II-2 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 8

Topic 8 - Refutation of the Bhāgavata or the Pāñcharātra school

Sutra 2,2.42

उत्पत्त्यसंभवात् ॥ ४२ ॥

utpattyasaṃbhavāt || 42 ||

utpatti-asaṃbhavāt—Owing to the impossibility of origination.

42. The origination (of the individual soul from the Lord) being impossible (the Pāñcharātra doctrine is untenable).

The Sūtras now proceed to refute a further doubt, viz. that the Pañcarātra tantra--which sets forth the means of attaining supreme beatitude, as declared by the Lord (Bhāgavat)--may also be destitute of authority, in so far, namely, as belonging to the same class as the tantras of Kapila and others. The above Sūtra raises the doubt.

The theory of the Bhāgavatas is that from Vāsudeva, who is the highest Brahman and the highest cause, there originates the individual soul called Sankarṣaṇa; from Sankarṣaṇa the internal organ called Pradyumna; and from Pradyumna the principle of egoity called Aniruddha. Now this theory implies the origination of the individual soul, and this is contrary to Scripture. For scriptural texts declare the soul to be without a beginning--cp. 'the intelligent one is not born and does not die' (Ka. Up. II, 18), and other texts.

Sutra 2,2.43

न च कर्तुः करणम् ॥ ४३ ॥

na ca kartuḥ karaṇam || 43 ||

na ca—Nor; kartuḥ— from the agent; karaṇam—the instrument.

43. Nor (is it seen that) the instrument (is produced) from the agent.

'The internal organ called Pradyumna originates from Sankarṣaṇa,' i. e. the internal organ originates from the individual soul which is the agent. But this is inadmissible, since the text 'from him there is produced breath, mind, and all sense-organs' (Mu. Up. II, 1, 3) declares that the mind also springs from none else but the highest Brahman. As the Bhāgavata doctrine thus teaches things opposed to Scripture, its authoritativeness cannot be admitted.--Against these objections the next Sūtra declares itself.

 Sutra 2,2.44

विज्ञानादिभावे वा तदप्रतिषेधः ॥ ४४ ॥

vijñānādibhāve vā tadapratiṣedhaḥ || 44 ||

vijñānādibhāve—If intelligence etc. exist; —or; tat-apratiṣedhaḥ—no warding off of that.

44. Or if the (four Vyūhas are said to) possess intelligence etc., yet there is no warding off of that (i.e. the objection raised in Sutra 42).

The 'or' sets aside the view previously maintained. By 'that which is knowledge and so on' we have to understand the highest Brahman.

If Sankarṣaṇa, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha are of the nature of the highest Brahman, then truly there can be no objection to a body of doctrine which sets forth this relation. The criticism that the Bhāgavatas teach an inadmissible origination of the individual soul, is made by people who do not understand that system. What it teaches is that the highest Brahman, there called Vāsudeva, from kindness to those devoted to it, voluntarily abides in a fourfold form, so as to render itself accessible to its devotees. Thus it is said in the Paushkara-samhitā, 'That which enjoins that Brāhmaṇas have to worship, under its proper names, the fourfold nature of the Self; that is the authoritative doctrine.' That this worship of that which is of a fourfold nature means worship of the highest Brahman, called Vāsudeva, is declared in the Sātvata-samhitā, 'This is the supreme śāstra, the great Brahmopanishad, which imparts true discrimination to Brāhmaṇas worshipping the real Brahman under the name of Vāsudeva.' That highest Brahman, called Vāsudeva, having for its body the complete aggregate of the six qualities, divides itself in so far as it is either the 'Subtle' (sūkṣma), or 'division' (vyūha), or 'manifestation' (vibhava), and is attained in its fullness by the devotees who, according to their qualifications, do worship to it by means of works guided by knowledge. 'From the worship of the vibhava-aspect one attains to the vyūha, and from the worship of the vyūha one attains to the "Subtile" called Vāsudeva, i.e. the highest Brahman'--such is their doctrine. By the 'vibhava' we have to understand the aggregate of beings, such as Rama, Krishna, etc., in whom the highest Being becomes manifest; by the 'vyūha' the fourfold arrangement or division of the highest Reality, as Vāsudeva, Sankarṣaṇa, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha; by the 'Subtle' the highest Brahman itself, in so far as it has for its body the mere aggregate of the six qualities--as which it is called 'Vāsudeva.' Compare on this point the Paushkara, 'That body of doctrine through which, by means of works based on knowledge, one fully attains to the imperishable highest Brahman, called Vāsudeva,' and so on, Sankarṣaṇa, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha are thus mere bodily forms which the highest Brahman voluntarily assumes. Scripture already declares, 'Not born he is born in many ways,' and it is this birth--consisting in the voluntary assumption of bodily form, due to tenderness towards its devotees--which the Bhāgavata system teaches; hence there lies no valid objection to the authoritativeness of that system. And as Sankarṣaṇa, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha are the beings ruling over the individual souls, internal organs and organs of egoity, there can be no objection to their being themselves denoted by those latter terms, viz. individual soul, and so on. The case is analogous to that of Brahman being designated, in some texts, by terms such as ether, breath, and the like.

Sutra 2,2.45

विप्रतिषेधाच्च ॥ ४५ ॥

vipratiṣedhācca || 45 ||

vipratiṣedhāt—Because of contradictions; ca—and;

45. And because of contradictions (the Bhāgavata view is untenable).

The origination of the Jīva is, moreover, distinctly controverted in the books of the Bhāgavatas also. Thus in the Parama-samhitā 'The nature of Prakriti consists therein that she is non-sentient, for the sake of another, eternal, ever-changing, comprising within herself the three guṇas. and constituting the sphere of action and experience for all agents. With her the soul (Purusha) is connected in the way of inseparable association; that soul is known to be truly without beginning and without end.' And as all Saṁhitās make similar statements as to the eternity of the soul, the Pañcarātra doctrine manifestly controverts the view of the essential nature of the Jīva being something that originates. How it is possible that in the Veda as well as in common life the soul is spoken of as being born, dying, etc., will be explained under Sū. II, 3, 17. The conclusion, therefore, is that the Bhāgavata system also denies the origination of the soul, and that hence the objections raised on this ground against its authoritativeness are without any force. Another objection is raised by some. Śāṇḍilya, they argue, is said to have promulgated the Pañcarātra doctrine because he did not find a sure basis for the highest welfare of man in the Veda and its auxiliary disciplines, and this implies that the Pañcarātra is opposed to the Veda.--his objection, we reply, springs from nothing else but the mere unreasoning faith of men who do not possess the faintest knowledge of the teachings of the Veda, and have never considered the hosts of arguments which confirm that teaching. When the Veda says, 'Morning after morning those speak untruth who make the Agnihotra offering before sunrise,' it is understood that the censure there passed on the offering before sunrise is really meant to glorify the offering after sunrise. We meet with a similar case in the 'bhūmā-vidyā' (Kh. Up. VII, 2). There at the beginning Nārada says, 'I know the Ṛig-veda, the Yajur-veda, the Sāma-veda, the Atharvana as the fourth, the Itihāsa-Purāṇa as the fifth,' and so on, enumerating all the various branches of knowledge, and finally summing up 'with all this I know the mantras only, I do not know the Self.' Now this declaration of the knowledge of the Self not being attainable through any branch of knowledge except the knowledge of the Bhūman evidently has no other purpose but to glorify this latter knowledge, which is about to be expounded. Or else Nārada's words refer to the fact that from the Veda and its auxiliary disciplines he had not obtained the knowledge of the highest Reality. Analogous to this is the case of Śāṇḍilya’s alleged objection to the Veda. That the Bhāgavata doctrine is meant to facilitate the understanding of the sense of the Veda which by itself is difficult of comprehension, is declared in the Parama Samhitā, ‘I have read the Vedas at length, together with all the various auxiliary branches of knowledge. But in all these I cannot see a clear indication, raised above all doubt, of the way to blessedness, whereby I might reach perfection'; and 'The wise Lord Hari, animated by kindness for those devoted to him, extracted the essential meaning of all the Vedānta-texts and condensed it in an easy form.' The incontrovertible fact then is as follows. The Lord who is known from the Vedānta-texts, i.e. Vāsudeva, called there the highest Brahman--who is antagonistic to all evil, whose nature is of uniform excellence, who is an ocean, as it were, of unlimited exalted qualities, such as infinite intelligence, bliss, and so on, all whose purposes come true--perceiving that those devoted to him, according as they are differently placed in the four castes and the four stages of life, are intent on the different ends of life, viz. religious observances, wealth, pleasure, and final release; and recognising that the Vedas--which teach the truth about his own nature, his glorious manifestations, the means of rendering him propitious and the fruits of such endeavour--are difficult to fathom by all beings other than himself, whether gods or men, since those Vedas are divided into Rik, Yajus, Sāman, and Atharvan; and being animated by infinite pity, tenderness, and magnanimity; with a view to enable his devotees to grasp the true meaning of the Vedas, himself composed the Pañcarātra-śāstra. The author of the Sūtras (Vyāsa)--who first composed the Sūtras, the purport of which it is to set forth the arguments establishing the Vedānta doctrine, and then the Bhārata- samhitā (i.e. the Mahābhārata) in a hundred thousand ślokas in order to support thereby the teaching of the Veda--himself says in the chapter called Mokshadharma, which treats of knowledge, 'If a householder, or a Brahmachārin, or a hermit, or a mendicant wishes to achieve success, what deity should he worship?' and so on; explains then at great length the Pañcarātra system, and then says, 'From the lengthy Bhārata story, comprising one hundred thousand ślokas, this body of doctrine has been extracted, with the churning-staff of mind, as butter is churned from curds--as butter from milk, as the Brāhmaṇa from men, as the Āraṇyaka from the Vedas, as Amrita from medicinal herbs.--This great Upanishad, consistent with the four Vedas, in harmony with Sānkhya and Yoga, was called by him by the name of Pañcarātra. This is excellent, this is Brahman, this is supremely beneficial. Fully agreeing with the Rik, the Yajus, the Sāman, and the Atharvāṅgirasa, this doctrine will be truly authoritative.' The terms Sānkhya and Yoga here denote the concentrated application of knowledge and of works. As has been said, 'By the application of knowledge on the part of the Sānkhya, and of works on the part of the Yogins.' And in the Bhīshma parvan we read, 'By Brāhmaṇas, Kshattriyas, Vaiṣyas and Śūdras, Mādhava is to be honoured, served and worshipped--he who was proclaimed by Sankarṣaṇa in agreement with the Sātvata law.'--How then could these utterances of Bādarāyaṇa, the foremost among all those who understand the teaching of the Veda, be reconciled with the view that in the Sūtras he maintains the non-authoritativeness of the Sātvata doctrine, the purport of which is to teach the worship of, and meditation on, Vāsudeva, who is none other than the highest Brahman known from the Vedānta-texts?

But other passages in the Mahābhārata, such as 'There is the Sānkhya, the Yoga, the Pañcarātra, the Vedas, and the Pāśupata doctrine; do all these rest on one and the same basis, or on different ones?' and so on, declare that the Sānkhya and other doctrines also are worthy of regard, while yet in the Śarīraka Sūtras those very same doctrines are formally refuted. Why, therefore, should not the same hold good in the case of the Bhāgavata doctrine?--Not so, we reply. In the Mahābhārata also Bādarāyaṇa applies to the Sānkhya and other doctrines the same style of reasoning as in the Sūtras. The question, asked in the passage quoted, means 'Do the Sānkhya, the Yoga, the Pāśupata, and the Pañkarātra set forth one and the same reality, or different ones? If the former, what is that reality? If the latter, they convey contradictory doctrines, and, as reality is not something which may be optionally assumed to be either such or such, one of those doctrines only can be acknowledged as authoritative, and the question then arises which is to be so acknowledged?'--The answer to the question is given in the passage beginning, 'Know, O royal Sage, all those different views. The promulgator of the Sānkhya is Kapila,' etc. Here the human origin of the Sānkhya, Yoga, and Pāśupata is established on the ground of their having been produced by Kapila, Hiraṇyagarbha, and Paśupati. Next the clause 'Aparāntatamas is said to be the teacher of the Vedas' intimates the non-human character of the Vedas; and finally the clause 'Of the whole Pañcarātra, Nārāyaṇa himself is the promulgator' declares that Nārāyaṇa himself revealed the Pañcarātra doctrine. The connected purport of these different clauses is as follows. As the systems of human origin set forth doctrines mutually contradictory, and, moreover, teach what is in conflict with the matter known from the Veda--which, on account of its non-human character, is raised above all suspicion of error and other imperfections--they cannot be accepted as authoritative with regard to anything not depending on human action and choice. Now the matter to be known from the Veda is Nārāyaṇa, who is none other than the highest Brahman. It hence follows that the entities set forth in those different systems--the pradhāna, the soul (Purusha), Paśupati, and so on--have to be viewed as real only in so far as Nārāyaṇa, i.e. the highest Brahman, as known from the Vedānta-texts, constitutes their Self. This the text directly declares in the passage, 'In all those doctrines it is seen, in accordance with tradition and reasoning, that the lord Nārāyaṇa is the only basis.' This means--'To him who considers the entities set forth in those systems with the help of argumentation, it is evident that Nārāyaṇa alone is the basis of all those entities.' In other words, as the entities set forth in those systems are not Brahman, anyone who remembers the teaching of texts such as 'all this indeed is Brahman,' 'Nārāyaṇa is all,' which declare Brahman to be the Self of all, comes to the conclusion that Nārāyaṇa alone is the basis of those entities. As thus it is settled that the highest Brahman, as known from the Vedānta-texts, or Nārāyaṇa, himself is the promulgator of the entire Pañcarātra, and that this system teaches the nature of Nārāyaṇa and the proper way of worshipping him, none can disestablish the view that in the Pañcarātra all the other doctrines are comprised. For this reason the Mahābhārata says, 'Thus the Sānkhya-yoga and the Veda and the Āraṇyaka, being members of one another, are called the Pañcarātra,' i.e. the Sānkhya, the Yoga, the Vedas, and the Āraṇyakas, which are members of one another because they are one in so far as aiming at setting forth one Truth, together are called the Pañcarātra.--The Sānkhya explains the twenty-five principles, the Yoga teaches certain practices and means of mental concentration, and the Āraṇyakas teach that all the subordinate principles have their true Self in Brahman, that the mental concentration enjoined in the Yoga is a mode of meditation on Brahman, and that the rites and works which are set forth in the Veda are means to win the favour of Brahman--thus giving instruction as to Brahman's nature. Now all these elements, in their inward connexion, are clearly set forth in the Pañcarātra by the highest Brahman, i.e. Nārāyaṇa, himself.

The Śarīraka Śāstra (i.e. the Vedānta) does not disprove the principles assumed by the Sānkhyas, but merely the view of their not having Brahman for their Self; and similarly in its criticism on the Yoga and Pāśupata systems, it merely refutes the view of the Lord being a mere instrumental cause, the erroneous assumptions as to the relative position of higher and lower entities, and certain practices not warranted by the Veda; but it does not reject the Yoga itself, nor again the lord Paśupati. Hence Smriti says,' The Sānkhya, the Yoga, the Pañcarātra, the Vedas, and the Pāśupata doctrine--all these having their proof in the Self may not be destroyed by arguments.' The essential points in all these doctrines are to be adopted, not to be rejected absolutely as the teaching of Gina. or Sugata is to be rejected. For, as said in the Smriti text quoted above, in all those doctrines it is seen, according to tradition and reasoning, that the lord Nārāyaṇa is the only basis.'--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'the impossibility of origination.'