II-1 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 9

Topic 9 - Brahman though without parts is yet the material cause of the world

Sutra 2,1.26

कृत्स्नप्रसक्तिर्निरवयवत्वशब्दकोपोवा ॥ २६ ॥

kṛtsnaprasaktirniravayavatvaśabdakopovā || 26 ||

kṛtsna-prasaktiḥ—Possibility of the entire (Brahman being modified); niravayavatvaśabda-kopaḥ—violation of the scriptural statement that Brahman is without parts; —or.

26. (Brahman’s being the cause of the world involves) either the possibility of the entire (Brahman being modified) or the violation of the scriptural statement that Brahman is without parts.

'Being only was this in the beginning'; 'This indeed was in the beginning not anything'; 'The Self alone indeed was this in the beginning'--these and other texts state that in the beginning Brahman was one only, i.e. without parts--that means: Brahman, in its causal state, was without parts because then all distinction of matter and souls had disappeared. This one, non-divided, Brahman thereupon having formed the resolution of being many divided itself into the aggregate of material things--ether, air, and so on--and the aggregate of souls from Brahmā down to blades of grass. This being so, it must be held that the entire highest Brahman entered into the effected state; that its intelligent part divided itself into the individual souls, and its non-intelligent part into ether, air, and so on. This however stultifies all those often-quoted texts which declare Brahman in its causal state to be devoid of parts. For although the cause is constituted by Brahman in so far as having for its body matter and souls in their subtle state, and the effect by Brahman invested with matter and souls in their gross state; the difficulty stated above cannot be avoided, since also that element in Brahman which is embodied is held to enter into the effect. If, on the other hand, Brahman is without parts, it cannot become many, and it is not possible that there should persist a part not entering into the effected state. On the ground of these unacceptable results we conclude that Brahman cannot be the cause.--This objection the next Sūtra disposes of.

Sutra 2,1.27

श्रुतेस्तु, शब्दमूलत्वात् ॥ २७ ॥

śrutestu, śabdamūlatvāt || 27 ||

śruteḥ—On account of scriptural texts; tu—but; śabdamūlatvāt—on account of being based on the scripture.

27. But (it cannot be like that) on account of scriptural texts (supporting both the apparently contradictory views) and on account of (Brahman) being based on the scripture only.

The 'but' sets aside the difficulty raised. There is no inappropriateness; 'on account of Scripture.' Scripture declares on the one hand that Brahman is not made up of parts, and on the other that from it a multiform creation proceeds. And in matters vouched for by Scripture we must conform our ideas to what Scripture actually says.--But then Scripture might be capable of conveying to us ideas of things altogether self-contradictory; like as if somebody were to tell us 'Water with fire'!--The Sūtra therefore adds 'on account of its being founded on the word.' As the possession, on Brahman's part, of various powers (enabling it to emit the world) rests exclusively on the authority of the word of the Veda and thus differs altogether from other matters (which fall within the sphere of the other means of knowledge also), the admission of such powers is not contrary to reason. Brahman cannot be either proved or disproved by means of generalisations from experience.

Sutra 2,1.28

आत्मनि चैवं विचित्राश्च हि ॥ २८ ॥

ātmani caivaṃ vicitrāśca hi || 28 ||

ātmani—In the individual soul; ca—and; evaṃ—thus; vicitrāḥ—diverse; ca—also; hi—because.

28. And because in the individual soul also (as in the case of magicians etc.) diverse (creation exists). Similarly (with Brahman).

If attributes belonging to one thing were on that account to be ascribed to other things also, it would follow that attributes observed in non-sentient things, such as jars and the like, belong also to the intelligent eternal Self, which is of an altogether different kind. But that such attributes do not extend to the Self is due to the variety of the essential nature of things. This the Sūtra expresses in 'for (there are) manifold (powers).' We perceive that fire, water, and so on, which are of different kind, possess different powers, viz. heat, and so on: there is therefore nothing unreasonable in the view that the highest Brahman which differs in kind from all things observed in ordinary life should possess innumerous powers not perceived in ordinary things. Thus Parāsara also--in reply to a question founded on ordinary observation--viz. 'How can creative energy be attributed to Brahman, devoid of qualities, pure, etc.?'-- declares 'Numberless powers, lying beyond the sphere of all ordinary thought, belong to Brahman, and qualify it for creation, and so on; just as heat belongs to fire.' Similarly, Scripture says, 'what was that wood, what was that tree from which they built heaven and earth?' etc. (Ri. Samh. X, 81); and 'Brahman was that wood, Brahman was that tree', and so on.--Objections founded on ordinary generalisations have no force against Brahman which differs in nature from all other things.

Sutra 2,1.29

स्वपक्षदोषाच्च ॥ २९ ॥

svapakṣadoṣācca || 29 ||

svapakṣa-doṣāt—On account of the opponent’s view being subject to these very objections; ca—and.

29. And on account of the opponent’s own view being subject to these very objections.

On his view, i.e. on the view of him who holds the theory of the Pradhāna or something similar, the imperfections observed in ordinary things would attach themselves to the Pradhāna also, since it does not differ in nature from those things. The legitimate conclusion therefore is that Brahman only which differs in nature from all other things can be held to be the general cause.

The Pradhāna, moreover, is without parts; how then is it possible that it should give rise to a manifold world, comprising the 'great principle,' and so on?--But there are parts of the Pradhāna, viz. Goodness, Passion, and Darkness!--This we reply necessitates the following distinction. Does the aggregate of Goodness, Passion, and Darkness constitute the Pradhāna? or is the Pradhāna the effect of those three? The latter alternative is in conflict with your own doctrine according to which the Pradhāna is cause only. It moreover contradicts the number of tattvas (viz. 24) admitted by you; and as those three gunas also have no parts one does not see how they can produce an effect. On the former alternative, the gunas not being composed of parts must be held to aggregate or join themselves without any reference to difference of space, and from such conjunction the production of gross effects cannot result.--The same objection applies to the doctrine of atoms being the general cause. For atoms, being without parts and spatial distinction of parts, can join only without any reference to such spatial distinction, and hence do not possess the power of originating effects.