Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 2: Sarvatra Prasiddhyadhikaranam: Topic 1 (Sutras 1-8)

The Manomaya is Brahman.

Sarvatra prasiddhopadesat I.2.1 (32)

(That which consists of the mind 'Manomaya' is Brahman) because there is taught (in this text) (that Brahman which is) well-known (as the cause of the world) in the Upanishads.

Sarvatra: everywhere, in every Vedantic passage i.e., in all Upanishads; Prasiddha: the well-known; Upadesat: because of the teaching.

Sruti declares, "All this indeed is Brahman, emanating from Him, living and moving in Him, and ultimately dissolving in Him; thus knowing let a man meditate with a calm mind." A man in his present life is the outcome of his previous thoughts and desires. He becomes that in after-life what he now resolves to be. Therefore he should meditate on Brahman who is ideally perfect, who functions through his very life-energy and who is all-light. "He who consists of the mind, whose body is Prana (the subtle body) etc." Chh. Up. III-14.

Now a doubt arises whether what is pointed out as the object of meditation by means of attributes such as consisting of mind, etc., is the individual soul or the Supreme Brahman.

The Purvapakshin or the opponent says: the passage refers to the individual soul only. Why? Because the embodied self only is connected with the mind. This is a well-known fact, while the Supreme Brahman is not. It is said in the Mundaka Upanishad II-1-2 'He is without breath, without mind, pure.'

The passage does not aim at enjoining meditation on Brahman. It aims only at enjoining calmness of mind. The other attributes also subsequently stated in the text "He to whom all works, all desires belong" refer to the individual soul.

The Srutis declare "He is my Self within the heart, smaller than a corn of rice, smaller than a corn of barley." This refers to the individual soul which has the size of the point of a goad, but not to the infinite or unlimited Brahman.

We reply: The Supreme Brahman only is what is to be meditated upon as distinguished by the attributes of consisting of mind and so on. Because the text begins with "All this indeed is Brahman." That Brahman which is considered as the cause of the world in all scriptural passages is taught here also in the formula "Tajjalan". As the beginning refers to Brahman, the latter passage where "He who consists of the mind" (Manomaya) occurs, should also refer to Brahman as distinguished by certain qualities. Thus we avoid the fault of dropping the subject-matter under discussion and unnecessarily introducing a fresh topic. Further the text speaks of Upasana, meditation. Therefore it is but proper that Brahman which is described in all other passages as an object of meditation is also taught here and not the individual soul. The individual soul is not spoken of anywhere as an object of meditation or Upasana.

Moreover you can attain serenity by meditating on Brahman which is an embodiment of peace. Manomaya refers to Brahman in Mun. Up. II-2-7, Tait. Up. I-6-1 and Katha Up. VII-9. The well-known Manomaya, applied in all the above passages to Brahman, is referred to here in the Chhandogya also. Therefore Manomaya refers to the Supreme Brahman only.

Vivakshitagunopapattescha I.2.2 (33)

Moreover the qualities desired to be expressed are possible (in Brahman; therefore the passage refers to Brahman).

Vivakshita: desired to be expressed; Guna: qualities; Upapatteh: because of the reasonableness, for the justification; Cha: and, moreover.

An argument in support of Sutra 1 is adduced. And because the attributes, sought to be applied by the Sruti quoted above, justly belong to Brahman, it must be admitted that the passage refers to Brahman.

"He who consists of the mind, whose body is Prana (the subtle body), whose form is light, resolve is true, whose nature is like that of ether (Omnipresent and invisible), from whom proceed all actions, all desires, all scents, all tastes; who is All-embracing, who is voiceless and unattached" Chh. Up. III-14-2. These attributes mentioned in this text as topics of meditation are possible in Brahman only.

The qualities of having true desires (Sat Kama) and true purposes (Sat Sankalpa) are attributed to the Supreme Self in another passage viz., 'The Self which is free from sin etc.' Chh. Up. VIII-7-1, "He whose Self is the ether"; this is possible as Brahman which as the cause of the entire universe is the Self of everything and is also the Self of the ether. Thus the qualities here intimated as topics of meditation agree with the nature of Brahman.

Hence, as the qualities mentioned are possible in Brahman, we conclude that the Supreme Brahman alone is represented as the object of meditation.

Anupapattestu na saarirah I.2.3 (34)

On the other hand, as (those qualities) are not possible (in it) the embodied (soul is) not (denoted by Manomaya etc.).

Anupapatteh: not being justifiable, because of the impossibility, because of the unreasonableness, because they are not appropriate; Tu: but on the other hand; Na: not; Saarirah: the embodied, the Jiva or the individual soul.

Such qualities cannot apply to the individual soul. The argument in support of the Sutra is continued. The preceding Sutra has stated that the qualities mentioned are possible in Brahman. The present Sutra declares that they are not possible in the Jiva or the embodied Soul. Brahman only is endowed with the qualities of 'consisting of mind or Manomaya, and so on' but not the embodied Self.

Because the qualities such as 'He whose purposes are true, whose Self is the ether, who is speechless, who is not disturbed, who is greater than the earth' cannot be ascribed to the individual soul. The term 'Saarira' or embodied means 'dwelling in a body.'

If the opponent says 'The Lord also dwells in the body', we reply: true, He does abide in the body, but not in the body alone; because Sruti declares 'The Lord is greater than the earth, greater than the heaven, Omnipresent like the ether, eternal.' On the contrary the individual soul resides in the body only.

The Jiva is like a glow-worm before the effulgence of the Brahman who is like a Sun when compared with it. The superior qualities described in the text are not certainly possible in Jiva.

The All-pervading is not the embodied self or the individual soul, as it is quite impossible to predicate Omnipresence of Him. It is impossible and against fact and reason also that one and the same individual could be in all the bodies at the same time.

Karmakartrivyapadesaccha I.2.4 (35)

Because of the declaration of the attainer and the object attained. He who consists of the mind (Manomaya) refers to Brahman and not to the individual soul.

Karma: object; Kartri: agent; Vyapadesat: because of the declaration or mention; Cha: and.

An argument in support of Sutra 3 is adduced.

A separate distinction is drawn between the object of activity and of the agent. Therefore the attributes of 'consisting of mind' (Manomaya) cannot belong to the embodied self. The text says "When I shall have departed from hence I shall obtain him" Chh. Up. III-14-4. Here the word 'Him' refers to that which is the topic of discussion. "Who consists of the mind, the object of meditation" viz., as something to be obtained; while the words 'I shall obtain' represent the meditating individual soul as the agent i.e., the obtainer.

We must not assume that one and the same thing is spoken of as the attainer (agent) and the object attained at the same time. The attainer and the attained cannot be the same. The object meditated upon is different from the person who meditates, the individual soul referred to in the above text by the pronoun 'I'.

Thus for the above reason also, that which is characterised by the attributes consisting of mind 'Manomaya' and so on, cannot be the individual soul.

Sabdaviseshat I.2.5 (36)

Because of the difference of words.

Sabda: word; Viseshat: because of difference.

The argument in favour of Sutra 1 is continued. That which possesses the attributes of "consisting of mind" and so on cannot be the individual soul, because there is a difference of words.

In the Satapatha Brahmana the same idea is expressed in similar words "As is a grain of rice, or a grain of barley, or a canary seed or the kernel of a canary seed", so is that golden person in the Self (X. 6-3-2). Here one word i.e. the locative "in the Self" denotes the individual soul or the embodied self, and a different word, viz. the nominative 'person' denotes the self distinguished by the attributes of consisting of mind etc.

We, therefore, conclude that the two are different and that the individual self is not referred to in the text under discussion.

Smritescha I.2.6 (37)

From the Smriti also (we know the embodied self or the individual soul is different from the one referred to in the text under discussion).

Smriteh: from the Smriti; Cha: and, also.

The argument in support of Sutra 1 is continued.

It is so declared also in the Smriti (Bhagavad Gita). From the Smriti also it is evident that the individual soul is markedly different from the subject matter of the text under discussion.

Smriti also declares the difference of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul "The Lord dwelleth in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna, by His illusive power, causing all beings to revolve, as though mounted on a potter's wheel" (Gita: XVIII-61).

The difference is only imaginary and not real. The difference exists only so long as Avidya or ignorance lasts and the significance of the Mahavakya or Great Sentence of the Upanishads 'Tat Tvam Asi' (Thou art That) has not been realised. As soon as you grasp the truth that there is only one universal Self, there is an end to Samsara or phenomenal life with its distinction of bondage, final emancipation and the like.

Arbhakaukastvattadvyapadesaccha neti chet na
nichayyatvadevam vyomavaccha I.2.7 (38)

If it be said that (the passage does) not (refer to Brahman) on account of the smallness of the abode (mentioned i.e. the heart) and also on account of the denotation of that (i.e. of minuteness) we say, No; because (Brahman) has thus to be meditated and because the case is similar to that of ether.

Arbhakaukastvat: because of the smallness of the abode; Tadvyapadesat: because of the description or denotation as such i.e. minuteness; Cha: and also; Na: not; Iti: not so; Chet: if; Na: not; Nichayyatvat: because of meditation (in the heart); Evam: thus, so; Vyomavat: like the ether; Cha: and.

An objection to Sutra 1 is raised and refuted.

Now an objection is raised, that the Manomaya of the Chhandogya Upanishad cannot be Brahman, but is Jiva, because the description there is more applicable to an individual soul than to Brahman. The text says "He is my self within the heart, smaller than a corn of rice, smaller than a mustard seed" Chh. Up. III-14-3. This shows that the Manomaya occupies very little space, in fact it is atomic and so cannot be Brahman.

This Sutra refutes it. Though a man is the king of the whole earth, he could at the same time be called the king of Ayodhya as well. The Infinite is called the atomic because He can be realised in the minute space of the chamber of the heart, just as Lord Vishnu can be realised in the sacred stone called Saligrama.

Although present everywhere, the Lord is pleased when meditated upon as abiding in the heart. The case is similar to that of the eye of the needle. The ether, though all-pervading, is spoken of as limited and minute, with reference to its connection with the eye of the needle. So it is said of Brahman also.

The attributes of limitation of abode and of minuteness are ascribed to Brahman only for the convenience of conception and meditation, because it is difficult to meditate on the all-pervading, infinite Brahman. This will certainly not go against His Omnipresence. These limitations are simply imagined in Brahman. They are not at all real.

In the very passage Brahman is declared to be infinite like space, and all pervading like ether, 'Greater than the earth, greater than the sky, greater than heaven, greater than all these worlds.' Though Brahman is all-pervading, yet He becomes atomic through His mysterious inconceivable power to please His devotees. He appears simultaneously everywhere, wherever His devotees are. This simultaneous appearance of the atomic Brahman everywhere establishes His all-pervadingness even in His manifested form. Gopis saw Lord Krishna everywhere.

The opponent says: If Brahman has His abode in the heart, which heart-abode is a different one in each body, it would follow, that He is attended by all the imperfections which attach to beings having different abodes, such as parrots shut up in different cages viz., want of unity being made up of parts, non-permanency, etc. He would be subject to experiences originating from connection with bodies. To this the author gives a suitable reply in the following Sutra.

Sambhogapraptiriti chet na vaiseshyat I.2.8 (39)

If it be said that (being connected with the hearts of all individual souls to) Its (Brahman's) Omnipresence, it would also have experience (of pleasure and pain) (we say) not so, on account of the difference in the nature (of the two).

Sambhogaprapti: that it has experience of pleasure and pain; Iti: thus; Chet: if; Na: not; Vaiseshyat: because of the difference in nature.

Another objection is raised and refuted here.

The word 'Sambhoga' denotes mutual experience or common experience. The force of 'Sam' in 'Sambhoga' is that of 'Saha'. The mere dwelling within a body is not a cause always of experiencing the pleasures or pains connected with that body. The experience is subject to the influence of the good and evil actions. Brahman has no such Karma. He is actionless (Nishkriya, Akarta). In the Gita the Lord says, "The Karmas do not touch Me and I have no attachment to the fruit of Karmas – Na mam karmani limpanti na me karmaphale spriha".

There is no equality in experience between Brahman and the individual soul, because Brahman is all-pervading, of absolute power; the individual soul is of little power and absolutely dependent.

Though Brahman is all-pervading and connected with hearts of all individual souls and is also intelligent like them, He is not subject to pleasure and pain. Because the individual soul is an agent, he is the doer of good and bad actions. Therefore he experiences pleasure and pain. Brahman is not the doer. He is the eternal Satchidananda. He is free from all evil.

The opponent says: The individual soul is in essence identical with Brahman. Therefore Brahman is also subject to the pleasure and pain experienced by the Jiva or the individual soul. This is a foolish argument. This is a fallacy. In reality there is neither the individual soul nor pleasure and pain. Pleasure and pain are mental creations only. When the individual soul is under the influence of ignorance or Avidya, he foolishly thinks that he is subject to pleasure and pain.

Proximity will not cause the clinging of pain and pleasure to Brahman. When something in space is affected by fire, the space itself cannot be affected by fire. Is ether blue because boys call it so? Not even the slightest trace of experience of pleasure and pain can be attributed to Brahman.

Sruti declares "Two birds are living together as friends on the same tree i.e. body. One of them, i.e. the individual soul, eats the tasteful fruit i.e. enjoys the fruit of his actions: and the other i.e. the Supreme Soul witnesses without eating anything, i.e. without partaking of fruit" Mun. Up. III-1-1.

Sutras 1 to 8 have established that the subject of discussion in the quoted portion of the Chhandogya Upanishad Chapter III-14 is Brahman and not the individual soul.