I-4 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 4

Topic 4 - There is no contradiction in the scriptures as regards the fact that Brahman is the First Cause

Sutra 1,4.14

कारणत्वेन चाकाशादिषु यथाव्यपदिष्टोक्तेः ॥ १४ ॥

kāraṇatvena cākāśādiṣu yathāvyapadiṣṭokteḥ || 14 ||

kāraṇatvena—As the (First) Cause; ca—and; ākāśādiṣu—as regards ether and so on; yathā-vyapadiṣṭokteḥ—being represented (in other texts) as taught (in one text).

14. (Although) as regards (things created, like) ether and so on (the Vedānta texts differ), (yet there is no such conflict with respect to Brahman) as the First Cause, (on account of Its) being represented (in other texts) as taught (in one text).

Here the philosopher who holds the Pradhāna to be the general cause comes forward with another objection. The Vedānta-texts, he says, do not teach that creation proceeds from one and the same agent only, and you therefore have no right to hold that Brahman is the sole cause of the world. In one place it is said that our world proceeded from 'Being', 'Being only this was in the beginning' (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 1). In other places the world is said to have sprung from 'Non-being', 'Non-being indeed this was in the beginning' (Taitt. Up. II, 7, i); and 'Non-being only was this in the beginning; it became Being' (Kh. Up. III, 19, 1). As the Vedānta-texts are thus not consequent in their statements regarding the creator, we cannot conclude from them that Brahman is the sole cause of the world. On the other hand, those texts do enable us to conclude that the Pradhāna only is the universal cause. For the text 'Now all this was then undeveloped' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 7) teaches that the world was merged in the undeveloped Pradhāna, and the subsequent clause, 'That developed itself by form and name,' that from that Undeveloped there resulted the creation of the world. For the Undeveloped is that which is not distinguished by names and forms, and this is none other than the Pradhāna. And as this Pradhāna is at the same time eternal, as far as its essential nature is concerned, and the substrate of all change, there is nothing contradictory in the different accounts of creation calling it sometimes 'Being' and sometimes 'Non-being'; while, on the other hand, these terms cannot, without contradiction, both be applied to Brahman. The causality of the Undeveloped having thus been ascertained, such expressions as 'it thought, may I be many,' must be interpreted as meaning its being about to proceed to creation. The terms 'Self and 'Brahman' also may be applied to the Pradhāna in so far as it is all-pervading (ātman from āpnoti), and pre-eminently great (Brihat). We therefore conclude that the only cause of the world about which the Vedānta-texts give information is the Pradhāna.

This view is set aside by the Sūtra. The word and is used in the sense of but. It is possible to ascertain from the Vedānta-texts that the world springs from none other than the highest Brahman, which is all- knowing, lord of all, free from all shadow of imperfection, capable of absolutely realising its purposes, and so on; since scripture declares Brahman as described to be the cause of Ether, and so on. By 'Brahman as described' is meant 'Brahman distinguished by omniscience and other qualities, as described in the Sūtra "that from which the origination, and so on, of the world proceed," and in other places.' That Brahman only is declared by scripture to be the cause of Ether, and so on, i.e. the being which is declared to be the cause in passages such as 'From that Self sprang Ether' (Taitt. Up. II, 1); 'that sent forth fire'(Kh. Up. VI, 2, 3), is none other than Brahman possessing omniscience and similar qualities. For the former of these texts follows on the passage 'The True, intelligence, infinite is Brahman; he reaches all desires together with the intelligent Brahman,' which introduces Brahman as the general subject-matter--that Brahman being then referred to by means of the connecting words 'from that.' In the same way the 'that' (in 'that sent forth fire') refers back to the omniscient Brahman introduced in the clause 'that thought, may I be many.' This view is confirmed by a consideration of all the accounts of creation, and we hence conclude that Brahman is the sole cause of the world.--But the text 'Non-being indeed this was in the beginning' calls the general cause 'something that is not'; how then can you say that we infer from the Vedānta-texts as the general cause of the world a Brahman that is all-knowing, absolutely realises its purposes, and so on?--To this question the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 1,4.15

समाकर्षात् ॥ १५ ॥

samākarṣāt || 15 ||

15. On account of the connection (with passage referring to Brahman, nonexistence does not mean absolute non-existence).

The fact is that Brahman intelligent, consisting of bliss, &c., connects itself also with the passage 'Non- being was this in the beginning' (Taitt. Up. II, 7). For the section of the text which precedes that passage (viz. 'Different from this Self consisting of understanding is the Self consisting of Bliss;--he wished, may I be many;--he created all whatever there is. Having created he entered into it; having entered it he became sat and tyat') clearly refers to Brahman consisting of Bliss, which realises its purposes, creates all beings, and entering into them is the Self of all. When, therefore, after this we meet with the śloka ('Non-being this was in the beginning') introduced by the words 'On this there is also this śloka'--which shows that the śloka is meant to throw light on what precedes; and when further or we have the passage 'From fear of it the wind blows' &c., which, referring to the same Brahman, predicates of it universal rulership, bliss of nature, and so on; we conclude with certainty that the śloka about 'Non-being' also refers to Brahman. As during a pralaya the distinction of names and forms does not exist, and Brahman also then does not exist in so far as connected with names and forms, the text applies to Brahman the term 'Non-being.' The text 'Non-being only this was in the beginning' explains itself in the same way.-- Nor can we admit the contention that the text 'Now all this was then undeveloped 'refers to the Pradhāna as the cause of the world; for the Undeveloped there spoken of is nothing else but Brahman in so far as its body is not yet evolved. For the text continues 'That same being entered thither to the very tips of the finger-nails;' 'When seeing, eye by name; when hearing, ear by name; when thinking, mind by name;' 'Let men meditate upon him as Self;' where the introductory words 'that same being' refer back to the Undeveloped--which thus is said to enter into all things and thereby to become their ruler. And it is known from another text also (Ch. Up. VI, 3, 2) that it is the all-creative highest Brahman which enters into its creation and evolves names and forms. The text 'Having entered within, the ruler of creatures, the Self of all' moreover shows that the creative principle enters into its creatures for the purpose of ruling them, and such entering again cannot be attributed to the non-sentient Pradhāna. The Undeveloped therefore is Brahman in that state where its body is not yet developed; and when the text continues 'it developed itself by names and forms' the meaning is that Brahman developed itself in so far as names and forms were distinguished in the world that constitutes Brahman's body. On this explanation of the texts relating to creation we further are enabled to take the thought, purpose, &c,, attributed to the creative principle, in their primary literal sense. And, we finally remark, neither the term 'Brahman' nor the term 'Self in any way suits the Pradhāna, which is neither absolutely great nor pervading in the sense of entering into things created with a view to ruling them. It thus remains a settled conclusion that Brahman is the sole cause of the world.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of '(Brahman's) causality.'