III-2 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 6

Topic 6 - ‘Not this, not this’ in Brih. 2.3.6. denies the gross and subtle forms of Brahman given in Brih. 2.3.1. and not Brahman Itself

Sutra 3,2.22

प्रकृतैतावत्त्वं हि प्रतिषेधति ततो ब्रवीति च भूयः ॥ २२ ॥

prakṛtaitāvattvaṃ hi pratiṣedhati tato bravīti ca bhūyaḥ || 22 ||

prakṛta-etāvattvaṃ—What has been mentioned up to this; pratiṣedhati—denies; tato—than that; bhūyaḥ—something more; bravīti—says; ca—and.

22. What has been mentioned up to this is denied (by the words ‘Not this, not this’), and (the Śruti) says something more than that (afterwards).

It is impossible to understand the text 'not so, not so' as negating those distinctions of Brahman which had been stated previously. If the text meant that, it would be mere idle talk. For none but a person not in his right mind would first teach that all the things mentioned in the earlier part of the section are distinctive attributes of Brahman--as which they are not known by any other means of proof--and thereupon deliberately negative his own teaching. Although among the things mentioned there are some which, in themselves, are known through other means of proof, yet they are not thus known to be modes of Brahman, and others again are known neither in themselves nor as modes of Brahman. The text therefore cannot merely refer to them as things otherwise known, but gives fundamental instruction about them. Hence the later passage cannot be meant as a sheer negation, but must be taken as denying the previously described 'so-muchness' of Brahman; i.e. the passage denies that limited nature of Brahman which would result from Brahman being viewed as distinguished by the previously stated attributes only. The word so refers to that limited nature, and the phrase not so therefore means that Brahman is not distinguished by the previously stated modes only. This interpretation is further confirmed by the fact that after that negative phrase further qualities of Brahman are declared by the text: 'For there is not anything higher than this not so. Then comes the name, the True of the True; for the prāṇas are the True, and he is the True of them.' That means: Than that Brahman which is expressed by the phrase 'not so' there is no other thing higher, i.e. there is nothing more exalted than Brahman either in essential nature or in qualities. And of that Brahman the name is the 'True of the True.' This name is explained in the next clause, 'for the prāṇas,' etc. The term prāṇas here denotes the individual souls, so called because the prāṇas accompany them. They are the 'True' because they do not, like the elements, undergo changes implying an alteration of their essential nature. And the highest Self is the 'True of the True' because while the souls undergo, in accordance with their karman, contractions and expansions of intelligence, the highest Self which is free from all sin knows of no such alternations. He is therefore more eminently true than they are. As thus the complementary passage declares Brahman to be connected with certain qualities, the clause 'not so, not so' (to which that passage is complementary) cannot deny that Brahman possesses distinctive attributes, but only that Brahman's nature is confined to the attributes previously stated.-- Brahman therefore possesses the twofold characteristics. That the clause 'not so' negatives Brahman's being fully described by the attributes previously mentioned, was above proved on the ground that since Brahman is not the object of any other means of proof, those previous statements cannot refer to what is already proved, and that the final clause cannot therefore be meant to deny what the previous clauses expressly teach. The next Sūtra now confirms this circumstance of Brahman not lying within the sphere of the other means of proof.

Sutra 3,2.23

तदव्यक्तम्, आह हि ॥ २३ ॥

tadavyaktam, āha hi || 23 ||

tat—That (Brahman); avyaktam—is not manifest; āha—(so the scripture) says; hi—for.

23. That (Brahman) is not manifest, for (so the scripture) says.

Brahman is not manifested by other means of proof; for Scripture says, 'His form is not to be seen, no one beholds him with the eye' (Ka. Up. II, 6, 9); 'He is not apprehended by the eye nor by speech' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 8).

Sutra 3,2.24

अपि च संराधने, प्रत्यक्षानुमानाभ्याम् ॥ २४ ॥

api ca saṃrādhane, pratyakṣānumānābhyām || 24 ||

api ca—And moreover; saṃrādhane—in perfect meditation (It is experienced); pratyakṣa-anumānābhyām—from the Śruti and Smriti.

24. And moreover (Brahman is experienced) in perfect meditation, (as we know) from the Śruti and Smriti.

Moreover, it is only in the state of perfect conciliation or endearment, i.e. in meditation bearing the character of devotion, that an intuition of Brahman takes place, not in any other state. This Scripture and Smriti alike teach. 'That Self cannot be gained by the Veda, nor by understanding, nor by much learning. He whom the Self chooses by him the Self can be gained. The Self chooses him as his own' (Ka. Up. I, 2, 23); 'When a man's nature has become purified by the serene light of knowledge, then he sees him, meditating on him as without parts' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 9). Smriti: 'Neither by the Vedas, nor austerities, nor gifts, nor by sacrifice, but only by exclusive devotion, may I in this form be known and beheld in truth and also entered into' (Bha. Gī. XI, 53,54). The scriptural text beginning 'Two are the forms of Brahman,' which declares the nature of Brahman for the purposes of devout meditation, cannot therefore refer to Brahman's being characterised by two forms, a material and an immaterial, as something already known; for apart from Scripture nothing is known about Brahman.

Sutra 3,2.25

प्रकाशादिवच्चावैशेष्यं प्रकाशश्च कर्मणि, अभ्यासात् ॥ २५ ॥

prakāśādivaccāvaiśeṣyaṃ prakāśaśca karmaṇi, abhyāsāt || 25 ||

prakāśādivat—Like light etc.; ca—and; avaiśeṣyaṃ—(there is) no difference; prakāśaḥ—Brahman; ca—also; karmaṇi—in work; abhyāsāt—on account of repeated mention (in the Śruti).

25. And as in the case of light etc. there is no difference, (so) also between Brahman (and its manifestation) in activity; on account of the repeated instruction (of the Śruti to that effect).

That the clause 'not so' negatives not Brahman's possessing two forms, a material and an immaterial one, but only Brahman's nature being restricted to those determinations, follows therefrom also that in the vision of Vāmadeva and others who had attained to intuition into Brahman's nature, the fact of Brahman having all material and immaterial beings for its attributes is apprehended in non-difference, i.e. in the same way as the fact of light (i.e. knowledge) and bliss constituting Brahman's essential nature. Compare the text 'Seeing this the Rishi Vāmadeva understood, I am Manu and the sun' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 10). And that light and bliss constitute Brahman's nature was perceived by Vāmadeva and the rest through repeated performance of the practice of devout meditation. In the same way then, i.e. by repeated meditation, they also became aware that Brahman has all material and immaterial things for its distinguishing modes.--The next Sūtra sums up the proof of Brahman's possessing twofold characteristics.

Sutra 3,2.26

अतोऽनन्तेन, तथा हि लिङ्गम् ॥ २६ ॥

ato’nantena, tathā hi liṅgam || 26 ||

ataḥ—Therefore; anantena—with the Infinite; tathā—thus; hi—for; liṅgam—(the scripture) indicates.

26. Therefore (the individual soul becomes one) with the Infinite; for thus (the scripture) indicates.

By the arguments stated it is proved that Brahman is distinguished by the infinite multitude of blessed qualities. And this being so, it follows that Brahman possesses the twofold characteristics.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'that which has twofold characteristics.'

Sutra 3,2.27

उभयव्यपदेशात्त्वहिकुण्डलवत् ॥ २७ ॥

ubhayavyapadeśāttvahikuṇḍalavat || 27 ||

ubhayavyapadeśāt—On account of both being taught; tu—but; ahikuṇḍalavat—like that between a serpent and its coils.

27. But on account of both (i.e. difference and non-difference) being taught (by the Śruti) (the relation of the Jīva and Brahman is to be taken) like that between a serpent and its coils.

It has been shown in the preceding Adhikaraṇa that the entire non-sentient universe is the outward form of Brahman. For the purpose of proving Brahman's freedom from all imperfection, an enquiry is now begun into the particular mode in which the world may be conceived to constitute the form of Brahman. Is the relation of the two like that of the snake and its coils; or like that of light and the luminous body, both of which fall under the same genus; or like that of the individual soul and Brahman, the soul being a distinguishing attribute and for that reason a part (amśa) of Brahman?--On the assumption of this last alternative, which is about to be established here, it has been already shown under two preceding Sūtras (I, 4, 23; II, 1, 14), that from Brahman, as distinguished by sentient and non-sentient beings in their subtle form, there originates Brahman as distinguished by all those beings in their gross form. Which then of the alternatives stated above is the true one?--The material world is related to Brahman as the coils to the snake, 'on account of twofold designation.' For some texts declare the identity of the two: 'Brahman only is all this'; 'The Self only is all this.' Other texts again refer to the difference of the two: 'Having entered into these three deities with this Jīva-self, let me differentiate names and forms.' We therefore consider all non-sentient things to be special forms or arrangements of Brahman, as the coils are of a coiled-up snake or a coiled-up rope.

Sutra 3,2.28

प्रकाशाश्रयवद्वा, तेजस्त्वात् ॥ २८ ॥

prakāśāśrayavadvā, tejastvāt || 28 ||

prakāśa-āśrayavat—Like light and its substratum; —or; tejastvāt—on account of both being luminous.

28. Or like (the relation of) light and its substratum, on account of both being luminous.

The or sets aside the other two alternatives. If Brahman itself only appeared in the form of non-sentient things--as the snake itself only constitutes the coils--both sets of texts, those which declare difference as well as those which declare the changeableness of Brahman, would be contrary to sense. We therefore, adopting the second alternative, hold that the case under discussion is analogous to that of light and that in which it abides, i.e. the luminous body. The two are different, but at the same time they are identical in so far as they both are fire (tejas). In the same way the non-sentient world constitutes the form of Brahman.

Sutra 3,2.29

पूर्ववद्वा ॥ २९ ॥

pūrvavadvā || 29 ||

pūrvavat—As before; —or.

29. Or (the relation between the two, i.e. Jīva and Brahman) is as given before.

The but sets aside the two preceding alternatives. One substance may indeed connect itself with several states, but the former of the two alternatives implies that Brahman itself constitutes the essential nature of non-sentient matter, and thus there is no escape from the objections already stated under Sūtra 27. Let then the second alternative be adopted according to which Brahma-hood (brahmatva) constitutes a genus inhering in Brahman as well as in non-sentient matter, just as fire constitutes the common genus for light and luminous bodies. But on this view Brahman becomes a mere abstract generic character inhering in the Lord (Īśvara), sentient souls and non-sentient matter, just as the generic character of horses (asvatva) inheres in concrete individual horses; and this contradicts all the teaching of Śruti and Smriti (according to which Brahman is the highest concrete entity). We therefore hold that non-sentient matter stands to Brahman in the same relation as the one previously proved for the individual soul in Sūtra II, 3, 43; 46; viz. that it is an attribute incapable of being realised apart from Brahman and hence is a part (amśa) of the latter. The texts referring to the two as non-different may thus be taken in their primary sense; for the part is only a limited place of that of which it is a part. And the texts referring to the two as different may also be taken in their primary sense; for the distinguishing attribute and that to which the attribute belongs are essentially different. Thus Brahman's freedom from all imperfection is preserved.--Lustre is an attribute not to be realised apart from the gem, and therefore is a part of the gem; the same relation also holds good between generic character and individuals having that character, between qualities and things having qualities, between bodies and souls. In the same way souls as well as non-sentient matter stand to Brahman in the relation of parts.

Sutra 3,2.30

प्रतिषेधाच्च ॥ ३० ॥

pratiṣedhācca || 30 ||

pratiṣedhāt—On account of the denial; ca—and.

30. And on account of the denial.

Texts such as 'This is that great unborn Self, undecaying, undying' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 25), 'By the old age of the body that does not age' (Kh. Up. VIII, 1, 5), deny of Brahman the properties of non-sentient matter. From this it follows that the relation of the two can only be that of distinguishing attribute and thing distinguished, and hence of part and whole. Brahman distinguished by sentient and non-sentient beings in their subtle state is the cause; distinguished by the same beings in their gross state is the effect: the effect thus is non-different from the cause, and by the knowledge of the causal Brahman the effect is likewise known. All these tenets are in full mutual agreement. Brahman's freedom from defects also is preserved; and this and Brahman's being the abode of all blessed qualities prove that Brahman possesses the 'twofold characteristics.'--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'the coils of the snake.'