II-3 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 13

Topic 13 - The size of the individual soul

Sutra 2,3.19

उत्क्रान्तिगत्यागतीनाम् ॥ १९ ॥

utkrāntigatyāgatīnām || 19 ||

utkrānti-gati-āgatīnām—Passing out, going, and returning.

19. (As the Śruti texts declare the soul’s) passing out, going (to other spheres) and returning (thence), (the soul is not infinite in size).

The Self is not omnipresent, but on the contrary, of atomic size (aṇu).--How is this known?--Since Scripture says that it passes out, goes and returns. Its passing out is described in the following passage 'by that light this Self departs, either through the eye, or through the skull, or through other parts of the body' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 2). Its going in the following text 'all those who pass away out of this world go to the moon,' and its returning in the text 'from that world he comes again into this world, for action.' All this going, and so on, cannot be reconciled with the soul being present everywhere.

 Sutra 2,3.20

स्वात्मना चोत्तरयोः ॥ २० ॥

svātmanā cottarayoḥ || 20 ||

svātmanā—(Being connected) directly with their agent; ca—and; uttarayoḥ—the latter two;

20. And the latter two (the going and coming) (being connected) directly with their agent (the soul), (it is of atomic size).

The 'and' has affirming power. The 'passing out' might somehow be reconciled with a non-moving Self (such as the omnipresent Self would be) if it were taken in the sense of the Self separating from the body; but for the going and returning no analogous explanation is possible. They, therefore, must be taken as effected by the Self itself (which, then, cannot be omnipresent and non-moving).

 Sutra 2,3.21

नाणुरतच्छ्रुतेर् इति चेत्, न, इतराधिकारात् ॥ २१ ॥

nāṇuratacchruter iti cet, na, itarādhikārāt || 21 ||

na aṇuḥ—Not atomic; atat-śruteḥ—as the scriptures state it to be otherwise; iti cet—if it be said; na—not so; itarā-dhikārāt—owing to a principle other than the individual soul being the subject-matter (in these texts).

21. If it be said (that the soul is) not atomic, as the scriptures state it to be otherwise (i.e. all-pervading), (we say) not so, for (the one) other than the individual soul (i.e. Supreme Brahman) is the subject-matter (in those texts).

The passage 'He who is within the heart, surrounded by the Prāṇas, the person consisting of knowledge' (Bri. Up. IV, 3, 7) introduces as the topic of discussion the personal Self, and further on in the same chapter we read 'the unborn Self, the great one' (IV, 4, 22). The personal Self, being expressly called great, cannot, therefore, be atomic!--Not so, we reply. 'Since the other one is the topic.' In the second text quoted that Self which is other than the personal Self--i.e. the highest Self (prājña) constitutes the topic. In the beginning of the chapter, indeed, the individual Self is introduced, but later on, between the two texts quoted, the instruction begins to concern itself with the highest Self, 'he by whom there is known the Self of intelligence' (pratibuddha ātmā; IV, 4, 13). It is this latter Self which, in 22 is called great, not the individual Self.

Sutra 2,3.22

स्वशब्दोन्मानाभ्यां च ॥ २२ ॥

svaśabdonmānābhyāṃ ca || 22 ||

svaśabda-unmānābhyām—From direct statements (of the Śruti texts) and infinitesimal measure; ca—and.

22. And on account of direct statements (of the Śruti texts as to the atomic size) and infinitesimal measure (the soul is atomic).

Scripture directly applies the word 'aṇu' to the individual Self, 'By thought is to be known that atomic Self into which Breath has entered fivefold' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 9).--By the term 'unmāna' in the Sūtra we have to understand measurement by selection of comparative instances. Scripture declares the minuteness of the individual Self by reference to things which are like atoms in size, 'The individual soul is to be known as part of the hundredth part of the point of a hair divided a hundred times, and yet it is to be infinite' (Svet. Up. V, 9); 'that lower one is seen of the measure of the point of a goad' (V, 8). For these reasons also the individual Self must be viewed as atomic.--But this conflicts with the fact that sensation extends over the whole body!--This objection the next Sūtra refutes by means of an analogous instance.

 Sutra 2,3.23

अविरोधश्चन्दनवत् ॥ २३ ॥

avirodhaścandanavat || 23 ||

avirodhaḥ—No contradiction; candanavat—like sandal-paste.

23. There is no contradiction, like sandal-paste.

As a drop of sandal-ointment, although applied to one spot of the body only, yet produces a refreshing sensation extending over the whole body; thus the Self also, although dwelling in one part of the body only, is conscious of sensations taking place in any part of the body.

Sutra 2,3.24

अवस्थितिवैशेष्यादिति चेत्, न, अभ्युपगमाद्धृदि हि ॥ २४ ॥

avasthitivaiśeṣyāditi cet, na, abhyupagamāddhṛdi hi || 24 ||

avirodhaḥ—No contradiction; candanavat—like sandal-paste.

24. If it be said that on account of the particular position (of the sandal-paste in the body the analogy is not just), (we say) not so, on account of the admission (by the scriptures of a special seat for the soul, i.e.) in the heart alone.

There is a difference. The drop of ointment can produce its effect as at any rate it is in contact with a definite part of the body. But we know of no such part in the case of the soul!--Not so, we reply. Scripture informs us that the Self abides in a definite part of the body, viz. the heart. 'For that Self is in the heart, there are a hundred and one veins.' And in reply to the question 'What is that Self?' the text has 'He who is within the heart, surrounded by the Prāṇas, the Person of light, consisting of knowledge' (Bri. Up. IV, 3, 7).--The parallel case of the sandal-ointment is referred to in order to point out that the Self abides in some particular part of the body; while the ointment is not bound to any special place.--In the next Sūtra the Sūtrakāra proceeds to state how, according to his own view, the Self, although abiding in one spot only, gives rise to effects extending over the whole body.

Sutra 2,3.25

गुणाद्वा लोकवत् ॥ २५ ॥

guṇādvā lokavat || 25 ||

guṇāt—Owing to (its) quality; —or; lokavat—as in the world;

25. Or owing to (its) quality (i.e. intelligence) as in the world.

The 'or' is meant to set aside the view previously stated. The Self extends through the whole body by means of its quality, viz. knowledge or consciousness. 'As light.' As the light of things abiding in one place--such as gems, the sun, and so on--is seen to extend to many places, so the consciousness of the Self dwelling in the heart pervades the entire body. That the knowledge of the knowing subject may extend beyond its substrate, as the light of a luminous body does, we have already explained under the first Sūtra.--But it has been said that the Self is mere knowledge; how then can knowledge be said to be a quality--which is something different from the essential nature of a thing?--This the next Sūtra explains.

 Sutra 2,3.26

व्यतिरेको गन्धवत् ॥ २६ ॥

vyatireko gandhavat || 26 ||

vyatirekaḥ—The extension beyond (the object i.e. the soul); gandhavat—like odour.

26. The extension (of the quality of intelligence) beyond (the soul, in which it inheres) is like odour (which extends beyond the fragrant object).

Sutra 2,3.27

तथा च दर्शयति ॥ २७ ॥

tathā ca darśayati || 27 ||

tathā—Thus; ca—also; darśayati—(the Śruti) shows or declares.

27. Thus also (the Śruti) declares.

Just as smell, which is perceived as a quality of earth, is distinct from earth; thus knowledge of which we are conscious as the quality of a knowing subject--which relation expresses itself in judgments such as 'I know'--is different from the knowing subject. Scriptural texts also prove this relation, as e.g. 'This Person knows.'

 Sutra 2,3.28

पृथगुपदेशात् ॥ २८ ॥

pṛthagupadeśāt || 28 ||

pṛthak—Separate; upadeśāt—on account of the teaching.

28. On account of the separate teaching (of the Śruti) (that the soul so pervades the body owing to its quality of intelligence).

Scripture even states quite directly that knowledge is something distinct from the knowing subject, viz. in the passage 'For there is not known any intermission of the knowing of the knower' (Bri. Up. IV, 3, 30).--It has been said that in passages such as 'he who abiding in knowledge' (Bri. Up. III, 7, 22); 'Knowledge performs the sacrifice' (Taitt. Up. II, 5, 1); 'having knowledge for its nature, absolutely free from stain,’ Scripture speaks of the Self as being mere knowledge (not a knower). This point the next Sūtra elucidates.

Sutra 2,3.29

तद्गुणसारत्वात् तु तद्व्यपदेशः, प्राज्ञवत् ॥ २९ ॥

tadguṇasāratvāt tu tadvyapadeśaḥ, prājñavat || 29 ||

tadguṇasāratvāt—On account of its having for its essence the qualities of that (i.e. the Buddhi); tu—but; tadvyapadeśaḥ—that declaration (as to its atomic size); prājñavat—even as the Intelligent Lord (is declared to be atomic).

29. But that declaration (as to the atomic size of the soul) is on account of its having for its essence the qualities of that (i.e. the Buddhi), even as the Intelligent Lord (Brahman, which is all-pervading, is declared to be atomic).

The 'but' discards the objection. Because that quality, viz. the quality of knowledge, is the essential quality, therefore the Self is, in the passages quoted, designated as knowledge. For knowledge constitutes the essential quality of the Self. Similarly, the intelligent highest Self is occasionally called 'Bliss,' because bliss is its essential quality. Compare 'If that bliss existed not in the ether' (Taitt. Up. II, 7, 1); 'He perceived that bliss is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. III, 6, 1). That bliss is the essential attribute of Brahman is proved by texts such as 'That is one bliss of Brahman'; 'He who knows the bliss of Brahman is afraid of nothing' (Taitt. Up. II, 4, 1).--Or else the analogous case to which the Sūtra refers may be that of the intelligent Brahman being designated by the term 'knowledge,' in texts such as 'Truth, knowledge, the Infinite is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. II, 1). That knowledge is the essential quality of Brahman is known from passages such as 'together with the intelligent Brahman' (Taitt. Up. II, 1, 1); 'He who is all- knowing' (Mu. Up. I, 1, 9).

Sutra 2,3.30

यावदात्मभावित्वाच्च न दोषः, तद्दर्शनात् ॥ ३० ॥

yāvadātmabhāvitvācca na doṣaḥ, taddarśanāt || 30 ||

yāvat-ātmabhāvitvāt—So long as the sould (in its relative aspect) exists; ca—and; na doṣaḥ—there is no defect; taddarśanāt—because it is so seen (in the scriptures).

30. And there is no defect (in what has been said in the previous Sutra), (as the conjunction of the soul with the intellect exists) so long as the soul (in its relative aspect) exists: because it is so seen (in the scriptures).

Since knowledge is an attribute which is met with wherever a Self is, there is no objection to the Self being designated by that attribute. Similarly we observe that special kinds of cows, as e.g. hornless ones, are designated by the term 'cow,' since the quality of possessing the generic character of cows is met with everywhere in connexion with the essential character of such animals with mutilated horns; since in fact that quality contributes to define their essential character. The 'and' of the Sūtra is meant to suggest a further argument, viz. that to apply to the Self the term 'knowledge' is suitable for that reason also that like knowledge the Self is self-illuminated. The objection that knowledge or consciousness cannot be an attribute inseparably connected with the essential nature of the Self as there is no consciousness in deep sleep and similar states is taken up in the next Sūtra.

Sutra 2,3.31

पुंस्त्वादिवत् त्वस्य सतोऽभिव्यक्तियोगात् ॥ ३१ ॥

puṃstvādivat tvasya sato’bhivyaktiyogāt || 31 ||

puṃstvādivat—Like virility etc.; tu—verility; asya—its (i.e. of the connection with the intellect); sataḥ—existing; abhivyaktiyogāt—on account of the manifestation being possible.

31. On account of the manifestation (of the connection with the intellect in the awakened state) being possible only on its existing (potentially in Suṣupti), like virility etc.

The 'but' is meant to set the raised objection aside. The case may be that while consciousness is present also in deep sleep, and so on, it is manifested in the waking state only; whence there would be no objection to viewing consciousness as an essential attribute of the Self. 'As in the case of virile power and the like.' Special substances such as the virile element are indeed present in the male child already, but then are not manifest, while later on they manifest themselves with advancing youth; but all the same the possession of those substances is essential to the male being, not merely adventitious. For to be made up of seven elementary substances (viz. blood, humour, flesh, fat, marrow, bone, and semen) is an essential, property of the body. That even in deep sleep and similar states the 'I' shines forth we have explained above. Consciousness is always there, but only in the waking state and in dreams it is observed to relate itself to objects. And that to be a subject of cognition, and so on, are essential attributes of the Self, we have also proved before. The conclusion, therefore, is that to be a knowing subject is the essential character of the Self. And that Self is of atomic size. The text 'when he has departed there is no consciousness' (saṁjñā; Bri. Up. II, 4, 12) does not declare that the released Self has no consciousness; but only that in the case of that Self there is absent that knowledge (experience) of birth, death, and so on, which in the Samsāra state is caused by the connexion of the Self with the elements- as described in the preceding passage, 'that great being having risen from out these elements again perishes after them.' For the text as to the absence of saṁjñā after death must be interpreted in harmony with other texts describing the condition of the released soul, such as 'the seeing one does not see death nor illness nor pain; the seeing one sees everything and obtains everything everywhere' (Kh. Up. VII, 25, 2); 'not remembering that body into which he was born--seeing these pleasures with the mind he rejoices' (VIII, 12, 3; 5).

The Sūtras now proceed to refute the doctrine of the Self being (not a knower) but mere knowledge, and being omnipresent.

Sutra 2,3.32

वान्यथा ॥ ३२ ॥

vānyathā || 32 ||

nityopalabdhi-anupalabdhi-prasaṅgaḥ—There would result perpetual perception or non-perception; anyataraniyamaḥ—limitation of the power of either of the two; —or else; vānyathā—otherwise;

32. Otherwise (i.e. if the intellect or mind be not accepted) there would result either perpetual perception or perpetual non-perception, or else the limitation of the power of either of the two (i.e. the soul or the senses).

On the other view, i.e. on the view of the Self being omnipresent and mere knowledge, it would follow either that consciousness and also non-consciousness would permanently take place together everywhere; or else that there would be definite permanent restriction to either of the two, i.e. either permanent consciousness or permanent non-consciousness.--If the omnipresent Self, consisting of mere knowledge only, were the cause of all that actual consciousness and non-consciousness on the part of Selves which takes place in the world, it might be conceived either as the cause of both--i.e. consciousness and non-consciousness--and this would mean that there is everywhere and at all times simultaneous consciousness and non-consciousness. If, on the other hand, it were the cause of consciousness only, there would never and nowhere be unconsciousness of anything; and if it were the cause of non-consciousness only, there would never and nowhere be consciousness of anything. On our view, on the other hand, the actually perceived distribution of consciousness and non-consciousness explains itself, since we hold the Self to abide within bodies only, so that naturally consciousness takes place there only, not anywhere else.--The view, finally (held by the Vaiśeṣikās), of the consciousness of the Self depending on its organs (mind, senses, &c.; while the omnipresent Self is, apart from those organs, non-sentient, gada), results in the same difficulties as the view criticised above; for as all the Selves are omnipresent they are in permanent conjunction with all organs; and moreover it would follow that the Adriṣṭas (due to the actions of the different bodies) could not thus be held apart (but would cling to all Selves, each of which is in contact with all bodies).

Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'the knower.'