II-1 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 1



Topic 1 - Refutation of Smṛiti that are not based on the Śrutis

Sutra 2,1.1

स्मृत्यनवकाशदोषप्रसङ्ग इति चेत्, न,
अन्यस्मृत्यनवकाशदोषप्रसङ्गात् ॥ १ ॥

smṛtyanavakāśadoṣaprasaṅga iti cet, na,
anyasmṛtyanavakāśadoṣaprasaṅgāt || 1 ||

smṛti-anavakāśa-doṣaprasaṅgaḥ—There would result the defect of leaving no scope for certain Smṛiti; iti cet—if it be said; na—no; anyasmṛti-anavakāśa-doṣaprasaṅgāt—because there would result the defect of leaving no scope to some other Smṛiti.

1. If it be said that (from the doctrine of Brahman being the cause of the world) there would result the defect of leaving no scope for certain Smṛiti, (we say) no; because (by the rejection of that doctrine) there would result the defect of leaving no scope for some other Smṛiti.

The first adhyāya has established the truth that what the Vedānta-texts teach is a Supreme Brahman, which is something different as well from non-sentient matter known through the ordinary means of proof, viz. Perception and so on, as from the intelligent souls whether connected with or separated from matter; which is free from even a shadow of imperfection of any kind; which is an ocean as it were of auspicious qualities and so on; which is the sole cause of the entire Universe; which constitutes the inner Self of all things. The second adhyāya is now begun for the purpose of proving that the view thus set forth cannot be impugned by whatever arguments may possibly be brought forward. The Sūtrakāra at first turns against those who maintain that the Vedanta-texts do not establish the view indicated above, on the ground of that view being contradicted by the Smriti of Kapila, i. e. the Sānkhya-system.

But how can it be maintained at all that Scripture does not set forth a certain view because thereby it would enter into conflict with Smriti? For that Smriti if contradicted by Scripture is to be held of no account, is already settled in the Pūrva Mimāṁsa ('But where there is contradiction Smriti is not to be regarded,' I, 3, 3).--Where, we reply, a matter can be definitely settled on the basis of Scripture--as e.g. in the case of the Vedic injunction, 'he is to sing, after having touched the Uḍumbara branch' (which clearly contradicts the Smriti injunction that the whole branch is to be covered up)--Smriti indeed need not be regarded. But the topic with which the Vedānta-texts are concerned is hard to understand, and hence, when a conflict arises between those texts and a Smriti propounded by some great Rishi, the matter does not admit of immediate decisive settlement: it is not therefore unreasonable to undertake to prove by Smriti that Scripture does not set forth a certain doctrine. That is to say--we possess a Smriti composed with a view to teach men the nature and means of supreme happiness, by the great Rishi Kapila to whom Scripture, Smriti, Itihāsa and Purāṇa alike refer as a person worthy of all respect (compare e. g. 'the Rishi Kapila,' Svet. Up. V, 2), and who moreover (unlike Brihaspati and other Smriti-- writers) fully acknowledges the validity of all the means of earthly happiness which are set forth in the Karmakāṇda of the Veda, such as the daily oblations to the sacred fires, the New and Full Moon offerings and the great Soma sacrifices. Now, as men having only an imperfect knowledge of the Veda, and moreover naturally slow-minded, can hardly ascertain the sense of the Vedānta-texts without the assistance of such a Smriti, and as to be satisfied with that sense of the Vedānta which discloses itself on a mere superficial study of the text would imply the admission that the whole Sānkhya Smriti, although composed by an able and trustworthy person, really is useless; we see ourselves driven to acknowledge that the doctrine of the Vedānta-texts cannot differ from the one established by the Sānkhyas. Nor must you object that to do so would force on us another unacceptable conclusion, viz. that those Smriti, that of Manu e.g., which maintain Brahman to be the universal cause, are destitute of authority; for Manu and similar works inculcate practical religious duty and thus have at any rate the uncontested function of supporting the teaching of the Karmakāṇda of the Veda. The Sānkhya Smriti, on the other hand, is entirely devoted to the setting forth of theoretical truth (not of practical duty), and if it is not accepted in that quality, it is of no use whatsoever.--On this ground the Sūtra sets forth the prima facie view, 'If it be said that there results the fault of there being no room for certain Smriti.'

The same Sūtra replies 'no; because there would result the fault of want of room for other Smriti.' For other Smriti, that of Manu e.g., teach that Brahman is the universal cause. Thus Manu says, 'This (world) existed in the shape of darkness, and so on. Then the divine Self existent, indiscernible but making discernible all this, the great elements and the rest, appeared with irresistible power, dispelling the darkness. He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought created the waters, and placed his seed in them' (Manu I, 5-8). And the Bhagavad Gītā, 'I am the origin and the dissolution of the whole Universe' (VII, 6). 'I am the origin of all; everything proceeds from me' (X, 8). Similarly, in the Mahābhārata, to the question 'Whence was created this whole world with its movable and immovable beings?' the answer is given, 'Nārāyana assumes the form of the world, he the infinite, eternal one'; and 'from him there originates the Unevolved consisting of the three gunas'; and 'the Unevolved is merged in the non-acting Person.' And Parāsara says, 'From Vishnu there sprang the world and in him it abides; he makes this world persist and he rules it--he is the world.' Thus also Āpastamba, 'The living beings are the dwelling of him who lies in all caves, who is not killed, who is spotless'; and 'From him spring all bodies; he is the primary cause, he is eternal, permanent.' (Dharmasū. I, 8, 22, 4; 23, 2).--If the question as to the meaning of the Vedānta-texts were to be settled by means of Kapila's Smriti, we should have to accept the extremely undesirable conclusion that all the Smriti quoted are of no authority. It is true that the Vedānta-texts are concerned with theoretical truth lying outside the sphere of Perception and the other means of knowledge, and that hence students possessing only a limited knowledge of the Veda require some help in order fully to make out the meaning of the Vedānta. But what must be avoided in this case is to give any opening for the conclusion that the very numerous Smriti which closely follow the doctrine of the Vedānta, are composed by the most competent and trustworthy persons and aim at supporting that doctrine, are irrelevant; and it is for this reason that Kapila's Smriti which contains a doctrine opposed to Scripture must be disregarded. The support required is elucidation of the sense conveyed by Scripture, and this clearly cannot be effected by means of a Smriti contradicting Scripture. Nor is it of any avail to plead, as the Pūrvapakshin does, that Manu and other Smriti of the same kind fulfil in any case the function of elucidating the acts of religious duty enjoined in the Karmakāṇda. For if they enjoin acts of religious duty as means to win the favour of the Supreme Person but do not impress upon us the idea of that Supreme Person himself who is to be pleased by those acts, they are also not capable of impressing upon us the idea of those acts themselves. That it is the character of all religious acts to win the favour of the Supreme Spirit, Smriti distinctly declares, 'Man attains to perfection by worshipping with his proper action Him from whom all Beings proceed; and by whom all this is stretched out' (Bha. Gī. XVIII, 46); 'Let a man meditate on Nārāyana, the divine one, at all works, such as bathing and the like; he will then reach the world of Brahman and not return hither' (Dakṣa-smriti); and 'Those men with whom, intent on their duties, thou art pleased, O Lord, they pass beyond all this Māyā and find Release for their souls' (Vi. Pu.). Nor can it be said that Manu and similar Smriti have a function in so far as setting forth works (not aiming at final Release but) bringing about certain results included in transmigratory existence, whether here on earth or in a heavenly world; for the essential character of those works also is to please the highest Person. As is said in the Bhagavad Gītā (IX, 23, 24); 'Even they who devoted to other gods worship them with faith, worship me, against ordinance. For I am the enjoyer and the Lord of all sacrifices; but they know me not in truth and hence they fall,' and 'Thou art ever worshipped by me with sacrifices; thou alone, bearing the form of Pitris and of gods, enjoyest all the offerings made to either.' Nor finally can we admit the contention that it is rational to interpret the Vedānta-texts in accordance with Kapila's Smriti because Kapila, in the Śvetāśvatara text, is referred to as a competent person. For from this it would follow that, as Brihaspati is, in Śruti and Smriti, mentioned as a pattern of consummate wisdom, Scripture should be interpreted in agreement with the openly materialistic and atheistic Smriti composed by that authority. But, it may here be said, the Vedānta-texts should after all be interpreted in agreement with Kapila's Smriti, for the reason that Kapila had through the power of his concentrated meditation (yoga) arrived at an insight into truth.--To this objection the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 2,1.2

इतरेषां चानुपलब्धेः ॥ २ ॥

itareṣāṃ cānupalabdheḥ || 2 ||

itareṣāṃ—Of the others; ca—and; anupalabdheḥ—there being no mention.

2. And there being no mention (in the scriptures) of the other entities, (i.e. the categories beside the Pradhāna), (the Sānkhya system cannot be authoritative).

The 'and' in the Sūtra has the force of 'but,' being meant to dispel the doubt raised. There are many other authors of Smriti, such as Manu, who through the power of their meditation had attained insight into the highest truth, and of whom it is known from Scripture that the purport of their teaching was a salutary medicine to the whole world ('whatever Manu said that was medicine'). Now, as these Rishis did not see truth in the way of Kapila, we conclude that Kapila's view, which contradicts Scripture, is founded on error, and cannot therefore be used to modify the sense of the Vedānta-texts.--Here finishes the Adhikaraṇa treating of 'Smriti.'