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

12. (Such qualities as) joy being its head and so on have no force (for other passages); for increase and decrease belong to plurality (only).

Attributes such as having joy for its head and so on, which are recorded in the Taittirîyaka, are not to be viewed as having force with regard to other passages treating of Brahman, because the successive terms, 'Joy,' 'Satisfaction,' 'Great Satisfaction,' 'Bliss,' indicate qualities possessing lower and higher degrees with regard to each other and to other enjoyers. Now for higher and lower degrees there is room only where there is plurality; and Brahman is without all plurality, as we know from many scriptural passages ('One only, without a Second').--Moreover, we have already demonstrated under I, 1, 12, that having joy for one's head and so on are qualities not of Brahman, but of the so-called involucrum of delight. And further, those qualities are attributed to the highest Brahman merely as means of fixing one's mind on it, not as themselves being objects of

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contemplation, and from this also it follows that they are not valid everywhere 1.--That the Âkârya refers to them, in the Sûtra, as attributes of Brahman (while in reality they are attributes of the ânandamaya kosa) is merely done for the purpose of establishing a general principle to be extended to all attributes of Brahman--also the undoubted ones--which are stated with a view to a special form of meditation only; such as the quality of being that towards which all blessings go (Kh. Up. IV, 15, 2), or he whose desires are true (Kh. Up. VIII, 7, 1). For those passages may all indeed have to do with the one Brahman as the object of meditation, but as owing to the different nature of the opening sentences the meditations are different ones, the attributes mentioned in any one are not valid for the others. The case is analogous to that of two wives ministering to one king, one with a fly-flap, the other with an umbrella; there also the object of their ministrations is one, but the acts of ministration themselves are distinct and have each their own particular attributes. So in the case under discussion also. Qualities in which lower and higher degrees can be distinguished belong to the qualified Brahman only in which plurality is admitted, not to the highest Brahman raised above all qualification. Such attributes therefore as having true desires and the like which are mentioned in some particular place only have no validity for other meditations on Brahman.


203:1 For if they are not real attributes of Brahman there is all the less reason to maintain them to be universally valid. The mere means of fixing the mind, moreover, are special to each separate upâsana.

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