BRAHMA SUTRAS
by Swami Sivananda

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CHAPTER ONE: SAMANVAYA ADHYAYA

Section 4: Chamasadhikaranam: Topic 2 (Sutras 8-10)

The Aja of Svetasvatara Upanishad does not mean Pradhana.


Chamasavadaviseshat I.4.8 (114)

(It cannot be maintained that 'Aja' means the Pradhana) because no special characteristic is stated, as in the case of the cup.

Chamasavat: like a cup; Aviseshat: because there is no special characteristic.

An expression from the Svetasvatara Upanishad is now taken up for discussion in support of Sutra 1.

The author next refutes another wrong interpretation given by the Sankhyas of a verse from the Svetasvatara Upanishad.

We find in the Svetasvatara Upanishad IV-5, "There is one 'Aja' red, white and black in colour, producing manifold offspring of the same nature."

Here a doubt arises whether this 'Aja' refers to the Pradhana of the Sankhyas or to the subtle elements fire, water, earth. The Sankhyas maintain that 'Aja' here means the Pradhana, the unborn. The words red, white and black refer to its three constituents, the Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. She is called 'unborn'. She is not an effect. She is said to produce manifold offspring by her own unaided effort.

This Sutra refutes this. The Mantra taken by itself is not able to give assertion what the Sankhya doctrine is meant. There is no basis for such a special assertion in the absence of special characteristics. The case is analogous to that of the cup mentioned in the Mantra, "There is a cup having its mouth below and its bottom above" Bri. Up. II-2-3. It is impossible to decide from the text itself what kind of cup is meant. Similarly it is not possible to fix the meaning of 'Aja' from the text alone.

But in connection with the Mantra about the cup we have a supplementary passage from which we learn what kind of cup is meant. "What is called the cup having its mouth below and its bottom above is the skull." Similarly, here we have to refer this passage to supplementary texts to fix the meaning of Aja. We should not assert that it means the Pradhana.

Where can we learn what special being is meant by the word 'Aja' of the Svetasvatara Upanishad? To this question the following Sutra gives a suitable answer.


Jyotirupakrama tu tatha hyadhiyata eke I.4.9 (115)

But (the elements) beginning with light (are meant by the term Aja), because some read so in their text.

This is explanatory to Sutra 8.

Jyotirupakrama: elements beginning with light; Tu: but; Tatha: thus; Hi: because; Adhiyate: some read, some recensions have a reading; Eke: some.

By the term 'Aja' we have to understand the causal matter from which fire, water and earth have sprung. The matter begins with light i.e., comprises fire, water and earth. The word 'tu' (but) gives emphasis to the assertion. One Sakha assigns to them red colour etc. "The red colour is the colour of fire, white colour is the colour of water, black colour is the colour of earth" Chh. Up. VI-2-4, 4-1.

This passage fixes the meaning of the word 'Aja'. It refers to fire, earth and water from which the world has been created. It is not the Pradhana of the Sankhyas which consists of the three Gunas. The words red, white, black primarily denote special colours. They can be applied to the three Gunas of the Sankhyas in a secondary sense only. When doubtful passages have to be interpreted, the passages whose sense is beyond doubt are to be used. This is generally a recognised rule.

In the Svetasvatara Upanishad in Chapter I we find that Aja is used along with the word "Devatma Sakti – the divine power." Therefore Aja does not mean Pradhana.

The creative power is Brahman's inherent energy, which emanates from Him during the period of creation. Prakriti herself is born of Brahman. Therefore Aja in its literal sense of 'unborn' cannot apply to Prakriti or Pradhana. Lord Krishna says, "Mama yonir mahad Brahma – My womb is the great Brahman, in that I place the germ thence cometh forth the birth of all beings, O Bharata." This shows that Prakriti herself is produced from the Lord.


Kalpanopadesaccha madhvadivadavirodhah I.4.10 (116)

And on account of the statement of the assumption (of a metaphor) there is nothing contrary to reason (in Aja denoting the causal matter) as in the case of honey (denoting the sun in Madhu Vidya for the sake of meditation) and similar cases.

Kalpana: the creative power of thought; Upadesat: from teaching; Cha: and; Madhvadivat: as in the case of honey etc.; Avirodhah: no incongruity.

The argument in support of Sutra 8 is continued.

The Purvapakshin says, "The term Aja denotes something unborn. How can it refer to the three causal elements of the Chhandogya Upanishad, which are something created? This is contrary to reason."

The Sutra says: There is no incongruity. The source of all beings viz., fire, water and earth is compared to a she-goat by way of metaphor. Some she-goat might be partly red, partly white and partly black. She might have many young goats resembling her in colour. Some he-goat might love her and lie by her side, while some other he-goat might abandon her after having enjoyed her. Similarly the universal causal matter which is tri-coloured on account of its comprising fire, water and earth produces many inanimate and animate beings like unto itself and is enjoyed by the souls who are bound by Avidya or ignorance, while it is renounced by those souls who have attained true knowledge of the Brahman.

The words 'like honey' in the Sutra mean that just as the sun although not being honey is represented as honey (Chh. Up. III.1), and speech as cow (Bri. Up. V-8), and the heavenly world etc., as the fires (Bri. Up. VI-2.9). So here the causal matter though not being a tri-coloured she-goat, is metaphorically or figuratively represented as one. Hence there is nothing incongruous in using the term 'Aja' to denote the aggregate of fire, water and earth. 'Aja' does not mean 'unborn'. The description of Nature as an Aja is an imaginative way of teaching a Truth. The sun is the honey of the gods, though the sun is not mere honey.