39. And on account of Smriti.
Smriti also declares this prohibition of hearing, and so on. 'The ears of him who hears the Veda are to be filled with molten lead and lac; if he pronounces it his tongue is to be slit; if he preserves it his body is to be cut through.' And 'He is not to teach him sacred duties or vows.'--It is thus a settled matter that the Sûdras are not qualified for meditations on Brahman.
We must here point out that the non-qualification of Sûdras for the cognition of Brahman can in no way be asserted by those who hold that a Brahman consisting of pure non-differenced intelligence constitutes the sole reality; that everything else is false; that all bondage is unreal;
that such bondage may be put an end to by the mere cognition of the true nature of Reality--such cognition resulting from the hearing of certain texts; and that the cessation of bondage thus effected constitutes final Release. For knowledge of the true nature of Reality, in the sense indicated, and the release resulting from it, may be secured by any one who learns from another person that Brahman alone is real and that everything else is falsely superimposed on Brahman. That the cognition of such truth can be arrived at only on the basis of certain Vedic texts, such as 'Thou art that,' is a restriction which does not admit of proof; for knowledge of the truth does not depend on man's choice, and at once springs up in the mind even of an unwilling man as soon as the conditions for such origination are present. Nor can it be proved in any way that bondage can be put an end to only through such knowledge of the truth as springs from Vedic texts; for error comes to an end through the knowledge of the true nature of things, whatever agency may give rise to such knowledge. True knowledge, of the kind described, will spring up in the mind of a man as soon as he hears the non-scriptural declaration, 'Brahman, consisting of non-differenced intelligence, is the sole Reality; everything else is false,' and this will suffice to free him from error. When a competent and trustworthy person asserts that what was mistaken for silver is merely a sparkling shell, the error of a Sûdra no less than of a Brâhmana comes to an end; in the same way a Sûdra also will free himself from the great cosmic error as soon as the knowledge of the true nature of things has arisen in his mind through a statement resting on the traditional lore of men knowing the Veda. Nor must you object to this on the ground that men knowing the Veda do not instruct Sûdras, and so on, because the text, 'he is not to teach him sacred things,' forbids them to do so; for men who have once learned--from texts such as 'Thou art that'--that Brahman is their Self, and thus are standing on the very top of the Veda as it were, move no longer in the sphere of those to whom injunctions and prohibitions apply, and the prohibition quoted does not
therefore touch them. Knowledge of Brahman may thus spring up in the mind of Sûdras and the like, owing to instruction received from one of those men who have passed beyond all prohibition. Nor must it be said that the instance of the shell and the silver is not analogous, in so far, namely, as the error with regard to silver in the shell comes to an end as soon as the true state of things is declared; while the great cosmic error that clouds the Sûdra's mind does not come to an end as soon as, from the teaching of another man, he learns the truth about Reality. For the case of the Sûdra does not herein differ from that of the Brâhmana; the latter also does not at once free himself from the cosmic error. Nor again will it avail to plead that the sacred texts originate the demanded final cognition in the mind of the Brâhmana as soon as meditation has dispelled the obstructive imagination of plurality; for in the same way, i.e. helped by meditation, the non-Vedic instruction given by another person produces the required cognition in the mind of the Sûdra. For meditation means nothing but a steady consideration of the sense which sentences declaratory of the unity of Brahman and the Self may convey, and the effect of such meditation is to destroy all impressions opposed to such unity; you yourself thus admit that the injunction of meditation aims at something visible (i.e. an effect that can be definitely assigned, whence it follows that the Sûdra also is qualified for it, while he would not be qualified for an activity having an 'adrishta,' i.e. supersensuous, transcendental effect). The recital of the text of the Veda also and the like (are not indispensable means for bringing about cognition of Brahman, but) merely subserve the origination of the desire of knowledge. The desire of knowledge may arise in a Sûdra also (viz. in some other way), and thereupon real knowledge may result from non-Vedic instruction, obstructive imaginations having previously been destroyed by meditation. And thus in his case also non-real bondage will come to an end.--The same conclusion may also be arrived at by a different road. The mere ordinary instruments of knowledge, viz. perception
and inference assisted by reasoning, may suggest to the Sûdra the theory that there is an inward Reality constituted by non-differenced self-luminous intelligence, that this inward principle witnesses Nescience, and that owing to Nescience the entire apparent world, with its manifold distinctions of knowing subjects and objects of knowledge, is superimposed upon the inner Reality. He may thereupon, by uninterrupted meditation on this inner Reality, free himself from all imaginations opposed to it, arrive at the intuitive knowledge of the inner principle, and thus obtain final release. And this way being open to release, there is really no use to be discerned in the Vedânta-texts, suggesting as they clearly do the entirely false view that the real being (is not absolutely homogeneous intelligence, but) possesses infinite transcendent attributes, being endowed with manifold powers, connected with manifold creations, and so on. In this way the qualification of Sûdras for the knowledge of Brahman is perfectly clear. And as the knowledge of Brahman may be reached in this way not only by Sûdras but also by Brâhmanas and members of the other higher castes, the poor Upanishad is practically defunct.--To this the following objection will possibly be raised. Man being implicated in and confused by the beginningless course of mundane existence, requires to receive from somewhere a suggestion as to this empirical world being a mere error and the Reality being something quite different, and thus only there arises in him a desire to enter on an enquiry, proceeding by means of perception, and so on. Now that which gives the required suggestion is the Veda, and hence we cannot do without it.--But this objection is not valid. For in the minds of those who are awed by all the dangers and troubles of existence, the desire to enter on a philosophical investigation of Reality, proceeding by means of Perception and Inference, springs up quite apart from the Veda, owing to the observation that there are various sects of philosophers. Sânkhyas, and so on, who make it their business to carry on such investigations. And when such desire is once roused, Perception and Inference alone (in the way allowed by the Sânkaras themselves) lead on to
the theory that the only Reality is intelligence eternal, pure, self-luminous, non-dual, non-changing, and that everything else is fictitiously superimposed thereon. That this self-luminous Reality possesses no other attribute to be learned from scripture is admitted; for according to your opinion also scripture sublates everything that is not Brahman and merely superimposed on it. Nor should it be said that we must have recourse to the Upanishads for the purpose of establishing that the Real found in the way of perception and inference is at the same time of the nature of bliss; for the merely and absolutely Intelligent is seen of itself to be of that nature, since it is different from everything that is not of that nature.--There are, on the other hand, those who hold that the knowledge which the Vedânta-texts enjoin as the means of Release is of the nature of devout meditation; that such meditation has the effect of winning the love of the supreme Spirit and is to be learned from scripture only; that the injunctions of meditation refer to such knowledge only as springs from the legitimate study of the Veda on the part of a man duly purified by initiation and other ceremonies, and is assisted by the seven means (see above, p. 17); and that the supreme Person pleased by such meditation bestows on the devotee knowledge of his own true nature, dissolves thereby the Nescience springing from works, and thus releases him from bondage. And on this view the proof of the non-qualification of the Sûdra, as given in the preceding Sûtras, holds good.--Here terminates the adhikarana of 'the exclusion of the Sûdras.'
Having thus completed the investigation of qualification which had suggested itself in connexion with the matter in hand, the Sûtras return to the being measured by a thumb, and state another reason for its being explained as Brahman--as already understood on the basis of its being declared the ruler of what is and what will be.