I-2 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 2
Topic 2 - The eater is Brahman
अत्ता चराचरग्रहणात् ॥ ९ ॥
attā carācaragrahaṇāt || 9 ||
attā—The eater; carācaragrahaṇāt—because the movable and immovable (i.e. the whole universe) is taken (as his food).
9. The eater (is Brahman), because both the movable and immovable (i.e. the entire universe) is taken (as his food).
We read in the Katha-vallī (I, 3, 25), 'Who then knows where he is to whom the Brahmans and Kshattriyas are but food, and death itself a condiment? 'A doubt here arises whether the 'eater', suggested by the words 'food' and 'condiment,' is the individual soul or the highest Self.--The individual soul, the Pūrvapakshin maintains; for all enjoyment presupposes works, and works belong to the individual soul only.--Of this view the Sūtra disposes. The 'eater' can be the highest Self only, because the taking, i. e. eating, of the whole aggregate of movable and immovable things can be predicated of that Self only. 'Eating' does not here mean fruition dependent on work, but rather the act of reabsorption of the world on the part of the highest Brahman, i. e. Vishnu, who is the cause of the origination, subsistence, and final destruction of the universe. This appears from the fact that Vishnu is mentioned in the same section, 'He reaches the end of his journey, and that is the highest place of Vishnu' (Ka. Up. I, 3, 9). Moreover the clause 'to whom death is a condiment' shows that by the Brahmans and Kshattriyas, mentioned in the text, we have to understand the whole universe of moving and non-moving things, viewed as things to be consumed by the highest Self. For a condiment is a thing which, while itself being eaten, causes other things to be eaten; the meaning of the passage, therefore, is that while death itself is consumed, being a condiment as it were, there is at the same time eaten whatever is flavoured or made palatable by death, and that is the entire world of beings in which the Brahmans and Kshattriyas hold the foremost place. Now such eating of course is destruction or reabsorption, and hence such enjoyment--meaning general reabsorption--can belong to the highest Self only.
प्रकरणाच्च ॥ १० ॥
prakaraṇācca || 10 ||
prakaraṇāt—From the context; ca—and.
10. And because (Brahman) is the subject of the discussion.
Moreover the highest Brahman constitutes the topic of the entire section. Cp. 'The wise who knows the Self as great and omnipresent does not grieve' (Ka. Up. I, 2, 22); 'That Self cannot be gained by the Veda, nor by understanding, nor by much learning. He whom the Self chooses, by him the Self can be gained; the Self chooses him as his own' (I, 2, 23).--Moreover, the clause (forming part of the text under discussion),'Who knows him (i.e. the being which constitutes the topic of the section) where he is?' clearly shows that we have to recognise here the Self of which it had previously been said that it is hard to know unless it assists us with its grace.
To this conclusion a new objection presents itself.--Further on in the same Upanishad (I, 3, 1) we meet with the following text: '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, likewise those householders who perform the Trinakiketa-sacrifice.' Now this text clearly refers to the individual soul which enjoys the reward of its works, together with an associate coupled to it. And this associate is either the vital breath, or the organ of knowledge (buddhi). For the drinking of 'rita' is the enjoyment of the fruit of works, and such enjoyment does not suit the highest Self. The buddhi, or the vital breath, on the other hand, which are instruments of the enjoying embodied soul, may somehow be brought into connexion with the enjoyment of the fruit of works. As the text is thus seen to refer to the embodied soul coupled with some associate, we infer, on the ground of the two texts belonging to one section, that also the 'eater' described in the former text is none other than the individual soul.--To this objection the next Sūtra replies.