II-3 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 12

Topic 12 - The nature of the individual soul is intelligence

Sutra 2,3.18

ज्ञोऽत एव ॥ १८ ॥

jño’ta eva || 18 ||

jñaḥ—Intelligence; ata eva—for this very reason.

18. For, this very reason (i.e. that it is not created), (the individual soul is) intelligence (itself).

It has been shown that, different therein from Ether and the rest, the soul is not produced. This leads to the consideration of the soul's essential nature. Is that essential nature constituted by mere intelligence as Sugata and Kapila hold; or is the soul as Kaṇāda thinks, essentially non-intelligent, comparable to a stone, while intelligence is merely an adventitious quality of it; or is it essentially a knowing subject?-- The soul is mere intelligence, the Pūrvapakshin maintains; for the reason that Scripture declares it to be so. For in the Antaryāmin-brāhmaṇa the clause which in the Mādhyandina-text runs as follows, 'he who abides in the Self,' is in the text of the Kānvas represented by the clause 'he who abides in knowledge.' Similarly the text 'knowledge performs the sacrifice and all sacred acts' (Taitt. Up. II, 5, I) shows that it is knowledge only which is the true nature of the active Self. And Smriti texts convey the same view, as e.g. 'it in reality is of the nature of absolutely spotless intelligence.' A second Pūrvapakshin denies the truth of this view. If, he says, we assume that the Self's essential nature consists either in mere knowledge or in its being a knowing subject, it follows that as the Self is omnipresent there must be consciousness at all places and at all times. On that doctrine we, further, could not account for the use of the instruments of cognition (i.e. the sense-organs, &c.); nor for the fact that in the states of deep sleep, swoon and so on, the Self although present is not observed to be conscious, while on the other hand consciousness is seen to arise as soon as the conditions of the waking state are realised. We therefore conclude that neither intelligence or consciousness, nor being a knowing agent, constitutes the essence of the soul, but that consciousness is a mere adventitious or occasional attribute. And the omnipresence of the Self must needs be admitted since its effects are perceived everywhere. Nor is there any valid reason for holding that the Self moves to any place; for as it is assumed to be present everywhere the actual accomplishment of effects (at certain places only) may be attributed to the moving of the body only.--Scripture also directly declares that in the state of deep sleep there is no consciousness, 'I do not indeed at the present moment know myself, so as to be able to say "that am I," nor do I know those beings.' Similarly Scripture declares the absence of consciousness in the state of final release, 'when he has departed there is no consciousness"(Bri. Up. II, 4, 12); where the Self is spoken of as having knowledge for its essential nature, the meaning only is that knowledge constitutes its specific quality, and the expression is therefore not to be urged in its literal sense.

Against all this the Sūtra declares 'for this very reason a knower.' This Self is essentially a knower, a knowing subject; not either mere knowledge or of non-sentient nature.--Why?--'For this very reason,' i.e. on account of Scripture itself. 'For this reason' refers back to the 'on account of Scripture' in the preceding Sūtra. For in the Chāṇḍogya, where the condition of the released and the non-released soul is described, the text says 'He who knows, let me smell this, he is the Self--with the mind seeing those pleasures he rejoices-the devas who are in the world of Brahman-- whose desires are true, whose purposes are true--not remembering the body into which he was born' (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, 4-5; 1, 5; 12, 3). And elsewhere 'The seer does not see death' (Kh. Up. VII, 26, 2). Similarly we read in the Vājasaneyi, in reply to the question 'Who is that Self?'--'He who is within the heart, surrounded by the Prāṇas, the person of light, consisting of knowledge' (Bri. Up. IV, 3, 7); 'By what should one know the knower?' (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 15); 'That person knows.' And 'for he is the knower, the hearer, the smeller, the taster, the perceiver, the thinker, the agent--he the person whose Self is knowledge'; and 'thus these sixteen parts of that seer' (Pra. Up. IV, 9; VI, 5). To the objection that if being a cognising subject constituted the essential nature of the Self it would follow that as the Self is omnipresent, there would be consciousness always and everywhere, the next Sūtra replies.