Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 2: Adrisyatvadhikaranam: Topic 6 (Sutras 21-23)

That which cannot be seen is Brahman.

Adrisyatvadigunako dharmokteh I.2.21 (52)

The possessor of qualities like indivisibility etc., (is Brahman) on account of the declaration of Its attributes.

Adrisyatva: invisibility; Adi: and the rest, beginning with; Gunakah: one who possesses the quality (Adrisyatvadigunakah: possessor of qualities like invisibility); Dharmokteh: because of the mention of qualities.

Some expressions from the Mundaka Upanishad are now taken up as the subject for discussion.

We read in the Mundaka Upanishad (I-1-5 & 6) "The higher knowledge is this by which the indestructible is known or realised. That which cannot be seen nor seized, which is without origin and qualities, without hands and feet, the eternal, all-pervading, omnipresent, infinitesimal, that which is imperishable, that it is which the wise consider as the source of all beings."

Here the doubt arises whether the source of all beings which is spoken of as characterised by invisibility etc., is Pradhana, or the individual soul, or the Supreme Self or the Highest Lord.

That which here is spoken of as the source of all beings (Bhutayoni) characterised by such attributes as invisibility and so on, can be the Supreme Self or Brahman only, nothing else, because qualities like "He is all-knowing (Sarvajna), all-perceiving (Sarvavit) Mun. Up. I-1-9 are true only of Brahman and not of the Pradhana which is non-intelligent. Certainly it cannot refer to the Jiva or the embodied soul as he is narrowed by his limiting conditions. The section also, in which these passages occur relates to the Highest Knowledge or Para Vidya. Therefore it must refer to Brahman and not to Pradhana or Jiva.

Viseshanabhedavyapadesabhyam cha netarau I.2.22 (53)

The other two (viz. the individual soul and the Pradhana) are not (the source of all beings) for distinctive attributes and differences are stated.

Viseshanabhedavyapadesabhyam: on account of the mention of distinctive attributes and differences; Cha: and; Na: not; Itarau: the other two.

An argument in support of Sutra 21 is given.

The source of all beings is Brahman or the Supreme Self but not either of the two others viz., the individual soul for the following reason also.

We read in the Mundaka Upanishad II.1, 2 "That the heavenly person is without a body. He is both without and within, is birthless, without breath, and without mind, pure, higher than the high, Imperishable." The distinctive attributes mentioned here such as "being of a heavenly nature" (Divya), 'Birthless', 'Pure', etc., can in no way belong to the individual soul who erroneously regards himself to be limited by name and form as presented by Avidya or ignorance and erroneously considers himself limited, impure, corporeal, etc. Therefore the passage obviously refers to the Supreme Self or Brahman who is the subject of all the Upanishads.

"Higher than the high, Imperishable (Pradhana)" intimates that the source of all beings spoken of in the last Sutra is not the Pradhana but something different from it. Here the term imperishable means the Avyaktam or Avyakrita (the unmanifested or the undifferentiated) which represents the potentiality or the seed of all names and forms, contains the subtle parts of the material elements and abides in the Lord. As it is no effect of anything, it is high when compared to all effects. Intellect, mind, egoism, the Tanmatras, the organs are all born from it. "Aksharat paratah parah – Higher than the high Imperishable", which expresses a difference clearly indicates that the Supreme Self or Brahman is meant here. Beyond Pradhana or Avyaktam is Para Brahman. It is a settled conclusion therefore that the source of all beings must mean the highest Self or Brahman only.

A further argument in favour of the same conclusion is given in the following Sutra.

Rupopanyasaccha I-2-23 (54)

And on account of its form being mentioned (the passage under discussion refers to Brahman).

Rupa: form; Upanyasat: because of the mention; Cha: and.

The argument in support of Sutra 21 is continued.

Further His form is described in the Mundaka Upanishad II-1-4 "Fire is His head, His eyes the sun and the moon, the quarters His ears, His speech the Vedas, the wind His breath, His heart the universe; from His feet came the earth, He is indeed the inner Self of all beings."

This statement of form can refer only to the Supreme Lord or Brahman. Such a description is appropriate only in the case of Brahman, because the Jiva is of limited power and because Pradhana (matter) cannot be the Soul or inner Self of living beings.

As the "source of all beings" forms the general topic, the whole passage from "From Him is born breath" upto "He is the inner Self of all beings" refers to that same source.

"The Person indeed is all this, sacrifice, knowledge etc." Mun. Up. II-1-10, intimates that the source of all beings referred to in the passage under discussion is none other than the Supreme Self or Brahman, for He is the inner Self of all beings.