Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Index  Previous  Next 

1. Then therefore the enquiry into Brahman.

In this Sûtra the word 'then' expresses immediate sequence; the word 'therefore' intimates that what has taken place (viz. the study of the karmakânda of the Veda) constitutes the reason (of the enquiry into Brahman). For the fact is that the enquiry into (lit.'the desire to know') Brahman--the fruit of which enquiry is infinite in nature and permanent--follows immediately in the case of him who, having read the Veda together with its auxiliary

p. 4

disciplines, has reached the knowledge that the fruit of mere works is limited and non-permanent, and hence has conceived the desire of final release.

The compound 'brahmagiâsâ' is to be explained as 'the enquiry of Brahman,' the genitive case 'of Brahman' being understood to denote the object; in agreement with the special rule as to the meaning of the genitive case, Pânini II, 3, 65. It might be said that even if we accepted the general meaning of the genitive case--which is that of connexion in general--Brahman's position (in the above compound) as an object would be established by the circumstance that the 'enquiry' demands an object; but in agreement with the principle that the direct denotation of a word is to be preferred to a meaning inferred we take the genitive case 'of Brahman' as denoting the object.

The word 'Brahman' denotes the hightest Person (purushottama), who is essentially free from all imperfections and possesses numberless classes of auspicious qualities of unsurpassable excellence. The term 'Brahman' is applied to any things which possess the quality of greatness (brihattva, from the root 'brih'); but primarily denotes that which possesses greatness, of essential nature as well as of qualities, in unlimited fulness; and such is only the Lord of all. Hence the word 'Brahman' primarily denotes him alone, and in a secondary derivative sense only those things which possess some small part of the Lord's qualities; for it would be improper to assume several meanings for the word (so that it would denote primarily or directly more than one thing). The case is analogous to that of the term 'bhagavat 1.' The Lord only is enquired into, for the sake of immortality, by all those who are afflicted with the triad of pain. Hence the Lord of all is that Brahman which, according to the Sûtra, constitutes the object of enquiry. The word 'giâsâ' is a desiderative formation meaning 'desire to know.' And as in the

p. 5

case of any desire the desired object is the chief thing, the Sûtra means to enjoin knowledge--which is the object of the desire of knowledge. The purport of the entire Sûtra then is as follows: 'Since the fruit of works known through the earlier part of the Mîmâmsâ is limited and non-permanent, and since the fruit of the knowledge of Brahman--which knowledge is to be reached through the latter part of the Mîmâmsâ--is unlimited and permanent; for this reason Brahman is to be known, after the knowledge of works has previously taken place.'--The same meaning is expressed by the Vrittikâra when saying 'after the comprehension of works has taken place there follows the enquiry into Brahman.' And that the enquiry into works and that into Brahman constitute one body of doctrine, he (the Vrittikâra) will declare later on 'this Sârîraka-doctrine is connected with Gaimini's doctrine as contained in sixteen adhyâyas; this proves the two to constitute one body of doctrine.' Hence the earlier and the later Mîmâmsâ are separate only in so far as there is a difference of matter to be taught by each; in the same way as the two halves of the Pûrva Mîmâmsâ-sûtras, consisting of six adhyâyas each, are separate 1; and as each adhyâya is separate. The entire Mîmâmsâ-sâtra--which begins with the Sûtra 'Now therefore the enquiry into religious duty' and concludes with the Sûtra '(From there is) no return on account of scriptural statement'--has, owing to the special character of the contents, a definite order of internal succession. This is as follows. At first the precept 'one is to learn one's own text (svâdhyâya)' enjoins the apprehension of that aggregate of syllables which is called 'Veda,' and is here referred to as 'svâdhyâya.' Next there arises the desire to know of what nature the 'Learning' enjoined is to be, and how it is to be done. Here there come in certain injunctions such as

p. 6

[paragraph continues] 'Let a Brahnmana be initiated in his eighth year' and 'The teacher is to make him recite the Veda'; and certain rules about special observances and restrictions--such as 'having performed the upâkarman on the full moon of Sravana or Praushthapada according to prescription, he is to study the sacred verses for four months and a half--which enjoin all the required details.

From all these it is understood that the study enjoined has for its result the apprehension of the aggregate of syllables called Veda, on the part of a pupil who has been initiated by a teacher sprung from a good family, leading a virtuous life, and possessing purity of soul; who practises certain special observances and restrictions; and who learns by repeating what is recited by the teacher.

And this study of the Veda is of the nature of a samskâra of the text, since the form of the injunction 'the Veda is to be studied' shows that the Veda is the object (of the action of studying). By a samskâra is understood an action whereby something is fitted to produce some other effect; and that the Veda should be the object of such a samskaâra is quite appropriate, since it gives rise to the knowledge of the four chief ends of human action--viz. religious duty, wealth, pleasure, and final release--and of the means to effect them; and since it helps to effect those ends by itself also, viz. by mere mechanical repetition (apart from any knowledge to which it may give rise).

The injunction as to the study of the Veda thus aims only at the apprehension of the aggregate of syllables (constituting the Veda) according to certain rules; it is in this way analogous to the recital of mantras.

It is further observed that the Veda thus apprehended through reading spontaneously gives rise to the ideas of certain things subserving certain purposes. A person, therefore, who has formed notions of those things immediately, i.e. on the mere apprehension of the text of the Veda through reading, thereupon naturally applies himself to the study of the Mimâmsa, which consists in a methodical discussion of the sentences constituting the text of the

p. 7

[paragraph continues] Veda, and has for its result the accurate determination of the nature of those things and their different modes. Through this study the student ascertains the character of the injunctions of work which form part of the Veda, and observes that all work leads only to non-permanent results; and as, on the other hand, he immediately becomes aware that the Upanishad sections--which form part of the Veda which he has apprehended through reading--refer to an infinite and permanent result, viz. immortality, he applies himself to the study of the Sârîraka-Mîmâmsâ, which consists in a systematic discussion of the Vedânta-texts, and has for its result the accurate determination of their sense. That the fruit of mere works is transitory, while the result of the knowledge of Brahman is something permanent, the Vedanta-texts declare in many places--'And as here the world acquired by work perishes, so there the world acquired by merit perishes' (Kh. Up. VIII, 1,6); 'That work of his has an end' (Bri. Up. III, 8, 10); 'By non-permanent works the Permanent is not obtained' (Ka. Up. I, 2, 10); 'Frail indeed are those boats, the sacrifices' (Mu. Up. I, 2, 7); 'Let a Brâhmana, after he has examined all these worlds that are gained by works, acquire freedom from all desires. What is not made cannot be gained by what is made. To understand this, let the pupil, with fuel in his hand, go to a teacher who is learned and dwells entirely in Brahman. To that pupil who has approached him respectfully, whose mind is altogether calm, the wise teacher truly told that knowledge of Brahman through which he knows the imperishable true Person' (Mu. Up. I, 2, 12, l3). 'Told' here means 'he is to tell.'--On the other hand, 'He who knows Brahman attains the Highest' (Taitt. Up. II, 1, 1); 'He who sees this does not see death' (Kh. Up. VII, 26, 2); 'He becomes a self-ruler' (Kh. Up. VII, 25, 2); 'Knowing him he becomes immortal here' (Taitt. Âr. III, 12, 7); 'Having known him he passes over death; there is no other path to go' (Svet. Up. VI, 15); 'Having known as separate his Self and the Mover, pleased thereby he goes to immortality' (Svet. Up. I, 6).

p. 8

But--an objection here is raised--the mere learning of the Veda with its auxiliary disciplines gives rise to the knowledge that the heavenly world and the like are the results of works, and that all such results are transitory, while immortality is the fruit of meditation on Brahman. Possessing such knowledge, a person desirous of final release may at once proceed to the enquiry into Brahman; and what need is there of a systematic consideration of religious duty (i.e. of the study of the Purva Mimâmsâ)?--If this reasoning were valid, we reply, tin--person desirous of release need not even apply himself to the study of the Sârîraka Mîmâmsâ, since Brahman is known from the mere reading of the Veda with its auxiliary disciplines.--True. Such knowledge arises indeed immediately (without deeper enquiry). But a matter apprehended in this immediate way is not raised above doubt and mistake. Hence a systematic discussion of the Vedânta-texts must he undertaken in order that their sense may be fully ascertained--We agree. But you will have to admit that for the very same reason we must undertake a systematic enquiry into religious duty!


4:1 'Bhagavat' denotes primarily the Lord, the divintiy; secondarily any holy person.

5:1 The first six books of the Pûrva Mîmâmsâ-sûtras give rules for the fundamental forms of the sacrifice; while the last six books teach how these rules are to be applied to the so-called modified forms.

Next: The Small Pûrvapaksha