Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 2: Utpattyasambhavadhikaranam: Topic 8 (Sutras 42-45)

Refutation of the Bhagavata or the Pancharatra school.

Utpattyasambhavat II.2.42 (213)

On account of the impossibility of the origination (of the individual soul from the Highest Lord), (the doctrine of the Bhagavatas or the Pancharatra doctrine cannot be accepted).

Utpatti: causation, origination, creation; Asambhavat: on account of the impossibility.

The Pancharatra doctrine or the doctrine of the Bhagavatas is now refuted.

According to this school, the Lord is the efficient cause as well as the material cause of the universe. This is in quite agreement with the scripture or the Sruti and so it is authoritative. A part of their system agrees with the Vedanta system. We accept this. Another part of the system, however, is open to objection.

The Bhagavatas say that Vaasudeva whose nature is pure knowledge is what really exists. He divides Himself fourfold and appears in four forms (Vyuhas) as Vaasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. Vaasudeva denotes the Supreme Self, Sankarshana the individual soul, Pradyumna the mind, and Aniruddha the principle of egoism, or Ahamkara. Of these four Vaasudeva constitutes the Ultimate Cause, of which the three others are the effects.

They say that by devotion for a long period to Vaasudeva through Abhigamana (going to the temple with devotion), Upadana (securing the accessories of worship). Ijya (oblation, worship), Svadhyaya (study of holy scripture and recitation of Mantras) and Yoga (devout meditation) we can pass beyond all afflictions, pains and sorrows, attain Liberation and reach the Supreme Being. We accept this doctrine.

But we controvert the doctrine that Sankarshana (the Jiva) is born from Vaasudeva and so on. Such creation is not possible. If there is such birth, if the soul be created it would be subject to destruction and hence there could be no Liberation. That the soul is not created will be shown in Sutra II.3. 17.

For this reason the Pancharatra doctrine is not acceptable.

Na cha kartuh karanam II.2.43 (214)

And (it is) not (observed that) the instrument (is produced) from the agent.

Na: not; Cha: and; Kartuh: from the agent; Karanam: the instrument.

The argument against the Pancharatra doctrine is continued.

An instrument such as a hatchet and the like is not seen to be produced from the agent, the woodcutter. But the Bhagavatas teach that from an agent, viz., the individual soul termed Sankarshana, there springs its internal instrument or mind (Pradyumna) and from the mind, the ego or Ahamkara (Aniruddha).

The mind is the instrument of the soul. Nowhere do we see the instrument being born from the doer. Nor can we accept that Ahamkara issues from the mind. This doctrine cannot be accepted. Such doctrine cannot be settled without observed instances. We do not meet with any scriptural passage in its favour. The scripture declares that everything takes its origin from Brahman.

Vijnanadibhave va tadapratishedhah II.2.44 (215)

Or if the (four Vyuhas are said to) possess infinite knowledge, etc., yet there is no denial of that (viz., the objection raised in Sutra 42).

Vijnanadibhave: if intelligence etc. exist; Va: or, on the other hand; Tat: that (Tasya iti); Apratishedhah: no denial (of). (Vijnana: knowledge; Adi: and the rest; Bhave: of the nature (of).)

The argument against the Pancharatra doctrine is continued.

The error of the doctrine will persist even if they say that all the Vyuhas are Gods having intelligence, etc.

The Bhagavatas may say, that all the forms are Vaasudeva, the Lord, and that all of them equally possess Knowledge, Lordship, Strength, Power, etc., and are free from faults and imperfections.

In this case there will be more than one Isvara. This goes against your own doctrine according to which there is only one real essence, viz., the holy Vaasudeva. All the work can be done by only One Lord. Why should there be four Isvaras?

Moreover, there could be no birth of one from another, because they are equal according to the Bhagavatas, whereas a cause is always greater than the effect. Observation shows that the relation of cause and effect requires some superiority on the part of the cause, as for instance, in the case of the clay and the pot, where the cause is more extensive than the effect and that without such superiority the relation is simply impossible. The Bhagavatas do not acknowledge any difference founded on superiority of knowledge, power, etc., between Vaasudeva and the other Lords, but simply say that they are all forms of Vaasudeva without any special distinction.

Then again, the forms of Vaasudeva cannot be limited to four only, as the whole world from Brahma down to a blade of grass is a form or manifestation of the Supreme Being. The whole world is the Vyuha of Vaasudeva.

Vipratishedhacca II.2.45 (216)

And because of contradictions (the Pancharatra doctrine is untenable).

Vipratishedhat: because of contradiction; Cha: and.

The argument against the doctrine of the Bhagavatas is concluded here.

There are also other inconsistencies, or manifold contradictions in the Pancharatra doctrine. Jnana, Aisvarya, or ruling capacity, Sakti (creative power), Bala (strength), Virya (valour) and Tejas (glory) are enumerated as qualities and they are again in some other place spoken of as selfs, holy Vaasudevas and so on. It says that Vaasudeva is different from Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. Yet it says that these are the same as Vaasudeva. Sometimes it speaks of the four forms as qualities of the Atman and sometimes as the Atman itself.

Further we meet with passages contradictory to the Vedas. It contains words of depreciation of the Vedas. It says that Sandilya got the Pancharatra doctrine after finding that the Vedas did not contain the means of perfection. Not having found the highest bliss in the Vedas, Sandilya studied this Sastra.

For this reason also the Bhagavata doctrine cannot be accepted. As this system is opposed to and condemned by all the Srutis and abhored by the wise, it is not worthy of regard.

Thus in this Pada has been shown that the paths of Sankhyas, Vaiseshikas and the rest down to the Pancharatra doctrine are strewn with thorns and are full of difficulties, while the path of Vedanta is free from all these defects and should be trodden by every one who wishes his final beatitude and salvation.

Thus ends the Second Pada (Section 2) of the Second Adhyaya (Chapter II) of the Brahmasutras or the Vedanta Philosophy.