Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 1: Introduction

The Vedanta Sutras are called "Sariraka Mimamsa" because they deal with Para Brahman, the Sarira (the embodied).

In the first chapter the author shows that all the Vedic texts uniformly refer to Brahman and find their Samanvaya (reconciliation) in Him. In the second chapter, it has been proved that there is no conflict between Vedanta and other Sastras. In the third chapter the means of attaining Brahman are described. In the fourth chapter is described the result of attaining Brahman.

The Adhikarin (one who is competent to understand and study the Sastra) is one who is of tranquil mind and has the attributes of Sama (quietude), Dama (self-control), etc., is full of faith, is constantly engaged in good thoughts and associates with the knowers of Truth, whose heart is purified by the due discharge of all duties, religious and secular, and without any idea of reward. The Sambandha is the description of Brahman by this Sastra. The Vishaya or the subject matter of this Sastra is the Supreme Brahman who is all pure. The Prayojana (necessity) of this Sastra is to obtain realisation of the Supreme Brahman, by the removal of all false notions that prevent that realisation.

This Sastra consists of several Adhikaranas or topics or propositions. Every proposition consists of five parts: (1) Thesis or Vishaya, (2) Doubt or Samsaya, (3) Anti-thesis or Purvapaksha, (4) Synthesis or right conclusion or Siddhanta and (5) Sangati or agreement of the proposition with the other parts of the Sastra.

In the whole book of the Vedanta Sutras Brahman is the main theme or the subject matter of discussion. An interpretation of any passage must not go away from the subject matter of Brahman. Each chapter has a particular topic of its own. A passage must be interpreted consistently with the topic of that chapter. There is a certain relation between Adhikaranas or topics themselves. One Adhikarana leads to another through some particular association of ideas. In a Pada or section there are many Adhikaranas and they are not put together in a haphazard manner.


This section gives a bird's-eye view of the subject dealt with in the Brahma Sutras namely the nature of the Supreme Brahman or the Highest Self, of the individual soul and the universe and their inter-relations and gives hints on meditation on Brahman.

Adhikarana I:

Sutra 1 gives a hint that the book is meant for those who are endowed with a real desire for attaining the knowledge of Brahman.

Adhikarana II:

Sutra 2 defines Brahman as that whence the world originates etc.

Adhikarana III:

Sutra 3 declares that Brahman is the source of the Vedas and that Brahman is known only by the study of Sruti and by no other means of knowledge.

Adhikarana IV:

Sutra 4 proves Brahman to be the uniform topic of all Vedanta texts.

Adhikarana V:

Sutras 5 to 11 show that none but Brahman is admitted by Sruti to be the cause of the world. They prove by various cogent and convincing arguments that the Brahman which the Vedantic texts proclaim as the cause of the universe is an intelligent principle, and cannot be identified with the non-intelligent or insentient Pradhana from which the world originates, as declared by the Sankhyas.

Adhikarana VI:

Sutras 12 to 19 raise the question whether the 'Anandamaya' in Taittiriya Upanishad II-5 is merely the individual soul or the Supreme Self. The Sutras show that Brahman is All-Bliss and that by the term 'Anandamaya' in Sruti is meant neither the individual soul, nor the Pradhana of Sankhyas. The Sutras prove that they all describe none but Brahman.

Adhikarana VII:

Sutras 20 and 21, show that the golden person seen within the sun and the person seen within the eye mentioned in Chh. Up. I-6 are not some individual soul of high eminence, but the highest Brahman or the Supreme Self.

Adhikarana VIII:

Sutra 22 shows that the ether (Akasa) from which according to Chh. Up. I-9 all beings originate, is not the elemental ether but the Supreme Brahman.

Adhikarana IX:

Sutra 23 shows that Prana, also mentioned in Chh. Up. I-11-15 is the Supreme Brahman.

Adhikarana X:

Sutras 24 to 27 teach that the light spoken of in Chh. Up. III-13-7 is not the ordinary physical light but the Supreme Brahman.

Adhikarana XI:

Sutras 28 to 31 decide that the Prana mentioned in Kau. Up. III-2 is Brahman.