I-4 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 6

Topic 6 - The Self to be seen through hearing etc. is Brahman

 Sutra 1,4.19

वाक्यान्वयात् ॥ १९ ॥

vākyānvayāt || 19 ||

vākya-anvayāt—On account of the connected meaning of passages.

19. (The Self to be seen, to be heard, etc. is Brahman) on account of the connected meaning of the passages.

In spite of the conclusion arrived at there may remain a suspicion that here and there in the Upanishads texts are to be met with which aim at setting forth the soul as maintained in Kapila's system, and that hence there is no room for a being different from the individual soul and called Lord. This suspicion the Sūtra undertakes to remove, in connexion with the Maitreyī brāhmaṇa, in the Brihadaranyaka. There we read 'Verily, a husband is dear, not for the love of the husband, but for the love of the Self a husband is dear, and so on. Everything is dear, not for the love of everything, but for the love of the Self everything is dear. The Self should be seen, should be heard, should be reflected on, should be meditated upon. When the Self has been seen, heard, reflected upon, meditated upon, then all this is known' (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 6).--Here the doubt arises whether the Self enjoined in this passage as the object of seeing, etc., be the soul as held by the Sānkhyas, or the Supreme Lord, all-knowing, capable of realising all his purposes, and so on. The Pūrvapakshin upholds the former alternative. For, he says, the beginning no less than the middle and the concluding part of the section conveys the idea of the individual soul only. In the beginning the individual soul only is meant, as appears from the connexion of the Self with husband, wife, children, wealth, cattle, and so on. This is confirmed by the middle part of the section where the Self is said to be connected with origination and destruction, 'a mass of knowledge, he having risen from these elements vanishes again into them. When he has departed there is no more consciousness.' And in the end we have 'whereby should he know the knower'; where we again recognise the knowing subject, i.e. the individual soul, not the Lord. We thus conclude that the whole text is meant to set forth the soul as held by the Sānkhyas.--But in the beginning there is a clause, viz. 'There is no hope of immortality by wealth,' which shows that the whole section is meant to instruct us as to the means of immortality; how then can it be meant to set forth the individual soul only?--You state the very reason proving that the text is concerned with the individual soul only! For according to the Sānkhya-system immortality is obtained through the cognition of the true nature of the soul viewed as free from all erroneous imputation to itself of the attributes of non-sentient matter; and the text therefore makes it its task to set forth, for the purpose of immortality, the essential nature of the soul free from all connexion with Prakriti, 'the Self should be heard,' and so on. And as the souls dissociated from Prakriti are all of a uniform nature, all souls are known through the knowledge of the soul free from Prakriti, and the text therefore rightly says that through the Self being known everything is known. And as the essential nature of the Self is of one and the same kind, viz. knowledge or intelligence, in all beings from gods down to plants, the text rightly asserts the unity of the Self 'that Self is all this'; and denies all otherness from the Self, on the ground of the characteristic attributes of gods and so on really being of the nature of the Not-self, 'he is abandoned by everything,' etc. The clause, 'For where there is duality as it were,' which denies plurality, intimates that the plurality introduced into the homogeneous Self by the different forms--such as of gods, and so on--assumed by Prakriti, is false. And there is also no objection to the teaching that 'the Rig-Veda and so on are breathed forth from that great being (i.e. Prakriti); for the origination of the world is caused by the soul in its quality as ruler of Prakriti.--It thus being ascertained that the whole Maitreyī-brāhmaṇa is concerned with the soul in the Sānkhya sense, we, according to the principle of the unity of purport of all Vedānta-texts, conclude that they all treat of the Sānkhya soul only, and that hence the cause of the world is to be found not in a so-called Lord but in Prakriti ruled and guided by the soul.

This prima facie view is set aside by the Sūtra. The whole text refers to the Supreme Lord only; for on this supposition only a satisfactory connexion of the parts of the text can be made out. On being told by Yājñyavalkya that there is no hope of immortality through wealth, Maitreyī expresses her slight regard for wealth and all such things as do not help to immortality, and asks to be instructed as to the means of immortality only ('What should I do with that by which I do not become immortal? What my lord knows tell that clearly to me'). Now the Self which Yājñyavalkya, responding to her requests, points out to her as the proper object of knowledge, can be none other than the highest Self; for other scriptural texts clearly teach that the only means of reaching immortality is to know the Supreme Person--'Having known him thus man passes beyond death'; 'Knowing him thus he becomes immortal here, there is no other path to go' (Svet. Up. III, 8). The knowledge of the true nature of the individual soul which obtains immortality, and is a mere manifestation of the power of the Supreme Person, must be held to be useful towards the cognition of the Supreme Person who brings about Release, but is not in itself instrumental towards such Release; the being the knowledge of which the text declares to be the means of immortality is therefore the highest Self only. Again, the causal power with regard to the entire world which is expressed in the passage, 'from that great Being there were breathed forth the Rig veda,' etc., cannot possibly belong to the mere individual soul which in its state of bondage is under the influence of karman and in the state of release has nothing to do with the world; it can in fact belong to the Supreme Person only. Again, what the text says as to everything being known by the knowledge of one thing ('By the seeing indeed of the Self,' etc.) is possible only in the case of a Supreme Self which constitutes the Self of all. What the Pūrvapakshin said as to everything being known through the cognition of the one individual soul, since all individual souls are of the same type--this also cannot be upheld; for as long as there is a knowledge of the soul only and not also of the world of non-sentient things, there is no knowledge of everything. And when the text enumerates different things ('this Brahman class, this Kshatra class,' etc.), and then concludes 'all this is that Self--where the 'this' denotes the entire Universe of animate and inanimate beings as known through Perception, Inference, and so on--universal unity such as declared here is possible only through a highest Self which is the Self of all. It is not, on the other hand, possible that what the word 'this' denotes, i.e. the whole world of intelligent and non-intelligent creatures, should be one with the personal soul as long as it remains what it is, whether connected with or disassociated from non-sentient matter. In the same spirit the passage, 'All things abandon him who views all things elsewhere than in the Self,' finds fault with him who views anything apart from the universal Self. The qualities also which in the earlier Maitreyī-brāhmaṇa (II, 4, 12) are predicated of the being under discussion, viz. greatness, endlessness, unlimitedness, cannot belong to any one else but the highest Self. That Self therefore is the topic of the Brāhmaṇa.

We further demur to our antagonist's maintaining that the entire Brāhmaṇa treats of the individual soul because that soul is at the outset represented as the object of enquiry, this being inferred from its connexion with husband, wife, wealth, etc. For if the clause 'for the love (literally, for the desire) of the Self refers to the individual Self, we cannot help connecting (as, in fact, we must do in any case) that Self with the Self referred to in the subsequent clause, 'the Self indeed is to be seen,' etc.; the connexion having to be conceived in that way that the information given in the former clause somehow subserves the cognition of the Self enjoined in the latter clause. 'For the desire of the Self would then mean 'for the attainment of the objects desired by the Self.' But if it is first said that husband, wife, etc., are dear because they fulfil the wishes of the individual Self, it could hardly be said further on that the nature of that Self must be enquired into; for what, in the circumstances of the case, naturally is to be enquired into and searched for are the dear objects but not the true nature of him to whom those objects are dear, apart from the objects themselves. It would certainly be somewhat senseless to declare that since husband, wife, etc., are dear because they fulfil the desires of the individual soul, therefore, setting aside those dear objects, we must enquire into the true nature of that soul apart from all the objects of its desire. On the contrary, it having been declared that husband, wife, etc., are dear not on account of husband, wife, etc., but on account of the Self, they should not be dropped, but included in the further investigation, just because they subserve the Self. And should our opponent (in order to avoid the difficulty of establishing a satisfactory connexion between the different clauses) maintain that the clause, 'but everything is dear for the love of the Self,' is not connected with the following clause, 'the Self is to be seen,' etc., we point out that this would break the whole connexion of the Brāhmaṇa. And if we allowed such a break, we should then be unable to point out what is the use of the earlier part of the Brāhmaṇa. We must therefore attempt to explain the connexion in such a way as to make it clear why all search for dear objects--husband, wife, children, wealth, etc.--should be abandoned and the Self only should be searched for. This explanation is as follows. After having stated that wealth, and so on, are no means to obtain immortality which consists in permanent absolute bliss, the text declares that the pleasant experiences which we derive from wealth, husband, wife, etc.. and which are not of a permanent nature and always alloyed with a great deal of pain, are caused not by wealth, husband, wife, etc., themselves, but rather by the highest Self whose nature is absolute bliss. He therefore who being himself of the nature of perfect bliss causes other beings and things also to be the abodes of partial bliss, he--the highest Self--is to be constituted the object of knowledge. The clauses, 'not for the wish of the husband a husband is dear,' etc., therefore must be understood as follows--a husband, a wife, a son, etc., are not dear to us in consequence of a wish or purpose on their part, 'may I, for my own end or advantage be dear to him,' but they are dear to us for the wish of the Self, i.e. to the end that there may be accomplished the desire of the highest Self-- which desire aims at the devotee obtaining what is dear to him. For the highest Self pleased with the works of his devotees imparts to different things such dearness, i.e. joy-giving quality as corresponds to those works, that 'dearness' being bound in each case to a definite place, time, nature and degree. This is in accordance with the scriptural text, 'For he alone bestows bliss' (Taitt. Up. II, 7). Things are not dear, or the contrary, to us by themselves, but only in so far as the highest Self makes them such. Compare the text, 'The same thing which first gave us delight later on becomes the source of grief; and what was the cause of wrath afterwards tends to peace. Hence there is nothing that in itself is of the nature either of pleasure or of pain.'

But, another view of the meaning of the text is proposed, even if the Self in the clause 'for the desire of the Self' were accepted as denoting the individual Self, yet the clause 'the Self must be seen' would refer to the highest Self only. For in that case also the sense would be as follows--because the possession of husband, wife, and other so-called dear things is aimed at by a person to whom they are dear, not with a view of bringing about what is desired by them (viz. husband, wife, etc.), but rather to the end of bringing about what is desired by himself; therefore that being which is, to the individual soul, absolutely and unlimitedly dear, viz. the highest Self, must be constituted the sole object of cognition, not such objects as husband, wife, wealth, etc., the nature of which depends on various external circumstances and the possession of which gives rise either to limited pleasure alloyed with pain or to mere pain.--But against this we remark that as, in the section under discussion, the words designating the individual Self denote the highest Self also, the term 'Self' in both clauses, 'For the desire of the Self' and 'The Self is to be seen,' really refers to one and the same being (viz. the highest Self), and the interpretation thus agrees with the one given above.--In order to prove the tenet that words denoting the individual soul at the same time denote the highest Self, by means of arguments made use of by other teachers also, the Sūtrakāra sets forth the two following Sūtras.

Sutra 1,4.20

प्रतिज्ञासिद्धेर्लिङ्गमाश्मरथ्यः ॥ २० ॥

pratijñāsiddherliṅgamāśmarathyaḥ || 20 ||

pratijñā-siddheḥ—Of the proof of the proposition; liṅgam—indicatory mark; āśmarathyaḥ—Āśmarathya.

20. (The fact that the individual soul is taught as the object of realization is an) indicatory mark (which is) proof of the proposition, so Āśmarathya thinks.

According to the teacher Āśmarathya the circumstance that terms denoting the individual soul are used to denote Brahman is a mark enabling us to infer that the promissory declaration according to which through the knowledge of one thing everything is known is well established. If the individual soul were not identical with Brahman in so far as it is the effect of Brahman, then the knowledge of the soul--being something distinct from Brahman--would not follow from the knowledge of the highest Self. There are the texts declaring the oneness of Brahman previous to creation, such as 'the Self only was this in the beginning' (Ait. Ār. II, 4, 1, 1), and on the other hand those texts which declare that the souls spring from and again are merged in Brahman; such as 'As from a blazing fire sparks being like unto fire fly forth a thousand-fold, thus are various beings brought forth from the Imperishable, and return thither also' (Mu. Up. II, 1, 1). These two sets of texts together make us apprehend that the souls are one with Brahman in so far as they are its effects. On this ground a word denoting the individual soul denotes the highest Self as well.

Sutra 1,4.21

उत्क्रमिष्यत एवंभावादित्यौडुलोमिः ॥ २१ ॥

utkramiṣyata evaṃbhāvādityauḍulomiḥ || 21 ||

utkramiṣyataḥ—Of the one which rises from the body; evaṃ bhāvāt—because of this nature; iti—thus; auḍulomiḥ—(the sage) Audulomi.

21. (The statement at the beginning identifies the individual soul with Brahman) because of this nature (i.e. its identity with Brahman) of the one (i.e. the soul) which rises from the body (at the time of release), thus (thinks) Auḍulomi.

It is wrong to maintain that the designation of Brahman by means of terms denoting the individual soul is intended to prove the truth of the declaration that through the knowledge of one thing everything is known, in so far namely as the soul is an effect of Brahman and hence one with it. For scriptural texts such as 'the knowing Self is not born, it dies not' (Ka. Up. I, 2, 18), declare the soul not to have originated, and it moreover is admitted that the world is each time created to the end of the souls undergoing experiences retributive of their former deeds; otherwise the inequalities of the different parts of the creation would be inexplicable. If moreover the soul were a mere effect of Brahman, its Release would consist in a mere return into the substance of Brahman,--analogous to the refunding into Brahman of the material elements, and that would mean that the injunction and performance of acts leading to such Release would be purportless. Release, understood in that sense, moreover would not be anything beneficial to man; for to be refunded into Brahman as an earthen vessel is refunded into its own causal substance, i.e. clay, means nothing else but complete annihilation. How, under these circumstances, certain texts can speak of the origination and reabsorption of the individual soul will be set forth later on.--According to the opinion of the teacher Auḍulomi, the highest Selves being denoted by terms directly denoting the individual soul is due to the soul's becoming Brahman when departing from the body. This is in agreement with texts such as the following, 'This serene being having risen from this body and approached the highest light appears in its true form' (Kh. Up. VIII, 3, 4); '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' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 8).

Sutra 1,4.22

अवस्थितेरिति काशकृत्स्नः ॥ २२ ॥

avasthiteriti kāśakṛtsnaḥ || 22 ||

avasthiteḥ—Because of the existence; iti—so holds; kāśakṛtsnaḥ—Kāśakṛtsna.

22. (The initial statement is made) because of, the existence (of Brahman as the individual soul), so holds (sage) Kāśakṛtsna.

We must object likewise to the view set forth in the preceding Sūtra, viz. that Brahman is denoted by terms denoting the individual soul because that soul when departing becomes one with Brahman. For that view cannot stand the test of being submitted to definite alternatives.--Is the soul's not being such, i. e. not being Brahman, previously to its departure from the body, due to its own essential nature or to a limiting adjunct, and is it in the latter case real or unreal? In the first case the soul can never become one with Brahman, for if its separation from Brahman is due to its own essential nature, that separation can never vanish as long as the essential nature persists. And should it be said that its essential nature comes to an end together with its distinction from Brahman, we reply that in that case it perishes utterly and does not therefore become Brahman. The latter view, moreover, precludes itself as in no way beneficial to man, and so on.--If, in the next place, the difference of the soul from Brahman depends on the presence of real limiting adjuncts, the soul is Brahman even before its departure from the body, and we therefore cannot reasonably accept the distinction implied in saying that the soul becomes Brahman only when it departs. For on this view there exists nothing but Brahman and its limiting adjuncts, and as those adjuncts cannot introduce difference into Brahman which is without parts and hence incapable of difference, the difference resides altogether in the adjuncts, and hence the soul is Brahman even before its departure from the body.--If, on the other hand, the difference due to the adjuncts is not real, we ask-- what is it then that becomes Brahman on the departure of the soul?--Brahman itself whose true nature had previously been obscured by Nescience, its limiting adjunct!--Not so, we reply. Of Brahman whose true nature consists in eternal, free, self-luminous intelligence, the true nature cannot possibly be hidden by Nescience. For by 'hiding' or 'obscuring' we understand the cessation of the light that belongs to the essential nature of a thing. Where, therefore, light itself and alone constitutes the essential nature of a thing, there can either be no obscuration at all, or if there is such it means complete annihilation of the thing. Hence Brahman's essential nature being manifest at all times, there exists no difference on account of which it could be said to become Brahman at the time of the soul's departure; and the distinction introduced in the last Sūtra ('when departing') thus has no meaning. The text on which Auḍulomi relies, 'Having risen from this body,' etc., does not declare that that which previously was not Brahman becomes such at the time of departure, but rather that the true nature of the soul which had previously existed already becomes manifest at the time of departure. This will be explained under IV, 4, 1.

The theories stated in the two preceding Sūtras thus having been found untenable, the teacher Kāśakṛtsna states his own view, to the effect that words denoting the Jīva are applied to Brahman because Brahman abides as its Self within the individual soul which thus constitutes Brahman's body. This theory rests on a number of well-known texts, 'Entering into them with this living (individual) soul let me evolve names and forms' (Kh. Up. VI, 3, 2); 'He who dwelling within the Self, etc., whose body the Self is,' etc. (Bri. Up. III, 7, 22); 'He who moves within the Imperishable, of whom the Imperishable is the body,' &c; 'Entered within, the ruler of beings, the Self of all.' That the term 'Jīva' denotes not only the Jīva itself, but extends in its denotation up to the highest Self, we have explained before when discussing the text, 'Let me evolve names and forms.' On this view of the identity of the individual and the highest Self consisting in their being related to each other as body and soul, we can accept in their full and unmutilated meaning all scriptural texts whatever--whether they proclaim the perfection and omniscience of the highest Brahman, or teach how the individual soul steeped in ignorance and misery is to be saved through meditation on Brahman, or describe the origination and reabsorption of the world, or aim at showing how the world is identical with Brahman. For this reason the author of the Sūtras, rejecting other views, accepts the theory of Kāśakṛtsna. Returning to the Maitreyī-brāhmaṇa we proceed to explain the general sense, from the passage previously discussed onwards. Being questioned by Maitreyī as to the means of immortality, Yājñyavalkya teaches her that this means is given in meditation on the highest Self ('The Self is to be seen,' etc.). He next indicates in a general way the nature of the object of meditation ('When the Self is seen,' etc.), and--availing himself of the similes of the drum, etc.-- of the government over the organs, mind, and so on, which are instrumental towards meditation. He then explains in detail that the object of meditation, i.e. the highest Brahman, is the sole cause of the entire world; and the ruler of the aggregate of organs on which there depends all activity with regard to the objects of the senses ('As clouds of smoke proceed,' etc.; 'As the ocean is the home of all the waters'). He, next, in order to stimulate the effort which leads to immortality, shows how the highest Self abiding in the form of the individual Self, is of one uniform character, viz. that of limitless intelligence ('As a lump of salt,' etc.), and how that same Self characterised by homogeneous limitless intelligence connects itself in the Samsāra state with the products of the elements ('a mass of knowledge, it rises from those elements and again vanishes into them'). He then adds, 'When he has departed, there is no more knowledge'; meaning that in the state of Release, where the soul's unlimited essential intelligence is not contracted in any way, there is none of those specific cognitions by which the Self identifying itself with the body, the sense-organs, etc., views itself as a man or a god, and so on. Next--in the passage, 'For where there is duality as it were'--he, holding that the view of a plurality of things not having their Self in Brahman is due to ignorance, shows that for him who has freed himself from the shackles of ignorance and recognises this whole world as animated by Brahman, the view of plurality is dispelled by the recognition of the absence of any existence apart from Brahman. He then proceeds, 'He by whom he knows all this, by what means should he know Him?' This means--He, i.e. the highest Self, which abiding within the individual soul as its true Self bestows on it the power of knowledge so that the soul knows all this through the highest Self; by what means should the soul know Him? In other words, there is no such means of knowledge: the highest Self cannot be fully understood by the individual soul. 'That Self,' he continues, 'is to be expressed as--not so, not so!' That means--He, the highest Lord, different in nature from everything else, whether sentient or non-sentient, abides within all beings as their Self, and hence is not touched by the imperfections of what constitutes his body merely. He then concludes, 'Whereby should he know the Knower? Thus, O Maitreyī, thou hast been instructed. Thus far goes Immortality'; the purport of these words being--By what means, apart from the meditation described, should man know Him who is different in nature from all other beings, who is the sole cause of the entire world, who is the Knower of all, Him the Supreme Person? It is meditation on Him only which shows the road to Immortality. It thus appears that the Maitreyī-brāhmaṇa is concerned with the highest Brahman only; and this confirms the conclusion that Brahman only, and with it Prakriti as ruled by Brahman, is the cause of the world.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'the connexion of sentences.'