II-3 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 1


Topic 1 - Ether is not eternal but created

Sutra 2,3.1

न वियत्, अश्रुतेः ॥ १ ॥

na viyat, aśruteḥ || 1 ||

na—Not; viyat—Ākāśa; aśruteḥ—(as it is) not so stated by the Śruti.

1. Ākāśa (is) not (created), (as it is) not so stated by the Śruti.

We have demonstrated that the Sānkhya-system and other systems standing outside the Veda are untenable since they rest on fallacious reasoning and are self-contradictory.

In order to prove that our own view is altogether free from all objections of this kind, we shall now explain in detail the mode in which this world, with all its sentient and non-sentient beings, is produced by Brahman, whom we hold to be the general creator.

The first doubt here presenting itself is whether Ether be something produced or not.--The Pūrvapakshin maintains that it is not produced, since there is no scriptural statement to that effect. A scriptural statement may be expected with regard to what is possible; but what is impossible--as e.g. the origination of a sky-flower or of Ether--cannot possibly be taught by Scripture. For the origination of Ether, which is not made up of parts and is all pervasive, cannot be imagined in any way. For this very reason, i.e. the impossibility of the thing, the Chāṇḍogya, in its account of creation, mentions the origination of fire, water, &c. only (but not of Ether)--'It thought, may I 'be many, may I grow forth,' 'It sent forth fire,' and so on. When therefore the Taittirīya, the Atharvana, and other texts tell us that Ether did originate--'From that Self sprang Ether' (Taitt. Up. II, 1); 'From him is born breath, mind, and all organs of sense, Ether, air, light, water,' &c. (Mu. Up. II, 1, 4)--such statements are contrary to sense, and hence refute themselves.--To this the Sūtra replies.

Sutra 2,3.2

अस्ति तु ॥ २ ॥

asti tu || 2 ||

asti—There is; tu—but.

2. But there is (a Śruti text which states that Ākāśa is created).

But there is origination of Ether. For Scripture, which is concerned with matters transcending sense perception, is able to establish the truth even of the origination of Ether, although this be not proved by other means of knowledge. And in a matter known from Scripture a contradictory inference, such as that Ether cannot originate because it is without parts, is not of sufficient force. That the non-originatedness of the Self also does not rest on its being without parts will be shown further on.--Here the Pūrvapakshin raises an objection.

Sutra 2,3.3

गौणी, असंभवात् ॥ ३ ॥

gauṇī, asaṃbhavāt || 3 ||

gauṇī—Used in a secondary sense; asaṃbhavāt—on account of the impossibility.

3. (The Śruti text dealing with the origin of Ākāśa) is to be taken in a secondary sense, on account of the impossibility (of Ākāśa being created).

Sutra 2,3.4

शब्दाच्च ॥ ४ ॥

śabdācca || 4 ||

śabdāt—From the Śruti texts; ca—also.

4. Also from the Śruti texts (we find that Ākāśa is eternal).

It is reasonable to assume that in passages such as 'From that Self there sprang Ether.' the origination of Ether is not to be taken in its literal sense; for according to the Chāṇḍogya-text 'it sent forth fire.' Brahman engaged in creation first produces fire, and fire thus having the first place, the text cannot possibly mean to say that Ether also was produced. Moreover, there is another text, viz.'Vāyu and antariksha (i.e. Ether), this is the Immortal,' according to which Ether is immortal, i. e. non-produced.-- But how can one and the same word viz. it 'sprang' (i.e. originated), be taken in a metaphorical sense with reference to Ether, and in its literal sense with reference to fire, and so on?--To this the next Sūtra replies.

 Sutra 2,3.5

स्याच्चैकस्य ब्रह्मशब्दवत् ॥ ५ ॥

syāccaikasya brahmaśabdavat || 5 ||

syāt—Is possible; ca—and; ekasya—of the same (word ‘sprang’); brahmaśabdavat—like the word ‘Brahman’.

5. It is possible that the same word (‘sprang’ be used in a primary) and (secondary sense) like the word ‘Brahman’.

Since in the clause 'from that Self there sprang Brahman,' the word 'sprang' cannot be taken in its literal sense, it may be used there in a secondary sense; while the same word as connected with the subsequent clauses 'from Vāyu Agni,' &c., may have its primary sense. This would be analogous to the use of the word Brahman in Mu. Up. I, 1. There in the clause 'From him is born that Brahman, name, form, and matter' (9). the word Brahman is used in a secondary sense, i.e. denotes the Pradhāna; while in the same chapter, in the clause 'Brahman swells by means of brooding' (8), the same word denotes Brahman in its primary sense. It is true indeed that in this latter case the. word 'Brahman' occurs twice; while in the Taitt. text the word 'sambhūta' occurs once only, and has to be carried over from the first clause into the subsequent ones; but this makes no difference, for, in the case of such carrying over of a word, no less than in the case of actual repetition, the general denotation of the word is repeated.--The next Sūtra refutes this objection.

 Sutra 2,3.6

प्रतिज्ञाहानिरव्यतिरेकाच्छब्देभ्यः ॥ ६ ॥

pratijñāhāniravyatirekācchabdebhyaḥ || 6 ||

pratijñā-ahāniḥ—Non-abandonment of proposition; avyatirekāt—from non-distinction; śabdebhyaḥ—from the Śrutis.

6. The non-abandonment of the proposition (i.e. by the knowledge of one everything else becomes known, can result only) from the non-distinction (of the entire world from Brahman). From the Śruti texts (which declare the non-difference of the cause and its effects, this proposition is established).

It is not appropriate to assume, from deference to the Chāṇḍogya-text, a secondary meaning for those other texts also which declare Ether to have originated. For the Chāṇḍogya itself virtually admits the origination of Ether; in so far, namely, as the clause 'that by which the non-heard is heard,' &c., declares that through the knowledge of Brahman everything is known. This declaration is not abandoned, i.e. is adhered to, only if the Ether also is an effect of Brahman and thus non-different from it.

 (As follows also) from (other) texts.

That Ether is an originated thing follows from other clauses also in the Chāṇḍogya: 'Being only this was in the beginning, one without a second' affirms the oneness of everything before creation, and 'In that all this has its Self implies that everything is an effect of, and hence non-different from, Brahman.--Nor does the statement as to the creation of fire, 'it sent forth fire,' exclude the creation of Ether. For the first place which there is assigned to fire rests only thereon that no mention is made of the creation of Ether, and this has no force to negative the creation of Ether as positively stated in other texts.

Sutra 2,3.7

यावद्विकारं तु विभागो लोकवत् ॥ ७ ॥

yāvadvikāraṃ tu vibhāgo lokavat || 7 ||

yāvat-vikāraṃ—Extending to all effects whatsoever; tu—but; vibhāgaḥ—separateness; lokavat—as in the world.

7. But in all effects whatsoever (there is) separateness, as (is seen) in the world.

The 'but' has the sense of 'and.' As the clause 'In that all this has its Self' and similar ones directly state that Ether also is a creation of Brahman, the division, i.e. the origination of Ether from Brahman, is implicitly declared thereby. As in ordinary life. When in ordinary life somebody has said 'all these men are the sons of Devadatta,' it is known that any particulars which may afterwards be given about the descent of some of them are meant to apply to all.--In accordance with this our conclusion we interpret the text 'Air and Ether, this is the Immortal,' as asserting only that air and Ether continue to exist for a long time, as the Devas do.