IV-4 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 1


Topic 1 - The released soul does not acquire anything new but only manifests its true nature

 Sutra 4,4.1

संपद्याविर्भावः, स्वेनशब्दात् ॥ १ ॥

saṃpadyāvirbhāvaḥ, svenaśabdāt || 1 ||

saṃpadya—Having attained; āvirbhāvaḥ—there is manifestation (of its real nature); svenaśabdāt—from the word ‘own’.

1. (When the Jīva) has attained (the highest light) there is manifestation (of its real nature), as we know from the word ‘own’.

The Sūras now proceed to consider the kind of superior existence (aiśvarya) which the released souls enjoy.--The text says, 'Thus does that serene being, having risen from the body and having approached the highest light, manifest itself in its own form' (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, 3). Does this passage mean that the soul having approached the highest light assumes a new body, to be brought about then, as e.g. the body of a deva; or that it only manifests its own natural character?--The text must be understood in the former sense, the Pūrvapakshin holds. For otherwise the scriptural texts referring to Release would declare what is of no advantage to man. We do not observe that its own nature is of any advantage to the soul. In the state of dreamless sleep the body and the sense-organs cease to act, and you may say the pure soul then abides by itself, but in what way does this benefit man? Nor can it be said that mere cessation of pain constitutes the well-being of the soul which has approached the highest light, and that in this sense manifestation of its own nature may be called Release; for Scripture clearly teaches that the released soul enjoys an infinity of positive bliss, 'One hundred times the bliss of Prajāpati is one bliss of Brahman and of a sage free from desires'; 'for having tasted a flavour he experiences bliss' (Taitt. Up. II, 7). Nor can it be said that the true nature of the soul is consciousness of the nature of unlimited bliss which, in the Samsāra condition, is hidden by Nescience and manifests itself only when the soul reaches Brahman. For, as explained previously, intelligence which is of the nature of light cannot be hidden; hiding in that case would be neither more nor less than destruction. Nor can that which is mere light be of the nature of bliss; for bliss is pleasure, and to be of the nature of pleasure is to be such as to agree with the Self. But, if the Self is mere light, where is the being by which light is to be apprehended as agreeable to its own nature? (i.e. where is the knowing subject conscious of bliss?) He, therefore, who holds the Self to be mere light, can in no way prove that it is of the nature of bliss. If, moreover, that which the soul effects on approaching the highest light is merely to attain to its own true nature, we point out that that nature is something eternally accomplished, and that hence the declaration that 'it manifests (accomplishes) itself in its own nature' would be purportless. We hence conclude that on approaching the highest light the soul connects itself with a new form only then brought about. On this view the term 'accomplishes itself is taken in its direct sense, and the expression 'in its own shape' also is suitable in so far as the soul accomplishes itself in a nature specially belonging to it and characterised by absolute bliss.--This view the Sūtra rejects. That special condition into which the soul passes on having, on the path of the Gods, approached the highest light is a manifestation of its own true nature, not an origination of a new character. For this is proved--by the specification implied in the term 'own,' in the phrase 'in its own nature.' If the soul assumed a new body, this specification would be without meaning; for, even without that, it would be clear that the new body belongs to the soul.-- Against the assertion that the soul's own true nature is something eternally accomplished, and that hence a declaration of that nature 'accomplishing itself would be unmeaning, the next Sūtra declares itself.

Sutra 4,4.2

मुक्तः, प्रतिज्ञानात् ॥ २ ॥

muktaḥ, pratijñānāt || 2 ||

muktaḥ—Released; pratijñānāt—from the premise.

2. (The Self which manifests Its true nature attains) Liberation, (as is known), from the premise (made in the scriptures).

What the text says about the soul accomplishing itself in its own form refers to the released soul which, freed from its connexion with works and what depends thereon, i.e. the body and the rest, abides in its true essential nature.--That essential nature no doubt is something eternally accomplished, but as in the Samsāra state it is obscured by Nescience in the form of Karman; the text refers to the cessation of such obscuration as 'accomplishment.'--How is this known?--'From the promise,' i.e. from the fact that the text promises to set forth such cessation. For Prajāpati when saying again and again, 'I will explain that further to you,' does so with a view to throw light on the individual soul--first introduced in the clause 'that Self which is free from sin, etc.' (VIII, 7, 1)--in so far as freed from all connexion with the three empirical conditions of waking, dreaming and dreamless sleep, and released from the body which is due to Karman and the cause of joy and sorrow. When, therefore, he concludes 'that serene being, i.e. the soul, having risen from this body and having approached the highest light accomplishes itself in its true form,’ we understand that such 'accomplishment' means the final release, i. e. the cessation of all bondage, which is gained by the soul, previously connected with Karman, as soon as it approaches the highest light.--The Pūrvapakshin had said that as in the state of deep sleep the manifestation of the true nature of the soul is seen in no way to benefit man, Scripture, if declaring that Release consists in a manifestation of the true nature of the soul, would clearly teach something likewise not beneficial to man; and that hence the 'accomplishment in its own form' must mean the soul's entering on such a new condition of existence as would be a cause of pleasure, viz. the condition of a deva or the like. To this the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 4,4.3

आत्मा, प्रकरणात् ॥ ३ ॥

ātmā, prakaraṇāt || 3 ||

ātmā—The Supreme Self; prakaraṇāt—on account of the context.

3. (The ‘light’ attained by the Jīva is) the Supreme Self; on account of the context.

The subject-matter of the whole section shows that by the Self manifesting itself in its own form there is meant the Self as possessing the attributes of freedom from all evil and sin and so on. For the teaching of Prajāpati begins as follows: 'the Self which is free from sin, free from old age, from death and grief, from hunger and thirst, whose desires and thoughts spontaneously realise themselves.' And that this Self which forms the subject-matter of the entire section is the individual Self we have shown under I, 3, 19. The manifestation of the true nature of the soul when reaching the highest light therefore means the manifestation of that Self which has freedom from sin and so on for its essential attributes-that nature being in the Samsāra state obscured through Nescience. When therefore at the moment of Release those essential qualities assert themselves, the case is one of manifestation of what already exists, not one of origination. Thus the reverend Saunaka says, 'As the lustre of the gem is not created by the act of polishing, so the essential intelligence of the Self is not created by the putting off of imperfections. As the well is not the cause of the production of rain water, but only serves to manifest water which already exists--for whence should that originate which is not?-- thus knowledge and the other attributes of the Self are only manifested through the putting off of evil qualities; they are not produced, for they are eternal.' Intelligence, therefore, bliss, and the other essential qualities of the soul which were obscured and contracted by Karman, expand and thus manifest themselves when the bondage due to Karman passes away and the soul approaches the highest light. On this view of 'manifestation' there remains no difficulty.

--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'on approaching manifestation.'