III-4 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 1


Topic 1 - Knowledge of Brahman is not subordinate to sacrificial acts

 Sutra 3,4.1

पुरुषार्थोऽतः, शब्दादिति बादरायणः ॥ १ ॥

puruṣārtho'taḥ, śabdāditi bādarāyaṇaḥ || 1 ||

puruṣārthaḥ—Purpose of man; ataḥ—from this; śabdāt—from the scriptures; iti—thus (says); bādarāyaṇaḥ—Bādarāyaṇa.

1. From this (results) the purpose of man, because of the scriptures; thus (says) Bādarāyaṇa.

We have concluded the investigation into the oneness or diverseness of meditations--the result of which is to indicate in which cases the special points mentioned in several meditations have to be combined, and in which not. A further point now to be investigated is whether that advantage to the meditating devotee, which is held to accrue to him from the meditation, results from the meditation directly, or from works of which the meditations are subordinate members.--The Reverend Bādarāyaṇa holds the former view. The benefit to man results from thence, i.e. from the meditation, because Scripture declares this to be so. 'He who knows Brahman reaches the Highest' (Taitt. Up. II, 1, 1); 'I know that great Person of sun- like lustre beyond the darkness. A man who knows him truly passes over death; there is no other path to go' (Svet. Up. III, 8); 'As the flowing rivers disappear in the sea, losing their name and their form, thus a man who possesses knowledge, freed from name and form, goes to the divine Person who is greater than the great' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 8).--Against this view the Pūrvapakshin raises an objection.

Sutra 3,4.2

शेषत्वात्पुरुषार्थवादो यथाऽन्येष्विति जैमिनिः ॥ २ ॥

śeṣatvātpuruṣārthavādo yathā’nyeṣviti jaiminiḥ || 2 ||

śeṣatvāt—On account of being supplementary (to sacrificial acts); puruṣa-arthavādaḥ—are mere praise of the agent; yathā—even as; anyeṣu—in other cases; iti—thus (says) jaiminiḥ—Jaimini.

2. Because (the Self) is supplementary (to sacrificial acts), (the fruits of the knowledge of the Self) are mere praise of the agent, even as in other cases; thus says Jaimini.

What has been said as to Scripture intimating that a beneficial result is realised through the meditations by themselves is untenable. For texts such as 'he who knows Brahman reaches the Highest' do not teach that the highest aim of man is attained through knowledge; their purport rather is to inculcate knowledge of Truth on the part of a Self which is the agent in works prescribed. Knowledge, therefore, stands in a complementary relation to sacrificial works, in so far as it imparts to the acting Self a certain mystic purification; and the texts which declare special results of knowledge, therefore, must be taken as mere arthavādas. 'As in the case of other things; so Jaimini thinks,' i.e. as Jaimini holds that in the case of substances, qualities, and so on, the scriptural declaration of results is of the nature of arthavāda.--But it has been shown before that the Vedānta-texts represent as the object to be attained, by those desirous of Release, on the basis of the knowledge imparted by them, something different from the individual Self engaged in action; cp. on this point Sū. I, 1, 15; I, 3, 5; I, 2, 3; I, 3, 18. And Sū. II, 1, 22 and others have refuted the view that Brahman is to be considered as non-different from the personal soul, because in texts such as 'thou art that' it is exhibited in co-ordination with the latter. And other Sūtras have proved that Brahman must, on the basis of numerous scriptural texts, be recognised as the inner Self of all things material and immaterial. How then can it be said that the Vedānta-texts merely mean to give instruction as to the true nature of the active individual soul, and that hence all meditation is merely subservient to sacrificial works?--On the strength of numerous inferential marks, the Pūrvapakshin replies, which prove that in the Vedānta-texts all meditation is really viewed as subordinate to knowledge, and of the declarations of co-ordination of Brahman and the individual soul (which must be taken to imply that the two are essentially of the same nature), we cannot help forming the conclusion that the real purport of the Vedānta-texts is to tell us of the true nature of the individual soul in so far as different from its body.--But, again it is objected, the agent is connected no less with ordinary worldly works than with works enjoined by the Veda, and hence is not invariably connected with sacrifices (i.e. works of the latter type); it cannot, therefore, be maintained that meditations on the part of the agent necessarily connect themselves with sacrifices in so far as they effect a purification of the sacrificer's mind!--There is a difference, the Pūrvapakshin rejoins. Worldly works can proceed also if the agent is non-different from the body; while an agent is qualified for sacred works only in so far as he is different from the body, and of an eternal non-changing nature. Meditations, therefore, properly connect themselves with sacrifices, in so far as they teach that the agent really is of that latter nature. We thus adhere to the conclusion that meditations are constituents of sacrificial actions, and hence are of no advantage by themselves.--But what then are those inferential marks which, as you say, fully prove that the Vedānta- texts aim at setting forth the nature of the individual soul?--To this the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 3,4.3

आचारदर्शनात् ॥ ३ ॥

ācāradarśanāt || 3 ||

ācāra-darśanāt—Because of the conduct found (from the scriptures).

3. Because we find (from the scriptures such) conduct (of men of realization).

It is seen, viz in Scripture, that those who knew Brahman busied themselves chiefly with sacrifices.-- Aśvapati Kaikeya had a deep knowledge of the Self; but when three Rishis had come to him to receive instruction regarding the Self, he told them 'I am about, to perform a sacrifice, Sirs' (Kh. Up. V, II). Similarly we learn from Smriti that Janaka and other princes deeply versed in the knowledge of Brahman applied themselves to sacrificial works, 'By works only Janaka and others attained to perfection'; 'He also, well founded in knowledge, offered many sacrifices.' And this fact--that those who know Brahman apply themselves to works chiefly--shows that knowledge (or meditation) has no independent value, but serves to set forth the true nature of the active Self, and thus is subordinate to work.--An even more direct proof is set forth in the next Sūtra.

Sutra 3,4.4

तच्छ्रुतेः ॥ ४ ॥

tacchruteḥ || 4 ||

tat-chruteḥ—Because the scriptures directly declare that.

4. That (i.e. that knowledge of the Self stands in a subordinate relation to sacrificial acts) the scriptures directly declare.

Scripture itself directly declares knowledge to be subordinate to works, 'whatever he does with knowledge, with faith, with the Upanishad, that is more vigorous'. Nor can it be said that this text refers, on the ground of leading subject-matter (prakaraṇa), to the Udgītha only; for direct scriptural statement (śruti) is stronger than subject-matter, and the words 'whatever he does with knowledge' clearly refer to knowledge in general.

 Sutra 3,4.5

समन्वारम्भणात् ॥ ५ ॥

samanvārambhaṇāt || 5 ||

5. Because the two (knowledge and work) go together (with the departing soul to produce the results).

The text 'then both knowledge and work take hold of him' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 2) shows that knowledge and work go together, and this going together is possible only if, in the manner stated, knowledge is subordinate to work.

Sutra 3,4.6

तद्वतो विधानात् ॥ ६ ॥

tadvato vidhānāt || 6 ||

tadvataḥ—For such (as know the purport of the Vedas); vidhānāt—because (the scriptures) enjoin (work).

6. Because (the scriptures) enjoin (work) for such (as know the purport of the Vedas).

That knowledge is subordinate to works follows therefrom also that works are enjoined on him only who possesses knowledge. For texts such as 'He who has learnt the Veda from a family of teachers,' &c. (Kh. Up. VIII, 15), enjoin works on him only who has mastered the sacred texts so as fully to understand their meaning--for this is the sense of the term 'learning' (adhyāyana). Hence the knowledge of Brahman also is enjoined in a view to works only: it has no independent result of its own.

Sutra 3,4.7

नियमाच्च ॥ ७ ॥

niyamācca || 7 ||

niyamāt—Or account of prescribed rules; ca—and.

7. And on account of prescribed rules.

Another argument for our conclusion is that the text 'Doing works here let a man desire to live a hundred years,' &c. (Is. Up. II), expressly enjoins lifelong works on him who knows the Self. The general conclusion, therefore, is that knowledge (meditation) is merely auxiliary to works. Of this view the next Sūtra finally disposes.

Sutra 3,4.8

अधिकोपदेशात्तु बादरायणस्यैवम्, तद्दर्शनात् ॥ ८ ॥

adhikopadeśāttu bādarāyaṇasyaivam, taddarśanāt || 8 ||

adhika-upadeśāt—Because (the scriptures) teach (the Supreme Self to be) something over and above; tu—but; bādarāyaṇasya—Bādarāyaṇa’s (view); evam— such i.e. correct; tat-darśanāt—for that is seen (from the scriptures).

8. But because (the scriptures) teach (the Supreme Self to be) other (than the agent), Bādarāyaṇa’s (view is) correct; for that is seen (from the scriptures).

Knowledge by itself benefits man; since Scripture teaches that the object of knowledge is the highest Brahman which, as it is of an absolutely faultless and perfect nature, is other than the active individual soul. Bādarāyaṇa, therefore, holds that knowledge has an independent fruit of its own. Let the inferential marks (referred to by the Pūrvapakshin) be; the direct teaching of the texts certainly refers to a being different from the Self that acts; for we clearly see that their object is the highest creative Brahman with all its perfections and exalted qualities, which cannot possibly be attributed to the individual Self whether in the state of Release or of bondage: 'Free from evil, free from old age,' &c. &c. In all those texts there is not the slightest trace of any reference to the wretched individual soul, as insignificant and weak as a tiny glow-worm, implicated in Nescience and all the other evils of finite existence. And the fruit of that knowledge of the highest Person the texts expressly declare, in many places, to be immortality--which consists in attaining to Him. The view of knowledge by itself benefitting man therefore is well founded.--The Sūtras proceed to dispose of the so-called inferential marks.

 Sutra 3,4.9

तुल्यं तु दर्शनम् ॥ ९ ॥

tulyaṃ tu darśanam || 9 ||

tulyam—Equal; tu—but; darśanam—declarations of the Śruti.

9. But the declarations of the Śruti equally support both views.

The argument that knowledge must be held subordinate to work because we learn from Scripture that those who know Brahman perform sacrificial works, will not hold good; since, on the other hand, we also see that men knowing Brahman abandoned all work; cp. texts such as 'The Rishis descended from Kavasha said: For what purpose should we study the Veda? for what purpose should we sacrifice?' As it thus appears that those who know Brahman give up works, knowledge cannot be a mere auxiliary to works.--But how can it be accounted for that those who know Brahman both do and do not perform works?--Works may be performed in so far as sacrifices and the like, if performed by one not having any special wish, stand in subordinate relation to the knowledge of Brahman; hence there is no objection to texts enjoining works. And as, on the other hand, sacrifices and such-like works when aiming at results of their own are opposed to the knowledge of Brahman which has Release for its only result, there is all the less objection to texts which suggest the non-performance of works. If, on the other hand, knowledge were subordinate to works, works could on no account be dispensed with.--Against the assertion that Scripture directly declares knowledge to be subordinate to works the next Sūtra declares itself.

Sutra 3,4.10

असार्वत्रिकी ॥ १० ॥

asārvatrikī || 10 ||

10. (The declaration of the scripture referred to in Sutra 4) is not universally true.

The scriptural declaration does not refer to all meditations, but only to the meditation on the Udgītha. In the clause 'what he does with knowledge,' the 'what' is in itself indefinite, and therefore must be defined as connecting itself with the Udgītha mentioned in the previous clause, 'Let him meditate on the Udgītha.' The sentence cannot be construed to mean 'whatever he does is to be done with knowledge,' but means 'that which he does with knowledge becomes more vigorous,' and that which is done with knowledge that is the Udgītha. The next Sūtra refutes the argument set forth in Sūtra 5.

Sutra 3,4.11

विभागः शतवत् ॥ ११ ॥

vibhāgaḥ śatavat || 11 ||

vibhāgaḥ—(There is) division of knowledge and work; śatavat—as in the case of a hundred (divided between two persons).

11. (There is) division of knowledge and work, as in the case of a hundred (divided between two persons).

As knowledge and work have different results, the text 'of him knowledge and work lay hold' must be understood in a distributive sense, i.e. as meaning that knowledge lays hold of him to the end of bringing about its own particular result, and that so likewise does work. 'As in the case of a hundred,' i.e. as it is understood that, when a man selling a field and a gem is said to receive two hundred gold pieces, one hundred are given for the field and one hundred for the gem.

Sutra 3,4.12

अध्ययनमात्रवतः ॥ १२ ॥

adhyayanamātravataḥ || 12 ||

12. (The scriptures enjoin work) only on those who have read the Vedas.

Nor is there any force in the argument that knowledge is only auxiliary to work because works are enjoined on him who possesses knowledge. For the text which refers to the man 'who has read the Veda' enjoins works on him who has merely read the texts, and reading there means nothing more than the apprehension of the aggregate of syllables called Veda, without any insight into their meaning. A man who has thus mastered the words of the Veda apprehends therefrom that it makes statements as to works having certain results, and then on his own account applies himself to the enquiry into the meaning of those declarations; he who is desirous of work applies himself to the knowledge of works; he who is desirous of Release applies himself to the knowledge of Brahman. And even if the injunction of reading were understood as prompting to the understanding of the text also, all the same, knowledge would not be a subsidiary to works. For knowledge, in the sense of the Upanishads, is something different from mere cognition of sense. In the same way as the performance of such works as the Jyotiṣṭoma sacrifice is something different from the cognition of the true nature of those works; so that vidyā, which effects the highest purpose of man, i. e. devout meditation (dhyāna, upāsanā), is something different from the mere cognition of the true nature of Brahman. Knowledge of that kind has not the most remote connexion even with works.

Sutra 3,4.13

न, अविशेषात् ॥ १३ ॥

na, aviśeṣāt || 13 ||

na—not; aviśeṣāt—owing to the absence of any specification.

13. Because there is no special mention (of the Jñāni, it does) not (apply to him).

Nor is it true that the text 'Doing works here,' &c., is meant to divert him who knows the Self from knowledge and restrict him to works. For there is no special reason to hold that that text refers to works as independent means of a desirable result: it may as well be understood to refer to works merely subordinate to knowledge. As he who knows the Self has to practise meditation as long as he lives, he may also have to practise, for the same period, works that are helpful to meditation. Having thus refuted the objection on the ground of the reason of the matter, the Sūtrakāra proceeds to give his own interpretation of the text.

Sutra 3,4.14

स्तुतयेऽनुमतिर्वा ॥ १४ ॥

stutaye’numatirvā || 14 ||

stutaye—For the praising (of Knowledge); anumatiḥ—permission; —or rather.

14. Or rather the permission (to do work) is for praising (Knowledge).

The or has assertive force. The introductory words of the Upanishad, 'Hidden in the Lord is all this,' show knowledge to be the subject-matter; hence the permission of works can aim only at the glorification of knowledge. The sense of the text therefore is--owing to the power of knowledge a man although constantly performing works is not stained by them.

Sutra 3,4.15

कामकारेण चैके ॥ १५ ॥

kāmakāreṇa caike || 15 ||

kāmakāreṇa—According to their choice; ca—and; eke—some.

15. And some according to their choice (have refrained from all work).

In some śākhās, moreover, we read that he who possesses the knowledge of Brahman may, according to his liking, give up the state of a householder, 'What shall we do with offspring, we who have this Self and this world?' (Bri. Up. V, 4, 22.) This text also proves knowledge not to be subsidiary to works; for if it were so subsidiary, it would not be possible for him who knows Brahman to give up householdership (with all the works obligatory on that state) according to his liking.

Sutra 3,4.16

उपमर्दं च ॥ १६ ॥

upamardaṃ ca || 16 ||

upamardaṃ—Destruction; ca—and.

16. And (the scriptures say that the) destruction (of all qualifications for work results from Knowledge).

There is moreover a Vedānta-text which declares the knowledge of Brahman to destroy work-good and evil- which is the root of all the afflictions of transmigratory existence: 'The knot of the heart is broken, all doubts are solved, all his works perish when He has been beheld who is high and low' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 8). This also contradicts the view of knowledge being subordinate to works.

Sutra 3,4.17

ऊर्ध्वरेतःसु च, शब्दे हि ॥ १७ ॥

ūrdhvaretaḥsu ca, śabde hi || 17 ||

ūrdhvaretaḥ su—To those who observe continence; ca—and; śabde—(this Āśrama is mentioned) in the scriptures; hi—because.

17. And (Knowledge belongs) to those who observe continence (i.e. to Sannyāsins); because (this fourth Āśrama is mentioned) in the scriptures.

The knowledge of Brahman belongs to those who have to observe chastity, and men living in that state have not to perform the Agnihotra, the Darśapūrṇamāsa, and similar works. For this reason also knowledge cannot be subsidiary to works.--But, it may be objected, there is no such condition of life; for texts such as 'he is to perform the Agnihotra as long as he lives,' declare men to be obliged to perform sacrifices and the like up to the end of their lives, and Smriti texts contradicting Scripture have no authority.--To meet this the Sūtra adds 'for in Scripture.' The three stages of life are recognised in Scripture only; cp. texts such as 'Those who in the forest practise penance and faith' (Kh. Up. V, 10, 1); 'Wishing for that world only mendicants wander forth from their homes' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 22). The text as to the lifelong duty of the Agnihotra is valid for those only who do not retire from worldly life.