Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda

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Section 4: Jyotiradyadhikaranam: Topic 7 (Sutras 14-16)

The presiding deities of the organs.

Jyotiradyadhishthanam tu tadamananat II.4.14 (283)

But there is the presiding over by Fire and others (over the organs), because of such statement in Sruti.

Jyotiradyadhishthanam: presiding over by Fire and others; Tu: but; Tadamananat: because of such statement in Sruti, on account of the scriptures teaching that.

Now follows a discussion on the dependence of the organs or the presiding deities.

The Purvapakshin holds that the Pranas (senses) act from their own power. If we admit that the Pranas act only under the guidance of the presiding deities, it would follow that those guiding deities are enjoyers of the fruits of the actions and the individual soul would thus cease to be the enjoyer.

The word 'tu' (but) is used in order to remove the doubt. It excludes the Purvapaksha.

The Pranas and senses function not because of their own potency but because of the power of the deities presiding over them.

Pranas, i.e., the senses, are under the guidance of the deities such as Fire and others presiding over them. Sruti also states so. Aitareya Aranyaka (I.2.4) declares, "Fire having become speech entered the mouth." The senses are inert. They cannot move by themselves.

The assertion that the Pranas being endowed with the capability of producing their effects act from their own power is unfounded, as we see that some things which possess the capability of motion such as cars actually move only if dragged by bulls and the like.

Therefore the Pranas and the senses are dependent on the presiding deities.

Pranavata sabdat II.4.15 (284)

(The gods are not the enjoyers, but the soul, because the organs are connected) with the one (i.e., the soul) possessing them (a thing we know) from the scriptures.

Pranavata: with the one possessing the Pranas (organs); Sabdat: from the scriptures.

From the preceding Sutra a doubt may arise, that the gods, who guide the senses may be the enjoyers; this doubt is removed by this Sutra.

'Prana' here is a synonym for Indriya or sense.

The senses are connected with the soul. This is described by the Sruti. Though the gods guide the senses, though they are the presiding deities of the organs, they cannot become Bhoktas or enjoyers. The individual soul is the master. The senses are his servants. The senses function for subserving the interest of the soul. The individual soul is the Lord of the aggregate of the instruments of action. The Jiva alone realises that he sees, hears, etc.

The scriptures declare "Then where there is the eye, entering this opening – the cavity of the eye – it is there to serve the individual soul, the eye itself is the instrument of seeing." "He who knows 'Let me smell this' he is the Self, the nose is the instrument of smelling" (Chh. Up. VIII.12.4) This clearly shows that the soul is the enjoyer but not the gods. The organs are connected with the individual soul only.

The individual soul claims and feels the eye to be his own. The eye is to serve him by presenting him with the objects of sight. Similarly the other senses also are the servants of the same master, the individual soul. Hence the individual soul and not the presiding deities is the master or Lord of the senses and the real enjoyer.

The soul is called Pranavat because the Pranas (organs) belong to it. The soul rules the senses in order to accomplish its objects of enjoyment. The gods rule the senses by merely giving their activities. The individual soul rules the senses in order to enjoy pleasurable experiences.

Moreover there are many gods in the body. A particular organ is presided over by a particular deity. The plurality of gods guiding the organs renders it impossible that they should be enjoyers in their body. There is and can be only one Bhokta or enjoyer. Otherwise remembrance or recognition of identity would be impossible.

Therefore the senses are for the enjoyment of the soul and not the gods though they are presided and directed by them.

Tasya cha nityatvat II.4.16 (285)

And on account of its (soul's) permanence (in the body it is the enjoyer, and not the gods).

Tasya: its; Cha: and; Nityatvat: on account of permanence.

An argument in support of Sutra 15 is given.

The individual soul dwells permanently in this body as the enjoyer, as it can be affected by good and evil and can experience pleasure and pain. It is the Jiva alone who has such permanent connection with the senses in the body. Therefore, the Jiva, and not the guiding deities is their master. The body is the result of the soul's past actions. The soul only can experience or enjoy in the body which is the product of its Prarabdha Karma. Others, e.g., the gods cannot enjoy in this body.

The gods who have great glory and power cannot be enjoyers in the low human body. They have exalted status. They would treat with contempt such low enjoyments as can be experienced through the human body.

They cannot possibly enter in this wretched body into the condition of enjoyers. Scripture also says "Only what is good approaches him; verily evil does not approach the Devas" (Bri. Up. I.5.20).

The organs are permanently connected with the embodied soul only. When the soul passes out, the Pranas (organs) follow it. This we see from passages such as the following "When the soul passes out, the Prana follows; when the Prana departs, all other organs follow" (Bri. Up. IV.4.2).

The soul is the master and is therefore the enjoyer, although there are presiding gods over the organs. The gods are connected with the organs only, not with the state of the soul as enjoyer.