The Vedanta Sutras, commentary by Sankaracharya (SBE34), tr. by George Thibaut  at sacred-texts.com
19. If it be said that from the subsequent (chapter it appears that the individual soul is meant), (we point out that what is there referred to is) rather (the individual soul in so far) as its true nature has become manifest (i. e. as it is non-different from Brahman).
The doubt whether, 'on account of the reference to the other,' the individual soul might not possibly be meant, has been discarded on the ground of 'impossibility.' But, like a dead man on whom amrita has been sprinkled, that doubt rises again, drawing new strength from the subsequent chapter which treats of Pragâpati. For there he (Pragâpati)
at the outset declares that the Self, which is free from sin and the like, is that which is to be searched out, that which we must try to understand (Kh. Up. VIII, 7, 1); after that he points out that the seer within the eye, i. e. the individual soul, is the Self ('that person that is seen in the eye is the Self,' VIII, 7, 3); refers again and again to the same entity (in the clauses 'I shall explain him further to you,' VIII, 9, 3; VIII, 10, 4); and (in the explanations fulfilling the given promises) again explains the (nature of the) same individual soul in its different states ('He who moves about happy in dreams is the Self,' VIII, 10, 1; 'When a man being asleep, reposing, and at perfect rest sees no dreams, that is the Self,' VIII, 11, 1). The clause attached to both these explanations (viz. 'That is the immortal, the fearless; that is Brahman') shows, at the same time, the individual soul to be free from sin, and the like. After that Pragâpati, having discovered a shortcoming in the condition of deep sleep (in consequence of the expostulation of Indra, 'In that way he does not know himself that he is I, nor does he know these beings,' VIII, 11, 2), enters on a further explanation ('I shall explain him further to you, and nothing more than this'), begins by blaming the (soul's) connexion with the body, and finally declares the individual soul, when it has risen from the body, to be the highest person. ('Thus does that serene being, arising from this body, appear in its own form as soon as it has approached the highest light. That is the highest person.')--From this it appears that there is a possibility of the qualities of the highest Lord belonging to the individual soul also, and on that account we maintain that the term, 'the small ether within it,' refers to the individual soul.
This position we counter-argue as follows. 'But in so far as its nature has become manifest.' The particle 'but' (in the Sûtra) is meant to set aside the view of the pûrvapakshin, so that the sense of the Sûtra is, 'Not even on account of the subsequent chapter a doubt as to the small ether being the individual soul is possible, because there also that which is meant to be intimated is the individual soul, in so far only as its (true) nature has become manifest.' The Sûtra uses the expression 'he whose nature has become manifest,'
which qualifies gîva., the individual soul, with reference to its previous condition 1.--The meaning is as follows. Pragâpati speaks at first of the seer characterised by the eye ('That person which is within the eye,' &c.); shows thereupon, in the passage treating of (the reflection in) the waterpan, that he (viz. the seer) has not his true Self in the body; refers to him repeatedly as the subject to be explained (in the clauses 'I shall explain him further to you'); and having then spoken of him as subject to the states of dreaming and deep sleep, finally explains the individual soul in its real nature, i.e. in so far as it is the highest Brahman, not in so far as it is individual soul ('As soon as it has approached the highest light it appears in its own form'). The highest light mentioned, in the passage last quoted, as what is to be approached, is nothing else but the highest Brahman, which is distinguished by such attributes as freeness from sin, and the like. That same highest Brahman constitutes--as we know from passages such as 'that art thou'--the real nature of the individual soul, while its second nature, i.e. that aspect of it which depends on fictitious limiting conditions, is not its real nature. For as long as the individual soul does not free itself from Nescience in the form of duality--which Nescience may be compared to the mistake of him who in the twilight mistakes a post for a man--and does not rise to the knowledge of the Self, whose nature is unchangeable, eternal Cognition--which expresses itself in the form 'I am Brahman'--so long it remains the individual soul. But when, discarding the aggregate of body, sense-organs and mind, it arrives, by means of Scripture, at the knowledge that it is not itself that aggregate, that it does not form part of transmigratory existence, but is the True, the Real, the Self, whose nature is pure intelligence; then
knowing itself to be of the nature of unchangeable, eternal Cognition, it lifts itself above the vain conceit of being one with this body, and itself becomes the Self, whose nature is unchanging, eternal Cognition. As is declared in such scriptural passages as 'He who knows the highest Brahman becomes even Brahman' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 9). And this is the real nature of the individual soul by means of which it arises from the body and appears in its own form.
Here an objection may be raised. How, it is asked, can we speak of the true nature (svarûpa) of that which is unchanging and eternal, and then say that 'it appears in its own form (true nature)?' Of gold and similar substances, whose true nature becomes hidden, and whose specific qualities are rendered non-apparent by their contact with some other substance, it may be said that their true nature is rendered manifest when they are cleaned by the application of some acid substance; so it may be said, likewise, that the stars, whose light is during daytime overpowered (by the superior brilliancy of the sun), become manifest in their true nature at night when the overpowering (sun) has departed. But it is impossible to speak of an analogous overpowering of the eternal light of intelligence by whatever agency, since, like ether, it is free from all contact, and since, moreover, such an assumption would be contradicted by what we actually observe. For the (energies of) seeing, hearing, noticing, cognising constitute the character of the individual soul, and that character is observed to exist in full perfection, even in the case of that individual soul which has not yet risen beyond the body. Every individual soul carries on the course of its practical existence by means of the activities of seeing, hearing, cognising; otherwise no practical existence at all would be possible. If, on the other hand, that character would realise itself in the case of that soul only which has risen above the body, the entire aggregate of practical existence, as it actually presents itself prior to the soul's rising, would thereby be contradicted. We therefore ask: Wherein consists that (alleged) rising from the body? Wherein consists that appearing (of the soul) in its own form?
To this we make the following reply.--Before the rise of
discriminative knowledge the nature of the individual soul, which is (in reality) pure light, is non-discriminated as it were from its limiting adjuncts consisting of body, senses, mind, sense-objects and feelings, and appears as consisting of the energies of seeing and so on. Similarly--to quote an analogous case from ordinary experience--the true nature of a pure crystal, i.e. its transparency and whiteness, is, before the rise of discriminative knowledge (on the part of the observer), non-discriminated as it were from any limiting adjuncts of red or blue colour; while, as soon as through some means of true cognition discriminative knowledge has arisen, it is said to have now accomplished its true nature, i.e. transparency and whiteness, although in reality it had already done so before. Thus the discriminative knowledge, effected by Sruti, on the part of the individual soul which previously is non-discriminated as it were from its limiting adjuncts, is (according to the scriptural passage under discussion) the soul's rising from the body, and the fruit of that discriminative knowledge is its accomplishment in its true nature, i.e. the comprehension that its nature is the pure Self. Thus the embodiedness and the non-embodiedness of the Self are due merely to discrimination and non-discrimination, in agreement with the mantra, 'Bodiless within the bodies,' &c. (Ka. Up. I, 2, 22), and the statement of Smriti as to the non-difference between embodiedness and non-embodiedness 'Though dwelling in the body, O Kaunteya, it does not act and is not tainted' (Bha. Gî. XIII, 31). The individual soul is therefore called 'That whose true nature is non-manifest' merely on account of the absence of discriminative knowledge, and it is called 'That whose nature has become manifest' on account of the presence of such knowledge. Manifestation and non-manifestation of its nature of a different kind are not possible, since its nature is nothing but its nature (i.e. in reality is always the same). Thus the difference between the individual soul and the highest Lord is owing to wrong knowledge only, not to any reality, since, like ether, the highest Self is not in real contact with anything.
And wherefrom is all this to be known?--From the instruction
given by Pragâpati who, after having referred to the giva ('the person that is seen in the eye,' &c.), continues 'This is the immortal, the fearless, this is Brahman.' If the well-known seer within the eye were different from Brahman which is characterised as the immortal and fearless, it would not be co-ordinated (as it actually is) with the immortal, the fearless, and Brahman. The reflected Self, on the other hand, is not spoken of as he who is characterised by the eye (the seer within the eye), for that would render Pragâpati obnoxious to the reproach of saying deceitful things.--So also, in the second section, the passage, 'He who moves about happy in dreams,' &c. does not refer to a being different from the seeing person within the eye spoken of in the first chapter, (but treats of the same topic) as appears from the introductory clause, 'I shall explain him further to you.' Moreover 1, a person who is conscious of having seen an elephant in a dream and of no longer seeing it when awake discards in the waking state the object which he had seen (in his sleep), but recognises himself when awake to be the same person who saw something in the dream.--Thus in the third section also Pragâpati does indeed declare the absence of all particular cognition in the state of deep sleep, but does not contest the identity of the cognising Self ('In that way he does not know himself that he is I, nor all these beings'). The following clause also, 'He is gone to utter annihilation,' is meant to intimate only the annihilation of all specific cognition, not the annihilation of the cogniser. For there is no destruction of the knowing of the knower as--according to another scriptural passage (Bri. Up. IV, 3, 30)--that is imperishable.--Thus, again, in the fourth section the introductory phrase of Pragâpati is, 'I shall explain him further to you and nothing different from this;' he thereupon refutes the connexion (of the Self) with the body and other limiting conditions ('Maghavat, this body is mortal,' &c.), shows the individual soul--which is there called 'the serene being'--
in the state when it has reached the nature of Brahman ('It appears in its own form'), and thus proves the soul to be non-different from the highest Brahman whose characteristics are immortality and fearlessness.
Some (teachers) however are of opinion that if the highest Self is meant (in the fourth section) it would be inappropriate to understand the words 'This (him) I will explain further,' &c., as referring to the individual soul, and therefore suppose that the reference is (not to the individual soul forming the topic of the three preceding sections, but) to the Self possessing the qualities of freeness from sin, &c., which Self is pointed out at the beginning of the entire chapter (VII, 1).--Against this interpretation we remark that, in the first place, it disregards the direct enunciation of the pronoun (i.e. the 'this' in 'this I will explain') which rests on something approximate (i.e. refers to something mentioned not far off), and, in the second place, is opposed to the word 'further' (or 'again') met with in the text, since from that interpretation it would follow that what had been discussed in the preceding sections is not again discussed in the subsequent section. Moreover, if Pragâpati, after having made a promise in the clause, 'This I shall explain' (where that clause occurs for the first time), did previously to the fourth section explain a different topic in each section, we should have to conclude that he acted deceitfully.--Hence (our opinion about the purport of the whole chapter remains valid, viz. that it sets forth how) the unreal aspect of the individual soul as such--which is a mere presentation of Nescience, is stained by all the desires and aversions attached to agents and enjoyers, and is connected with evils of various kinds--is dissolved by true knowledge, and how the soul is thus led over into the opposite state, i.e. into its true state in which it is one with the highest Lord and distinguished by freedom from sin and similar attributes. The whole process is similar to that by which an imagined snake passes over into a rope as soon as the mind of the beholder has freed itself from its erroneous imagination.
Others again, and among them some of ours (asmadîyâs ka kekit), are of opinion that the individual soul as such
is real. To the end of refuting all these speculators who obstruct the way to the complete intuition of the unity of the Self this sârîraka-sâstra has been set forth, whose aim it is to show that there is only one highest Lord ever unchanging, whose substance is cognition 1, and who, by means of Nescience, manifests himself in various ways, just as a thaumaturg appears in different shapes by means of his magical power. Besides that Lord there is no other substance of cognition.--If, now, the Sûtrakâra raises and refutes the doubt whether a certain passage which (in reality) refers to the Lord does refer to the individual soul, as he does in this and the preceding Sûtras 2, he does so for the following purpose. To the highest Self which is eternally pure, intelligent and free, which is never changing, one only, not in contact with anything, devoid of form, the opposite characteristics of the individual soul are erroneously ascribed; just as ignorant men ascribe blue colour to the colourless ether. In order to remove this erroneous opinion by means of Vedic passages tending either to prove the unity of the Self or to disprove the doctrine of duality--which passages he strengthens by arguments--he insists on the difference of the highest Self from the individual soul, does however not mean to prove thereby that the soul is different from the highest Self, but, whenever speaking of the soul, refers to its distinction (from the Self) as forming an item of ordinary thought, due to the power of Nescience. For thus, he thinks, the Vedic injunctions of works which are given with a view to the states of acting and enjoying, natural (to the non-enlightened soul), are not stultified.--That, however, the absolute unity of the Self is the real purport of the sâstra's teaching, the Sûtrakâra declares, for instance, in I, 1, 30 3. The refutation of the reproach of
futility raised against the injunctions of works has already been set forth by us, on the ground of the distinction between such persons as possess full knowledge, and such as do not.
185:1 The masculine 'âvirbhûtasvarûpah' qualifies the substantive gîvah which has to be supplied. Properly speaking the gîva whose true nature has become manifest, i.e. which has become Brahman, is no longer gîva; hence the explanatory statement that the term gîva is used with reference to what the gîva was before it became Brahman.
188:1 To state another reason showing that the first and second chapters of Pragâpati's instruction refer to the same subject.
190:1 I.e. of whom cognition is not a mere attribute.
190:2 Although in reality there is no such thing as an individual soul.
190:3 Nanu gîvabrahmanor aikyam na kvâpi sûtrakâro mukhato vadati kim tu sarvatra bhedam eva, ato naikyam ishtam tatrâha pratipâdyam tv iti.