I-1 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 5

Topic 5 - The First Cause is An Intelligent Principle

Sutras 5-11 refute these arguments of the Sānkhyas and establish Brahman as the First Cause. The discussion mainly refers to the sixth chapter of the Chāṇḍogya Upanishad.

Sutra 1,1.5

ईक्षतेर्न, अशब्दम् ॥ ५ ॥

īkṣaterna aśabdam || 5 ||

īkṣateḥ—On account of thinking (seeing); na—is not; aśabdam—not based on the scriptures.

5. On account of thinking (being attributed to the First Cause by the scriptures, the Pradhāna) is not (the First Cause referred to by them); it (Pradhāna) is not based on the scriptures.

We have maintained that what is taught by the texts relative to the origination of the world is Brahman, omniscient, and so on. The present Sūtra and the following Sūtras now add that those texts can in no way refer to the Pradhāna and similar entities which rest on Inference only.

We read in the Chāṇḍogya, 'Being only was this in the beginning, one only, without a second.--It thought, may I be many, may I grow forth.--It sent forth fire' (VI, 2, 1 ff.)--Here a doubt arises whether the cause of the world denoted by the term 'Being' is the Pradhāna assumed by others, which rests on Inference, or Brahman as defined by us.

The Pūrvapakshin maintains that the Pradhāna is meant. For he says, the Chāṇḍogya text quoted expresses the causal state of what is denoted by the word 'this', viz. the aggregate of things comprising manifold effects, such as ether. etc., consisting of the three elements of Goodness, Passion and Darkness, and forming the sphere of fruition of intelligent beings. By the 'effected' state we understand the assuming, on the part of the causal substance, of a different condition; whatever therefore constitutes the essential nature of a thing in its effected state the same constitutes its essential nature in the causal state also. Now the effect, in our case, is made up of the three elements Goodness, Passion and Darkness; hence the cause is the Pradhāna which consists in an equipoise of those three elements. And as in this Pradhāna all distinctions are merged, so that it is pure Being, the Chāṇḍogya text refers to it as 'Being, one only, without a second.' This establishes the non-difference of effect and cause, and in this way the promise that through the knowledge of one thing all things are to be known admits of being fulfilled. Otherwise, moreover, there would be no analogy between the instance of the lump of clay and the things made of it, and the matter to be illustrated thereby. The texts speaking of the origination of the world therefore intimate the Pradhāna taught by the great Sage Kapila. And as the Chāṇḍogya passage has, owing to the presence of an initial statement (pratijñā) and a proving instance, the form of an inference, the term 'Being' means just that which rests on inference, viz. the Pradhāna.

This prima facie view is set aside by the words of the Sūtra. That which does not rest on Scripture, i.e. the Pradhāna, which rests on Inference only, is not what is intimated by the texts referring to the origination of the world; for the text exhibits the root 'īksh '--which means 'to think'--as denoting a special activity on the part of what is termed 'Being.' 'It thought, may I be many, may I grow forth.' 'Thinking' cannot possibly belong to the non-sentient Pradhāna: the term 'Being' can therefore denote

only the all-knowing highest Person who is capable of thought. In agreement with this we find that, in all sections which refer to creation, the act of creation is stated to be preceded by thought. 'He thought, shall I send forth worlds. He sent forth these worlds' (Ait. Ār. II, 4, 1, 2); 'He thought he sent forth Prāṇa' (Pr. Up. VI, 3); and others.--But it is a rule that as a cause we must assume only what corresponds to the effect!--Just so; and what corresponds to the total aggregate of effects is the highest Person, all-knowing, all-powerful, whose purposes realise themselves, who has minds and matter in their subtle state for his body. Compare the texts 'His high power is revealed as manifold, as inherent, acting as force and knowledge' (Svet. Up. VI, 8); 'He who is all-knowing, all-perceiving' (Mu. Up. I, 1, 9); 'He of whom the Unevolved is the body, of whom the Imperishable is the body, of whom Death is the body, he is the inner Self of all things' (Subāl. Up. VII).--This point (viz. as to the body of the highest Person) will be established under Sū. II, 1, 4. The present Sūtra declares that the texts treating of creation cannot refer to the Pradhāna; the Sūtra just mentioned will dispose of objections. Nor is the Pūrvapakshin right in maintaining that the Chāṇḍogya passage is of the nature of an Inference; for it does not state a reason (hetu--which is the essential thing in an Inference). The illustrative instance (of the lump of clay) is introduced merely in order to convince him who considers it impossible that all things should be known through one thing--as maintained in the passage 'through which that is heard which was not heard,' etc.,--that this is possible after all. And the mention made in the text of 'seeing' clearly shows that there is absolutely no intention of setting forth an Inference.

Let us assume, then, the Pūrvapakshin resumes, that the 'seeing' of the text denotes not 'seeing' in its primary, direct sense--such as belongs to intelligent beings only; but 'seeing' in a secondary, figurative sense which there is ascribed to the Pradhāna in the same way as in passages immediately following it is ascribed to fire and water--'the fire saw'; 'the water saw' (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 3). The transference, to non- existent things, of attributes properly belonging to sentient beings is quite common; as when we say 'the rice-fields look out for rain'; 'the rain delighted the seeds.'--This view is set aside by the next Sūtra.

Sutra 1,1.6

गौणश्चेत्, न, आत्मशब्दात् ॥ ६ ॥

gauṇaścet, na, ātmaśabdāt || 6 ||

gauṇaḥ—Secondary (figurative); ceta—if (it be said); na—not; ātmaśabdāt—because of the world ‘Self’ (Ātman).

6. If it be said (that ‘thinking’) is used in a secondary sense (with regard to Sat); (we say) not so, because of the word ‘Self’ (by which the First Cause is referred to in the scriptures).

The contention that, because, in passages standing close by, the word 'seeing' is used in a secondary sense, the 'seeing' predicated of the Sat ('Being') is also to be taken in a secondary sense, viz. as denoting (not real thought but) a certain condition previous to creation, cannot be upheld; for in other texts met within the same section (viz. 'All this has that for its Self; that is the True, that is the Self', Kh. Up. VI, 8, 7), that which first had been spoken of as Sat is called the 'Self'. The designation 'Self' which in this passage is applied to the Sat in its relation to the entire world, sentient or non-sentient, is in no way appropriate to the Pradhāna. We therefore conclude that, as the highest Self is the Self of fire, water, and earth also, the words fire, etc. (in the passages stating that fire, etc. thought) denote the highest Self only. This conclusion agrees with the text 'Let me enter into these three beings with this living Self, and evolve names and forms', for this text implies that fire, water, etc. possess substantial being and definite names only through the highest Self having entered into them. The thought ascribed in the text to fire, water, etc. hence is thought in the proper sense, and the hypothesis that, owing to its connexion with these latter texts, the thought predicated of 'Being' ('it thought,' etc.) should be thought in a figurative sense only thus lapses altogether.

The next following Sūtra confirms the same view.

Sutra 1,1.7

तन्निष्ठस्य मोक्षोपदेशात् ॥ ७ ॥

tanniṣṭhasya mokṣopadeśāt || 7 ||

tanniṣṭhasya—To one who is devoted to that (Sat); mokṣopadeśāt—because Liberation is declared.

7. (That Pradhāna cannot be designated by the word ‘Self’ is established) because Liberation is declared to one who is devoted to that Sat (the First Cause).

Śvetaketu, who is desirous of final release, is at first--by means of the clause 'Thou art that'--instructed to meditate on himself as having his Self in that which truly is; and thereupon the passage 'for him there is delay' only as long as 'I shall not be released, then I shall be united' teaches that for a man taking his stand upon that teaching there will be Release, i.e. union with Brahman--which is delayed only until this mortal body falls away. If, on the other hand, the text would teach that the non-intelligent Pradhāna is the general cause, it could not possibly teach that meditation on this Pradhāna being a man's Self is the means towards his Release. A man taking his stand on such meditation rather would on death be united with a non-sentient principle, according to the scriptural saying, 'According as his thought is in this world, so will he be when he has departed this life' (Kh. Up. III, 14, 1). And Scripture, which is more loving than even a thousand parents, cannot possibly teach such union with the Non-sentient, which is acknowledged to be the cause of all the assaults of suffering in its threefold form. Moreover, those who hold the theory of the Pradhāna being the cause of the world do not themselves maintain that he who takes his stand upon the Pradhāna attains final release.

The Pradhāna is not the cause of the world for the following reason also:

Sutra 1,1.8

हेयत्वावचनाच्च ॥ ८ ॥

heyatvāvacanācca || 8 ||

heyatvāvacanāt—Fitness to be abandoned not being stated (by the scriptures); ca—and.

8. And because it is not stated (by the scriptures) that It (Sat) has to be abandoned, (Pradhāna cannot be denoted by the word ‘Sat’).

If the word 'Sat' denoted the Pradhāna as the cause of the world, we should expect the text to teach that the idea of having his Self in that 'Sat' should be set aside by Śvetaketu as desirous of Release; for that idea would be contrary to Release. So far from teaching this, the text, however, directly inculcates that notion in the words 'Thou art that.'

The Pradhāna's being the cause of the world would imply a contradiction of the initial statement, viz. that through the knowledge of one thing all things are to be known. Now, on the principle of the non- difference of cause and effect, this initial statement can only be fulfilled in that way that through the knowledge of the 'Sat', which is the cause, there is known the entire world, whether sentient or non-sentient, which constitutes the effect. But if the Pradhāna were the cause, the aggregate of sentient beings could not be known through it--for sentient beings are not the effect of a non-sentient principle, and there would thus arise a contradiction.--The next Sūtra supplies a further reason.

Sutra 1,1.9

स्वाप्ययात् ॥ ९ ॥

svāpyayāt || 9 ||

svāpyayāt—On account of resolving or merging in one’s own self.

9. On account of (the individual soul) merging in its own Self (or the universal Self referred to as the Sat, in deep sleep, the Pradhāna cannot be denoted by the word ‘Self’).

With reference to the 'Sat' the text says, 'Learn from me the true nature of sleep. When a man sleeps here, he becomes united with the Sat, he is gone to his own (Self). Therefore they say he sleeps (svapiti), because he is gone to his own (sva-apīta)' (Kh. Up.VI, 8, 1). This text designates the soul in the state of deep sleep as having entered into, or being merged or reabsorbed in, the Self. By reabsorption we understand something being merged in its cause. Now the non-intelligent Pradhāna cannot be the cause of the intelligent soul; hence the soul's going to its Self can only mean it’s going to the, i.e. the universal, Self. The term 'individual soul' (Jīva) denotes Brahman in so far as having an intelligent substance for its body, Brahman itself constituting the Self; as we learn from the text referring to the distinction of names and forms. This Brahman, thus called Jīva., is in the state of deep sleep, no less than in that of a general pralaya, free from the investment of names and forms, and is then designated as mere 'Being' (sat); as the text says, 'he is then united with the Sat'. As the soul is in the state of deep sleep free from the investment of name and form, and invested by the intelligent Self only, another text says with reference to the same state,' Embraced by the intelligent Self he knows nothing that is without, nothing that is within' (Bri. Up. IV, 3, 21). Up to the time of final release there arise in the soul invested by name and form the cognitions of objects different from itself. During deep sleep the souls divest themselves of names and forms, and are embraced by the 'Sat' only; but in the waking state they again invest themselves with names and forms, and thus bear corresponding distinctive names and forms. This, other scriptural texts also distinctly declare, 'When a man lying in deep sleep sees no dream whatever, he becomes one with that prāṇa alone;--from that Self the prāṇas proceed, each towards its place' (Kau.Up. 111,3); 'Whatever these creatures are here, whether a lion or a wolf or a boar or a gnat or a mosquito, that they become again' (Kh. Up. VI, 9, 3).--Hence the term 'Sat' denotes the highest Brahman, the all-knowing highest Lord, the highest Person. Thus the Vrittikāra also says, 'Then he becomes united with the Sat-- this is proved by (all creatures) entering into it and coming back out of it.' And Scripture also says, 'Embraced by the intelligent Self.'--The next Sūtra gives an additional reason.

Sutra 1,1.10

गतिसामान्यात् ॥ १० ॥

gatisāmānyāt || 10 ||

gatisāmānyāt—On account of the uniformity of views.

10. Because (all the Vedānta texts) uniformly refer to (an intelligent principle as the First Cause, Brahman is to be taken as that Cause).

'In the beginning the Self was all this; there was nothing else whatsoever thinking. He thought, shall I send forth worlds? He sent forth these worlds' (Ait. Ār. II, 4, 1, 1); 'From that Self sprang ether, from ether air, from air fire, from fire water, from water earth' (Taitt. Up. II, 1); 'From this great Being were breathed forth the Rig Veda,' etc.--These and similar texts referring to the creation have all the same purport: they all teach us that the Supreme Lord is the cause of the world. We therefore conclude that in the Kh. passage also the Sat, which is said to be the cause of the world, is the Supreme Lord.

Sutra 1,1.11

श्रुतत्वाच्च ॥ ११ ॥

śrutatvācca || 11 ||

śrutatvāt—Being declared by the Vedas; ca—also.

11. (The all-knowing Brahman alone is the First Cause of this world) because (it is so known directly) from the Vedas also.

The text of the same Upanishad directly declares that the being denoted by the word 'Sat' evolves, as the universal Self, names and forms; is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-embracing; is free from all evil, etc.; realises all its wishes and purposes. 'Let me, entering those beings with this living; Self, evolve names and forms' (Kh. Up. VI, 3, 2); 'All these creatures have their root in the Sat, they dwell in the Sat, they rest in the Sat' (VI, 8, 4); 'All this has that for its Self; it is the True, it is the Self (VI, 8, 7); 'Whatever there is of him here in the world, and whatever is not, all that is contained within it' (VIII, 1, 3); 'In it all desires are contained. It is the Self free from sin, free from old age, from death and grief, from hunger and thirst, whose wishes come true, whose purposes come true' (VIII, 1, 5).--And analogously other scriptural texts, 'Of him there is no master in the world, no ruler; not even a sign of him. He is the cause, the lord of the lords of the organs, and there is of him neither parent nor lord' (Svet. Up. VI, 9). 'The wise one who, having created all forms and having given them names, is calling them by those names' (Taitt. Ar. III, 12, 7); 'He who entered within is the ruler of all beings, the Self of all' (Taitt. Ar. III, 24); 'The Self of all, the refuge, the ruler of all, the Lord of the souls' (Mahānār. Up. XI); 'Whatsoever is seen or heard in this world, inside or outside, pervading that all Nārāyana abides' (Mahānār. Up. XI); 'He is the inner Self of all beings, free from all evil, the divine, the only god Nārāyaṇa.'--These and other texts which declare the world to have sprung from the highest Lord, can in no way be taken as establishing the Pradhāna. Hence it remains a settled conclusion that the highest Person, Nārāyana, free from all shadow of imperfection, etc., is the single cause of the whole Universe, and is that Brahman which these Sūtras point out as the object of enquiry.

For the same reasons the theory of a Brahman, which is nothing but non-differenced intelligence, must also be considered as refuted by the Sūtrakāra, with the help of the scriptural texts quoted; for those texts prove that the Brahman, which forms the object of enquiry, possesses attributes such as thinking, and so on, in their real literal sense. On the theory, on the other hand, of a Brahman that is nothing but distinctionless intelligence even the witnessing function of consciousness would be unreal. The Sūtras propose as the object of enquiry Brahman as known from the Vedānta-texts, and thereupon teach that Brahman is intelligent (Sū. I, 1, 5 ff.) To be intelligent means to possess the quality of intelligence: a being devoid of the quality of thought would not differ in nature from the Pradhāna. Further, on the theory of Brahman being mere non-differenced light it would be difficult to prove that Brahman is self-luminous. For by light we understand that particular thing which renders itself, as well as other things, capable of becoming the object of ordinary thought and

speech; but as a thing devoid of all difference does not, of course, possess these two characteristics it follows that it is as devoid of intelligence as a pot may be.--Let it then be assumed that although a thing devoid of all distinction does not actually possess these characteristics, yet it has the potentiality of possessing them!--But if it possesses the attribute of potentiality, it is clear that you abandon your entire theory of a substance devoid of all distinction!--Let us then admit, on the authority of Scripture, that the universal substance possesses this one distinguishing attribute of self-luminousness.--Well, in that case you must of course admit, on the same authority, all those other qualities also which Scripture vouches for, such as all-knowingness, the possession of all powers, and so on.--Moreover, potentiality means capability to produce certain special effects, and hence can be determined on the ground of those special effects only. But if there are no means of knowing these particular effects, there are also no means of cognising potentiality.--And those who hold the theory of a substance devoid of all difference, have not even means of proof for their substance; for as we have shown before, Perception, Inference, Scripture, and one's own consciousness, are all alike in so far as having for their objects things marked by difference.--It therefore remains a settled conclusion that the Brahman to be known is nothing else but the highest Person capable of the thought 'of becoming many' by manifesting himself in a world comprising manifold sentient and non-sentient creatures.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'seeing'.

So far the Sūtras have declared that the Brahman which forms the object of enquiry is different from the non-intelligent Pradhāna, which is merely an object of fruition for intelligent beings. They now proceed to show that Brahman--which is antagonistic to all evil and constituted by supreme bliss--is different from the individual soul, which is subject to karman, whether that soul be in its purified state or in the impure state that is due to its immersion in the ocean of manifold and endless sufferings, springing from the soul's contact with Prakriti (Pradhāna).