I-3 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 4

Topic 4 - The Highest Person to be meditated upon is the Highest Brahman

Sutra 1,3.13

ईक्षतिकर्मव्यपदेशात् सः ॥ १३ ॥

īkṣatikarmavyapadeśāt saḥ || 13 ||

īkṣati-karma—Object of seeing; vyapadeśāt—because of his being mentioned; saḥ—he.

13. Because of his being mentioned as an object of (the act of) seeing, he (who is to be meditated upon is Brahman).

The followers of the Atharva-veda, in the section containing the question asked by Satyakāma, read as follows: 'He again who meditates with this syllable Aum of three Mātrās on the highest Person, he comes to light and to the sun. As a snake frees itself from its skin, so he frees himself from evil. He is led up by the Sāman verses to the Brahma-world; he sees the person dwelling in the castle who is higher than the individual souls concreted with bodies and higher (than those)' (Pra. Up. V, 2). Here the terms 'he meditates' and 'he sees' have the same sense, 'seeing' being the result of devout meditation; for according to the principle expressed in the text (Kh. Up. III, 14) 'According as man's thought is in this world,' what is reached by the devotee is the object of meditation; and moreover the text exhibits the same object, viz. 'the highest Person' in connexion with both verbs.

The doubt here presents itself whether the highest Person in this text be the so-called four-faced Brahmā, the Lord of the mundane egg who represents the individual souls in their collective aspect, or the supreme Person who is the Lord of all.--The Pūrvapakshin maintains the former view. For, he argues, on the introductory question, 'He who here among men should meditate until death on the syllable Om, what would he obtain by it?' The text first declares that he who meditates on that syllable as having one Mātrā, obtains the world of men; and next, that he who meditates on it as having two Mātrās obtains the world of the atmosphere. Hence the Brahma-world, which the text after that represents as the object reached by him who meditates on Om as having three syllables, must be the world of Brahmā Chaturmukha who is constituted by the aggregate of the individual souls. What the soul having reached that world sees, therefore is the same Brahmā Chaturmukha; and thus only the attribute 'etasmāg' gīvaghanāt parāt param' is suitable; for the collective soul, i. e. Brahmā Chaturmukha, residing in the Brahma-world is higher (para) than the distributive or discrete soul (Jīva) which is concreted (jhanī- bhūta) with the body and sense-organs, and at the same time is higher (para) than these. The highest Person mentioned in the text, therefore, is Brahmā Chaturmukha; and the qualities mentioned further on, such as absence of decay, etc., must be taken in such a way as to agree with that Brahmā.

To this prima facie view the Sūtra replies that the object of seeing is He, i.e. the highest Self, on account of designation. The text clearly designates the object of seeing as the highest Self. For the concluding śloka, which refers to that object of seeing, declares that 'by means of the Oṁkāra he who knows reaches that which is tranquil, free from decay, immortal, fearless, the highest'--all which attributes properly belong to the highest Self only, as we know from texts such as 'that is the Immortal, that is the fearless, that is Brahman' (Kh. Up. IV, 15, i). The qualification expressed in the clause 'etasmāg gīva.--ghanāt,' etc. may also refer to the highest Self only, not to Brahmā Chaturmukha; for the latter is himself comprehended by the term 'jīvaghana.' For that term denotes all souls which are embodied owing to karman; and that Chaturmukha is one of those we know from texts such as 'He who first creates Brahmā' (Svet. Up. VI, 18). Nor is there any strength in the argument that, since the Brahma-world mentioned in the text is known to be the world of Chaturmukha, as it follows next on the world of the atmosphere, the being abiding there must needs be Chaturmukha. We rather argue as follows--as from the concluding clause 'that which is tranquil, free from decay,' etc., we ascertain that the object of intuition is the highest Brahman, the Brahma-world spoken of as the abode of the seeing devotee cannot be the perishable world of Brahmā Chaturmukha. A further reason for this conclusion is supplied by what the text says about 'him who is freed from all evil being led up by the Sāman verses to the world of Brahman'; for the place reached by him who is freed from all evil cannot be the mere abode of Chaturmukha. Hence also the concluding śloka says with reference to that Brahma-world 'that which the wise teach ': what the wise see and teach is the abode of the highest, of Vishnu; cp. the text 'the wise ever see that highest abode of Vishnu.' Nor is it even strictly true that the world of Brahmā follows on the atmosphere, for the svarga-world and several others lie between the two.

We therefore shortly explain the drift of the whole chapter as follows. At the outset of the reply given to Satyakāma there is mentioned, in addition to the highest (para) Brahman, a lower (aparā) Brahman. This lower or effected (kārya) Brahman is distinguished as twofold, being connected either with this terrestrial world or yonder, non-terrestrial, world. Him who meditates on the Pranava as having one syllable, the text declares to obtain a reward in this world--he reaches the world of men. He, on the other hand, who meditates on the Pranava as having two syllables is said to obtain his reward in a super-terrestrial sphere--he reaches the world of the atmosphere. And he finally who, by means of the tri-syllabic Pranava which denotes the highest Brahman, meditates on this very highest Brahman, is said to reach that Brahman, i. e. the supreme Person.--The object of seeing is thus none other than the highest Self.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of the 'object of seeing.'