.--But how is this known?--As follows, we reply. The chapter of the Purāṇa in which that śloka occurs at first declares concentration (Yoga) to be the remedy of all the afflictions of the Samsāra; thereupon explains the different stages of Yoga up to the so-called Pratyāhāra (complete restraining of the senses from receiving external impressions); then, in order to teach the attainment of the 'perfect object' (subhāsraya) required for dhāraṇa, declares that the highest Brahman, i. e. Vishnu, possesses two forms, called powers (śakti), viz. a denned one (mūrta) and an undefined one (amūrta); and then teaches that a portion of the 'defined' form, viz. the embodied soul (Kṣetrajña), which is distinguished by its connexion with matter and involved in Nescience--that is termed 'action,' and constitutes a third power--is not perfect. The chapter further teaches that a portion of the undefined form which is free from Nescience called action, separated from all matter, and possessing the character of pure knowledge, is also not the 'perfect object,' since it is destitute of essential purity; and, finally, declares that the 'perfect object' is to be found in that defined form which is special to Bhāgavat, and which is the abode of the three powers, viz. that non-defined form which is the highest power, that non- defined form which is termed embodied soul, and constitutes the secondary (aparā) power, and Nescience in the form of work--which is called the third power, and is the cause of the Self, which is of the essence of the highest power, passing into the state of embodied soul. This defined form (which is the 'perfect object') is proved by certain Vedānta-texts, such as 'that great person of sun- like lustre' (Svet. Up. III, 8). We hence must take the śloka, 'in which all differences vanish,' etc., to mean that the pure Self (the Self in so far as knowledge only) is not capable of constituting the 'perfect object.' Analogously two other passages declare 'Because this cannot be reflected upon by the beginner in Yoga, the second (form) of Vishnu is to be meditated upon by Yogins-the highest abode.' 'That in which all these powers have their abode, that is the other great form of Hari, different from the (material) Viśva form.'
In an analogous manner, Parāsara declares that Brahmā, Chaturmukha, Sanaka, and similar mighty beings which dwell within this world, cannot constitute the 'perfect object' because they are involved in Nescience; after that goes on to say that the beings found in the Samsāra are in the same condition--for they are essentially devoid of purity since they reach their true nature, only later on, when through Yoga knowledge has arisen in them--; and finally teaches that the essential individual nature of the highest Brahman, i.e. Vishnu, constitutes the 'perfect object.' 'From Brahmā down to a blade of grass, all living beings that dwell within this world are in the power of the Samsāra due to works, and hence no profit can be derived by the devout from making them objects of their meditation. They are all implicated in Nescience, and stand within the sphere of the Samsāra; knowledge arises in them only later on, and they are thus of no use in meditation. Their knowledge does not belong to them by essential nature, for it comes to them through something else. Therefore the stainless Brahman which possesses essential knowledge,' etc. etc.--All this proves that the passage 'in which all difference vanishes' does not mean to deny the reality of the world.
Nor, again, does the passage 'that which has knowledge for its essential nature' (Vi. Pu. 1,2,6) imply that the whole complex of things different from knowledge is false; for it declares only that the appearance of the Self--the essential nature of which is knowledge-- as gods, men, and so on, is erroneous. A declaration that the appearance of mother o' pearl as silver is founded on error surely does not imply that all the silver in the world is unreal!--But if, on the ground of an insight into the oneness of Brahman and the world--as expressed in texts where the two appear in co- ordination--a text declares that it is an error to view Brahman, whose essential nature is knowledge, under the form of material things, this after all implies that the whole aggregate of things is false!--By no means, we reply. As our śāstra distinctly teaches that the highest Brahman, i. e. Vishnu, is free from all imperfections whatsoever, comprises within himself all auspicious qualities, and reveals his power in mighty manifestations, the view of the world's reality cannot possibly be erroneous. That information as to the oneness of two things by means of co-ordination does not allow of sublation (of either of the two), and is non-contradictory, we shall prove further on. Hence also the śloka last referred to does not assimilate the reality of the world.
'That from whence these beings are born, by which, when born, they live, into which they enter when they die, endeavour to know that; that is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. III, 1). From this scriptural text we ascertain that Brahman is the cause of the origination, and so on, of the world. After this we learn from a Purāṇa text ('He should make the Veda grow by means of Itihāsa and Purāṇa; the Veda fears that a man of little reading may do it harm') that the Veda should be made to grow by Itihāsa and Purāṇa. By this 'making to grow' we have to understand the elucidation of the sense of the Vedic texts studied by means of other texts, promulgated by men who had mastered the entire Veda and its contents, and by the strength of their devotion had gained full intuition of Vedic truth. Such 'making to grow' must needs be undertaken, since the purport of the entire Veda with all its Śākhās cannot be fathomed by one who has studied a small part only, and since without knowing that purport we cannot arrive at any certitude.
The Vishnu Purāṇa relates how Maitreya, wishing to have his knowledge of Vedic matters strengthened by the holy Parāśara, who through the favour of Pulastya and Vāsishṭha had obtained an insight into the true nature of the highest divinity, began to question Parāsara, 'I am desirous to hear from thee how this world originated, and how it will again originate in future, and of what it consists, and whence proceed animate and inanimate things; how and into what it has been resolved, and into what it will in future be resolved?' etc. (Vi. Pu. I, 1). The questions asked refer to the essential nature of Brahman, the different modes of the manifestation of its power, and the different results of propitiating it. Among the questions belonging to the first category, the question 'whence proceed animate and inanimate things?' relates to the efficient and the material cause of the world, and hence the clause 'of what the world consists' is to be taken as implying a question as to what constitutes the Self of this world, which is the object of creation, sustentation, and dissolution. The reply to this question is given in the words 'and the world is He.' Now the identity expressed by this clause is founded thereon that he (i.e. Brahman or Vishnu) pervades the world as its Self in the character of its inward Ruler; and is not founded on unity of substance of the pervading principle and the world pervaded. The phrase 'consists of' (-maya) does not refer to an effect (so that the question asked would be as to the causal substance of which this world is an effect), for a separate question on this point would be needless. Nor does the--maya express, as it sometimes does-e.g. in the case of prāṇa-maya, the own sense of the word to which it is attached; for in that case the form of the reply 'and the world is He' (which implies a distinction between the world and Vishnu) would be inappropriate; the reply would in that case rather be 'Vishnu only.' What 'maya' actually denotes here is abundance, prevailingness, in agreement with Pāṇini, V, 4, 21, and the meaning is that Brahman prevails in the world in so far as the entire world constitutes its body. The co-ordination of the two words 'the world' and 'He' thus rests on that relation between the two, owing to which the world is the body of Brahman, and Brahman the Self of the world. If, on the other hand, we maintained that the śāstra aims only at inculcating the doctrine of one substance free from all difference, there would be no sense in all those questions and answers, and no sense in an entire śāstra devoted to the explanation of that one thing. In that case there would be room for one question only, viz. 'what is the substrate of the erroneous imagination of a world?' and for one answer to this question, viz. 'pure consciousness devoid of all distinction!'--And if the co-ordination expressed in the clause 'and the world is he' was meant to set forth the absolute oneness of the world and Brahman, then it could not be held that Brahman possesses all kinds of auspicious qualities, and is opposed to all evil; Brahman would rather become the abode of all that is impure. All this confirms the conclusion that the co-ordination expressed in that clause is to be understood as directly teaching the relation between a Self and its body.--The śloka, 'From Vishnu the world has sprung: in him he exists: he is the cause of the subsistence and dissolution of this world: and the world is he' (Vi. Pu. I, 1, 35), states succinctly what a subsequent passage--beginning with 'the highest of the high' (Vi. Pu. I, 2, 10)--sets forth in detail. Now there the śloka, 'to the unchangeable one' (I, 2, 1), renders homage to the holy Vishnu, who is the highest Brahman in so far as abiding within his own nature, and then the text proceeds to glorify him in his threefold form as Hiraṇyagarbha, Hari, and Śaṅkara, as Pradhāna, Time, and as the totality of embodied souls in their combined and distributed form. Here the śloka, 'Him whose essential nature is knowledge' (I, 2, 6), describes the aspect of the highest Self in so far as abiding in the state of discrete embodied souls; the passage cannot therefore be understood as referring to a substance free from all difference. If the śāstra aimed at teaching that the erroneous conception of a manifold world has for its substrate a Brahman consisting of non-differenced intelligence, there would be room neither for the objection raised in I, 3, I ('How can we attribute agency creative and otherwise to Brahman which is without qualities, unlimited, pure, stainless?') nor for the refutation of that objection, 'Because the powers of all things are the objects of (true) knowledge excluding all (bad) reasoning, therefore there belong to Brahman also such essential powers as the power of creating, preserving, and so on, the world; just as heat essentially belongs to fire.' In that case the objection would rather be made in the following form: 'How can Brahman, which is without qualities, be the agent in the creation, preservation, and so on, of the world?' and the answer would be, 'Creation by Brahman is not something real, but something erroneously imagined.'--The purport of the objection as it stands in the text is as follows: 'We observe that action creative and otherwise belongs to beings endowed with qualities such as goodness, and so on, not perfect, and subject to the influence of karman; how then can agency creative, and so on, be attributed to Brahman which is devoid of qualities, perfect, not under the influence of karman, and incapable of any connexion with action?' And the reply is, 'There is nothing unreasonable in holding that Brahman as being of the nature described above, and different in kind from all things perceived, should possess manifold powers; just as fire, which is different in kind from water and all other material substances, possesses the quality of heat and other qualities.' The ślokas also, which begin with the words 'Thou alone art real' (Vi. Pu. I, 4, 38 ff.), do not assert that the whole world is unreal, but only that, as Brahman is the Self of the world, the latter viewed apart from Brahman is not real. This the text proceeds to confirm, 'thy greatness it is by which all movable and immovable things are pervaded.' This means--because all things movable and immovable are pervaded by thee, therefore all this world has thee for its Self, and hence 'there is none other than thee' and thus thou being the Self of all art alone real. Such being the doctrine intended to be set forth, the text rightly says, 'this all-pervasiveness of thine is thy greatness'; otherwise it would have to say, 'it is thy error.' Were this latter view intended, words such as 'Lord of the world,' 'thou,' etc., could not, moreover, be taken in their direct sense, and there would arise a contradiction with the subject-matter of the entire chapter, viz. the praise of the Holy one who in the form of a mighty boar had uplifted in play the entire earth.--Because this entire world is thy form in so far as it is pervaded as its Self by thee whose true nature is knowledge; therefore those who do not possess that devotion which enables men to view thee as the Self of all, erroneously view this world as consisting only of gods, men, and other beings; this is the purport of the next śloka, 'this which is seen.'--And it is an error not only to view the world which has its real Self in thee as consisting of gods, men, and so on, but also to consider the Selves whose true nature is knowledge as being of the nature of material beings such as gods, men, and the like; this is the meaning of the next śloka, 'this world whose true nature is knowledge.'--Those wise men, on the other hand, who have an insight into the essentially intelligent Self, and whose minds are cleared by devotion--the means of apprehending the Holy one as the universal Self--, they view this entire world with all its manifold bodies--the effects of primeval matter--as thy body--a body the Self of which is constituted by knowledge abiding apart from its world-body; this is the meaning of the following śloka: 'But those who possess knowledge,' etc.--If the different ślokas were not interpreted in this way, they would be mere unmeaning reiterations; their constitutive words could not be taken in their primary sense; and we should come into conflict with the sense of the passages, the subject-matter of the chapter, and the purport of the entire śāstra. The passage, further, 'Of that Self although it exists in one's own and in other bodies, the knowledge is of one kind' (Vi. Pu. II, 14, 31 ff.), refers to that view of duality according to which the different Selves--although equal in so far as they are all of the essence of knowledge--are constituted into separate beings, gods, men, etc., by their connexion with different portions of matter all of which are modifications of primary matter, and declares that view to be false. But this does not imply a denial of the duality which holds good between matter on the one hand and Self on the other: what the passage means is that the Self which dwells in the different material bodies of gods, men, and so on, is of one and the same kind. So the Holy one himself has said, 'In the dog and the low man eating dog's flesh the wise see the same'; 'Brahman, without any imperfection, is the same' (Bha. Gī. V, 18, 19). And, moreover, the clause 'Of the Self although existing in one's own and in other bodies' directly declares that a thing different from the body is distributed among one's own and other bodies.
Nor does the passage 'If there is some other (para) different(anya)from me,' etc. (Vi. Pu. II, 13, 86) intimate the oneness of the Self; for in that case the two words 'para' and 'anya' would express one meaning only (viz. 'other' in the sense of 'distinct from'). The word 'para' there denotes a Self distinct from that of one's own Self, and the word 'anya' is introduced to negative a character different from that of pure intelligence: the sense of the passage thus is 'If there is some Self distinct from mine, and of a character different from mine which is pure knowledge, then it can be said that I am of such a character and he of a different character'; but this is not the case, because all Selves are equal in as far as their nature consists of pure knowledge.--Also the śloka beginning 'Owing to the difference of the holes of the flute' (Vi. Pu. II, 14, 32) only declares that the inequality of the different Selves is owing not to their essential nature, but to their dwelling in different material bodies; and does not teach the oneness of all Selves. The different portions of air, again, passing through the different holes of the flute--to which the many Selves are compared--are not said to be one but only to be equal in character; they are one in character in so far as all of them are of the nature of air, while the different names of the successive notes of the musical scale are applied to them because they pass out by the different holes of the instrument. For an analogous reason the several Selves are denominated by different names, viz. gods and so on. Those material things also which are parts of the substance fire, or water, or earth, are one in so far only as they consist of one kind of substance; but are not absolutely one; those different portions of air, therefore, which constitute the notes of the scale are likewise not absolutely one. Where the Purāṇa further says 'He (or "that") I am and thou art He (or "that"); all this universe that has Self for its true nature is He (or "that"); abandon the error of distinction' (Vi. Pu. II, 16, 23); the word 'that' refers to the intelligent character mentioned previously which is common to all Selves, and the co-ordination stated in the two clauses therefore intimates that intelligence is the character of the beings denoted 'I' and 'Thou'; 'abandon therefore,' the text goes on to say, 'the illusion that the difference of outward form, divine and so on, causes a corresponding difference in the Selves.' If this explanation were not accepted (but absolute non-difference insisted upon) there would be no room for the references to difference which the passages quoted manifestly contain.
Accordingly the text goes on to say that the king acted on the instruction he had received, 'he abandoned the view of difference, having recognised the Real.'--But on what ground do we arrive at this decision (viz. that the passage under discussion is not meant to teach absolute non-duality)?--On the ground, we reply, that the proper topic of the whole section is to teach the distinction of the Self and the body--for this is evident from what is said in an early part of the section, 'as the body of man, characterised by hands, feet, and the like,' etc. (Vi. Pu. II, 13, 85).--For analogous reasons the śloka 'When that knowledge which gives rise to distinction' etc. (Vi. Pu. VI, 7, 94) teaches neither the essential unity of all Selves nor the oneness of the individual Self and the highest Self. And that the embodied soul and the highest Self should be essentially one, is no more possible than that the body and the Self should be one. In agreement herewith Scripture says, 'Two birds, inseparable friends, cling to the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit, the other looks on without eating' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 1). 'There are two drinking their reward in the world of their own works, entered into the cave, dwelling on the highest summit. Those who know Brahman call them shade and light,' etc. (Ka. Up. I, 3, 1). And in this śāstra also (i.e. the Vishnu Purāṇa) there are passages of analogous import; cp. the stanzas quoted above, 'He transcends the causal matter, all effects, all imperfections such as the gunas' etc.
The Sūtras also maintain the same doctrine, cp. I, 1, 17; I, 2, 21; II, 1, 22; and others. They therein follow Scripture, which in several places refers to the highest and the individual soul as standing over against each other, cp. e.g. 'He who dwells in the Self and within the Self, whom the Self does not know, whose body the Self is, who rules the Self from within' (Bri. Up. III, 7, 22); 'Embraced by the intelligent Self (Bri. Up. IV, 3, 21); 'Mounted by the intelligent Self (IV, 3, 35). Nor can the individual Self become one with the highest Self by freeing itself from Nescience, with the help of the means of final Release; for that which admits of being the abode of Nescience can never become quite incapable of it. So the Purāṇa says, 'It is false to maintain that the individual Self and the highest Self enter into real union; for one substance cannot pass over into the nature of another substance.' Accordingly the Bhagavad Gītā declares that the released soul attains only the same attributes as the highest Self. 'Abiding by this knowledge, they, attaining to an equality of attributes with me, do neither come forth at the time of creation, nor are troubled at the time of general destruction' (XIV, 2). Similarly our Purāṇa says, 'That Brahman leads him who meditates on it, and who is capable of change, towards its own being (ātma-bhāva), in the same way as the magnet attracts the iron' (Vi. Pu. VI, 7, 30). Here the phrase 'leads him towards his own being' means 'imparts to him a nature like his own' (not 'completely identifies him with itself'); for the attracted body does not become essentially one with the body attracting.
The same view will be set forth by the Sūtrakāra in IV, 4, 17; 2l, and I, 3, 2. The Vṛitti also says (with reference to Sū. IV, 4, 17) 'with the exception of the business of the world (the individual soul in the state of release) is equal (to the highest Self) through light'; and the author of the Dramida Bhāṣya says, 'Owing to its equality (sāyujya) with the divinity the disembodied soul effects all things, like the divinity.' The following scriptural texts establish the same view, 'Those who depart from hence, after having known the Self and those true desires, for them there is freedom in all the worlds' (Kh. Up. VIII, 1, 6); 'He who knows Brahman reaches the Highest' (Taitt. Up. II, 1); 'He obtains all desires together with the intelligent Brahman' (Taitt. Up. II, 1, 1); 'Having reached the Self which consists of bliss, he wanders about in these worlds having as much food and assuming as many forms as he likes' (Taitt. Up. III, 10, 5); 'There he moves about' (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, 3); 'For he is flavour; for only after having perceived a flavour can anyone perceive pleasure' (Taitt. Up. II, 7); 'As the flowing rivers go to their setting in the sea, losing name and form; thus he who knows, freed from name and form, goes to the divine Person who is higher than the high' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 8); 'He who knows, shaking off good and evil, reaches the highest oneness, free from stain' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 3).
The objects of meditation in all the vidyās which refer to the highest Brahman, are Brahman viewed as having qualities, and the fruit of all those meditations. For this reason the author of the Sūtras declares that there is option among the different vidyās--cp. Ve. Sū. III, 3, II; III., 3, 59. In the same way the Vākyakāra teaches that the qualified Brahman only is the object of meditation, and that there is option of vidyās; where he says '(Brahman) connected (with qualities), since the meditation refers to its qualities.' The same view is expressed by the Bhāṣyakāra in the passage beginning 'Although he who bases himself on the knowledge of Being.'--Texts such as 'He knows Brahman, he becomes Brahman' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 9) have the same purport, for they must be taken in connexion with the other texts (referring to the fate of him who knows) such as 'Freed from name and form he goes to the divine Person who is higher than the high'; 'Free from stain he reaches the highest oneness' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 8; III, 1,3); 'Having approached the highest light he manifests himself in his own shape' (Kh. Up. VIII, 3, 4). Of him who has freed himself from his ordinary name and form, and all the distinctions founded thereon, and has assumed the uniform character of intelligence, it may be said that he is of the character of Brahman.--Our Purāṇa also propounds the same view. The śloka (VI, 7, 91), 'Knowledge is the means to obtain what is to be obtained, viz. the highest Brahman: the Self is to be obtained, freed from all kinds of imagination,' states that that Self which through meditation on Brahman, is freed from all imagination so as to be like Brahman, is the object to be attained. (The three forms of imagination to be got rid of are so-called karma-bhāvanā, brahma-bhāvanā and a combination of the two. See Vi. Pu. VI, 7.) The text then goes on, 'The embodied Self is the user of the instrument, knowledge is its instrument; having accomplished Release--whereby his object is attained--he may leave off.' This means that the Devotee is to practise meditation on the highest Brahman until it has accomplished its end, viz. the attainment of the Self free from all imagination.--The text continues, 'Having attained the being of its being, then he is non-different from the highest Self; his difference is founded on Nescience only.' This śloka describes the state of the released soul. 'Its being' is the being, viz. the character or nature, of Brahman; but this does not mean absolute oneness of nature; because in this latter case the second 'being' would be out of place and the śloka would contradict what had been said before. The meaning is: when the soul has attained the nature of Brahman, i.e. when it has freed itself from all false imagination, then it is non-different from the highest Self. This non-difference is due to the soul, as well as the highest Self, having the essential nature of uniform intelligence. The difference of the soul--presenting itself as the soul of a god, a man, etc.--from the highest Self is not due to its essential nature, but rests on the basis of Nescience in the form of work: when through meditation on Brahman this basis is destroyed, the difference due to it comes to an end, and the soul no longer differs from the highest Self. So another text says, 'The difference of things of one nature is due to the investing agency of outward works; when the difference of gods, men, etc., is destroyed, it has no longer any investing power' (Vi. Pu. II, 14, 33).--The text then adds a further explanation, 'when the knowledge which gives rise to manifold difference is completely destroyed, who then will produce difference that has no real existence?' The manifold difference is the distinction of gods, men, animals, and inanimate things: compare the saying of Saunaka: ‘this fourfold distinction is founded on false knowledge.' The Self has knowledge for its essential nature; when Nescience called work--which is the cause of the manifold distinctions of gods, men, etc.--has been completely destroyed through meditation on the highest Brahman, who then will bring about the distinction of gods, etc., from the highest Self--a distinction which in the absence of a cause cannot truly exist.--That Nescience is called karman(work)is stated in the same chapter of the Purāṇa (st. 61--avidyā karma saṁjñā).
The passage in the Bhagavad Gītā, 'Know me to be the Kṣetrajña' (XIII, 2), teaches the oneness of all in so far as the highest Self is the inward ruler of all; taken in any other sense it would be in conflict with other texts, such as 'All creatures are the Perishable, the unchanging soul is the Imperishable; but another is the highest Person' (Bha. Gī. XV, 16). In other places the Divine one declares that as inward Ruler he is the Self of all: 'The Lord dwells in the heart of all creatures' (XVIII, 61), and 'I dwell within the heart of all' (XV, 15). and 'I am the Self which has its abode within all creatures' (X, 20). The term 'creature' in these passages denotes the entire aggregate of body, etc., up to the Self.--Because he is the Self of all, the text expressly denies that among all the things constituting his body there is any one separate from him, ‘There is not anything which is without me' (X, 39). The place where this text occurs is the winding up of a glorification of the Divine one, and the text has to be understood accordingly. The passage immediately following is 'Whatever being there is, powerful, beautiful, or glorious, even that know thou to have sprung from a portion of my glory; pervading this entire Universe by a portion of mine I do abide' (X, 41; 42).
All this clearly proves that the authoritative books do not teach the doctrine of one non-differenced substance; that they do not teach that the universe of things is false; and that they do not deny the essential distinction of intelligent beings, non-intelligent things, and the Lord.