II-1 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 5

Topic 5 - The distinctions like enjoyer and enjoyed do not contradict the truth which is oneness

Sutra 2,1.13

भोक्त्रापत्तेरविभागश्चेत्, स्याल्लोकवत् ॥ १३ ॥

bhoktrāpatteravibhāgaścet, syāllokavat || 13 ||

bhoktrāpatteḥ—On account of turning into the enjoyer; avibhāgaḥ—non-distinction; cet—if it be said; syāt—may exist; lokavat—as is experienced in the world.

13. If it be said (that if Brahman be the cause then) on account of (the objects of enjoyment) turning into the enjoyer, non-distinction (between enjoyer and things enjoyed would result), (we say, such distinction) may exist (all the same), as is experienced commonly in the world.

The Sānkhya here comes forward with a new objection. You maintain, he says, that the highest Brahman has the character either of a cause or an effect according as it has for its body sentient and non-sentient beings in either their subtle or gross state; and that this explains the difference in nature between the individual soul and Brahman. But such difference is not possible, since Brahman, if embodied, at once becomes an enjoying subject (just like the individual soul). For if, possessing a body, the Lord necessarily experiences all pain and pleasure due to embodiment, no less than the individual soul does.--But we have, under I, 2, 8, refuted the view of the Lord's being liable to experiences of pleasure and pain!--By no means! There you have shown only that the Lord's abiding within the heart of a creature so as to constitute the object of its devotion does not imply fruition on his part of pleasure and pain. Now, however, you maintain that the Lord is embodied just like an individual soul, and the unavoidable inference from this is that, like that soul, he undergoes pleasurable and painful experiences. For we observe that embodied souls, although not capable of participating in the changing states of the body such as childhood, old age, etc., yet experience pleasures and pains caused by the normal or abnormal condition of the matter constituting the body. In agreement with this Scripture says, 'As long as he possesses a body there is for him no escape from pleasure and pain; but when he is free of the body then neither pleasure nor pain touches him' (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, 1). As thus, the theory of an embodied Brahman constituting the universal cause does not allow of a distinction in nature between the Lord and the individual soul; and as, further, the theory of a mere Brahman (i.e. an absolutely homogeneous Brahman) leads to the conclusion that Brahman is the abode of all the imperfections attaching to the world, in the same way as a lump of clay or gold participates in the imperfections of the thing fashioned out of it; we maintain that the theory of the Pradhāna being the general cause is the more valid one.

To this objection the Sūtra replies in the words, 'it may be, as in ordinary life.' The desired distinction in nature between the Lord and the individual soul may exist all the same. That a soul experiences pleasures and pains caused by the various states of the body is not due to the fact of its being joined to a body, but to its karman in the form of good and evil deeds. The scriptural text also which you quote refers to that body only which is originated by karman; for other texts ('He is one-fold, he is threefold'; 'If he desires the world of the Fathers'; 'He moves about there eating, playing, rejoicing'; Kh. Up. VII, 26, 2; VIII, 2, 1; 12, 3) show that the person who has freed himself from the bondage of karman and become manifest in his true nature is not touched by a shadow of evil while all the same he has a body. The highest Self, which is essentially free from all evil, thus has the entire world in its gross and its subtle form for its body; but being in no way connected with karman it is all the less connected with evil of any kind.--'As in ordinary life.' We observe in ordinary life that while those who either observe or transgress the ordinances of a ruler experience pleasure or pain according as the ruler shows them favour or restrains them, it does not follow from the mere fact of the ruler's having a body that he himself also experiences the pleasure and pain due to the observance or transgression of his commands. The author of the Dramida-bhāṣya gives expression to the same view, 'As in ordinary life a prince, although staying in a very unpleasant place infested with mosquitoes and full of discomforts of all kind is yet not touched by all these troubles, his body being constantly refreshed by fans and other means of comfort, rules the countries for which he cares and continues to enjoy all possible pleasures, such as fragrant odours and the like; so the Lord of creation, to whom his power serves as an ever-moving fan as it were, is not touched by the evils of that creation, but rules the world of Brahman and the other worlds for which he cares, and continues to enjoy all possible delights.' That the nature of Brahman should undergo changes like a lump of clay or gold we do not admit, since many texts declare Brahman to be free from all change and imperfection.--Others give a different explanation of this Sūtra. According to them it refutes the pūrva-pakṣa that on the view of Brahman being the general cause the distinction of enjoying subjects and objects of enjoyment cannot be accounted for--proving the possibility of such distinction by means of the analogous instance of the sea and its waves and flakes of foam. But this interpretation is inappropriate, since for those who hold that creation proceeds from Brahman connected with some power or Nescience or a limiting adjunct (upādhi) no such prima facie view can arise. For on their theory the enjoying subject is that which is conditioned by the power or Nescience or upādhi inhering in the causal substance, and the power or Nescience or upādhi is the object of enjoyment; and as the two are of different nature, they cannot pass over into each other. The view of Brahman itself undergoing an essential change (on which that prima facie view might possibly be held to arise) is not admitted by those philosophers; for Sūtra II, 1, 35 teaches that the individual souls and their deeds form a stream which has no beginning (so that the distinction of enjoying subjects and objects of enjoyment is eternal). But even if it be held that Brahman itself undergoes a change, the doubt as to the non-distinction of subjects and objects of enjoyment does not arise; for the distinction of the two groups will, on that view, be analogous to that of jars and platters which are modifications of the one substance clay, or to that of bracelets and crowns fashioned out of the one substance gold. And on the view of Brahman itself undergoing a change there arises a further difficulty, viz. in so far as Brahman (which is nothing but pure non-conditioned intelligence) is held to transform itself into (limited) enjoying souls and (non-sentient) objects of enjoyment.