Brahma Knowledge, by L. D. Barnett, , at sacred-texts.com
§ 22. God.—These two ideas, empiric servitude to Works and transcendental freedom, leave little room for a Supreme God or moral guide of the experiences of souls. The older texts practically ignore such a power; their polytheistic myths are merely echoes from the Veda, allegorically turned, and when they refer to a supreme deity they mean the higher Self within man. Later authors, however, began occasionally to set up in theistic fashion a distinction between the Self within and the Self without. This finally led to the conception of the later Vedānta, in which the Supreme Self, styled "the Lord" (Īśvara), is given the function of directing as efficient cause the course of "works," so that each comes to its
requital in due season and form, while the direct responsibility for all man's experiences is thrown upon the inward Self. In other circles the same theistic current led to the identification of this Ātmā-God with one of the great popular deities, usually Vishṇu or Śiva; and thus arose the great theologies, of which the most significant is the Bhagavad-gītā, a compromise between Upanishadic idealism, Sānkhya physics, and practical faith. The first definite theism is in Kaṭh. II. 20 (?), 23, III. i., v. 13, Muṇḍ. III. ii. 3, Īśa 8, Śvet. III 20, IV.–VI., etc. Worship of Brahma-Ātmā is however frequently mentioned in the Upanishads. It is an adoration of the Self either in its unqualified absoluteness (cf. Ch. III. xiv. 1, "Brahma in sooth is this All; it hath therein its beginning, end, and breath; so one should worship it in stillness"), or as allegorically typified by some physical force (see § 5), or as represented by the sacred syllable Om or Aum, upon which see especially Māṇḍ. and Pra. v., which sets forth the three degrees of reward for meditation upon one, two, or three elements of this word; cf. Śankara on Brahma-sūtra, I. iii. 13. See also §§ 8, 24.
Śankara (on Brahma-sūtra, II. iii. 29) claims that wherever the Vedas and Upanishads represent the absolute Brahma under the form of "determinations" (§ 12), this is for the purpose of worship of Brahma as qualified Supreme, saguṇa, e.g. in Ch. III. xiv. The conception of the soul's
relation to God as that of a servant to his master is justified by him (on II. iii. 43 f.), inasmuch as Brahma by his supreme "determinations" regulates the activity of the empiric soul in the exercise of its inferior "determinations." He permits the worship of this "qualified Brahma," i.e. the Absolute conceived under the forms of empiric thought, but regards it as inferior in saving power to the true knowledge (see §§ 24, 25). The works of religion—ritual and devotion—are of value only as aids to enlightenment; they are not necessary, and after enlightenment is gained they lose all significance (on III. iv. 25 f., IV. i. 1 f.).
47:1 Predestination for empiric life, B.A. III. viii. 9, IV. iv. 5, Ch. III. xiv. 1, VIII, i. 5; Unconscious freedom of transcendental Self, Ch. VIII. iii. 2; Absolute freedom in enlightenment, Ch. VII. xxv. 2, VII. i. 6, v. 4.