Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 3: Dyubhvadyadhikaranam: Topic 1 (Sutras 1-7)

The abode of heaven, earth, etc. is Brahman.

Dyubhvadyayatanam svasabdat I.3.1 (64)

The abode of heaven, earth, etc., (is Brahman) on account of the term, 'own' i.e., 'Self'.

Dyu: heaven; Bhu: earth; Adi: and the rest; Ayatanam: abode; Sva: own; Sabdat: from the word (Sva sabdat: on account of the word 'Self').

An expression from the Mundaka Upanishad is taken up for discussion.

Para Brahman is the basis or resting place of heaven, earth etc., as the term Atman indicative of Him is found in the passage. We read in Mundaka Upanishad II-2-5 "He in whom the heaven, the earth, and the sky are woven, as also the mind with all the senses, know Him alone as the Self, and leave off other talk! He is the bridge of immortality."

Here the doubt arises whether the abode is the Supreme Brahman or something else.

The Purvapakshin or the opponent holds that the abode is something else on account of the expression "He is the bridge of immortality". He says: it is known from daily experience that a bridge takes one to some further bank. It is impossible to assume something beyond the Supreme Brahman, because the Srutis declare, "Brahman is endless without a shore" Bri. Up. II-4-12. As the Pradhana is the general cause, it may be called the general abode. Or the Sutratman may be the abode. The Srutis say "Air is that thread, O Gautama! By air as by a thread O Gautama! this world and the other world and all beings are strung together" Bri. Up. III-7-2. So the air supports all things. Or else the Jiva may be the abode with reference to the objects of enjoyment as he is the enjoyer.

He who is spoken of as the abode, in whom the earth, heaven etc., are woven is Brahman only, on account of the term 'Own' or 'Self' which is appropriate only if Brahman is referred to in the text and not Pradhana or Sutratman. (We meet with the word 'Self' in the passage – "Know him alone as the Self").

Brahman is spoken of in the Sruti as the general abode by its own terms i.e. by terms properly designating Brahman as, for instance, "All these creatures, my dear, have their root in the being, their abode in the being, their rest in the being" (Chh. Up. VI-8-4).

In the texts preceding and following this one, i.e. in Mun. Up. II-1-10 and II-2-11 Brahman is spoken of. Therefore it is only proper to infer that Brahman only is referred to in the intervening texts which is under discussion. In the texts cited above mention is made of an abode and that which abides. In Mundaka Upanishad II-2-11 we read: "Brahman indeed is all this." From this a doubt may arise that Brahman is of a manifold variegated nature, just as in the case of a tree consisting of leaves, branches, stem, root etc. ln order to remove this doubt the text declares in the passage under discussion "Know Him alone as the Self" i.e. know the Self alone and not that which is merely a product of Avidya (ignorance) and is false or illusory. Another scriptural text reproves the man who thinks that this world is real. "From death to death goes he who beholds any difference here" (Katha Up. II-4-11).

The statement "All is Brahman" aims at dissolving the wrong conception of the reality of the world. It does not intimate that Brahman is of manifold, variegated nature. The homogeneous nature of Brahman is clearly stated in the Srutis. "As a mass of salt has neither inside nor outside, but is altogether a mass of taste, thus indeed has that Self (Brahman) neither inside nor outside, but is altogether a mass of knowledge" (Bri. Up. IV-5-13). For all these reasons the abode of heaven, earth etc., is the Supreme Brahman.

The word Setu (bridge) in the words 'Amritasyaisa Setuh' (He is the bridge of immortality) merely refers to His being the basis of every created object and the means of immortality. The word 'bridge' is meant to intimate only that which is called a bridge that supports, not that it has a further bank. You should not think that the bridge meant is like an ordinary bridge made of wood or stone. Because the word 'Setu' is derived from the root 'Si' which means to bind. The word conveys the idea of holding together or supporting.

Muktopasripyavyapadesat I.3.2 (65)

Because of the declaration (in the scriptures) that that is to be attained by the liberated.

Mukta upasripya: to be attained by the liberated; Vyapadesat: because of declaration.

An argument in support of Sutra I is given.

The above word "Dyubhvadyayatanam" refers to Para Brahman, also because He is described as attained by the emancipated soul.

A further reason is given to intimate that Brahman is meant in the passage under discussion. Brahman is the goal of the emancipated. That Brahman is that which is to be resorted to by the liberated is known from other scriptural passages such as "The fetter of the heart is broken, all doubts are solved, all his works perish when He who is the higher and the lower has been beheld" Mun. Up. II-2-8. "The wise man freed from name and form goes to the divine Person who is greater than the great" (Mun. Up. III.2-8). "When all desires which once entered his heart are destroyed then does the mortal become immortal, then he obtains Brahman" (Bri. Up. IV-4-7).

Nowhere you will find that the Pradhana and similar entities are to be resorted to by the emancipated.

We read in the Bri. Up. IV-4-21, "Let a wise Brahmana after he has discovered Him, practise wisdom. Let him not seek after many words, because that is mere weariness of the tongue." For this reason also the abode of heaven, earth, etc., is the Supreme Brahman.

Nanumanamatacchabdat I.3.3 (66)

(The abode of heaven etc.) is not that which is inferred i.e. Pradhana because there is no term indicating it.

Na: not; Anumanam: that which is inferred i.e. Pradhana; Atad sabdat: because there is no word denoting it.

The argument in support of Sutra 1 is continued.

The abode referred to in Sutra 1 does not indicate Pradhana because there is no such expression in the said Mundaka Upanishad as can be construed to indicate Pradhana or matter. On the contrary such terms as "He who knows all (Sarvajna) understands all (Sarvavit)" (Mun. Up. I-1-9) intimate an intelligent being opposed to Pradhana in nature. For the same reason the air (Sutratman) cannot be accepted as the abode of heaven, earth etc.

Pranabhriccha I.3.4 (67)

(Nor) also the individual soul.

Pranabhrit: the living or individual soul, supporter of Prana, i.e., Jiva; Cha: also; (Na: not).

The argument in support of Sutra 1 is continued.

The word 'not' is understood here from the preceding Sutra.

Although the individual soul is an intelligent being and can therefore be denoted by the word 'Self' yet omniscience and similar qualities do not belong to him, as his knowledge is limited by the adjuncts. He cannot become the resting place or abode of the entire world as he is limited and therefore not omnipresent.

The individual soul cannot be accepted as the abode of heaven, earth etc., for the following reason also.

Bhedavyapadesat I.3.5 (68)

(Also) on account of the declaration of difference (between) individual soul and the abode of heaven etc.

Bhedavyapadesat: on account of difference being mentioned.

The argument in support of Sutra 1 is continued.

In the text under discussion viz., "Know him alone as the Self (Atman)" (Mun. Up. II-2-5), there is a declaration of difference. The individual soul who is desirous of emancipation is the Knower and abode of heaven is the thing to be known. Brahman which is denoted by the word 'Self' and represented as the object of knowledge is understood to be the abode of heaven, earth and so on.

For the following reason also the individual soul cannot be accepted as the abode of heaven, earth etc.

Prakaranat I.3.6 (69)

On account of the subject matter.

Prakaranat: On account of the subject matter, from the context.

The argument in support of Sutra 1 is continued.

The Supreme Brahman is the subject matter of the entire chapter. You can understand this from the passage "Sir, what is that through which when it is known, everything else becomes known?" Mun. Up. I-1-3. Here the knowledge of everything is said to be dependent on the knowledge of one thing. Because all this i.e. the whole universe becomes known if Brahman the Self of all is known, but not if only the individual soul is known.

The Mundaka Upanishad begins with 'what is that through which' and concludes by saying "The knower of the Brahman becomes Brahman" III-2-9. This clearly intimates that the subject matter of the whole Upanishad from the beginning to the end is Brahman only. Hence it is the same Brahman which is spoken of as the resting place of heaven, earth and so on.

Another reason against the individual soul is given in the following Sutra.

Sthityadanabhyam cha I.3.7 (70)

And on account of the two conditions of remaining unattached and eating (of which the former is characteristic of the Supreme Self, the latter of the individual soul).

Sthiti: abiding, existence; Adanabhyam: eating; Cha: and.

The argument in support of Sutra 1 is concluded.

We read in Mundakopanisad III-1-1. "Two birds, inseparable friends cling to the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit, the other looks on (remains as a witness)." The passage refers to Brahman as Self-poised bliss and to the individual soul as eating the sweet and bitter fruits of actions. Here Brahman is described as the silent witness. The passage describes the condition of mere inactive presence of Brahman. The individual soul eats the fruits of his works viz. pleasure and pain and therefore he is different from Brahman. The two states viz. mere presence and the enjoyment indicate that Brahman and the individual soul are referred to. This description which distinguishes the two can be apt only if the abode of heaven etc. is Brahman. Otherwise there will be no continuity of topic.

It cannot be said that the passage merely describes the nature of the individual soul, because it is nowhere the purpose of the scripture to describe the individual soul. The individual soul is known to everyone as agent and enjoyer. Ordinary experience tells us nothing of Brahman. Brahman is the special topic of all scriptural texts. The purpose of the scriptures is always to describe and establish Brahman which is not well known.