Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 1: Kritsnaprasaktyadhikaranam: Topic 9 (Sutras 26-29)

Brahman is the material cause of the universe, though He is without parts.

Kritsnaprasaktirniravayavatvasabdakopo va II.1.26 (160)

Either the consequence of the entire (Brahman undergoing change) has to be accepted, or else a violation of the texts declaring Brahman to be without parts (if Brahman is the material cause of the world).

Kritsnaprasaktih: possibility of the entire (Brahman being modified); Niravayavatvasabdakopat: contradiction of the scriptural statement that Brahman is without parts; Va: or, otherwise.

(Kritsna: entire, full, total; complete; Prasaktih: exigency, employment; activity; Niravayava: without parts, without form, without members, indivisible; Sabda: word, text, expressions in Sruti; Kopat: contradiction, violation, incongruity, stultification; Va: or.)

An objection that Brahman is not the material cause of the world, is raised in the Sutra.

The objector says that if the entire Brahman becomes the world, then no Brahman will remain distinct from the world and that if a part of Brahman becomes the world, the scriptural texts which declare Brahman to be without parts will be violated.

If Brahman is without parts and yet the material cause of the universe, then we have to admit that the entire Brahman becomes modified into the universe. Hence there will be no Brahman left but only the effect, the universe. Further, it will go against the declaration of the Sruti text that Brahman is unchangeable.

If on the contrary it is said that a portion of Brahman only becomes the universe, then we will have to accept that Brahman is made up of parts, which is denied by the scriptural texts. The passages are, "He who is without parts, without actions, tranquil, without fault, without taint" (Svet. Up. VI.19). "That heavenly person is without body, He is both without and within, not produced" (Mun. Up. II.1.2). "That great Being is endless, unlimited, consisting of nothing but Knowledge" (Bri. Up. II.4.12). "He is to be described by No, No" (Bri. Up. III.9.26). "It is neither coarse nor fine" (Bri. Up. III.8-8). All these passages deny the existence of parts or distinctions in Brahman.

Whatever has form is perishable and so Brahman also will become perishable or non-eternal.

Also if the universe is Brahman, where is the need for any command to see (Drastavya)? The texts which exhort us to strive to see Brahman become purposeless, because the effects of Brahman may be seen without any effort and apart from them no Brahman exists. Finally, the texts which declare Brahman to be unborn are contradicted thereby.

Hence Brahman cannot be the material cause of the universe. This objection is refuted in the next Sutra.

Srutestu sabdamulatvat II.1.27 (161)

But (this is not so) on account of scriptural passages and on account of (Brahman) resting on scripture (only).

Sruteh: from Sruti, as it is stated in Sruti, on account of scriptural texts; Tu: but; Sabdamulatvat: on account of being based on the scripture, as Sruti is the foundation.

(Sabda: word, revelation, Sruti; Mula: foundation.)

The objection raised in Sutra 25 is refuted.

The entire Brahman does not become the world because the scripture declares so, and Brahman can be known only through the source of scripture.

The word 'tu' (but) discards the objection. It refutes the view of the previous Sutra. These objections have no force because we rely on the Sruti or scripture.

The entire Brahman does not undergo change, although the scriptures declare that the universe takes its origin from Brahman. Sruti says, "one foot (quarter) of Him is all beings, and three feet are what is immortal in heaven."

Moreover, we are one with Brahman in deep sleep as stated by the scripture. How could that happen if the entire Brahman has become the world?

Further, the scripture declares that we can realise Brahman in the heart. How could that be if the entire Brahman has become the world?

Moreover, the possibility of Brahman becoming the object of perception by means of the senses is denied while its effects may thus be perceived.

The scriptural texts declare Brahman to be without parts. Then how could a part become manifest? We reply that it is only the result of Avidya.

Are there two moons if on account of a defect of your vision you see two moons? You must rely on scriptures alone but not on logic for knowing what is beyond the mind.

Brahman rests exclusively on the Srutis or scriptures. The sacred scriptures alone, but not the senses, are authoritative regarding Brahman. Hence we will have to accept the declarations of the Srutis without the least hesitation.

The scriptural texts declare on the one hand that not the entire Brahman changes into its effects and on the other hand, that Brahman is without parts. Even certain ordinary things such as gems, spells, herbs, etc., possess powers which produce diverse opposite effects on account of difference of time, place, occasion and so on. No one is able to find out by mere reflection the number of these powers, their favouring conditions, their objects, their purposes, etc., without the help of instruction. When such is the case with ordinary things, how much more impossible is it to conceive without the aid of scripture the true nature of Brahman with its powers unfathomable by thought? The scripture declares "Do not apply reasoning to what is unthinkable."

Hence the Srutis or the scriptures alone are authority in matters supersensuous. We will have to accept that both these opposite views expressed by the scriptures are true, though it does not stand to reason. It must be remembered that the change in Brahman is only apparent and not real. Brahman somehow appears as this universe, just as rope appears as the snake. Brahman becomes the basis of the entire, apparent universe with its changes, but it remains at the same time unchanged in its true and real nature.

Atmani chaivam vichitrascha hi II.1.28 (162)

And because in the individual soul also (as in gods, magicians, in dreams) various (creation exists). Similarly (with Brahman also).

Atmani: in the individual soul; Cha: also, and; Evam: thus; Vichitrah: diverse, manifold, variegated; Cha: and, also; Hi: because.

The objection raised in Sutra 26 is further refuted by an illustration.

There is no reason to find fault with the doctrine that there can be a manifold creation in the one Self without destroying its character. In the dream state, we see such diverse and wonderful creation in ourselves. "There are no chariots in that dreaming state, no horses, no roads, but he himself creates chariots, horses and roads" (Bri. Up. IV.3.10), and yet the individual character of the self is not affected by it. This does not lessen or affect our integrity of being.

In ordinary life too multiple creations, elephants, horses and the like are seen to exist in gods, magicians, without any change in themselves, without interfering with the unity of their being. Similarly, a multiple creation may exist in Brahman also without divesting it of its character of unity. The diverse creation originates from Brahman through Its inscrutable power of Maya and Brahman Itself remains unchanged.

The second 'cha' (also, and) is in order to indicate that when such wonderful things are believed by us as the dreams, the powers of the gods and the magicians, why should we hesitate to believe in the mysterious powers of Brahman? The word 'hi' implies that the facts above mentioned are well known in the scriptures.

Svapakshadoshacca II.1.29 (163)

And on account of the opponent's own view being subject to these very objections.

Svapaksha: in one's own view; Doshat: because of the defects; Cha: also, and.

The objection raised in Sutra 26 is further refuted.

The argument raised in Sutra 26 cannot stand, because the same charge can be levelled against the objector's side also.

The objection raised by you will equally apply to your doctrine that the formless (impartite) Infinite Pradhana or Prakriti void of sound and other qualities creates the world. The Sankhyas may say, "We do not mention that our Pradhana is without parts. Pradhana is only a state of equipoise of the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Pradhana forms a whole containing the three Gunas as its parts. We reply that such a partiteness does not remove the objection in hand since Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are each of them equally impartite.

Each Guna by itself assisted by the two other Gunas, constitutes the material cause of that part of the world which resembles it in its nature. Hence, the objection lies against the Sankhya view likewise.

As reasoning is always unstable, if you are inclined to believe in the Pradhana's being in fact capable of partition, then it follows that the Pradhana cannot be eternal.

Let it then be said that the various powers of the Pradhana to which the variety of its effects are pointing are its parts. Well, we reply, those diverse potencies are admitted by us also as we see the cause of the world in Brahman. The same objection applies also to your atomic theory.

The same objections can be levelled against the doctrine of the world having originated from atoms. The atom is not made up of parts. When one atom combines with another atom, it must enter into combination with its whole extent with another. It cannot enter into partial contact with another. There will be entire interpenetration. Hence, there could be no further increase in the size. The compound of two atoms would not occupy more space than one atom. The result of the conjunction would be a mere atom. But if you hold that the atom enters into the combination with a part only, that would go against the assumption of the atoms having no parts.

If the Pradhana is taken to be the cause of the universe as the Sankhyas maintain, in that case also the view of the Sankhyas will be equally subject to the objections raised against the Vedantic view of Brahman as the cause of the universe, as the Pradhana, too, is without parts. As for the propounder of the Brahman- theory, he has already refuted the objection directed against his own view.