II-4 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 2

Topic 2 - The number of the organs

Sutra 2,4.5

सप्त गतेर्विशेषितत्वाच्च ॥ ५ ॥

sapta gaterviśeṣitatvācca || 5 ||

sapta—Seven; gateḥ—being so known (from the scriptures); viśeṣitatvāc—on account of the specification; ca—and.

5. (The organs are) seven (in number), because it is so known (from the scriptures) and on account of the specification (of those seven).

The question here arises whether those organs are seven only, or eleven--the doubt on this point being due to the conflicting nature of scriptural texts.--The Pūrvapakshin maintains the former alternative.--On what grounds?--'On account of going, and of specification.' For the text refers to the 'going,' i.e. to the moving about in the different worlds, together with the soul when being born or dying, of seven prāṇas only, 'seven are these worlds in which the prāṇas move which rest in the cave, being placed there as seven and seven' (Mu. Up. II, 1, 8)--where the repetition 'seven and seven' intimates the plurality of souls to which the prāṇas are attached. Moreover those moving prāṇas are distinctly specified in the following text, 'when the five instruments of knowledge stand still, together with the mind (manas), and when the buddhi does not move, that they call the highest "going"' (gati--Ka. Up. II, 6, 10). The 'highest going' here means the moving towards Release, all movement within the body having come to an end. As thus the text declares that at the time of birth and death seven prāṇas only accompany the soul, and as, with regard to the condition of final concentration, those prāṇas are distinctly specified as forms of knowledge (jñānāni), we conclude that the prāṇas are the seven following instruments of the soul--the organs of hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting and smelling, the buddhi and the manas. In various other passages indeed, which refer to the prāṇas, higher numbers are mentioned, viz. up to fourteen, speech, the hands, the feet, the anus, the organ of generation, the Ahaṁkāra and the kitta being added to those mentioned above; cp. e.g. 'there are eight Grahas' (Bri. Up. III, 2, i); 'Seven are the prāṇas of the head, two the lower ones '(Taitt. Samh. V, 3, 2, 5). But as the text says nothing about those additional organs accompanying the soul, we assume that they are called prāṇas in a metaphorical sense only, since they all, more or less, assist the soul.--This view the next Sūtra sets aside.

Sutra 2,4.6

हस्तादयस्तु स्थितेऽतो नैवम् ॥ ६ ॥

hastādayastu sthite’to naivam || 6 ||

hastādayaḥ—Hands etc.; tu—but; sthite—being a fact; ataḥ—therefore; na—not; evam—like this;

6. But hands etc. (are also referred to as sense-organs in scriptural texts). Since this is a fact, therefore (it is) not like this (i.e. they are not merely seven in number).

The organs are not seven only, but eleven, since the hands and the rest also contribute towards the experience and fruition of that which abides in the body, i.e. the soul, and have their separate offices, such as seizing, and so on. Hence it is not so, i.e. it must not be thought that the hands and the rest are not organs. Buddhi, Ahaṁkāra and Citta, on the other hand, are(not independent organs but) mere designations of the manas, according as the latter is engaged in the functions of deciding (adhyavasāya), or misconception (abhimāna, or thinking (cintā). The organs therefore are eleven. From this it follows that in the passage 'Ten are these prāṇas in man, and Ātman is the eleventh'(Bri. Up. II, 4, ii), the word Ātman denotes the manas. The number eleven is confirmed by scriptural and Smriti passages, cp. 'the ten organs and the one' (Bha. Gī. XIII, 5); 'ten are the vaikārika beings, the manas is the eleventh,' and others. Where more organs are mentioned, the different functions of the manas are meant; and references to smaller numbers are connected with special effects of the organs, such as accompanying the soul, and the like.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'the going of the seven.'