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

5. A contemplation of Brahman (is to be superinduced on symbols of Brahman), on account of the exaltation (thereby bestowed on the symbols).

With regard to the texts quoted above there arises another doubt, viz. whether the contemplation of Âditya and so on is to be superimposed on Brahman, or the contemplation of Brahman on Âditya and so on 1.--But whence does this doubt arise?--From the absence of a decisive reason, owing to the grammatical co-ordination. For we observe in the sentences quoted a co-ordination of the term 'Brahman' with the terms 'Âditya,' &c. 'Âditya is Brahman,' 'Prâna is Brahman,' 'Lightning is Brahman;' the text exhibiting the two members of each clause in the same case. And here there is no obvious occasion for co-ordination because the words 'Brahman' on the one hand, and 'Âditya' and so on on the other hand, denote different things; not any more than there exists a relation of co-ordination which could be expressed by the sentence 'The ox is a horse.'--But cannot Brahman and Âditya and so on be viewed as co-ordinated on the basis of the relation connecting a causal substance and its effects, analogously to the case of clay and earthen vessels?--By no means, we reply. For in that case dissolution of the effect would result from its co-ordination with the causal substance, and that--as we have already explained--would imply non-existence of the symbol. Moreover, the scriptural passages would then be statements about the highest Self, and thereby the qualification for meditations would be sublated 2; and further the mention of a limited effect would be purposeless  3. It follows herefrom that we have

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to do here with the superimposition of the contemplation of one thing on another thing--just as in the case of the text, 'The Brâhmana is Agni Vaisvânara,'--and the doubt therefore arises the contemplation of which of the two things is to be superimposed on the other.

The pûrvapakshin maintains that there exists no fixed rule for this case, because we have no scriptural text establishing such a rule.--Or else, he says, contemplations on Âditya and so on are exclusively to be superimposed on Brahman. For in this way Brahman is meditated upon by means of contemplations on Âditya, and scripture decides that meditations on Brahman are what is productive of fruits. Hence contemplations on Brahman are not to be superimposed on Âditya and so on.

To this we make the following reply. The contemplation on Brahman is exclusively to be superimposed on Âditya and so on.--Why?--'On account of exaltation.' For thus Âditya and so on are viewed in an exalted way, the contemplation of something higher than they being superimposed on them. Thereby we also comply with a secular rule, viz. the one enjoining that the idea of something higher is to be superimposed upon something lower, as when we view--and speak of--the king's charioteer as a king. This rule must be observed in worldly matters, because to act contrary to it would be disadvantageous; for should we view a king as a charioteer, we should thereby lower him, and that would be no ways beneficial.--But an objection is raised, as the whole matter rests on scriptural authority, the suspicion of any disadvantage cannot arise; and it is, further, not appropriate to define contemplations based on scripture by secular rules!--That might be so, we reply, if the sense of scripture were fully ascertained; but as it is liable to doubt, there is no objection to our having recourse to a secular rule whereby to ascertain it. And as by means of that rule we decide that what scripture means

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is the superimposition of a higher contemplation on something lower, we should incur loss by superimposing a lower contemplation upon something higher.--As moreover in the passages under discussion the words 'Âditya' and so on stand first, they must, this being not contradictory, be taken in their primary sense. But, as our thought is thus defined by these words taken in their true literal sense, the word 'Brahman,' which supervenes later on, cannot be co-ordinated with them if it also be taken in its true literal sense, and from this it follows that the purport of the passages can only be to enjoin contemplations on Brahman (superinduced on Âditya and so on).--The same sense follows from the circumstance that the word 'Brahman' is, in all the passages under discussion, followed by the word 'iti,' 'thus 1.' 'He is to meditate (on Âditya, &c.) as Brahman.' The words 'Âditya' and so on, on the other hand, the text exhibits without any such addition. The passages therefore are clearly analogous to such sentences as 'He views the mother o’ pearl as silver,' in which the word 'mother o’ pearl' denotes mother o’ pearl pure and simple, while the word 'silver' denotes, by implication, the idea of silver; for the person in question merely thinks 'this is silver' while there is no real silver.' Thus our passages also mean, 'He is to view Âditya and so on as Brahman.'--The complementary clauses, moreover, which belong to the passages under discussion ('He who knowing this meditates (upon) Âditya as Brahman;' 'Who meditates (on) speech as Brahman;' 'Who meditates (on) will as Brahman') exhibit the words 'Âditya' and so on in the accusative case, and thereby show them to be the direct objects of the action of meditation 2.--Against the remark that in all the mentioned cases Brahman only has to be meditated upon in order that a fruit may result from the meditation, we point out that from the mode of proof used

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above we infer that (not Brahman but) only Âditya and so on have to be meditated upon. But as in the case of hospitality shown to guests, Brahman, that is the supreme ruler of all, will give the fruit of meditations on Âditya and so on as well. This we have already shown under III, 2, 28. And, after all, Brahman also is meditated upon (in the cases under discussion) in so far as a contemplation on Brahman is superinduced on its symbols, analogously as a contemplation on Vishnu is superinduced on his images.


342:1 I. e. whether Brahman is to be meditated upon as Âditya, or Âditya as Brahman.

342:2 While, as a matter of fact, scripture enjoins the meditations.

342:3 It would serve no purpose to refer to limited things, such as p. 343 the sun and so on, as being resolved into their causal substance, i.e. Brahman. True knowledge is concerned only with the resolution of the entire world of effects into Brahman.

344:1 Which in the translations given above of the texts under discussion is mostly rendered by 'as' before the words concerned.

344:2 While the word 'Brahman' does not stand in the accusative case.

Next: IV, 1, 6