I-1 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 11

Topic 11 - Indra’s instruction to Pratardana

Sutra 1,1.28

प्राणस्तथानुगमात् ॥ २८ ॥

prāṇastathānugamāt || 28 ||

prāṇaḥ—Prāṇa; tathā—(like) that; anugamāt—being so comprehended (from the texts).

28. Prāṇa is Brahman, it being so comprehended (from the purport of the texts).

We read in the Pratardana-vidyā in the Kaushitaki-brāhmaṇa that 'Pratardana, the son of Divodāsa, came, by fighting and strength, to the beloved abode of Indra.' Being asked by Indra to choose a boon he requests the God to bestow on him that boon which he himself considers most beneficial to man; whereupon Indra says, 'I am prāṇa (breath), the intelligent Self, meditate on me as Life, as Immortality.' Here the doubt arises whether the being called Prāṇa and Indra, and designating itself as the object of a meditation most beneficial to man, is an individual soul, or the highest Self.--An individual soul, the Pūrvapakshin maintains. For, he says, the word 'Indra' is known to denote an individual God, and the word 'Prāṇa,' which stands in grammatical co-ordination with Indra, also applies to individual souls. This individual being, called Indra, instructs Pratardana that meditation on himself is most beneficial to man. But what is most beneficial to man is only the means to attain immortality, and such a means is found in meditation on the causal principle of the world, as we know from the text, 'For him there is delay only so long as he is not delivered; then he will be perfect' (Kh. Up. VI, 14, 2). We hence conclude that Indra, who is known as an individual soul, is the causal principle, Brahman.

This view is rejected by the Sūtra. The being called Indra and Prāṇa is not a mere individual soul, but the highest Brahman, which is other than all individual souls. For on this supposition only it is appropriate that the being introduced as Indra and Prāṇa should, in the way of grammatical co-ordination, be connected with such terms as 'blessed,' 'non-ageing,' 'immortal.' ('That Prāṇa indeed is the intelligent Self, blessed, non-ageing, immortal,' Kau. Up. III, 9.)

 Sutra 1,1.29

न वक्तुरात्मोपदेशादिति चेत्, अध्यात्मसबन्धभूमा ह्यस्मिन् ॥ २९ ॥

na vakturātmopadeśāditi cet, adhyātmasambandhabhūmā hyasmin || 29 ||

na—not; vaktuḥ—the speaker’s; ātmopadeśāt—on account of the instruction about himself; iti cet—if it be said; adhyātma-sambandha-bhūmā—abundance of reference to the Inner Self; hi—because; asmin—in this.

29. If it be said that (Brahman is) not (referred to in these passages) on account of the speaker’s instruction about himself; (we reply not so), because there is abundance of reference to the Inner Self in this (chapter).

An objection is raised.--That the being introduced as Indra and Prāṇa should be the highest Brahman, for the reason that it is identical with him who, later on, is called 'blessed,' 'non-ageing, 'immortal'--this we cannot admit. 'Know me only, I am prāṇa, meditate on me as the intelligent Self, as life, as immortality'-- the speaker of these words is Indra, and this Indra enjoins on Pratardana meditation on his own person only, the individual character of which is brought out by reference to certain deeds of strength such as the slaying of the son of Tvāṣṭri ('I slew the three-headed son of Tvāṣṭri,' etc.). As thus the initial part of the section clearly refers to an individual being, the terms occurring in the concluding part ('blessed,' 'non-ageing,' 'immortal') must be interpreted so as to make them agree with what precedes.--This objection the Sūtra disposes of. 'For the multitude of connexions with the Self'--i.e. the multitude of things connected with the Self as its attributes--is possible only 'in that,' i.e. in that speaker viewed as the highest Brahman. 'For, as in a car, the circumference of the wheel is placed on the spokes, and the spokes on the nave, thus are these objects placed on the subjects, and the subjects on the prāṇa. That prāṇa indeed is the intelligent Self, blessed, non-ageing, immortal.' The 'objects' (bhūta-mātrāh) here are the aggregate of non-sentient things; the 'subjects' (prajñā-mātrāh) are the sentient beings in which the objects are said to abide; when thereupon the texts says that of these subjects the being called Indra and Prāṇa is the abode, and that he is blessed, non-ageing, immortal; this qualification of being the abode of this Universe, with all its non-sentient and sentient beings, can belong to the highest Self only, which is other than all individual souls.

The Sūtra may also be explained in a somewhat different way, viz. 'there is a multitude of connexions belonging to the highest Self, i.e. of attributes special to the highest Self, in that, viz. section.' The text at first says, 'Choose thou that boon for me which thou deemest most beneficial to man '--to which the reply is, 'Meditate on me.' Here Indra-prāṇa is represented as the object of a meditation which is to bring about Release; the object of such meditation can be none but the highest Self.--'He makes him whom he wishes to lead up from these worlds do a good deed; and him whom he wishes to lead down from these worlds he makes do a bad deed.' The causality with regard to all actions which is here described is again a special attribute of the highest Self.--The same has to be said with regard to the attribute of being the abode of all, in the passage about the wheel and spokes, quoted above; and with regard to the attributes of bliss, absence of old age and immortality, referred to in another passage quoted before. Also the attributes of being 'the ruler of the worlds, the lord of all,' can belong to the highest Self only.--The conclusion therefore is that the being called Indra and Prāṇa is none other but the highest Self.--But how then can Indra, who is known to be an individual person only, enjoin meditation on himself?--To this question the next Sūtra replies.

 Sutra 1,1.30

शास्त्रदृष्ट्या तूपदेशो वामदेववत् ॥ ३० ॥

śāstradṛṣṭyā tūpadeśo vāmadevavat || 30 ||

śāstradṛṣṭyā—Through realization of the Truth confirmed by the scriptures; tu—but; upadeśaḥ—instruction; vāmadevavat—like Vāmadeva.

30 . But (Indra’s) instruction (to Pratardana is justified) by his realization of the Truth confirmed by the scriptures (i.e. that he is Brahman), as did (the sage) Vāmadeva.

The instruction which, in the passages quoted, Indra gives as to the object of meditation, i.e. Brahman constituting his Self, is not based on such an insight into his own nature as is established by other means of proof, but on an intuition of his own Self, mediated by Scripture. 'Having entered into them with this living Self let me evolve names and forms' (Kh. Up. VI, 3, 2); 'In it all that exists has its Self (Kh. Up.VI, 8, 7); Entered within, the ruler of creatures, the Self of all' (Taitt. Ar. III, 21); 'He who dwelling in the Self is different from the Self,' etc. (Bri. Up. III, 7, 22)--from these and similar texts Indra has learned that the highest Self has the individual souls for its body, and that hence words such as 'I' and 'thou,' which denote individual beings, extend in their connotation up to the highest Self; when, therefore, he says, 'Know me only', and 'Meditate on me', he really means to teach that the highest Self, of which his own individual person is the body, is the proper object of meditation. 'As in the case of Vāmadeva.' As the Rishi Vāmadeva perceiving that Brahman is the inner Self of all, that all things constitute its body, and that the meaning of words denoting a body extends up to the principle embodied, denotes with the word 'I' the highest Brahman to which he himself stands in the relation of a body, and then predicates of this 'I' Manu Sūrya and other beings--'Seeing this the Rishi. Vāmadeva understood, I am Manu, I am Sūrya' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 10). Similarly Prahlāda says, 'As the Infinite one abides within all, he constitutes my "I" also; all is from me, I am all, within me is all.' (Vi. Pu. I, 19, 85.) The next Sūtra states, in reply to an objection, the reason why, in the section under discussion, terms denoting the individual soul, and others denoting non- sentient things are applied to Brahman.

Sutra 1,1.31

जीवमुख्यप्राणलिङ्गान्नेति चेत्, न, उपासात्रैविध्यात्, आश्रितत्वात्, इह तद्योगात् ॥ ३० ॥

jīvamukhyaprāṇaliṅgānneti cet, na, upāsātraividhyāt, āśritatvāt, iha tadyogāt || 31 ||

jīvamukhyaprāṇaliṅgāt—On account of the characteristics of the individual soul and the vital energy; na—not; iti cet—if it be said; na—not so; upāsā-traividhyāt—because it would enjoin threefold meditation; āśritatvāt—on account of Prāṇa being accepted (elsewhere in the sense of Brahman); iha—here; tadyogāt—because words denoting Brahman are mentioned with reference to Prāṇa.

31. If it be said that (Brahman) is not referred to on account of the characteristics of the individual soul and the vital force (being mentioned), (we say) not so, because (such an interpretation) would enjoin threefold meditation (Upāsanā); because Prāṇa has been accepted (elsewhere in the sense of Brahman); and because here also (words denoting Brahman) are mentioned with reference to Prāṇa. (Hence it is to be understood to mean Brahman).

An objection is raised. 'Let none try to find out what speech is, let him know the speaker'; 'I slew the three-headed son of Tvāṣṭri; I delivered the Arunmukhas, the devotees, to the wolves'; these passages state characteristic marks of an individual soul (viz. the god Indra).--'As long as Prāṇa dwells in this body, so long there is life'; 'Prāṇa alone is the conscious Self, and having laid hold of this body, it makes it rise up.'--These passages again mention characteristic attributes of the chief vital air. Hence there is here no 'multitude of attributes belonging to the Self.'--The latter part of the Sūtra refutes this objection. The highest Self is called by these different terms in order to teach three-foldness of devout meditation; viz. meditation on Brahman in itself as the cause of the entire world; on Brahman as having for its body the totality of enjoying (individual) souls; and on Brahman as having for its body the objects and means of enjoyment.--This threefold meditation on Brahman, moreover, is met with also in other chapters of the sacred text. Passages such as 'The True, knowledge, infinite is Brahman,' 'Bliss is Brahman,' dwell on Brahman in itself. Passages again such as 'Having created that he entered into it. Having entered it he became sat and tyat, defined and undefined,' etc. (Taitt. Up. II, 6), represent Brahman as having for its body the individual souls and inanimate nature. Hence, in the chapter under discussion also, this threefold view of Brahman is quite appropriate. Where to particular individual beings such as Hiraṇyagarbha, and so on, or to particular inanimate things such as Prākriti, and so on, there are attributed qualities especially belonging--to the highest Self; or where with words denoting such persons and things there are co-ordinated terms denoting the highest Self, the intention of the texts is to convey the idea of the highest Self being the inner Self of all such persons and things.--The settled conclusion, therefore, is that the being designated as Indra and Prāṇa is other than an individual soul, viz. the highest Self.