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

15. But only those former (works) whose effects have not yet begun (are destroyed by knowledge); because (scripture states) that (i.e. the death of the body) to be the term.

In the two preceding adhikaranas it has been proved that good as well as evil works are annihilated through knowledge. We now have to consider the question whether this annihilation extends, without distinction, to those works whose effects have already begun to operate as well as to those whose effects have not yet begun; or only to works of the latter kind.

Here the pûrvapakshin maintains that on the ground of scriptural passages such as 'He thereby overcomes both,' which refer to all works without any distinction, all works whatever must be considered to undergo destruction.

To this we reply, 'But only those whose effects have not begun.' Former works, i.e. works, whether good or evil, which have been accumulated in previous forms of existence as well as in the current form of existence before the origination of knowledge, are destroyed by the attainment of knowledge only if their fruit has not yet begun to operate. Those works, on the other hand, whose effects have begun and whose results have been half enjoyed--i.e. those very works to which there is due the present state of existence in which the knowledge of Brahman arises--are not destroyed by that knowledge. This opinion is founded on the scriptural passage, 'For him there is delay only as long as he is not delivered (from the body)' (Kh. Up. VI, 14, 2), which fixes the death of the body as the term of the attainment of final release. Were it otherwise,

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i.e. were all works whatever extinguished by knowledge, there would be no reason for the continuance of the current form of existence, and the rise of knowledge would therefore be immediately followed by the state of final release; in which case scripture would not teach that one has to wait for the death of the body.--But, an objection is raised, the knowledge of the Self being essentially non-active does by its intrinsic power destroy (all) works; how then should it destroy some only and leave others unaffected? We certainly have no right to assume that when fire and seeds come into contact the germinative power of some seeds only is destroyed while that of others remains unimpaired!--The origination of knowledge, we reply, cannot take place without dependence on an aggregate of works whose effects have already begun to operate, and when this dependence has once been entered into, we must--as in the case of the potter's wheel--wait until the motion of that which once has begun to move comes to an end, there being nothing to obstruct it in the interim. The knowledge of our Self being essentially non-active destroys all works by means of refuting wrong knowledge; but wrong knowledge--comparable to the appearance of a double moon--lasts for some time even after it has been refuted, owing to the impression it has made.--Moreover it is not a matter for dispute at all whether the body of him who knows Brahman continues to exist for some time or not. For how can one man contest the fact of another possessing the knowledge of Brahman--vouched for by his heart's conviction--and at the same time continuing to enjoy bodily existence? This same point is explained in scripture and Smriti, where they describe him who stands firm in the highest knowledge.--The final decision therefore is that knowledge effects the destruction of those works only--whether good or evil--whose effects have not yet begun to operate.

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