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The Vedanta Sutras of Badarayana, Commentary by Sankara (SBE38), tr. by George Thibaut [1896] at

41. But from the highest (Lord there result samsâra and moksha), because scripture teaches that.

We now enter on the discussion whether the agentship, characterising the individual soul in the state of Nescience and founded on its limiting adjuncts, is independent of the Lord or dependent on him.

The pûrvapakshin maintains that the soul as far as it is an agent does not depend on the Lord, because the assumption of such a dependence would serve no purpose. For as the individual soul has motives in its own imperfections, such as passion, aversion, and so on, and is furnished with the whole apparatus of the other constituents of action 1, it is able to occupy on its own account the position of an agent; and what then should the Lord do for it? Nor does ordinary experience show that in addition to the oxen which are required for such actions as ploughing and the like the Lord also is to be depended upon. Moreover (if all activity depended on the Lord) it would follow that the Lord is cruel because imposing on his creatures activity which is essentially painful, and at the same time unjust because allotting to their activities unequal results.--But it has already been shown (II, 1, 34) that the Lord cannot be taxed with cruelty and injustice, on account of his dependence.--True, that has been shown, but only on the condition of the dependence on the Lord being possible. Now such dependence is possible only if there exist religious merit and demerit on the part of the creatures, and these again exist if the soul is an agent; if then the agentship of the soul again depends on the Lord, whereupon will the Lord's dependence depend? And (if we should assume the Lord to determine the souls without reference to their merits and demerits) it would follow that the souls have to undergo

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consequences not due to their actions.--Hence the soul's activity is independent.

Setting aside this primâ facie by means of the word 'but,' the Sûtrakâra asserts 'from the highest.' For the soul which in the state of Nescience is blinded by the darkness of ignorance and hence unable to distinguish itself from the complex of effects and instruments, the samsâra-state in which it appears as agent and enjoyer brought about through the permission of the Lord who is the highest Self, the superintendent of all actions, the witness residing in all beings, the cause of all intelligence; and we must therefore assume that final release also is effected through knowledge caused by the grace of the Lord.

Why so?--'Because scripture teaches that.' For although the soul has its own imperfections, such as passion and so on, for motives, and is furnished with the whole apparatus of action, and although ordinary experience does not show that the Lord is a cause in occupations such as ploughing and the like, yet we ascertain from scripture that the Lord is a causal agent in all activity. For scripture says, 'He makes him whom he wishes to lead up from these worlds do a good deed; and the same makes him whom he wishes to lead down from these worlds, do a bad deed' (Kau. Up. III, 8); and again, 'He who dwelling within the Self pulls the Self within' (Sat. Br. XIV, 6, 7, 30).

But if causal agency thus belongs to the Lord, it follows that he must be cruel and unjust, and that the soul has to undergo consequences of what it has not done.--This objection the following Sûtra refutes.


58:1 I.e. the constituents of action such as instrument, object, &c., exclusive of the agent.

Next: II, 3, 42