I-3 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 1


Topic 1 - The Resting-place of Heaven, Earth, etc. is Brahman

Sutra 1,3.1

द्युभ्वाद्यायतनं स्वशब्दात् ॥ १ ॥

dyubhvādyāyatanaṃ svaśabdāt || 1 ||

dyu-bhu-ādi-āyatanaṃ—The resting-place of heaven, earth, etc.; sva-śabdāt—on account of the word ‘Self’.

1. The resting-place of heaven, earth, etc. (is Brahman) on account of the word ‘Self’ (or on account of the actual words of the Śruti) (designating this resting-place).

The followers of the Atharva-veda have the following text, 'He in whom the heaven, the earth and the sky are woven, the mind also, with all the vital airs, know him alone as the Self, and leave off other words; he is the bank (setu) of the Immortal' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 5). The doubt here arises whether the being spoken of as the abode of heaven, earth, and so on, is the individual soul or the highest Self.

The Pūrvapakshin maintains the former alternative. For, he remarks, in the next śloka, 'where like spokes in the nave of a wheel the arteries meet, he moves about within, becoming manifold, 'the word 'where' refers back to the being which in the preceding śloka had been called the abode of heaven, earth, and so on, the clause beginning with 'where' thus declaring that that being is the basis of the arteries; and the next clause declares that same being to become manifold or to be born in many ways. Now, connexion with the arteries is clearly characteristic of the individual soul; and so is being born in many forms, divine and so on. Moreover, in the very śloka under discussion it is said that that being is the abode of the mind and the five vital airs, and this also is a characteristic attribute of the individual soul. It being, on these grounds, ascertained that the text refers to the individual soul we must attempt to reconcile therewith, as well as we can, what is said about its being the abode of heaven, earth, etc.

This prima facie view is set aside by the Sūtra. That which is described as the abode of heaven, earth, etc. is none other than the highest Brahman, on account of a term which is 'its own,' i.e. which specially belongs to it. The clause we have in view is 'he is the bank of the Immortal.' This description applies to the highest Brahman only, which alone is, in all Upanishads, termed the cause of the attainment of Immortality; cp. e.g. 'Knowing him thus a man becomes immortal; there is no other path to go' (Sve. Up. III, 8). The term 'setu' is derived from si, which means to bind, and therefore means that which binds, i.e. makes one to attain immortality; or else it may be understood to mean that which leads towards immortality that lies beyond the ocean of samsāra, in the same way as a bank or bridge (setu) leads to the further side of a river.-- Moreover the word 'Self (ātman) (which, in the text under discussion, is also applied to that which is the abode of heaven, earth. etc.), without any further qualification, primarily denotes Brahman only; for 'ātman' comes from āp, to reach, and means that which 'reaches' all other things in so far as it rules them. And further on (II, 2, 7) there are other terms, 'all knowing,' 'all cognising,' which also specially belong to the highest Brahman only. This Brahman may also be represented as the abode of the arteries; as proved e.g. by Mahānār. Up. (XI, 8-12), 'Surrounded by the arteries he hangs... in the middle of this pointed flame there dwells the highest Self.' Of that Self it may also be said that it is born in many ways; in accordance with texts such as 'not born, he is born in many ways; the wise know the place of his birth.' For in order to fit himself to be a refuge for gods, men, etc. the supreme Person, without however putting aside his true nature, associates himself with the shape, make, qualities and works of the different classes of beings, and thus is born in many ways. Smriti says the same: 'Though being unborn, of non-perishable nature, the Lord of all beings, yet presiding over my Prakriti I am born by my own mysterious power' (Bha. Gī. IV, 6). Of the mind also and the other organs of the individual soul the highest Self is strictly the abode; for it is the abode of everything.--The next Sūtra supplies a further reason.

 Sutra 1,3.2

मुक्तोपसृप्यव्यपदेशात् ॥ २ ॥

muktopasṛpyavyapadeśāt || 2 ||

mukta-upasṛpya—To be attained by the liberated; vyapadeśāt—because of the statement.

2. Because of the statement (in the scriptures) that that is to be attained by the liberated.

The Person who is the abode of heaven, earth, and so on, is also declared by the text to be what is to be reached by those who are released from the bondage of Samsāra existence. 'When the seer sees the brilliant maker and Lord as the Person who has his source in Brahman, then possessing true knowledge he shakes off good and evil, and, free from passion, reaches the highest oneness' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 3). 'As the flowing rivers disappear in the sea, losing their name and form, thus a wise man freed from name and form goes to the divine Person who is higher than the high' (III, 2, 8). For it is only those freed from the bondage of Samsāra who shake off good and evil, are free from passion, and freed from name and form.

For the Samsāra state consists in the possession of name and form, which is due to connexion with non- sentient matter, such connexion springing from good and evil works. The Person therefore who is the abode of heaven, earth, etc., and whom the text declares to be the aim to be reached by those who, having freed themselves from good and evil, and hence from all contact with matter, attain supreme oneness with the highest Brahman, can be none other than this highest Brahman itself.

This conclusion, based on terms exclusively applicable to the highest Brahman, is now confirmed by reference to the absence of terms specially applicable to the individual soul.

Sutra 1,3.3

नानुमानम्, अतच्छब्दात् ॥ ३ ॥

nānumānam, atacchabdāt || 3 ||

na—not; anumānam—what is inferred (Pradhāna); atat-śabdāt—owing to want of any term indicating it.

3. (The abode of heaven etc.) is not what is inferred (i.e. Pradhāna), owing to want of any term indicating it.

 Sutra 1,3.4

प्राणभृच्च ॥ ४ ॥

prāṇabhṛcca || 4 ||

prāṇabhṛt—The living or individual soul; ca—also (na—not).

4. (Nor) also the individual soul.

As the section under discussion does not treat of the Pradhāna, there being no terms referring to that, so it is with regard to the individual soul also. In the text of the Sūtra we have to read either anumānam, i. e. 'inference,' in the sense of 'object of inference,' or else anumānam, 'object of inference'; what is meant being in both cases the Pradhāna inferred to exist by the Sānkhyas.

Sutra 1,3.5

भेदव्यपदेशात् ॥ ५ ॥

bhedavyapadeśāt || 5 ||

bheda-vyapadeśāt—On account of difference being mentioned.

5. (Also) on account of difference being mentioned (between the individual soul and the abode of heaven etc.).

'On the same tree man sits immersed in grief, bewildered by "anyā"; but when he sees the other one, the Lord, contented, and his glory; then his grief passes away' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 2). This, and similar texts, speak of that one, i.e. the one previously described as the abode of heaven, earth, etc., as different from the individual soul.--The text means--the individual soul grieves, being bewildered by her who is not 'īa,' i.e. Prakṛti, the object of fruition. But its grief passes away when it sees him who is other than itself, i.e. the beloved Lord of all, and his greatness which consists in his ruling the entire world.

Sutra 1,3.6

प्रकरणात् ॥ ६ ॥

prakaraṇāt || 6 ||

6.  On account of the subject-matter.

It has been already shown, viz. under I, 2, 21, that the highest Brahman constitutes the initial topic of the Upanishad. And by the arguments set forth in the previous Sūtras of the present Pāda, we have removed all suspicion as to the topic started being dropped in the body of the Upanishad.

Sutra 1,3.7

स्थित्यदनाभ्याम् च ॥ ७ ॥

sthityadanābhyām ca || 7 ||

sthiti-adanābhyām—On account of remaining unattached and eating; ca—also.

7. Also on account of (the mention of two conditions:) remaining unattached and eating (which are the characteristics of the Supreme Self and the individual self respectively).

'Two birds, inseparable friends, cling to the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit; without eating, the other looks on' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 1). This text declares that one enjoys the fruit of works while the other, without enjoying, shining abides within the body. Now this shining being which does not enjoy the fruit of works can only be the being previously described as the abode of heaven, earth, etc., and characterised as all knowing, the bridge of immortality, the Self of all; it can in no way be the individual Self which, lamenting, experiences the results of its works. The settled conclusion, therefore, is that the abode of heaven, earth, and so on, is none other than the highest Self.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'heaven, earth, and so on.'