I-1 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 10

Topic 10 - The word ‘light’ to be understood as Brahman

 Sutra 1,1.24

ज्योतिश्चरणाभिधानात् ॥ २४ ॥

jyotiścaraṇābhidhānāt || 24 ||

jyotiḥ—Light; caraṇābhidhānāt—on account of the mention of feet.

24. (The word) ‘light’ (is Brahman) on account of the mention of feet (in a complimentary passage).

We read in the Chāṇḍogya. (III, 13, 7), 'Now that light which shines above this heaven, higher than everything, in the highest worlds beyond which there are no other worlds, that is the same light which is within man.'--Here a doubt arises, viz. whether the brightly shining thing here called 'light' is the well- known light of the sun and so on, viewed as a causal universal principle (Brahman); or the all-knowing, etc., highest Person of infinite splendour, who is different in nature from all sentient and non-sentient beings, and is the highest cause.--The Pūrvapakshin maintains that the reference is to ordinary light. For, he says, the passage does not mention a particular characteristic attribute which can belong to the highest Self only--while such attributes were met with in the texts referring to Ether and Breath--, and as thus there is no opening for a recognition of the highest Self, and as at the same time the text identifies 'light' with the intestinal heat of living beings, we conclude that the text represents the well-known ordinary light as Brahman, the cause of the world--which is possible as causal agency is connected with extreme light and heat.--This prima facie view the Sūtra sets aside. The light which the text states to be connected with heaven and possessing supreme splendour can be the highest Person only, since a preceding passage in the same section--' All the beings are one foot of it, three feet are the Immortal in heaven'--refers to all beings as being a foot of that same being which is connected with heaven. Although the passage, 'That light which shines above,' etc., does not mention a special attribute of the highest Person, yet the passage previously quoted refers to the highest Person as connected with heaven, and we therefore recognise that Person as the light connected with heaven, mentioned in the subsequent passage.

Nor does the identification, made in a clause of the text, of light with the intestinal heat give rise to any difficulty; for that clause is meant to enjoin meditation on the highest Brahman in the form of intestinal heat, such meditation having a special result of its own. Moreover, the Lord himself declares that he constitutes the Self of the intestinal fire, 'Becoming the Vaiśvānara-fire I abide in the body of living creatures' (Bha. Gī. XV, 14).

 Sutra 1,1.25

छन्दोऽभिधानान्नेति चेत्, न, तथा चेतोऽर्पणनिगदात्, तथा हि दर्शनम् ॥ २५ ॥

chando'bhidhānānneti cet, na, tathā ceto'rpaṇanigadāt, tathā hi darśanam || 25 ||

chando'bhidhānāt—The metre (Gāyatrī) being mentioned; na—is not; iti—if it be said; na—no; tathā—in that way; ceto'rpaṇanigadāt—the application of the mind has been inculcated; tathā hi—for so; darśanam—it is seen (in other texts).

25. If it be said (that Brahman is) not (referred to) on account of the metre (Gāyatrī) being mentioned; (we reply) no, because in that way (i.e. by means of the metre), the application of the mind (on Brahman) has been inculcated; for so (i.e. through the help of the modifications of Brahman) it is seen (in other texts).

The previous section at first refers to the metre called Gāyatrī, 'The Gāyatrī indeed is everything' (III, 12, 1), and then introduces--with the words 'this is also declared by a Rik verse'--the verse, 'Such is the greatness of it (viz. the Gāyatrī),' etc. Now, as this verse also refers to the metre, there is not any reference to the highest Person.--To this objection the second part of the Sūtra replies. The word 'Gāyatrī' does not here denote the metre only, since this cannot possibly be the Self of all; but the text declares the application of the idea of Gāyatrī to Brahman, i.e. teaches, to the end of a certain result being obtained, meditation on Brahman in so far as similar to Gāyatrī. For Brahman having four feet, in the sense indicated by the rik, may be compared to the Gāyatrī with its four (metrical) feet. The Gāyatrī (indeed has as a rule three feet, but) occasionally a Gāyatrī with four feet is met with; so, e.g., 'Indras sakīpatih | valena pīditah | duskyavano vrishā | samitsu sāsahih.' We see that in other passages also words primarily denoting metres are employed in other senses; thus, e.g., in the Samvarga-vidyā (Kh. Up. IV, 3, 8), where Virāg (the name of a metre of ten syllables) denotes a group of ten divine beings.

For this conclusion the next Sūtra supplies a further argument.

 Sutra 1,1.26

भूतादिपादव्यपदेशोपपत्तेश्चैवम् ॥ २७ ॥

bhūtādipādavyapadeśopapatteścaivam || 26 ||

bhūtādipādavyapadeśa—The representation of beings etc. as feet; upapatteḥ—is possible; ca—also; evam—thus.

26. Thus also (we have to conclude,. i.e. that Brahman is the topic of the previous passage, where Gāyatrī occurs) because (thus only) the representation of the beings etc. as the feet (of Gāyatrī) is possible.

The text, moreover, designates the Gāyatrī as having four feet, after having referred to the beings, the earth, the body, and the heart; now this has a sense only if it is Brahman, which here is called Gāyatrī.

Sutra 1,1.27

उपदेशभेदान्नेति, चेन् नोभयस्मिन्न् अप्य् अविरोधात् ॥ २६ ॥

upadeśabhedānneti, cet, na, ubhayasminnapyavirodhāt || 27||

upadeśabhedāt—On account of the difference in specificaton; na—not; iti cet—if it be said; na—no; ubhayasmin api—in either (description); avirodhāt—because there is no contradiction.

27. If it be said (that Brahman of the Gāyatri passage cannot be recognized in the passage dealing with ‘light’), on account of difference in specification, (we reply) no, there being no contradiction in either (description to such a recognition).

In the former passage, 'three feet of it are what is immortal in heaven,' heaven is referred to as the abode of the being under discussion; while in the latter passage, 'that light which shines above this heaven,' heaven is mentioned as marking its boundary. Owing to this discrepancy, the Brahman referred to in the former text is not recognised in the latter.--This objection the Sūtra disposes of by pointing out that owing to the essential agreement of the two statements, nothing stands in the way of the required recognition. When we say, 'The hawk is on the top of the tree,' and 'the hawk is above the top of the tree,' we mean one and the same thing.--The 'light,' therefore, is nothing else but the most glorious and luminous highest Person. Him who in the former passage is called four-footed, we know to have an extraordinarily beautiful shape and colour-(cp., e.g., 'I know that great Person of sun-like colour beyond the darkness' (Svet. Up. III, 9)--, and as hence his brilliancy also must be extraordinary, he is, in the text under discussion, quite appropriately called 'light.'--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'light.'

It has been shown that the being endowed with supreme brilliance, called 'Light,' which the text mentions as something well known, is the highest Person. The Sūtrakāra will now show that the being designated as Indra and  [paragraph continues] Prāṇa, which the text enjoins as an object of meditation, for the reason that it is the means for attaining immortality--a power which is inseparable from causal power--, is likewise the highest Person.