A- A+

Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 4: Balakyadhikaranam: Topic 5 (Sutras 16-18)

He who is the maker of the Sun, Moon, etc. is Brahman and not Prana or the individual soul.

Jagadvachitvat I.4.16 (122)

(He whose work is this is Brahman) because (the 'work') denotes the world.

Jagat: the world; Vachitvat: because of the denotation.

A passage from the Kaushitaki Upanishad is now taken up for discussion.

In the Kaushitaki Brahmana the sage Balaki promises to teach Brahman by saying "I shall tell you Brahman", and he goes on to describe sixteen things as Brahman, beginning with the Sun. All these are set aside by the King Ajatasatru who says, none of them is Brahman. When Balaki is silenced, Ajatasatru gives the teaching about Brahman in these words: "O Balaki! He who is the maker of those persons whom you mentioned and whose work is the visible universe – is alone to be known."

We read in the Kaushitaki Upanishad in the dialogue between Balaki and Ajatasatru "O Balaki, He who is the maker of those persons whom you mentioned, and whose work is this (visible universe) is alone to be known" (Kau. Up. IV-19).

A doubt arises now whether what is here said as the object of knowledge is the individual soul or the Prana or Brahman, the Supreme Self. The Purvapakshin holds that the vital force or Prana is meant, because he says the clause "of whom this is the work" points to the activity of motion and that activity rests on Prana. Secondly, we meet with the term 'Prana' in a complementary passage. "Then he becomes one with the Prana alone" Kau. Up. IV-20. The word 'Prana' denotes the vital force. This is well known. Thirdly, Prana is the maker of all the persons, the person in the Sun, the person in the moon etc. We know from another scriptural text that the Sun and other deities are only differentiations of Prana, "Who is that one God in whom all other gods are contained? Prana and he is Brahman, and they call him That' (Bri. Up. III-9-9).

Or the passage refers to the individual soul as the object of knowledge. A subsequent passage contains an inferential mark of the individual soul, "As the master feeds with his people, nay as his people feed on the master, thus does this conscious Self feed with the other selfs" Kau. Up. IV-20. As the individual soul is the support of the Prana, it may itself be called Prana. We thus conclude that the passage under discussion refers either to the individual soul or to the chief Prana but not to the Lord of whom it does not contain any inferential marks whatsoever.

The Sutra refutes all these and says it is Brahman that is referred to the maker in the text; because Brahman is taught here "I shall teach you Brahman." Again 'this' which means the world, is his 'work.' This clearly points out that the 'he' is Brahman only.

The reference in the Kaushitaki Brahmana passage is to the Supreme Lord because of the reference to the world. The activity referred to is the world of which the Lord is the Creator.

Therefore the maker is neither Prana nor the individual soul, but the Highest Lord. It is affirmed in all Vedanta texts that the Maker of the world is the Supreme Lord.

Jivamukhyapranalinganneti chet tad vyakhyatam I.4.17 (123)

If it be said that on account of the inferential marks of the individual soul and the chief Prana (Brahman is) not (referred to by the word 'matter' in the passage quoted), (we reply) that has already been explained.

Jiva: the individual soul; Mukhyaprana: the chief vital air; Lingat: because of the inferential marks; Na iti: not thus; Chet: if; Tat: that; Yyakhyatam: has already been explained.

An objection to Sutra 16 is raised and refuted. The objection has already been disposed of under I-1-31.

In the Sutra I-1-31 which dealt with the topic of the dialogue between Indra and Pratardana, this objection was raised and answered. All those arguments would apply here also. It was shown there that when a text is interpreted as referring to Brahman on the ground of a comprehensive survey of its initial and concluding clauses, all other inferential marks which point to other topics, such as Jiva or Prana etc., must be so interpreted that they may be in harmony with the main topic.

Here also the initial clause refers to Brahman in the sentence "Shall I tell you Brahman?" The concluding clause is "Having overcome all evils, he obtains pre-eminence among all beings, sovereignty and supremacy, yea, he who knows this". Thus the initial and concluding clauses here also refer to Brahman. If in the middle of this text we find any mark from which Jiva or any other topic may be inferred, we must so interpret the passage as to refer to Brahman, in order to avoid contradiction.

This topic is not redundant as it is already taught in Sutra I-1-31, because the chief point discussed here is the word 'Karma' which is liable to misinterpretation. Therefore this Adhikarana certainly teaches something new.

The word Prana occurs in the sense of Brahman in the passage "The mind settles down on Prana" Chh. Up. VI-8-2.

Anyartham tu Jaiminih prasnavyakhyanabhyamapi chaivameke I.4.18 (124)

But Jaimini thinks that (the reference to the individual soul in the text) has another purpose on account of the question and the reply; moreover, thus some also (the Vajasaneyins) (read in their text or recension).

Anyartham: for another purpose; Tu: but; Jaiminih: Jaimini; Prasna-vyakhyanabhyam: from the question and the reply; Api: also; Cha: and; Evam: in this way; Eke: others, other Srutis

An argument in support of Sutra 16 is given.

Even the reference to the individual soul has a different purpose i.e. aims at intimating Brahman.

After Ajatasatru has taught Balaki by waking the sleeping man, that the soul is different from the Prana or the vital air, he asks the following question: "Balaki, where did the person here sleep? Where was he? Whence came he thus back?" Kau. Up. IV. 19. These questions clearly refer to something different from the individual soul. And so likewise does the answer (Kau. Up. IV.20) say that the individual soul is merged in Brahman in deep sleep.

When sleeping he sees no dream, then he becomes one with that Prana alone, and 'from that Self all Pranas proceed, each towards its place, from the Pranas the gods, from the gods the worlds".

This conversation occurs in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. It clearly refers to the individual soul by means of the term "the person consisting of cognition" (Vijnanamaya) and distinguishes from it the Highest Self. "Where was then the person consisting of cognition? and from whence did he thus come back?" (Bri. Up. II-1-16) and later on, in the reply to the above question, declares that 'the person consisting of cognition lies in the ether within the heart'. We already know that the word 'ether' denotes the supreme seat for instance in the passage above the "small ether within the lotus of the heart" (Chh. Up. VIII-1-1).