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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 1: Itaravyapadesadhikaranam: Topic 7 (Sutras 21-23)

Brahman does not create evil.

Itaravyapadesaddhitakaranadidoshaprasaktih II.1.21 (155)

On account of the other (i.e., the individual soul) being stated (as non-different from Brahman) there would arise (in Brahman) the faults of not doing what is beneficial and the like.

Itaravypadesat: on account of the other being stated (as non-different from Brahman); Hitakaranadidoshaprasaktih: defects of not doing what is beneficial and the like would arise.

(Itara: other than being Brahman, i.e. the individual soul; Vyapadesat: from the designation, from the expression; Hita: good, beneficial; Akaranadi: not creating, etc.; Dosha: imperfection, defect, faults; Prasaktih: result, consequence.)

The discussions on the relation of the world to Brahman have been finished now. The question of the relation of the individual soul to Brahman is being raised by way of an objection in this Sutra.

In the previous Adhikarana, the oneness of the effect (world) with its cause (Brahman) has been established.

In this Sutra, the opponent or Purvapakshin raises an objection. He says, that if Brahman is the cause of the world, there is inappropriateness in that view because the scripture describes Jiva as being Brahman and, therefore, he will not cause harm to himself such as birth, death, old age, disease, by getting into the person of the body. A being which is itself absolutely pure, cannot take this altogether impure body as forming part of its Self.

The scripture declares the other, i.e., the embodied soul to be one with Brahman, "That is the Self". "Thou art That, O Svetaketu" (Chh. Up. VI.8.7). By stating that the individual soul is one with Brahman, there arises room for finding out a fault in the wisdom of Brahman, that He is not doing good to Himself by creating suffering and pain on account of repeated births and deaths for Himself. Will any one do what is harmful and unpleasant to himself? Will he not remember that he created the world? Will he not destroy it as the cause of his suffering? Brahman would have created a very beautiful world where everything would have been pleasant for the individual soul without the least pain or suffering. That is not so. Hence, Brahman is not the cause of the world as Vedanta maintains. As we see that what would be beneficial is not done, the hypothesis of the world having come out of an Intelligent Cause (Brahman) is not acceptable.

Adhikam tu bhedanirdesat II.1.22 (156)

But (Brahman, the Creator, is) something more (than the individual soul) on account of the statement in the Srutis (of difference) between the individual soul (and Brahman).

Adhikam: something more, greater than the Jiva; Tu: but; Bhedanirdesat: because of the pointing out of differences on account of the statement of difference. (Bheda: difference; Nirdesat: because of the pointing out).

The objection raised in Sutra 21 is refuted.

The word 'tu' (but) refutes the objection of the last Sutra. It discards the Purvapakha.

The Creator of the world is Omnipotent. He is not the imprisoned, embodied soul. The defects mentioned in the previous Sutra such as doing what is not beneficial and the like do not attach to that Brahman because as eternal freedom is His characteristic nature, there is nothing either beneficial to be done by Him or non-beneficial to be avoided by Him. Moreover, there is no obstruction to His knowledge and power, because He is Omniscient and Omnipotent. He is a mere witness. He is conscious of the unreality of the world and Jiva. He has neither good nor evil. Hence the creation of a universe of good and evil by Him is unobjectionable.

The Jiva is of a different nature. The defects mentioned in the previous Sutra belong to the Jiva only, so long as he is in a state of ignorance. The Srutis clearly point out the difference between the individual soul and the Creator in texts like "Verily, the Self is to be seen, to be heard, to be reflected and to be meditated upon" (Bri. Up. II.4.5). All these differences are imaginary or illusory on account of ignorance. When the individual soul attains knowledge of Brahman, he remembers his identity with Brahman. Then the whole phenomenon of plurality which springs from wrong knowledge disappears. There is neither the embodied soul nor the creator.

This Brahman is superior to the individual soul. The individual soul is not the creator of this universe. Hence the objection raised in Sutra 21 cannot stand. The possibility of faults clinging to Brahman is excluded.

Though Brahman assumes the form of the individual soul, yet He is not exhausted thereby. But He remains as something more, i.e., as the controller of the individual soul. This is obvious from the distinction pointed out in the Sruti. Hence there is no occasion for the fault spoken of in Sutra 21.

Asmadivacca tadanupapattih II.1.23 (157)

And because the case is similar to that of stones, etc., (produced from the same earth), the objection raised is untenable.

Asmadivat: like stone, etc.; Cha: and; Tat anupapattih: its untenability, unreasonableness, impossibility; (Tat: of that; Tasya: its, of the objection raised in Sutra 21).

The objection raised in Sutra 21 is further refuted.

The objector may say that Brahman which is Knowledge and Bliss and unchangeable cannot be the cause of a universe of diversity, of good and bad. This objection cannot stand, because we see that from the same material earth, stones of different values like diamonds, lapis lazuli, crystals and also ordinary stones are produced. From the seeds which are placed in one and the same ground various plants are seen to spring up, such as sandalwood and cucumbers, which show the greatest difference in their leaves, blossoms, fruits, fragrance, juice, etc. One and the same food produces various effects such as blood, hair, nail, etc. So also, one Brahman also may contain in itself the distinction of the individual selves and the highest Self and may produce various effects. So also from Brahman which is Bliss and Knowledge, a world of good and evil can be created.

Hence the objection imagined by others against the doctrine of Brahman being the cause of the world cannot be maintained.

Moreover, the scripture declares that all effects have their origin in speech only. The dreaming man is one but the dream pictures are many. These are hinted at by the word 'Cha' of the Sutra.