I-4 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 3

Topic 3 - The fivefold five people of Brih. 4. 4. 17 are not the twenty-five Sānkhya’s categories

Sutra 1,4.11

न संख्योपसंग्रहादपि, नानाभावादतिरेकाच्च ॥ ११ ॥

na saṃkhyopasaṃgrahādapi, nānābhāvādatirekācca || 11 ||

na—not; saṃkhyopasaṃgrahādapi—even from the statement of the number; nānābhāvāt—on account of the differences; atirekāt—on account of the excess; ca—and.

11. Even from the statement of the number (fivefold five, i.e. twenty-five categories, by the Śruti, it is) not (to be presumed that the Śruti refers to the Pradhāna) on account of the differences (in the categories) and the excess (over the number of the Sānkhya’s categories).

The Vājasaneyins read in their text 'He in whom the five "five-people" and the ether rest, him alone I believe to be the Self; I, who know, believe him to be Brahman' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 17). The doubt here arises whether this text be meant to set forth the categories as established in Kapila's doctrine, or not.-- The Pūrvapakshin maintains the former view, on the ground that the word 'five-people,' qualified by the word 'five,' intimates the twenty-five categories of the Sānkhyas. The compound 'five- people' (pañca gaṇaḥ) denotes groups of five beings, just as the term pañca-pūlyah denotes aggregates of five bundles of grass. And as we want to know how many such groups there are, the additional qualification 'five' intimates that there are five such groups; just as if it were said 'five five-bundles, i. e. five aggregates consisting of five bundles each.' We thus understand that the 'five five-people' are twenty-five things, and as the mantra in which the term is met with refers to final release, we recognise the twenty-five categories known from the Sānkhya-smriti which are here referred to as objects to be known by persons desirous of release. For the followers of Kapila teach that 'there is the fundamental causal substance which is not an effect. There are seven things, viz. the Mahat, and so on, which are causal substances as well as effects. There are sixteen effects. The soul is neither a causal substance nor an effect' (Sān. Kā. 3). The mantra therefore is meant to intimate the categories known from the Sānkhya.--To this the Sūtra replies that from the mention of the number twenty-five supposed to be implied in the expression 'the five five-people,' it does not follow that the categories of the Sānkhyas are meant. 'On account of the diversity,' i.e. on account of the five-people further qualified by the number five being different from the categories of the Sānkhyas. For in the text 'in whom the five five-people and the ether rest,' the 'in whom' shows the five-people to have their abode, and hence their Self, in Brahman; and in the continuation of the text, 'him I believe the Self,' the 'him' connecting itself with the preceding 'in whom' is recognised to be Brahman. The five five-people must therefore be different from the categories of the Sānkhya-system. 'And on account of the excess.' Moreover there is, in the text under discussion, an excess over and above the Sānkhya categories, consisting in the Self denoted by the relative pronoun 'in whom,' and in the specially mentioned Ether. What the text designates therefore is the Supreme Person who is the Universal Lord in whom all things abide--such as he is described in the text quoted above, 'Therefore some call him the twenty-sixth, and others the twenty-seventh.' The 'even' in the Sūtra is meant to intimate that the 'five five-people' can in no way mean the twenty-five categories, since there is no pentad of groups consisting of five each. For in the case of the categories of the Sānkhyas there are no generic characteristics or the like which could determine the arrangement of those categories in fives. Nor must it be urged against this that there is a determining reason for such an arrangement in so far as the tattvas of the Sānkhyas form natural groups comprising firstly, the five organs of action; secondly, the five sense-organs; thirdly, the five gross elements; fourthly, the subtle parts of those elements; and fifthly, the five remaining tattvas; for as the text under discussion mentions the ether by itself, the possibility of a group consisting of the five gross elements is precluded. We cannot therefore take the compound 'five people' as denoting a group consisting of five constituent members, but, in agreement with Pān. II, 1, 50, as merely being a special name. There are certain beings the special name of which is 'five-people,' and of these beings the additional word 'pañca' predicates that they are five in number. The expression is thus analogous to the term 'the seven seven-rishis'(where the term 'seven-rishis' is to be understood as the name of a certain class of rishis only).--Who then are the beings called 'five-people?'-- To this question the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 1,4.12

प्राणादयो वाक्यशेषात् ॥ १२ ॥

prāṇādayo vākyaśeṣāt || 12 ||

prāṇādayaḥ—The vital force etc.; vākyaśeṣāt—because of the complementary passage.

12. (The five people referred to are) the vital force etc., because (we- find it to be so) from the complementary passage.

We see from a complementary passage, viz. 'They who know the breath of breath, the eye of the eye, the ear of the ear, the food of food, the mind of mind,' that the 'five-people' are the breath, and eye, and so on, all of which have their abode in Brahman.

But, an objection is raised, while the mantra 'in whom the five five-people,' &c., is common to the Kānvas and the Mādhyandinas, the complementary passage 'they who know the breath of breath,' &c., in the text of the former makes no mention of food, and hence we have no reason to say that the 'five- people' in their text are the breath, eye, and so on.

To this objection the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 1,4.13

ज्योतिषैकेषामसत्यन्ने ॥ १३ ॥

jyotiṣaikeṣāmasatyanne || 13 ||

jyotiṣā—By light; ekeṣām—of some; asati anne—food not being mentioned.

13. (In the text) of some (the Kāṇva recension) food not being mentioned (in the complementary passage referred to in the previous Sutra) (the number is made up) by ‘light’ (mentioned in the previous verse).

In the text of some, viz. the Kānvas, where food is not mentioned, the five-people are recognised to be the five senses, owing to the phrase 'of lights' which is met with in another complementary passage. In the mantra, 'him the gods worship as the light of lights,' which precedes the mantra about the 'five- people,' Brahman is spoken of as the light of lights, and this suggests the idea of certain lights the activity of which depends on Brahman. The mantra leaves it undetermined what these lights are; but from what follows about the 'five-people,' &c., we learn that what is meant are the senses which light up as it were their respective objects. In 'the breath of breath' the second 'breath' (in the genitive case) denotes the sense-organ of touch, as that organ is connected with air, and as the vital breath (which would otherwise suggest itself as the most obvious explanation of prāṇa) does not harmonise with the metaphorical term 'light.' 'Of the eye' refers to the organ of sight; 'of the ear' to the organ of hearing. 'Of food' comprises the senses of smell and taste together: it denotes the sense of smell on the ground that that sense is connected with earth, which may be 'food,' and the sense of taste in so far as 'anna' may be also explained as that by means of which eating goes on (adyatē). 'Of mind' denotes mind, i. e. the so-called internal organ. Taste and smell thus being taken in combination, we have the required number of five, and we thus explain the 'five-people' as the sense- organs which throw light on their objects, together with the internal organ, i.e. mind. The meaning of the clause about the 'five-people' therefore is that the senses--called 'five-people'--and the elements, represented by the Ether, have their basis in Brahman; and as thus all beings are declared to abide in Brahman, the five 'five-people' can in no way be the twenty-five categories assumed by the Sānkhyas.-- The general Conclusion is that the Vedānta-texts, whether referring to numbers or not, nowhere set forth the categories established in Kapila's system.