II-2 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 2

Topic 2 - Refutation of the objection from the Vaiśeṣika standpoint against Brahman being the First Cause

Sutra 2,2.11

महद्दीर्घवद्वा ह्रस्वपरिमण्डलाभ्याम् ॥ ११ ॥

mahaddīrghavadvā hrasvaparimaṇḍalābhyām || 11 ||

mahat-dīrgha-vat—Even as the great and logn; va—or; hrasvaparimaṇḍalābhyām—from the short and the infinitesimal.

11. (The world may originate from Brahman) even as the great and long (triad etc.) originate from the short (and the minute dyad) or (this kind of dyad) from the infinitesimal (atom).

We have shown that the theory of the Pradhāna being the universal cause is untenable, since it rests on fallacious arguments, and suffers from inner contradictions. We shall now prove that the view of atoms constituting the universal cause is untenable likewise. 'Or in the same way as the big and long from the short and the atomic' 'Is untenable' must be supplied from the preceding Sūtra; 'or' has to be taken in the sense of 'and.' The sense of the Sūtra is--in the same way as the big and long, i.e. as the theory of ternary compounds originating from the short and the atomic, i.e. from binary compounds and simple atoms is untenable, so everything else which they (the Vaiśeṣikās) maintain is untenable; or, in other words--as the theory of the world originating from atoms through binary compounds is untenable, so everything else is likewise untenable.--Things consisting of parts, as e.g. a piece of cloth, are produced by their parts, e.g. threads, being joined by means of the six sides which are parts of those parts. Analogously the atoms also must be held to originate binary compounds in the way of combining by means of their six sides; for if the atoms possessed no distinction of parts (and hence filled no space), a group of even a thousand atoms would not differ in extension from a single atom, and the different kinds of extension-- minuteness, shortness, bigness, length, etc.--would never emerge. If, on the other hand, it is admitted that the atoms also have distinct sides, they have parts and are made up of those parts, and those parts again are made up of their parts, and so on in infinitum.--But, the Vaiśeṣikā may object, the difference between a mustard seed and a mountain is due to the paucity of the constituent parts on the one hand, and their multitude on the other. If, now, it be held that the atom itself contains an infinity of parts, the mustard seed and the mountain alike will contain an infinity of parts, and thus their inequality cannot be accounted for. We must therefore assume that there is a limit of subdivision (i.e. that there are real atoms which do not themselves consist of parts).--Not so, we reply. If the atoms did not possess distinct parts, there could originate no extension greater than the extension of one atom (as already shown), and thus neither mustard seed nor mountain would ever be brought about.--But what, then, are we to do to get out of this dilemma?--You have only to accept the Vedic doctrine of the origination of the world.

Others explain the above Sūtra as meant to refute an objection against the doctrine of Brahman being the general cause. But this does not suit the arrangement of the Sūtras, and would imply a meaningless iteration. The objections raised by some against the doctrine of Brahman have been disposed of in the preceding pāda, and the present pāda is devoted to the refutation of other theories. And that the world admits of being viewed as springing from an intelligent principle such as Brahman was shown at length under II, 1, 4. The sense of the Sūtra, therefore, is none other than what we stated above.--But what are those other untenable views to which the Sūtra refers?--To this question the next Sūtra replies.