The Vedanta Sutras, commentary by Sankaracharya (SBE34), tr. by George Thibaut  at sacred-texts.com
4. But that (Brahman is to be known from Scripture), because it is connected (with the Vedânta-texts) as their purport.
The word 'but' is meant to rebut the pûrva-paksha (the primâ facie view as urged above). That all-knowing, all-powerful Brahman, which is the cause of the origin, subsistence, and dissolution of the world, is known from the Vedânta-part of Scripture. How? Because in all the Vedânta-texts the sentences construe in so far as they have for their purport, as they intimate that matter (viz. Brahman). Compare, for instance, 'Being only this was in the beginning, one, without a second' (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 1); 'In the beginning all this was Self, one only' (Ait. Âr. II, 4, 1, 1); 'This is the Brahman without cause and without effect, without anything inside or outside; this Self is Brahman perceiving everything' (Bri. Up. II, 5, 19); 'That immortal Brahman is before' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 11); and similar passages. If the words contained in these passages have once been determined to refer to Brahman, and their purport is understood thereby, it would be improper to assume them to have a different sense; for that would involve the fault of abandoning the direct statements of the text in favour of mere assumptions. Nor can we conclude the purport of these passages to be the intimation of the nature of agents, divinities, &c. (connected with acts of religious duty); for there are certain scriptural passages which preclude all actions, actors, and fruits, as, for instance, Bri. Up. II, 4, 13, 'Then by what should he see whom?' (which passage intimates that there is neither an agent, nor an object of action, nor an instrument.) Nor again can Brahman, though it is of the nature of an accomplished thing, be the object of perception and the other means of
knowledge; for the fact of everything having its Self in Brahman cannot be grasped without the aid of the scriptural passage 'That art thou' (Kh. Up. VI, 8, 7). Nor can it rightly be objected that instruction is purportless if not connected with something either to be striven after or shunned; for from the mere comprehension of Brahman's Self, which is not something either to be avoided or endeavoured after, there results cessation of all pain, and thereby the attainment of man's highest aim. That passages notifying certain divinities, and so on, stand in subordinate relation to acts of devout meditation mentioned in the same chapters may readily be admitted. But it is impossible that Brahman should stand in an analogous relation to injunctions of devout meditation, for if the knowledge of absolute unity has once arisen there exists no longer anything to be desired or avoided, and thereby the conception of duality, according to which we distinguish actions, agents, and the like, is destroyed. If the conception of duality is once uprooted by the conception of absolute unity, it cannot arise again, and so no longer be the cause of Brahman being looked upon as the complementary object of injunctions of devotion. Other parts of the Veda may have no authority except in so far as they are connected with injunctions; still it is impossible to impugn on that ground the authoritativeness of passages conveying the knowledge of the Self; for such passages have their own result. Nor, finally, can the authoritativeness of the Veda be proved by inferential reasoning so that it would be dependent on instances observed elsewhere. From all which it follows that the Veda possesses authority as a means of right knowledge of Brahman.
Here others raise the following objection:--Although the Veda is the means of gaining a right knowledge of Brahman, yet it intimates Brahman only as the object of certain injunctions, just as the information which the Veda gives about the sacrificial post, the âhavanîya-fire and other objects not known from the practice of common life is merely supplementary to certain injunctions 1. Why so?
[paragraph continues] Because the Veda has the purport of either instigating to action or restraining from it. For men fully acquainted with the object of the Veda have made the following declaration, 'The purpose of the Veda is seen to be the injunction of actions' (Bhâshya on Gaimini Sûtra I, 1, 1); 'Injunction means passages impelling to action' (Bh. on Gaim. Sû. I, 1, 2); 'Of this (viz. active religious duty) the knowledge comes from injunction' (part of Gaim. Sû. I, 1, 5); 'The (words) denoting those (things) are to be connected with (the injunctive verb of the vidhi-passage) whose purport is action' (Gaim. Sû. I, 1, 25); 'As action is the purport of the Veda, whatever does not refer to action is purportless' (Gaim. Sû. I, 2, 1). Therefore the Veda has a purport in so far only as it rouses the activity of man with regard to some actions and restrains it with regard to others; other passages (i.e. all those passages which are not directly injunctive) have a purport only in so far as they supplement injunctions and prohibitions. Hence the Vedânta-texts also as likewise belonging to the Veda can have a meaning in the same way only. And if their aim is injunction, then just as the agnihotra-oblation and other rites are enjoined as means for him who is desirous of the heavenly world, so the knowledge of Brahman is enjoined as a means for him who is desirous of immortality.--But--somebody might object--it has been declared that there is a difference in the character of the objects enquired into, the object of enquiry in the karma-kânda (that part of the Veda which treats of active religious duty) being something to be accomplished, viz. duty, while here the object is the already existent absolutely accomplished Brahman. From this it follows that the fruit of the knowledge of Brahman must be of a different nature from the fruit of the knowledge of duty which depends on the performance of actions 1.--We reply that it must not be such because the
[paragraph continues] Vedânta-texts give information about Brahman only in so far as it is connected with injunctions of actions. We meet with injunctions of the following kind, 'Verily the Self is to be seen' (Bri. Up. II, 4, 5); 'The Self which is free from sin that it is which we must search out, that it is which we must try to understand' (Kh. Up. VIII, 7, 1); 'Let a man worship him as Self' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 7); 'Let a man worship the Self only as his true state' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 15); 'He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 9). These injunctions rouse in us the desire to know what that Brahman is. It, therefore, is the task of the Vedânta-texts to set forth Brahman's nature, and they perform that task by teaching us that Brahman is eternal, all-knowing, absolutely self-sufficient, ever pure, intelligent and free, pure knowledge, absolute bliss. From the devout meditation on this Brahman there results as its fruit, final release, which, although not to be discerned in the ordinary way, is discerned by means of the sâstra. If, on the other hand, the Vedânta-texts were considered to have no reference to injunctions of actions, but to contain statements about mere (accomplished) things, just as if one were saying 'the earth comprises seven dvîpas,' 'that king is marching on,' they would be purportless, because then they could not possibly be connected with something to be shunned or endeavoured after.--Perhaps it will here be objected that sometimes a mere statement about existent things has a purpose, as, for instance, the affirmation, 'This is a rope, not a snake,' serves the purpose of removing the fear engendered by an erroneous opinion, and that so likewise the Vedânta-passages making statements about the non-transmigrating Self, have a purport of their own (without reference to any action), viz. in so far as they remove the erroneous opinion of the Self being liable to transmigration.--We reply that this might
be so if just as the mere hearing of the true nature of the rope dispels the fear caused by the imagined snake, so the mere hearing of the true nature of Brahman would dispel the erroneous notion of one's being subject to transmigration. But this is not the case; for we observe that even men to whom the true nature of Brahman has been stated continue to be affected by pleasure, pain, and the other qualities attaching to the transmigratory condition. Moreover, we see from the passage, Bri. Up. II, 4, 5, 'The Self is to be heard, to be considered, to be reflected upon, that consideration and reflection have to follow the mere hearing. From all this it results that the sâstra can be admitted as a means of knowing Brahman in so far only as the latter is connected with injunctions.
To all this, we, the Vedântins, make the following reply:--The preceding reasoning is not valid, on account of the different nature of the fruits of actions on the one side, and of the knowledge of Brahman on the other side. The enquiry into those actions, whether of body, speech, or mind, which are known from--Sruti and Smriti, and are comprised under the name 'religious duty' (dharma), is carried on in the Gaimini Sûtra, which begins with the words 'then therefore the enquiry into duty;' the opposite of duty also (adharma), such as doing harm, &c., which is defined in the prohibitory injunctions, forms an object of enquiry to the end that it may be avoided. The fruits of duty, which is good, and its opposite, which is evil, both of which are defined by original Vedic statements, are generally known to be sensible pleasure and pain, which make themselves felt to body, speech, and mind only, are produced by the contact of the organs of sense with the objects, and affect all animate beings from Brahman down to a tuft of grass. Scripture, agreeing with observation, states that there are differences in the degree of pleasure of all embodied creatures from men upward to Brahman. From those differences it is inferred that there are differences in the degrees of the merit acquired by actions in accordance with religious duty; therefrom again are inferred differences in degree between those qualified to perform
acts of religious duty. Those latter differences are moreover known to be affected by the desire of certain results (which entitles the man so desirous to perform certain religious acts), worldly possessions, and the like. It is further known from Scripture that those only who perform sacrifices proceed, in consequence of the pre-eminence of their knowledge and meditation, on the northern path (of the sun; Kh. Up. V, 10, 1), while mere minor offerings, works of public utility and alms, only lead through smoke and the other stages to the southern path. And that there also (viz. in the moon which is finally reached by those who have passed along the southern path) there are degrees of pleasure and the means of pleasure is understood from the passage 'Having dwelt there till their works are consumed.' Analogously it is understood that the different degrees of pleasure which are enjoyed by the embodied creatures, from man downward to the inmates of hell and to immovable things, are the mere effects of religious merit as defined in Vedic injunctions. On the other hand, from the different degrees of pain endured by higher and lower embodied creatures, there is inferred difference of degree in its cause, viz. religious demerit as defined in the prohibitory injunctions, and in its agents. This difference in the degree of pain and pleasure, which has for its antecedent embodied existence, and for its cause the difference of degree of merit and demerit of animated beings, liable to faults such as ignorance and the like, is well known--from Sruti, Smriti, and reasoning-to be non-eternal, of a fleeting, changing nature (samsâra). The following text, for instance, 'As long as he is in the body he cannot get free from pleasure and pain' (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, i), refers to the samsâra-state as described above. From the following passage, on the other hand, 'When he is free from the body then neither pleasure nor pain touches him,' which denies the touch of pain or pleasure, we learn that the unembodied state called 'final release' (moksha) is declared not to be the effect of religious merit as defined by Vedic injunctions. For if it were the effect of merit it would not be denied that it is subject to pain and pleasure. Should it be said
that the very circumstance of its being an unembodied state is the effect of merit, we reply that that cannot be, since Scripture declares that state to be naturally and originally an unembodied one. 'The wise who knows the Self as bodiless within the bodies, as unchanging among changing things, as great and omnipresent does never grieve' (Ka. Up. II, 22); 'He is without breath, without mind, pure' (Mu. Up. II, 1, 2); 'That person is not attached to anything' (Bri. Up. IV, 3, 15) 1. All which passages establish the fact that so-called release differs from all the fruits of action, and is an eternally and essentially disembodied state. Among eternal things, some indeed may be 'eternal, although changing' (parinâminitya), viz. those, the idea of whose identity is not destroyed, although they may undergo changes; such, for instance, are earth and the other elements in the opinion of those who maintain the eternity of the world, or the three gunas in the opinion of the Sânkhyas. But this (moksha) is eternal in the true sense, i.e. eternal without undergoing any changes (kûtasthanitya), omnipresent as ether, free from all modifications, absolutely self-sufficient, not composed of parts, of self-luminous nature. That bodiless entity in fact, to which merit and demerit with their consequences and threefold time do not apply, is called release; a definition agreeing with scriptural passages, such as the following: 'Different from merit and demerit, different from effect and cause, different from past and future' (Ka. Up. I, 2, 14). It 2 (i.e. moksha) is, therefore, the same as Brahman in the enquiry into which we are at present engaged. If Brahman were represented as supplementary to certain actions, and release
were assumed to be the effect of those actions, it would be non-eternal, and would have to be considered merely as something holding a pre-eminent position among the described non-eternal fruits of actions with their various degrees. But that release is something eternal is acknowledged by whoever admits it at all, and the teaching concerning Brahman can therefore not be merely supplementary to actions.
There are, moreover, a number of scriptural passages which declare release to follow immediately on the cognition of Brahman, and which thus preclude the possibility of an effect intervening between the two; for instance, 'He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 9); 'All his works perish when He has been beheld, who is the higher and the lower' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 8); 'He who knows the bliss of Brahman fears nothing' (Taitt. Up. II, 9); 'O Ganaka, you have indeed reached fearlessness' (Bri. Up. IV, 2, 4); 'That Brahman knew its Self only, saying, I am Brahman. From it all this sprang' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 10); 'What sorrow, what trouble can there be to him who beholds that unity?' (Îs. Up. 7.) We must likewise quote the passage,--Bri. Up. I, 4, 10, ('Seeing this the Rishi Vâmadeva understood: I was Manu, I was the sun,') in order to exclude the idea of any action taking place between one's seeing Brahman and becoming one with the universal Self; for that passage is analogous to the following one, 'standing he sings,' from which we understand that no action due to the same agent intervenes between the standing and the singing. Other scriptural passages show that the removal of the obstacles which lie in the way of release is the only fruit of the knowledge of Brahman; so, for instance, 'You indeed are our father, you who carry us from our ignorance to the other shore' (Pr. Up. VI, 8); 'I have heard from men like you that he who knows the Self overcomes grief. I am in grief. Do, Sir, help me over this grief of mine' (Kh. Up. VII, 1,3); 'To him after his faults had been rubbed out, the venerable Sanatkumâra showed the other side of darkness' (Kh. Up. VII, 26, 2). The same is the purport of the Sûtra, supported by arguments, of (Gautama) Âkârya, 'Final release
results from the successive removal of wrong knowledge, faults, activity, birth, pain, the removal of each later member of the series depending on the removal of the preceding member' (Nyây. Sû. I, 1, 2); and wrong knowledge itself is removed by the knowledge of one's Self being one with the Self of Brahman.
Nor is this knowledge of the Self being one with Brahman a mere (fanciful) combination 1, as is made use of, for instance, in the following passage, 'For the mind is endless, and the Visvedevas are endless, and he thereby gains the endless world' (Bri. Up. III, 1, 9) 2; nor is it an (in reality unfounded) ascription (superimposition) 3, as in the passages, 'Let him meditate on mind as Brahman,' and 'Âditya is Brahman, this is the doctrine' (Kh. Up. III, 18, 1; 19, 1), where the contemplation as Brahman is superimposed on the mind, Âditya and so on; nor, again, is it (a figurative conception of identity) founded on the connection (of the things viewed as identical) with some special activity, as in the passage, 'Air is indeed the absorber; breath is indeed the absorber 4' (Kh. Up. IV, 3, 1; 3); nor is it a mere (ceremonial) purification of (the Self constituting a subordinate member) of an action (viz. the action of seeing, &c., Brahman), in the same way as, for instance, the act of looking at the sacrificial
butter 1. For if the knowledge of the identity of the Self and Brahman were understood in the way of combination and the like, violence would be done thereby to the connection of the words whose object, in certain passages, it clearly is to intimate the fact of Brahman and the Self being really identical; so, for instance, in the following passages, 'That art thou' (Kh. Up. VI, 8, 7); 'I am Brahman' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 10); 'This Self is Brahman' (Bri. Up. II, 5, 19). And other texts which declare that the fruit of the cognition of Brahman is the cessation of Ignorance would be contradicted thereby; so, for instance, 'The fetter of the heart is broken, all doubts are solved' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 8). Nor, finally, would it be possible, in that case, satisfactorily to explain the passages which speak of the individual Self becoming Brahman: such as 'He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 9). Hence the knowledge of the unity of Brahman and the Self cannot be of the nature of figurative combination and the like. The knowledge of Brahman does, therefore, not depend on the active energy of man, but is analogous to the knowledge of those things which are the objects of perception, inference, and so on, and thus depends on the object of knowledge only. Of such a Brahman or its knowledge it is impossible to establish, by reasoning, any connection with actions.
Nor, again, can we connect Brahman with acts by representing it as the object of the action of knowing. For that it is not such is expressly declared in two passages, viz. 'It is different from the known and again above (i.e. different from) the unknown' (Ken. Up. I, 3); and 'How should he know him by whom he knows all this?' (Bri. Up. II, 4, 13.) In the same way Brahman is expressly declared not to be the object of the act of devout meditation, viz. in the second half of the verse, Ken. Up. I, 5, whose first half
declares it not to be an object (of speech, mind, and so on), 'That which is not proclaimed by speech, by which speech is proclaimed, that only know to be Brahman, not that on which people devoutly meditate as this.' If it should be objected that if Brahman is not an object (of speech, mind, &c.) the sâstra can impossibly be its source, we refute this objection by the remark that the aim of the sâstra is to discard all distinctions fictitiously created by Nescience. The sâstra's purport is not to represent Brahman definitely as this or that object, its purpose is rather to show that Brahman as the eternal subject (pratyagâtman, the inward Self) is never an object, and thereby to remove the distinction of objects known, knowers, acts of knowledge, &c., which is fictitiously created by Nescience. Accordingly the sâstra says, 'By whom it is not thought by him it is thought, by whom it is thought he does not know it; unknown by those who know it, it is known by those who do not know it' (Ken. Up. II, 3}; and 'Thou couldst not see the seer of sight, thou couldst not hear the hearer of hearing, nor perceive the perceiver of perception, nor know the knower of knowledge' (Bri. Up. III, 4, 2). As thereby (i.e. by the knowledge derived from the sâstra) the imagination of the transitoriness of Release which is due to Nescience is discarded, and Release is shown to be of the nature of the eternally free Self, it cannot be charged with the imperfection of non-eternality. Those, on the other hand, who consider Release to be something to be effected properly maintain that it depends on the action of mind, speech, or body. So, likewise, those who consider it to be a mere modification. Non-eternality of Release is the certain consequence of these two opinions; for we observe in common life that things which are modifications, such as sour milk and the like, and things which are effects, such as jars, &c., are non-eternal. Nor, again, can it be said that there is a dependance on action in consequence of (Brahman or Release) being something which is to be obtained 1; for as Brahman constitutes a person's Self it is
not something to be attained by that person. And even if Brahman were altogether different from a person's Self still it would not be something to be obtained; for as it is omnipresent it is part of its nature that it is ever present to every one, just as the (all-pervading) ether is. Nor, again, can it be maintained that Release is something to be ceremonially purified, and as such depends on an activity. For ceremonial purification (samskâra) results either from the accretion of some excellence or from the removal of some blemish. The former alternative does not apply to Release as it is of the nature of Brahman, to which no excellence can be added; nor, again, does the latter alternative apply, since Release is of the nature of Brahman, which is eternally pure.--But, it might be said, Release might be a quality of the Self which is merely hidden and becomes manifest on the Self being purified by some action; just as the quality of clearness becomes manifest in a mirror when the mirror is cleaned by means of the action of rubbing.--This objection is invalid, we reply, because the Self cannot be the abode of any action. For an action cannot exist without modifying that in which it abides. But if the Self were modified by an action its non-eternality would result therefrom, and texts such as the following, 'unchangeable he is called,' would thus be stultified; an altogether unacceptable result. Hence it is impossible to assume that any action should abide in the Self. On the other hand, the Self cannot be purified by actions abiding in something else as it stands in no relation to that extraneous something. Nor will it avail to point out (as a quasi-analogous case) that the embodied Self (dehin, the individual soul) is purified by certain ritual actions which abide in the body, such as bathing, rinsing one's mouth, wearing the sacrificial thread, and the like. For what is purified by those actions is that Self merely which is joined to the body, i.e. the Self in so far as it is under the power of Nescience. For it is a matter of perception
that bathing and similar actions stand in the relation of inherence to the body, and it is therefore only proper to conclude that by such actions only that something is purified which is joined to the body. If a person thinks 'I am free from disease,' he predicates health of that entity only which is connected with and mistakenly identifies itself with the harmonious condition of matter (i.e. the body) resulting from appropriate medical treatment applied to the body (i.e. the 'I' constituting the subject of predication is only the individual embodied Self). Analogously that I which predicates of itself, that it is purified by bathing and the like, is only the individual soul joined to the body. For it is only this latter principle of egoity (ahamkartri), the object of the notion of the ego and the agent in all cognition, which accomplishes all actions and enjoys their results. Thus the mantras also declare, 'One of them eats the sweet fruit, the other looks on without eating' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 1); and 'When he is in union with the body, the senses, and the mind, then wise people call him the Enjoyer' (Ka. Up. III, 1, 4). Of Brahman, on the other hand, the two following passages declare that it is incapable of receiving any accretion and eternally pure, 'He is the one God, hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the Self within all beings, watching over all works, dwelling in all beings, the witness, the perceiver, the only one; free from qualities' (Sv. Up. VI, 11); and 'He pervaded all, bright, incorporeal, scatheless, without muscles, pure, untouched by evil' (Îs. Up. 8). But Release is nothing but being Brahman. Therefore Release is not something to be purified. And as nobody is able to show any other way in which Release could be connected with action, it is impossible that it should stand in any, even the slightest, relation to any action, excepting knowledge.
But, it will be said here, knowledge itself is an activity of the mind. By no means, we reply; since the two are of different nature. An action is that which is enjoined as being independent of the nature of existing things and dependent on the energy of some person's mind; compare, for instance, the following passages, 'To whichever divinity the
offering is made on that one let him meditate when about to say vashat' (Ait. Brâhm. III, 8, 1); and 'Let him meditate in his mind on the sandhyâ.' Meditation and reflection are indeed mental, but as they depend on the (meditating, &c.) person they may either be performed or not be performed or modified. Knowledge, on the other hand, is the result of the different means of (right) knowledge, and those have for their objects existing things; knowledge can therefore not be either made or not made or modified, but depends entirely on existing things, and not either on Vedic statements or on the mind of man. Although mental it thus widely differs from meditation and the like.
The meditation, for instance, on man and woman as fire, which is founded on Kh. Up. V, 7, 1; 8, 1, 'The fire is man, O Gautama; the fire is woman, O Gautama,' is on account of its being the result of a Vedic statement, merely an action and dependent on man; that conception of fire, on the other hand, which refers to the well-known (real) fire, is neither dependent on Vedic statements nor on man, but only on a real thing which is an object of perception; it is therefore knowledge and not an action. The same remark applies to all things which are the objects of the different means of right knowledge. This being thus that knowledge also which has the existent Brahman for its object is not dependent on Vedic injunction. Hence, although imperative and similar forms referring to the knowledge of Brahman are found in the Vedic texts, yet they are ineffective because they refer to something which cannot be enjoined, just as the edge of a razor becomes blunt when it is applied to a stone. For they have for their object something which can neither be endeavoured after nor avoided.--But what then, it will be asked, is the purport of those sentences which, at any rate, have the appearance of injunctions; such as, 'The Self is to be seen, to be heard about?'--They have the purport, we reply, of diverting (men) from the objects of natural activity. For when a man acts intent on external things, and only anxious to attain the objects of his desire and to eschew the objects of his aversion, and does not thereby reach the highest aim of man although desirous of attaining it; such
texts as the one quoted divert him from the objects of natural activity and turn the stream of his thoughts on the inward (the highest) Self. That for him who is engaged in the enquiry into the Self, the true nature of the Self is nothing either to be endeavoured after or to be avoided, we learn from texts such as the following: 'This everything, all is that Self' (Bri, Up. II, 4, 6); 'But when the Self only is all this, how should he see another, how should he know another, how should he know the knower?' (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 15); 'This Self is Brahman' (Bri. Up. II, 5, 19). That the knowledge of Brahman refers to something which is not a thing to be done, and therefore is not concerned either with the pursuit or the avoidance of any object, is the very thing we admit; for just that constitutes our glory, that as soon as we comprehend Brahman, all our duties come to an end and all our work is over. Thus Sruti says, 'If a man understands the Self, saying, "I am he," what could he wish or desire that he should pine after the body?' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 12.) And similarly Smriti declares, 'Having understood this the understanding man has done with all work, O Bhârata' (Bha. Gîtâ XV, 20). Therefore Brahman is not represented as the object of injunctions.
We now proceed to consider the doctrine of those who maintain that there is no part of the Veda which has the purport of making statements about mere existent things, and is not either an injunction or a prohibition, or supplementary to either. This opinion is erroneous, because the soul (purusha), which is the subject of the Upanishads, does not constitute a complement to anything else. Of that soul which is to be comprehended from the Upanishads only, which is non-transmigratory, Brahman, different in nature from the four classes of substances 1, which forms a topic of its own and is not a complement to anything else; of that
soul it is impossible to say that it is not or is not apprehended; for the passage, 'That Self is to be described by No, no!' (Bri. Up. III, 9, 26) designates it as the Self, and that the Self is cannot be denied. The possible objection that there is no reason to maintain that the soul is known from the Upanishads only, since it is the object of self-consciousness, is refuted by the fact that the soul of which the Upanishads treat is merely the witness of that (i.e. of the object of self-consciousness, viz. the gîvâtman). For neither from that part of the Veda which enjoins works nor from reasoning, anybody apprehends that soul which, different from the agent that is the object of self-consciousness, merely witnesses it; which is permanent in all (transitory) beings; uniform; one; eternally unchanging; the Self of everything. Hence it can neither be denied nor be represented as the mere complement of injunctions; for of that very person who might deny it it is the Self. And as it is the Self of all, it can neither be striven after nor avoided. All perishable things indeed perish, because they are mere modifications, up to (i.e. exclusive of) the soul. But the soul is imperishable 1, as there is no cause why it should perish; and eternally unchanging, as there is no cause for its undergoing any modification; hence it is in its essence eternally pure and free. And from passages, such as 'Beyond the soul there is nothing; this is the goal, the highest road' (Ka. Up. I, 3, 11), and 'That soul, taught in the Upanishads, I ask thee' (Bri. Up. III, 9, 26), it appears that the attribute of resting on the Upanishads is properly given to the soul, as it constitutes their chief topic. To say, therefore, that there is no portion of the Veda referring to existing things, is a mere bold assertion.
With regard to the quotations made of the views of men acquainted with the purport of the Sâstra (who alone were stated to have declared that the Veda treats of actions) it is to be understood that they, having to do with the enquiry into duty, refer to that part of the Sâstra which consists of
injunctions and prohibitions. With regard to the other passage quoted ('as action is the purport of the Veda, whatever does not refer to action is purportless') we remark that if that passage were taken in an absolutely strict sense (when it would mean that only those words which denote action have a meaning), it would follow that all information about existent things is meaningless 1. If, on the other hand, the Veda--in addition to the injunctions of activity and cessation of activity--does give information about existent things as being subservient to some action to be accomplished, why then should it not give information also about the existent eternally unchangeable Self? For an existent thing, about which information is given, does not become an act (through being stated to be subservient to an act).--But, it will be said, although existent things are not acts, yet, as they are instrumental to action, the information given about such things is merely subservient to action.--This, we reply, does not matter; for although the information may be subservient to action, the things themselves about which information is given are already intimated thereby as things which have the power of bringing about certain actions. Their final end (prayogana) indeed may be subserviency to some action, but thereby they do not cease to be, in the information given about them, intimated in themselves.--Well, and if they are thus intimated, what is gained thereby for your purpose 2? We reply that the information about the Self, which is an existing thing not comprehended from other sources, is of the same nature (as the information about other existent things); for by the comprehension of the Self a stop is put to all false knowledge, which is the cause of transmigration, and thus a
purpose is established which renders the passages relative to Brahman equal to those passages which give information about things instrumental to actions. Moreover, there are found (even in that part of the Veda which treats of actions) such passages as 'a Brâhmana is not to be killed,' which teach abstinence from certain actions. Now abstinence from action is neither action nor instrumental to action. If, therefore, the tenet that all those passages which do not express action are devoid of purport were insisted on, it would follow that all such passages as the one quoted, which teach abstinence from action, are devoid of purport--a consequence which is of course unacceptable. Nor, again, can the connexion in which the word 'not' stands with the action expressed by the verb 'is to be killed'--which action is naturally established 1--be used as a reason for assuming that 'not' denotes an action non-established elsewhere 2, different from the state of mere passivity implied in the abstinence from the act of killing. For the peculiar function of the particle 'not' is to intimate the idea of the non-existence of that with which it is connected, and the conception of the non-existence (of something to be done) is the cause of the state of passivity. (Nor can it be objected that, as soon as that momentary idea has passed away, the state of passivity will again make room for activity; for) that idea itself passes away (only after having completely destroyed the natural impulse prompting to the murder of a Brâhmana, &c., just as a fire is extinguished only after having completely consumed its fuel. Hence we are of opinion that the aim of prohibitory passages, such as 'a Brâhmana is not to be killed, 'is a merely passive state, consisting in the abstinence from some possible action; excepting some special cases, such as the so-called Pragâpati-vow, &c. 3 Hence the charge of want of purpose is to be
considered as referring (not to the Vedânta-passages, but only) to such statements about existent things as are of the nature of legends and the like, and do not serve any purpose of man.
The allegation that a mere statement about an actually existent thing not connected with an injunction of something to be done, is purposeless (as, for instance, the statement that the earth contains seven dvîpas) has already been refuted on the ground that a purpose is seen to exist in some such statements, as, for instance, 'this is not a snake, but a rope.'--But how about the objection raised above that the information about Brahman cannot be held to have a purpose in the same way as the statement about a rope has one, because a man even after having heard about Brahman continues to belong to this transmigratory
world?--We reply as follows: It is impossible to show that a man who has once understood Brahman to be the Self, belongs to the transmigratory world in the same sense as he did before, because that would be contrary to the fact of his being Brahman. For we indeed observe that a person who imagines the body, and so on, to constitute the Self, is subject to fear and pain, but we have no right to assume that the same person after having, by means of the Veda, comprehended Brahman to be the Self, and thus having got over his former imaginings, will still in the same manner be subject to pain and fear whose cause is wrong knowledge. In the same way we see that a rich householder, puffed up by the conceit of his wealth, is grieved when his possessions are taken from him; but we do not see that the loss of his wealth equally grieves him after he has once retired from the world and put off the conceit of his riches. And, again, we see that a person possessing a pair of beautiful earrings derives pleasure from the proud conceit of ownership; but after he has lost the earrings and the conceit established thereon, the pleasure derived from them vanishes. Thus Sruti also declares, 'When he is free from the body, then neither pleasure nor pain touches him' (Kh. Up. VIII, 12, 1). If it should be objected that the condition of being free from the body follows on death only, we demur, since the cause of man being joined to the body is wrong knowledge. For it is not possible to establish the state of embodiedness upon anything else but wrong knowledge. And that the state of disembodiedness is eternal on account of its not having actions for its cause, we have already explained. The objection again, that embodiedness is caused by the merit and demerit effected by the Self (and therefore real), we refute by remarking that as the (reality of the) conjunction of the Self with the body is itself not established, the circumstance of merit and demerit being due to the action of the Self is likewise not established; for (if we should try to get over this difficulty by representing the Self's embodiedness as caused by merit and demerit) we should commit the logical fault of making embodiedness dependent on merit and demerit,
and again merit and demerit on embodiedness. And the assumption of an endless retrogressive chain (of embodied states and merit and demerit) would be no better than a chain of blind men (who are unable to lead one another). Moreover, the Self can impossibly become an agent, as it cannot enter into intimate relation to actions. If it should be said that the Self may be considered as an agent in the same way as kings and other great people are (who without acting themselves make others act) by their mere presence, we deny the appositeness of this instance; for kings may become agents through their relation to servants whom they procure by giving them wages, &c., while it is impossible to imagine anything, analogous to money, which could be the cause of a connexion between the Self as lord and the body, and so on (as servants). Wrong imagination, on the other hand, (of the individual Self, considering itself to be joined to the body,) is a manifest reason of the connexion of the two (which is not based on any assumption). This explains also in how far the Self can be considered as the agent in sacrifices and similar acts 1. Here it is objected that the Self's imagination as to the body, and so on, belonging to itself is not false, but is to be understood in a derived (figurative) sense. This objection we invalidate by the remark that the distinction of derived and primary senses of words is known to be applicable only where an actual difference of things is known to exist. We are, for instance, acquainted with a certain species of animals having a mane, and so on, which is the exclusive primary object of the idea and word 'lion,' and we are likewise acquainted with persons possessing in an eminent degree certain leonine qualities, such as fierceness, courage, &c.; here, a well settled difference of objects existing, the idea and the name 'lion' are applied to those persons in a derived or figurative sense. In those cases, however, where the difference of the objects is not well established, the transfer of the conception and
name of the one to the other is not figurative, but simply founded on error. Such is, for instance, the case of a man who at the time of twilight does not discern that the object before him is a post, and applies to it the conception and designation of a man; such is likewise the case of the conception and designation of silver being applied to a shell of mother-of-pearl somehow mistaken for silver. How then can it be maintained that the application of the word and the conception of the Ego to the body, &c., which application is due to the non-discrimination of the Self and the Not-Self, is figurative (rather than simply false)? considering that even learned men who know the difference of the Self and the Not-Self confound the words and ideas just as common shepherds and goatherds do.
As therefore the application of the conception of the Ego to the body on the part of those who affirm the existence of a Self different from the body is simply false, not figurative, it follows that the embodiedness of the Self is (not real but) caused by wrong conception, and hence that the person who has reached true knowledge is free from his body even while still alive. The same is declared in the Sruti passages concerning him who knows Brahman: 'And as the slough of a snake lies on an ant-hill, dead and cast away, thus lies this body; but that disembodied immortal spirit is Brahman only, is only light' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 7); and 'With eyes he is without eyes as it were, with ears without ears as it were, with speech without speech as it were, with a mind without mind as it were, with vital airs without vital airs as it were.' Smriti also, in the passage where the characteristic marks are enumerated of one whose mind is steady (Bha. Gîtâ II, 54), declares that he who knows is no longer connected with action of any kind. Therefore the man who has once comprehended Brahman to be the Self, does not belong to this transmigratory world as he did before. He, on the other hand, who still belongs to this transmigratory world as before, has not comprehended Brahman to be the Self. Thus there remain no unsolved contradictions.
With reference again to the assertion that Brahman is not
fully determined in its own nature, but stands in a complementary relation to injunctions, because the hearing about Brahman is to be followed by consideration and reflection, we remark that consideration and reflection are themselves merely subservient to the comprehension of Brahman. If Brahman, after having been comprehended, stood in a subordinate relation to some injunctions, it might be said to be merely supplementary. But this is not the case, since consideration and reflection no less than hearing are subservient to comprehension. It follows that the Sâstra cannot be the means of knowing Brahman only in so far as it is connected with injunctions, and the doctrine that on account of the uniform meaning of the Vedânta-texts, an independent Brahman is to be admitted, is thereby fully established. Hence there is room for beginning the new Sâstra indicated in the first Sûtra, 'Then therefore the enquiry into Brahman.' If, on the other hand, the Vedânta-texts were connected with injunctions, a new Sâstra would either not be begun at all, since the Sâstra concerned with injunctions has already been introduced by means of the first Sûtra of the Pûrva Mîmâmsâ, 'Then therefore the enquiry into duty;' or if it were begun it would be introduced as follows: 'Then therefore the enquiry into the remaining duties;' just as a new portion of the Pûrva Mîmâmsâ Sûtras is introduced with the words, 'Then therefore the enquiry into what subserves the purpose of the sacrifice, and what subserves the purpose of man' (Pû. Mî. Sû. IV, 1, 1). But as the comprehension of the unity of Brahman and the Self has not been propounded (in the previous Sâstra), it is quite appropriate that a new Sâstra, whose subject is Brahman, should be entered upon. Hence all injunctions and all other means of knowledge end with the cognition expressed in the words, 'I am Brahman;' for as soon as there supervenes the comprehension of the non-dual Self, which is not either something to be eschewed or something to be appropriated, all objects and knowing agents vanish, and hence there can no longer be means of proof. In accordance with this, they (i.e. men knowing Brahman) have made the following declaration:--
'When there has arisen (in a man's mind) the knowledge, "I am that which is, Brahman is my Self," and when, owing to the sublation of the conceptions of body, relatives, and the like, the (imagination of) the figurative and the false Self has come to an end 1; how should then the effect 2 (of that wrong imagination) exist any longer? As long as the knowledge of the Self, which Scripture tells us to search after, has not arisen, so long the Self is knowing subject; but that same subject is that which is searched after, viz. (the highest Self) free from all evil and blemish. Just as the idea of the Self being the body is assumed as valid (in ordinary life), so all the ordinary sources of knowledge (perception and the like) are valid only until the one Self is ascertained.'
(Herewith the section comprising the four Sûtras is finished 3.)
So far it has been declared that the Vedânta-passages, whose purport is the comprehension of Brahman being the Self, and which have their object therein, refer exclusively to Brahman without any reference to actions. And it has further been shown that Brahman is the omniscient omnipotent cause of the origin, subsistence, and dissolution of the world. But now the Sânkhyas and others being of opinion that an existent substance is to be known through other means of proof (not through the Veda) infer different causes, such as the pradhâna and the like, and thereupon interpret the Vedânta-passages as referring to the latter. All the Vedânta-passages, they maintain, which treat of the creation of the world distinctly point out that the cause (of the world) has to be concluded from the effect by inference; and the cause which is to be inferred is the connexion of the pradhâna with the souls (purusha). The followers of Kanâda again infer from the very same
passages that the Lord is the efficient cause of the world while the atoms are its material cause. And thus other argumentators also taking their stand on passages apparently favouring their views and on fallacious arguments raise various objections. For this reason the teacher (Vyâsa)--thoroughly acquainted as he is with words, passages, and means of proof--proceeds to state as primâ facie views, and afterwards to refute, all those opinions founded on deceptive passages and fallacious arguments. Thereby he at the same time proves indirectly that what the Vedânta-texts aim at is the comprehension of Brahman.
The Sânkhyas who opine that the non-intelligent pradhâna consisting of three constituent elements (guna) is the cause of the world argue as follows. The Vedânta-passages which you have declared to intimate that the all-knowing all-powerful Brahman is the cause of the world can be consistently interpreted also on the doctrine of the pradhâna being the general cause. Omnipotence (more literally: the possession of all powers) can be ascribed to the pradhâna in so far as it has all its effects for its objects. All-knowingness also can be ascribed to it, viz. in the following manner. What you think to be knowledge is in reality an attribute of the guna of Goodness 1, according to the Smriti passage 'from Goodness springs knowledge' (Bha. Gîtâ XIV, 17). By means of this attribute of Goodness, viz. knowledge, certain men endowed with organs which are effects (of the pradhâna) are known as all-knowing Yogins; for omniscience is acknowledged to be connected with the very highest degree of 'Goodness.' Now to the soul (purusha) which is isolated, destitute of effected organs, consisting of pure (undifferenced) intelligence it is quite impossible to ascribe either all-knowingness or limited knowledge; the pradhâna, on the other hand, because consisting of the three gunas, comprises also in its pradhâna state the element of Goodness which is the cause of all-knowingness. The Vedânta-passages therefore in
a derived (figurative) sense ascribe all-knowingness to the pradhâna, although it is in itself non-intelligent. Moreover you (the Vedântin) also who assume an all-knowing Brahman can ascribe to it all-knowingness in so far only as that term means capacity for all knowledge. For Brahman cannot always be actually engaged in the cognition of everything; for from this there would follow the absolute permanency of his cognition, and this would involve a want of independence on Brahman's part with regard to the activity of knowing. And if you should propose to consider Brahman's cognition as non-permanent it would follow that with the cessation of the cognition Brahman itself would cease. Therefore all-knowingness is possible only in the sense of capacity for all knowledge. Moreover you assume that previously to the origination of the world Brahman is without any instruments of action. But without the body, the senses, &c. which are the instruments of knowledge, cognition cannot take place in any being. And further it must be noted that the pradhâna, as consisting of various elements, is capable of undergoing modifications, and may therefore act as a (material) cause like clay and other substances; while the uncompounded homogeneous Brahman is unable to do so.
To these conclusions he (Vyâsa) replies in the following Sûtra.
23:1 So, for instance, the passage 'he carves the sacrificial post and p. 24 Footnote: makes it eight-cornered,' has a purpose only as being supplementary to the injunction 'he ties the victim to the sacrificial post.'
24:1 If the fruits of the two sâstras were not of a different nature, there would be no reason for the distinction of two sâstras; if they p. 25 are of a different nature, it cannot be said that the knowledge of Brahman is enjoined for the purpose of final release, in the same way as sacrifices are enjoined for the purpose of obtaining the heavenly world and the like.
28:1 The first passage shows that the Self is not joined to the gross body; the second that it is not joined to the subtle body; the third that is independent of either.
28:2 Ânanda Giri omits 'atah.' His comment is: prithaggigñâsâvishayatvâk ka dharmâdyasprishtatvam brahmano yuktam ityâha tad iti
30:1 Sampat. Sampan nâmâlpe vastuny âlambane sâmânyena kenakin mahato vastunah sampâdanam. Ânanda Giri.
30:2 In which passage the mind, which may be called endless on account of the infinite number of modifications it undergoes, is identified with the Visvedevas, which thereby constitute the chief object of the meditation; the fruit of the meditation being immortality. The identity of the Self with Brahman, on the other hand, is real, not only meditatively imagined, on account of the attribute of intelligence being common to both.
30:3 Adhyâsah sâstrato#tasmims taddhîh. Sampadi sampâdyamânasya prâdhânyenânudhyânam, adhyâse tu âlambanasyeti viseshah. Ânanda Giri.
30:4 Air and breath each absorb certain things, and are, therefore, designated by the same term 'absorber.' Seyam samvargadrishtir vâyau prâne ka dasâsâgatam gagad darsayati yathâ gîvâtmani brimhanakriyayâ brahmadrishtiramritatvâyaphalâya kalpata iti. Bhâmati.
31:1 The butter used in the upâmsuyâga is ceremonially purified by the wife of the sacrificer looking at it; so, it might be said, the Self of him who meditates on Brahman (and who as kartri--agent--stands in a subordinate anga-relation to the karman of meditation) is merely purified by the cognition of its being one with Brahman.
32:1 An hypothesis which might be proposed for the purpose of p. 33 obviating the imputation to moksha of non-eternality which results from the two preceding hypotheses.
36:1 Viz. things to be originated (for instance, ghatam karoti), things to be obtained (grâmam gakkhati), things to be modified (suvarnam kundalam karoti), and things to be ceremonially purified (vrîhîn prokshati).
37:1 Whence it follows that it is not something to be avoided like transitory things.
38:1 That, for instance, in the passage 'he is to sacrifice with Soma,' the word 'soma,' which does not denote an action, is devoid of sense.
38:2 I.e. for the purpose of showing that the passages conveying information about Brahman as such are justified. You have (the objector maintains) proved hitherto only that passages containing information about existent things are admissible, if those things have a purpose; but how does all this apply to the information about Brahman of which no purpose has been established?
39:1 It is 'naturally established' because it has natural motives--not dependent on the injunctions of the Veda, viz. passion and the like.
39:2 Elsewhere, i.e. outside the Veda.
39:3 The above discussion of the prohibitory passages of the Veda p. 40 is of a very scholastic nature, and various clauses in it are differently interpreted by the different commentators. Sankara endeavours to fortify his doctrine, that not all parts of the Veda refer to action by an appeal to prohibitory passages which do not enjoin action but abstinence from action. The legitimacy of this appeal might be contested on the ground that a prohibitory passage also, (as, for instance, 'a Brâhmana is not to be killed,') can be explained as enjoining a positive action, viz. some action opposed in nature to the one forbidden, so that the quoted passage might be interpreted to mean 'a determination, &c. of not killing a Brâhmana is to be formed;' just as we understand something positive by the expression 'a non-Brâhmana,' viz. some man who is a kshattriya or something else. To this the answer is that, wherever we can, we must attribute to the word 'not' its primary sense which is the absolute negation of the word to which it is joined; so that passages where it is joined to words denoting action must be considered to have for their purport the entire absence of action. Special cases only are excepted, as the one alluded to in the text where certain prohibited actions are enumerated under the heading of vows; for as a vow is considered as something positive, the non-doing of some particular action must there be understood as intimating the performance of some action of an opposite nature. The question as to the various meanings of the particle 'not' is discussed in all treatises on the Pûrvâ Mîmâmsâ; see, for instance, Arthasamgraha, translation, p. 39 ff.
42:1 The Self is the agent in a sacrifice, &c. only in so far as it imagines itself to be joined to a body; which imagination is finally removed by the cognition of Brahman.
45:1 The figurative Self, i.e. the imagination that wife, children, possessions, and the like are a man's Self; the false Self, i.e. the imagination that the Self acts, suffers, enjoys, &c.
45:2 I.e. the apparent world with all its distinctions.
45:3 The words in parentheses are not found in the best manuscripts.
46:1 The most exalted of the three constituent elements whose state of equipoise constitutes the pradhâna.