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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 3: Bhumadhikaranam: Topic 2 (Sutras 8-9)

Bhuma is Brahman.

Bhuma samprasadadadhyupadesat I.3.8 (71)

Bhuma (is Brahman) because it is taught after the state of deep sleep (i.e. after Prana or the vital air which remains awake even in that state).

Bhuma: the vast, the Infinite, the full; Samprasadat adhi: beyond the state of deep sleep (here the vital principle or Prana); Upadesat: because of the teaching.

The term 'Bhuma' does not denote numerical largeness but pervasion in the shape of fulness. Samprasada means the undisturbed place or bliss hence the state of deep sleep, when that bliss is enjoyed. 'Adhi' means above, beyond.

Bhuma denotes Brahman, because it is described in Sruti to be above Prana, which is here represented by the bliss enjoyed during deep sleep. Bhuma refers to Brahman as the passage teaches an entity higher than Samprasada i.e. Prana or vital air which is awake and active even in deep sleep.

An expression from the Chhandogya Upanishad is now taken up for discussion. In the seventh chapter of the Chhandogya Upanishad Sanatkumara gives instructions to Narada. He begins with 'name' and takes the student step by step. He goes higher and higher and ultimately teaches the highest truth which is Bhuma or the Infinite. Sanatkumara says to Narada "Bhuma is Bliss. You should desire to understand where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, understands nothing else, that is Bhuma." VIII-22-24.

Here the doubt arises whether Bhuma is the vital air or Brahman (the Supreme Self).

The Purvapakshin or the opponent maintains that the vital air is Bhuma. He says: Narada approaches Sanatkumara for initiation into the mysteries of Atman. We meet with a series of questions and answers such as "Is there anything greater than a name? Speech is greater than name. Is there anything greater than speech? Mind is greater than speech which extends from name up to vital air". Then Narada does not ask whether there is any higher truth. But still Sanatkumara gives an exposition on Bhuma. This intimates that Bhuma is not different from the vital air taught already.

Further he calls the knower of the vital air an Ativadin i.e., one who makes a statement surpassing preceding statements. This clearly shows that the vital air is the highest Truth.

This Sutra refutes the argument and says that Bhuma is Brahman. Sanatkumara distinctly says to Narada – "But verily he is an Ativadin who declares the highest Being to be the True (Satya)" Chh. Up. VII-16-1. This clearly indicates that it refers to something higher than Prana or the vital air. One can become truly an Ativadin by knowing this Supreme Truth only.

Though Narada does not ask Sanatkumara "Is there anything greater than the vital air?", a new topic about Brahman (Bhuma) which is the Supreme Truth is begun. Narada said to Sanatkumara "Sir, may I become an Ativadin through the Truth." Sanatkumara leads Narada step by step, stage by stage to the knowledge of Brahman or Bhuma and instructs him that this Bhuma is Brahman.

Narada at first listens to the instruction given by Sanatkumara on various matters, the last of which is Prana and then becomes silent. Thereupon the wise Sanatkumara explains to him spontaneously without being asked that he only is an Ativadin who has knowledge of the Highest Truth, and that the knowledge of vital air which is an unreal product is destitute of substance. By the term "The True" is meant the Supreme Brahman, because Brahman is the only Reality. Sanatkumara thereupon leads Narada by a series of steps beginning with understanding up to the knowledge of Bhuma. We, therefore, conclude that the Bhuma is the Supreme Brahman, and that it is different from Prana or the vital air.

If Prana or the vital air were the Bhuma then Sanatkumara would not have continued his instructions. He would have stopped his instructions after saying "Prana is greater than hope" (VII-15-1). But he gives a clear description of the nature of Bhuma in Sections 23, 24, 25 of the same chapter. Therefore Bhuma alone is Brahman or the Highest Truth.

Selfhood does not belong to Prana. Moreover one can free himself from grief only by knowledge of the Supreme Brahman. Brahman only is All Full. Bhuma means also fulness. The quality of the Bhuma agrees best with the Supreme Brahman which is the cause, source, support and substratum for everything. Bhuma is taught as the last of the series. It is Infinite Bliss. Therefore it is the highest of all.

The meditation on Prana is higher than meditation on Name up to hope. Therefore he who thus meditates on Prana is called an Ativadin. He is an Ativadin compared with those below him. But the meditation on the Supreme Brahman is superior even to that on Prana. Hence he who meditates on Brahman or the Bhuma is the real Ativadin.

Narada thought that the instruction about the Atman is now completed. Therefore he did not ask any further question. Sanatkumara knew that the knowledge of Prana is not the highest knowledge. Therefore he spontaneously continues his teaching to Narada and tells him that the knowledge of Brahman or the Bhuma is the highest knowledge. The Srutis say that Prana springs from Brahman. Therefore Prana is inferior to Brahman. Brahman alone is the Bhuma of the passage of the Chhandogya Upanishad under discussion.

Dharmopapattescha I.3.9 (72)

And because the attributes (declared in the scriptural passage to Bhuma) apply appropriately only to Para Brahman.

Dharma: qualities, attributes; Upapatteh: because of the suitability; Cha: and.

An argument in support of Sutra 8 is given.

The attributes which the scripture attributes to the Bhuma agree well with Brahman. In the Bhuman the ordinary activities of seeing etc. are absent. The Sruti declares "where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, understands nothing else, that is the Bhuma". We know from another text that this is the characteristic of the Supreme Self. "But when the Atman only is all this, how could he see another?" Bri. Up. IV-5-15.

The qualities of being the True, resting on its own greatness, non-duality, bliss, Infiniteness, the self of everything, Omnipresence, Immortality etc., mentioned in the text under discussion can belong to the Supreme only, not to Prana which is an effect and as such cannot possess any of these attributes.

By all this it is proved that the Bhuma is the Supreme Self or Brahman.