Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 4: Sankhyopasangrahadhikaranam: Topic 3 (Sutras 11-13)

The five-fold-five (Pancha-panchajanah) does not refer to the twenty-five Sankhyan categories.

Na sankhyopasangrahadapi nanabhavadatirekaccha I.4.11 (117)

Even from the statement of the number (five-fold-five i.e., twenty-five categories by the Sruti it is) not (to be understood that the Sruti refers to the Pradhana) on account of the differences (in the categories and the excess over the number of the Sankhyan categories).

Na: not; Sankhya: number; Upasangrahat: from statement; Api: even; Nanabhavat: on account of the differences; Atirekat: on account of excess; Cha: and.

This Sutra discusses whether the twenty-five principles of the Sankhyan philosophy are admitted by the Sruti.

The Sankhya or Purvapakshin failed in his attempt to base his doctrine on the text which speaks of the 'Aja'. He again comes forward and points to another text. "He in whom the five groups of five and the ether rest, Him alone I believe to be the Self; I who know believe Him to be Brahman" (Bri. Up. IV-4-17). Now five-times-five makes twenty-five. This is exactly the number of the Sankhya Tattvas or principles. The doctrine of Pradhana rests on a scriptural basis. Here is the scriptural authority for our philosophy.

This Sutra refutes such an assumption. Panchapanchajanah, five-five-people cannot denote the twenty-five categories of the Sankhyas. The Sankhya categories have each their individual difference. There are no attributes in common to each pentad. The Sankhya categories cannot be divided into groups of five of any basis of similarity, because all the twenty-five principles or Tattvas differ from each other.

This is further not possible 'on account of the excess'. The ether is mentioned as a separate category. This will make the number twenty-six in all. This is not in accordance with the theory of the Sankhyas.

From the mere enumeration of the number 25 we cannot say that the reference is to the twenty-five Sankhya categories and that hence the Sankhya doctrine has the sanction of the Vedas.

The passage refers to Atma also. Then the total number will be twenty-seven. Atma is described as the basis of the others. Therefore it cannot be one of the twenty-five principles.

The principles of Sankhya philosophy are propounded as independent of Purusha. But here the categories are known to be entirely dependent on Brahman or Atma who is said to be the mainstay of them all. So they cannot be accepted as the independent principles of Sankhya.

The word Panchajanah is a group denoting term. It is the special name belonging to all the members of that group. The group consists of five members, each of whom is called a Panchajanah. Therefore the phrase 'Pancha-panchajanah' does not mean five times five beings but five beings. Every one of whom is called a Panchajanah. It is just like the phrase Saptarshi, which denotes the constellation Ursa Major, consisting of seven stars. The word Saptarshi is a special name of everyone of these stars. When we say seven Saptarshis we do not mean seven times-seven stars but seven stars each one of whom is called a Saptarshi. Therefore 'Pancha-pancha-janah' does not mean five times five products, but five people every one of whom is called a Panchajanah. The twenty-five Tattvas of the Sankhyas are these: 1, Prakriti; 2-8, seven modifications of Prakriti viz., Mahat etc., which are causal substances, as well as effects; 9-24 sixteen effects; the 25 is the soul which is neither a causal substance nor an effect.

Who then are these beings called Panchajanah? The following Sutra gives the reply.

Pranadayo vakyaseshat I.4.12 (118)

(The Panchajanah or the five people referred to are) the vital force etc., (as is seen) from the complementary passage.

Pranadayah: the Prana and the rest; Vakyaseshat: because of the complementary passage.

The Sutra is explanatory to Sutra 11.

The text in which the Panchajanah are mentioned is followed by another one in which the vital force and four other things are mentioned in order to describe the nature of Brahman. "They who know the Prana of Prana (the breath of breath), the eye of the eye, the ear of the ear, the food of the food, the mind of mind etc." (Bri. Madhya. IV-4-21).

The five people refer to the Prana and the other four of the text and are mentioned for the purpose of describing the nature of Brahman.

The Sankhya asks how can the word 'people' be applied to the breath, the eye, the ear and so on? How we ask in return, can it be applied to your categories? In both cases the common meaning of the term 'people' is applied to the Pranas in the text, "These are the five persons of Brahman" (Chh. Up. III-13-6). "Breath is father, breath is mother" (Chh. Up. VII-15-1).

The objector says. This is possible only in the recension of the Madhyandinas, who read the additional word 'Annasya Annam'. But in Kanva recension that phrase 'annasya annam' is omitted. We have only four. This objection is answered by the author in the following Sutra.

Jyotishaikeshamasatyanne I.4.13 (119)

In the text of some (the Kanva recension) where food is not mentioned (the number five is made up) by 'light' (mentioned in the previous verse).

Jyotisha: by light; Ekesham: of some texts or recensions, i.e., of the Kanvas; Asati: in the absence of; Anne: food.

The argument in support of Sutra 11 is continued.

"The immortal light of lights the gods worship as longevity" Bri. Up. IV-4-10. Although food is not mentioned in the text cited in the last Sutra, according to the Kanva recension of the Satapatha Brahmana, yet the four of that verse, together with 'light' mentioned in the text quoted above, would make the five people.

We have proved herewith that scriptures offer no basis for the doctrine of the Pradhana. It will be shown later on that this doctrine cannot be proved either by Smriti or by ratiocination.