III-3 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 17

Topic 17 - The knower of the Saguṇā Brahman alone goes by the path of the gods after death and not the knower of the Nirguna Brahman

Sutra 3,3.29

गतेरर्थवत्त्वमुभयथा, अन्यथा हि विरोधः ॥ २९ ॥

gaterarthavattvamubhayathā, anyathā hi virodhaḥ || 29 ||

gateḥ—Of the soul’s journey (after death) along the path of the gods; arthavattvam—utility; ubhayathā—in two ways; anyathā—otherwise; hi—for; virodhaḥ—a contradiction.

29. (The soul’s) journey along the path of the gods is applicable in two ways (i.e. differently), for otherwise (there would result) a contradiction.

It is only on the hypothesis of a part of the good and evil works being left behind at the time of the soul's departure from the body, and another part later on, and the effacement of works thus taking place in a double way, that a sense can be found in the scriptural declaration of the soul proceeding on the path of the gods. For otherwise there would be a contradiction. For if all the works perished at the time of the soul's departure from the body, the subtle body also would perish, and if this were so, no going on the part of the mere Self would be possible. It is not therefore possible that at the time of the soul's departure from the body all works should perish without a remainder.--To this the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 3,3.30

उपपन्नः, तल्लक्षणार्थोपलब्धेः, लोकवत् ॥ ३० ॥

upapannaḥ, tallakṣaṇārthopalabdheḥ, lokavat || 30 ||

upapannaḥ—Is reasonable; tat-lakṣaṇārtha-upalabdheḥ—for the characteristics which render such journey possible are seen; lokavat—as in the world.

30. (The differentiation mentioned above) is reasonable, for the characteristics which render such a journey possible are seen (in the case of Saguṇā Upāsanā but not in that of Nirguna Upāsanā); as (is seen) in the world.

The assumption of all the works perishing at the time of 'departure' involves no contradiction; since we perceive, in the sacred texts, matters which are marks of connexion with a body even on the part of the soul which has divested itself of all its works and become manifest in its true nature. Compare 'Having approached the highest light he manifests himself in his true form'; 'He moves about there laughing, playing, and rejoicing'; 'He becomes a self-ruler, he moves about in all worlds according to his will'; 'He becomes one, he becomes three,' etc. (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, 3; VII, 25, 2; 26, 2). All these texts refer to the soul's connexion with a body. The soul therefore, joined to the subtle body, may proceed on the path of the gods, even after all its works have passed away. But how can the subtle body persist, when the works which originate it have passed away? Through the power of knowledge, we reply. Knowledge does not indeed by itself originate the subtle body, but it possesses the power of making that body persist, even after the gross body--which is the instrument for the experience of all ordinary pains and pleasures--and all works have passed away, so as thereby to make the soul capable of moving on the path of the gods, and thus to obtain Brahman which is the fruit of knowledge. 'As in ordinary life.' As in ordinary life, a tank, which may have been made with a view to the irrigation of rice-fields and the like, is maintained and used for the purpose of drawing drinking-water, and so on, even after the intentions which originally led to its being made have passed away.--Here an objection is raised. It may be admitted, that at the time when a man possessing true knowledge dies, all his works pass away without a remainder, and that the subtle body only remains, enabling him to move towards Brahman; but it cannot be held that the soul in that state does not experience pain and pleasure; for we know from sacred tradition that Vāsishṭha, Avatāra-tamas, and others, who had reached intuition of the highest truth, entered after death on other embodiments, and experienced pain and pleasure due to the birth of sons, various calamities, and so on.

-- To this the next Sūtra replies.