III-2 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 7

Topic 7 - Brahman is one without a second, and expressions which apparently imply something else as existing are only metaphorical

Sutra 3,2.31

परमतः सेतून्मानसंबन्धभेदव्यपदेशेभ्यः ॥ ३१ ॥

paramataḥ setūnmānasaṃbandhabhedavyapadeśebhyaḥ || 31 ||

param—Greater; ataḥ—than this (Brahman); setu-unmāna-saṃbandha-bheda-vyapadeśebhyaḥ—on account of terms denoting a bank, measure, connection, and difference.

31. (There is something) superior to this (Brahman), on account of terms denoting a bank, measure, connection, and difference (used with respect to It).

The Sūtras now proceed to refute an erroneous view based on some fallacious arguments, viz. that there is a being higher even than the highest Brahman, the supreme cause, material as well as operative, of the entire world--a refutation which will confirm the view of Brahman being free from all imperfections and a treasure as it were of countless transcendentally exalted qualities.--There is some entity higher than the Brahman described so far as being the cause of the world and possessing the twofold characteristics. For the text 'That Self is a bank (or bridge), a boundary' (Kh. Up. VIII, 4, 1) designates the Self as a bank or bridge (setu). And the term 'setu' means in ordinary language that which enables one to reach the other bank of a river; and from this we conclude that in the Vedic text also there must be meant something to be reached. The text further says that that bridge is to be crossed: 'He who has crossed that bridge, if blind,' etc.; this also indicates that there must be something to be reached by crossing. Other texts, again, speak of the highest Brahman as something measured, i.e. limited. 'Brahman has four feet (quarters), sixteen parts.' Such declarations of Brahman being something limited suggest the existence of something unlimited to be reached by that bridge. Further there are texts which declare a connexion of the bridge as that which is a means towards reaching, and a thing connected with the bridge as that to be reached: 'the highest bridge of the Immortal' (Svet. Up. VI, 19); 'he is the bridge of the Immortal' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 5). For this reason also there is something higher than the Highest.--And other texts again expressly state that being beyond the Highest to be something different: 'he goes to the divine Person who is higher than the Highest' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 8); ' by this Person this whole universe is filled; what is higher than that is without form and without suffering' (Svet. Up. III, 9-10). All this combined shows that there is something higher than the highest Brahman.--The next Sūtra disposes of this view.

Sutra 3,2.32

सामान्यात्तु ॥ ३२ ॥

sāmānyāttu || 32 ||

tu—But; sāmānyāt—on account of similarity.

32. But (Brahman is called a bank) on account of similarity.

The 'but' sets aside the pūrva-pakṣa. There is no truth in the assertion that from the designation of the Highest as a bridge (or bank) it follows that there is something beyond the Highest. For Brahman in that text is not called a bank with regard to something to be reached thereby; since the additional clause 'for the non-confounding of these worlds' declares that it is compared to a bridge or bank in so far as it binds to itself (setu being derived from si, to bind) the whole aggregate of sentient and non-sentient things without any confusion. And in the clause 'having passed beyond that bridge' the passing beyond means reaching; as we say, 'he passes beyond the Vedānta,' meaning 'he has fully mastered it.'

Sutra 3,2.33

बुद्ध्यर्थः पादवत् ॥ ३३ ॥

buddhyarthaḥ pādavat || 33 ||

buddhyarthaḥ—For the sake of easy comprehension; pādavat—just like (four) feet.

33. (Brahman is depicted as having size) for the sake of easy comprehension (i.e. Upāsanā); just like four feet.

Where the texts speak of Brahman as having four quarters, and sixteen parts, or say that 'one quarter of him are all these beings' (Kh. Up. III, 12, 6), they do so for the purpose of thought, i.e. meditation, only. For as texts such as 'the Truth, knowledge, infinite is Brahman' teach Brahman, the cause of the world, to be unlimited, it cannot in itself be subject to measure. The texts referring to measure therefore aim at meditation only, in the same way as texts such as 'Speech is one foot (quarter) of him, breath another, the eye another, the mind another' (Kh. Up. III, 18, 2).--But how can something that in itself is beyond all measure, for the purpose of meditation, be spoken of as measured? To this the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 3,2.34

स्थानविशेषात्, प्रकाशादिवत् ॥ ३४ ॥

sthānaviśeṣāt, prakāśādivat || 34 ||

sthānaviśeṣāt—On account of special places; prakāśādivat—like light etc.

34. (The statements about connection and difference with respect to Brahman) are on account of special places; as in the case of light etc.

Owing to the difference of limiting adjuncts constituted by special places, such as speech, and so on, Brahman in so far as connected with these adjuncts may be viewed as having measure; just as light and the like although spread everywhere may be viewed as limited, owing to its connexion with different places--windows, jars, and so on.

Sutra 3,2.35

उपपत्तेश्च ॥ ३५ ॥

upapatteśca || 35 ||

upapatteḥ—From reasoning; ca—and.

35. And it is reasonable.

Nor is there any truth in the assertion that, because texts such as 'he is the bridge of the Immortal' intimate a distinction between that which causes to reach and the object reached, there must be something to be reached different from that which causes to reach; for the highest Self may be viewed as being itself a means towards itself being reached; cp. 'The Self cannot be reached by the Veda, and so on; he whom the Self chooses by him the Self can be gained' (Kh. Up. I, 2, 23).

Sutra 3,2.36

तथान्यप्रतिषेधात् ॥ ३६ ॥

tathānyapratiṣedhāt || 36 ||

tathā—Similarly; anya-pratiṣedhāt—on account of the express denial of all other things.

36. Similarly on account of the express denial of all other things (there is nothing but Brahman).

Nor can we allow the assertion that there is something higher than the highest because certain texts ('the Person which is higher than the highest'; 'beyond the Imperishable there is the highest,' etc.) refer to such a difference. For the same texts expressly deny that there is anything else higher than the highest--'than whom there is nothing else higher, than whom there is nothing smaller or larger' (Svet. Up. III, 9). So also other texts: 'For there is nothing else higher than this "not so"' (i.e. than this Brahman designated by the phrase 'not so'; Bri. Up. II, 3, 6); 'Of him none is the Lord, his name is great glory' (Mahānār. Up. I, 10). But what then is the entity referred to in the text 'tato yad uttarataram '? (Svet. Up. III, 10)?--The passage immediately preceding (8), 'I know that great person, etc.; a man who knows him passes over death,' had declared that the knowledge of Brahman is the only way to immortality; and the clause (9), 'Higher than whom there is nothing else,' had confirmed this by declaring that Brahman is the Highest and that there is no other thing higher. In agreement herewith we must explain stanza 10 as giving a reason for what had been said, 'Because that which is the highest (uttarataram), viz. the Supreme Person is without form and without suffering, therefore (tatah) those who know him become immortal,' etc. On any other explanation stanza 10 would not be in harmony with stanza 8 where the subject is introduced, and with what is declared in stanza 9.--Analogously in the text 'He goes to the divine Person who is higher than the highest' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 8) 'the highest' means the aggregate soul (samashā-purusha), which in a previous passage had been said to be 'higher than the high Imperishable' (II, 1, 2); and the 'higher' refers to the Supreme Person, with all his transcendent qualities, who is superior to the aggregate soul.

Sutra 3,2.37

अनेन सर्वगतत्वमायामशब्दादिभ्यः ॥ ३७ ॥

anena sarvagatatvamāyāmaśabdādibhyaḥ || 37 ||

anena—By this; sarvagatatvam—all-pervadingness; āyāmaśabdādibhyaḥ—as is known from scriptural statements etc. regarding (Brahman’s) extent.

37. By this (is established) the all-pervadingness (of Brahman), as is known from scriptural statements etc. regarding (Brahman’s) extent.

That omnipresence which is possessed 'by that,' i.e. by Brahman, and which is known 'from declarations of extent,' and so on, i.e. from texts which declare Brahman to be all-pervading, is also known from texts such as 'higher than that there is nothing.' Declarations of extent are e.g. the following: 'By this Person this whole Universe is filled'  [paragraph continues] (Svet. Up. III. 9); 'whatever is seen or heard in this world, is pervaded inside and outside by Nārāyana' (Mahānār. Up.); 'The eternal, pervading, omnipresent, which the Wise consider as the source of all beings' (Mu. Up. I, 1, 6). The 'and the rest' in the Sātra comprises passages such as 'Brahman indeed is all this,' 'The Self indeed is all this,' and the like. The conclusion is that the highest Brahman is absolutely supreme.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'the Highest.'