III-1 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 1


Topic 1 - The soul, when passing out of the body at death is enveloped with fine particles of the gross elements

Sutra 3,1.1

तदन्तरप्रतिपत्तौ रंहति संपरिष्वक्तः, प्रश्ननिरूपणाभ्याम् ॥ १ ॥

tadantarapratipattau raṃhati saṃpariṣvaktaḥ, praśnanirūpaṇābhyām || 1 ||

tadantarapratipattau—With a view to obtaining a fresh body; raṃhati—goes; saṃpariṣvaktaḥ—enveloped (with subtle parts of the elements); praśnanirūpaṇābhyām—(so it is known) from the question and answer.

1. (The soul) goes (out of the body) enveloped (with subtle parts of the elements) with a view to obtaining a fresh body; (so it is known) from the question and answer (in the scripture).

That the Vedānta-texts establish as the proper object of meditation, on the part of all men desirous of Release, the highest Brahman, which is the only cause of the entire world, which is not touched by even a shadow of imperfection, which is an ocean, as it were, of supremely exalted qualities, and which totally differs in nature from all other beings--this is the point proved in the two previous adhyāyas; there being given at the same time arguments to disprove the objections raised against the Vedānta doctrine on the basis of Smriti and reasoning, to refute the views held by other schools, to show that the different Vedānta-texts do not contradict each other, and to prove that the Self is the object of activities (enjoined in injunctions of meditation, and so on). In short, those two adhyāyas have set forth the essential nature of Brahman. The subsequent part of the work now makes it its task to enquire into the mode of attaining to Brahman, together with the means of attainment. The third adhyāya is concerned with an enquiry into meditation--which is the means of attaining to Brahman; and as the motive for entering on such meditation is supplied by the absence of all desire for what is other than the thing to be obtained, and by the desire for that thing, the points first to be enquired into are the imperfections of the individual soul--moving about in the different worlds, whether waking or dreaming or merged in dreamless sleep, or in the state of swoon; and those blessed characteristics by which Brahman is raised above all these imperfections. These are the topics of the first and second pādas of the adhyāya.

The first question to be considered is whether the soul, when moving from one body into another, is enveloped by those subtle rudiments of the elements from which the new body is produced, or not. The Pūrvapakshin maintains the latter alternative; for, he says, wherever the soul goes it can easily provide itself there with those rudiments. Other reasons supporting this prima facie view will be mentioned and refuted further on.--The Sūtra states the view finally accepted, 'In obtaining another "of that" it goes enveloped.' The 'of that' refers back to the form, i.e. body, mentioned in II, 4, 17. The soul when moving towards another embodiment goes enveloped by the rudiments of the elements. This is known 'from question and explanation,' i.e. answer. Question and answer are recorded in the 'Knowledge of the five fires' (Kh. Up. V, 3-10), where Pravāhaṇa, after having addressed to Śvetaketu several other questions, finally asks 'Do you know why in the fifth libation water is called man?' In answer to this last question the text then explains how the Devas, i.e. the prāṇas attached to the soul, offer into the heavenly world, imagined as a sacrificial fire, the oblation called śraddhā; how this śraddhā changes itself into a body consisting of amrita, which body is called moon; how the same prāṇas offer this body of amrita in Parjanya, imagined as a fire, whereupon the body so offered becomes rain; how the same prāṇas throw that rain on to the earth, also imagined as a sacrificial fire, whereupon it becomes food; how this food is then offered into man, also compared to fire, where it becomes seed; and how, finally, this seed is offered into woman, also compared to a fire, and there becomes an embryo. The text then goes on, 'Thus in the fifth oblation water becomes purushavakas,' i.e. to be designated by the term man. And this means that the water which, in a subtle form, was throughout present in the previous oblations also, now, in that fifth oblation, assumes the form of a man.--From this question and answer it thus appears that the soul moves towards a new embodiment, together with the subtle rudiments from which the new body springs.--But the words, 'water becomes purushavakas,' only intimate that water assumes the form of a man, whence we conclude that water only invests the soul during its wanderings; how then can it be held that the soul moves invested by the rudiments of all elements?--To this question the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 3,1.2

त्र्यात्मकत्वात्तु भूयस्त्वात् ॥ २ ॥

tryātmakatvāttu bhūyastvāt || 2 ||

tryātmakatvāt—On account of (water) consisting of three elements; tu—but; bhūyastvāt—on account of the preponderance (of water).

2 On account of (water) consisting of three elements (the soul goes enveloped by all these elements and not merely water); but (water alone is mentioned in the text) on account of its preponderance (in the human body).

Water alone could not produce a new body; for the text Kh. Up. VI, 3, 4, 'Each of these he made tripartite,' shows that all the elements were' made tripartite to the end of producing bodies. That the text under discussion mentions water only, is due to the predominance of water; and that among the elements giving rise to a new body water predominates, we infer from the fact that blood and the other humours are the predominating element in the body.

Sutra 3,1.3

प्राणगतेश्च ॥ ३ ॥

prāṇagateśca || 3 ||

prāṇagateḥ—Because of the going of the sense-organs; ca—and.

3. And because of the going of the organs (with the soul, the elements also accompany the soul).

That the soul goes embedded in the subtle rudiments of the elements follows therefrom also that when passing out of the old body it is said to be followed by the prāṇas, 'when he thus passes out, the chief prāṇa follows after him,' etc. (Bri. Up. V, 4, 2). Compare also Smriti: 'It draws to itself the organs of sense, with the mind for the sixth. When the Ruler (soul) obtains a new body, and passes out of another, he takes with him those organs and then moves on, as the wind takes the odours from their abodes (the flowers)' (Bha. Gī. XV, 8). But the prāṇas cannot move without a substrate, and hence we must admit that the rudiments of the elements--which are their substrate--are also moving.

Sutra 3,1.4

अग्न्यादिगतिश्रुतेरिति चेत्, न, भाक्तत्वात् ॥ ४ ॥

agnyādigatiśruteriti cet, na, bhāktatvāt || 4 ||

agnyādigatiḥ—Entering into fire etc.; śruteḥ—from the scriptures; iti cet—if it be said; na—not so; bhāktatvāt—on account of its being so said in a secondary sense.

4. If it be said (that the organs do not follow the soul), for the scriptures declare their entering into fire etc., (we say) not so, on account of its being so said in a secondary sense.

But the text, 'when the speech of the dead person enters into fire,' etc. (Bri. Up. III, 2, 13). declares that when a person dies his organs go into fire, and so on.; they cannot therefore accompany the soul. Hence the text which asserts the latter point must be explained in some other way!--Not so, the Sūtra replies. The text stating that the organs go to fire, and so on, cannot be taken in its literal sense; for it continues, ‘the hairs of the body enter into herbs, the hair of the head into trees' (which manifestly is not true, in its literal sense). The going of speech, the eye, and so on, must therefore be understood to mean that the different organs approach the divinities (Agni and the rest) who preside over them.

 Sutra 3,1.5

प्रथमेऽश्रवणादिति चेत्, न, ता एव हि, उपपत्तेः ॥ ५ ॥

prathame’śravaṇāditi cet, na, tā eva hi, upapatteḥ || 5 ||

prathame—In the first of the oblations; aśravaṇāt—not being mentioned; iti cet—if it be said; na—not so; tāḥ eva—that only (i.e. water); hi—because; upapatteḥ—on account of the appropriateness;

5. If it be objected on account of (water) not being mentioned in the first of the oblations, (we say) not so, because that (i.e. water) only (is meant by the word ‘Śraddhā’) on account of the appropriateness (of such an interpretation).

An objection is raised to the conclusion arrived at under III, 1, 1; on the ground that in the first oblation, described in Kh. Up. V, 4, 2, as being made into the heavenly world, water is not mentioned at all as the thing offered. The text says, 'on that altar the gods offer śraddhā'; and by śraddhā (belief) everybody understands a certain activity of mind. Water therefore is not the thing offered.--Not so, we reply. It is nothing else but water, which there is called śraddhā. For thus only question and answer have a sense. For the question is, 'Do you know why in the fifth libation water is called man?' and at the outset of the reply śraddhā is mentioned as constituting the oblation made into the heavenly world viewed as a fire. If here the word śraddhā did not denote water, question and answer would refer to different topics, and there would be no connexion. The form in which the final statement is introduced (iti tu Pañchamam, etc., 'but thus in the fifth oblation,' etc.), moreover, also intimates that śraddhā means water. The word 'iti,' thus, here intimates that the answer is meant to dispose of the question, 'Do you know how?' etc. Sraddhā becomes moon, rain, food, seed, embryo in succession, and thus the water comes to be called man. Moreover, the word śraddhā is actually used in the Veda in the sense of 'water'; 'he carries water, śraddhā indeed is water' (Taitt. Samh. I, 6, 8, 1). And what the text says as to king Soma (the moon) originating from śraddhā when offered, also shows that śraddhā must mean water.

Sutra 3,1.6

अश्रुतत्वादिति चेत्, न, इष्टादिकारिणां प्रतीतेः ॥ ६ ॥

aśrutatvāditi cet, na, iṣṭādikāriṇāṃ pratīteḥ || 6 ||

aśrutatvāt—On account of not being mentioned in the Śruti; iti cet—if it be said; na—not so; iṣṭādikāriṇām—the performers of sacrifices etc.; pratīteḥ—being understood.

6. If it be said that on account of (the soul) not being mentioned in the text (the soul does not depart enveloped with water etc.), (we say) not so, for it is understood (from the scriptures) that the Jīvas who perform sacrifices etc. (alone go to heaven).

But, a further objection is raised, in the whole section under discussion no mention at all is made of the soul; the section cannot therefore prove that the soul moves, enveloped by water. The text speaks only of different forms of water śraddhā and the rest.--This, the Sūtra points out, is not so, on account of those who perform sacrifices being understood. For further on in the same chapter it is said, that those who, while destitute of the knowledge of Brahman, practise sacrifices, useful works and alms, reach the heavenly world and become there of the essence of the moon (somarāgānah); whence, on the results of their good works being exhausted, they return again and enter on a new embryonic state (Kh. Up. V, 10). Now in the preceding section (V, 9) it is said that they offer śraddhā in the heavenly world, and that from that oblation there arises the king Soma--an account which clearly refers to the same process as the one described in V, 10. We herefrom infer that what is meant in V, 9 is that that being which was distinguished by a body of śraddhā, becomes a being distinguished by a body of the nature of the moon. The word body denotes that the nature of which it is to be the attribute of a soul, and thus extends in its connotation up to the soul. The meaning of the section therefore is that it is the soul which moves enveloped by water and the other rudimentary elements.--But the phrase 'him the gods eat' (V, 10, 4) shows that the king Soma cannot be the soul, for that cannot be eaten!--To this the next Sūtra replies.

 Sutra 3,1.7

भाक्तं वानात्मवित्त्वात्, तथा हि दर्शयति ॥ ७ ॥

bhāktaṃ vānātmavittvāt, tathā hi darśayati || 7 ||

bhāktaṃ—In a secondary sense; —but; anātmavittvāt—on account of their (souls) not knowing the Self; tathā—so; hi—because; darśayati—(Śruti) declares.

7. But (the souls’ being the food of the gods in heaven is used) in a secondary sense, on account of their not knowing the Self; because (the Śruti) declares like that.

He who performs sacrifices, and so on, and thus does not know the Self, is here below and in yonder world a mere means of enjoyment for the devas. He serves them here, by propitiating them with sacrifices, and so on; and when the gods, pleased with his service, have taken him up into yonder world, he there is a common means of enjoyment for them (since they are gratified by the presence of a faithful servant). That those not knowing the Self serve and benefit the gods, Scripture explicitly declares, 'He is like a beast for the devas' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 10). Smriti also declares, that while those who know the Self attain to Brahman, those who do not know it are means of enjoyment for the devas, 'To the gods go the worshippers of the gods, and they that are devoted to me go to me' (Bha. Gī. VII, 23). When Scripture speaks of the soul being eaten by the gods, it therefore only means that the soul is to them a source of enjoyment. That eating the soul means no more than satisfaction with it, may also be inferred from the following scriptural passage, 'The gods in truth do not eat nor do they drink; by the mere sight of that amrita they are satisfied.'--It thus remains a settled conclusion that the soul moves enveloped by the subtle rudiments of the elements.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'the obtaining of another body.'