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

p. 74



1. Thus the vital airs.

In the third pâda it has been shown that a conflict of Vedic passages as to ether, &c., does not exist. The same is now done in this fourth pâda with regard to the vital airs. On the one hand the chapters treating of the origin of things do not record an origin of the vital airs; so e.g. (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 3) 'It sent forth fire,' &c.; and (Taitt. Up. II, 1) 'From that Self sprang ether,' &c. On the other hand it is said expressly in some places that the vital airs were not produced. The following passage, e.g. 'Non-being indeed was this in the beginning; they say: what was that non-being? those rishis indeed were the non-being in the beginning; they say: who are those rishis? the vital airs indeed are the rishis' (Sat. Br. VI, 1, 1, 1), states that the vital airs existed before the origin of things.--In other passages again we read of the origin of the vital airs also, so e.g. 'As small sparks come forth from fire, thus do all vital airs come forth from that Self' (Bri. Up. II, 1, 20); 'From that is born the vital air, mind, and all organs of sense' (Mu. Up. II, 1, 3); 'The seven vital airs also spring from him' (Mu. Up. II, 1, 8); 'He sent forth the vital air; from the vital air sraddhâ, ether, air, light. water, earth, sense, mind, food' (Pr. Up. VI, 4). Hence as there is a conflict of scriptural passages, and as no reason can be made out for deciding in favour of either alternative, the pûrvapakshin thinks that either no opinion can be formed, or that the passages relative to the origin of the vital airs must be taken in a metaphorical sense, since scripture expressly states the prânas to have existed before the creation.

In reply to this the author of the Sûtras says, 'thus the

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prânas.'--What then, it will be asked, is the fitness of the word 'thus,' as there is no point of comparison with the matter under discussion? The matter under discussion at the conclusion of the preceding pâda was the refutation of those who maintain a plurality of omnipresent Selfs, and with this no comparison can be instituted because there is no similarity. For a comparison is possible only where there is similarity; as when we say, e.g. 'as a lion so is Balavarman.' Possibly it might be said that the comparison is meant to intimate similarity with the adrishta.; the meaning being that as the adrishta is not limited because it is produced in proximity to all Selfs, so the prânas also are not limited with regard to all the different Selfs. But, on that explanation, the Sûtra would be an idle repetition, as it has already been explained that that absence of limitation is due to the non-limitation of bodies.--Nor can the prânas be compared with the individual soul, because that would be contrary to the conclusion about to be established. For it has been shown that the individual soul is without an origin, while the intention is to declare that the prânas have an origin. Hence it appears that the word 'so' is devoid of connexion.--Not so, we reply. A connexion may be established by means of a comparison based on the exemplifying passages. Under that category fall those passages which state the origin of the prânas, as e.g. 'From that Self come forth all prânas, all worlds, all gods, all beings' (Bri. Up. II, 1, 20); which passage means that as the worlds and so on are produced from the highest Brahman so the prânas also. Such passages also as (Mu. Up. II, 1, 3) 'From him are born prâna, mind and all organs of sense, ether, air, light, water, and the earth the support of all,' are to be considered as intimating that the origin of the prânas is analogous to that of the ether, &c.--Or else, as a connexion with a somewhat remote object of comparison is resorted to in such cases as the one treated of in Pû. Mî. Sû. III, 4, 32 ('and the accident in drinking Soma, in the same manner') 1, we may construe our Sûtra in the following

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way: in the same way as ether and so on, which are mentioned in the beginning of the preceding pâda, are understood to be effects of the highest Brahman, so the prânas also are effects of the highest Brahman. And if it be asked what reason we have for assuming the prânas to be so, we reply: the fact of this being stated by scripture.--But it has been shown above that in some places the origin of the prânas is not mentioned.--That is of no weight, we reply, as it is mentioned in other places. For the circumstance of a thing not being stated in some places has no power to invalidate what is stated about it in other places. Hence, on account of equality of scriptural statement, it is proper to maintain that the prânas also are produced in the same way as ether and so on.


75:1 The 'tadvat' in the quoted Sûtra refers not to the immediately preceding adhikarana but to Sûtra III, 4, 28.

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