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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 1: Anishtadikaryadhikaranam: Topic 3 (Sutras 12-21)

The fate after death of those souls whose deeds do not entitle them to pass up to Chandraloka.

Anishtadikarinamapi cha srutam III.1.12 (303)

The Sruti declares that the non-performers of sacrifices, etc., also (go to the world of moon).

Anishtadikarinam: of those who do not perform sacrifices etc.; Api: even; Cha: also; Srutam: is declared by the Sruti.

The movement of persons doing evil deeds is now described. This Sutra is that of Purvapakshin.

It has been said that those who do sacrifices, etc., go to the Chandraloka. The question now arises whether those persons also who do not perform sacrifices go to the sphere of moon or not.

The Purvapakshin or the opponent maintains that even they go to heaven though they do not enjoy anything there like those who perform sacrifices, because they too are in need of the fifth oblation for a new birth. Moreover the Sruti declares: "All who depart from this world go to the sphere of moon" (Kau. Up. I.2). The word 'all' shows that it is a universal proposition without any qualifications. Since all who perish must go to the world of moon, it follows that the sinners also go there.

Siddhantin: The sinners do not go to the sphere of moon. They go to Yamaloka or the world of punishment. This is said in the following Sutra.

Samyamane tvanubhuyetareshamarohavarohau tadgatidarsanat III.1.13 (304)

But of others, (i.e., those who have not performed sacrifices, etc.) the ascent is to the abode of Yama and after having experienced (the results of their evil deeds) they come down to the earth; as such a course is declared by the Sruti.

Samyamane: in the abode of Yama; Tu: but; Anubhuya: having experienced; Itaresham: of others (of those who do not perform sacrifices); Arohavarohau: the ascent and descent; Tat: of them; Gati: (about their) courses; Darsanat: as can be understood from the Sruti.

Description of the movement of persons who have done evil deeds is continued. This Sutra refutes the view of the previous Sutra. This is the Siddhanta Sutra.

Sinners suffer in Yamaloka and return to this earth. Yama says to Nachiketas: 'The way to the hereafter never rises before an ignorant person who is deluded by wealth. This is the world – he thinks – there is no other; thus he falls again and again under my sway' (Katha Up. I.2.6).

Tu (but, discards the Purvapaksha. It is not true that all persons go to Chandraloka. The ascent to the sphere of moon or Chandraloka is only for the enjoyment of the fruits of good works. It is neither without a special purpose nor for the mere purpose of subsequent descent. Hence those who have done evil actions do not go there. Those who perform sacrifices rise to the Chandraloka not any other persons.

Aroha-Avarohau: Ascent and descent, i.e., coming to worldly existence (ascent) and going to still nether regions (descent). This is the interpretation of Sri Madhvacharya.

Smaranti cha III.1.14 (305)

The Smritis also declare thus.

Smaranti: the Srutis declare; Cha: also.

Description of the journey of persons doing evil deeds is continued in the Sutra.

The Smritis also declare the same fate of the sinners. The Smritis also declare that the evil doers come within the clutches of Yama. Manu, Vyasa and others say that those who do evil deeds go to hell and suffer there. In the Bhagavata it is said "The sinners are quickly carried to the abode of Yama by the path of sinners, on which they travel with great pains, constantly rising and falling, tired and swooning." Manu and Vyasa declare that in the Chitisamyamana evil deeds are requited under the rule of Yama.

Api cha sapta III.1.15 (306)

Moreover there are seven (hells).

Api cha: also, moreover; Sapta: the seven (hells).

Particulars of the abode of Yama are given. Smriti mentions seven hells which serve as places of torture for the evil doers. The temporary hells are Raurava, Maharaurava, Vahni, Vaitarani and Kumbhika. The two eternal hells are Tamisra (darkness) and Andhatamisra (blinding darkness).

Tatrapi cha tadvyaparat avirodhah III.1.16 (307)

And on account of his (Yama's) control even there (in those hells) is no contradiction.

Tatra: there (in those hells); Api: also, even; Cha: and; Tadvyaparat: on account of his (Yama's) control; Avirodhah: no contradiction.

The same topic continues in this Sutra. The Purvapakshin or the objector says: According to the Sruti the evildoers undergo punishment from the hands of Yama. How is this possible in the seven hells called Raurava, etc., which are superintended by Chitragupta and others? This Sutra refutes the objection.

There is no contradiction as the same Yama is the chief ruler in those seven hells also. Chitragupta and others are only superintendents and lieutenants employed by Yama. They are all under Yama's government or suzerainty. Chitragupta and others are directed by Yama.

Vidyakarmanoriti tu prakritatvat III.1.17 (308)

But (the reference is to the two roads) of knowledge and work, those two being under discussion.

Vidyakarmanoh: of knowledge and work; Iti: thus; Tu: but, only; Prakritatvat: on account of these being the subject under discussion.

But the sinners never go to heaven because the topic relating to the two paths in the Chhandogya Upanishad is confined to men of knowledge and men of work. It has no reference to evil-doers. The different journeys of the departed souls to the other world through the two roads or paths described in the Panchagnividya of Chhandogya Upanishad are the results of knowledge (meditation) and religious sacrifices according as they were practised in life; because these two are the subjects under discussion.

The Sruti says that those who do not go by means of Vidya along the path of Devayana to Brahmaloka or by means of Karma along the path of Pitriyana to Chandraloka are born often in low bodies and die often. If you say that evil-doers also go to Chandraloka that world will get overfull. But you may reply that there will be souls going out from there to the earth. But then the Sruti text clearly says that the evil-doers do not go there.

The evildoers go to the third place and not to heaven. The Sruti passage says "Now those who go along neither of these ways become those small creatures continually returning of whom it may be said 'Live and die'. Theirs is a third place. Therefore the world never becomes full" (Chh. Up. V.10.8).

The word 'but' in the Sutra refutes a doubt that arises from a text from Kaushitaki Upanishad, 'That all departed go to the Chandraloka'. The word 'all' has to be taken as referring only to those who are qualified, who have performed good deeds. All eligible souls only go to Chandraloka. It does not include evil doers or sinners.

The word 'but' sets aside the view propounded by the objector. If the sinners do not go to the world of moon or Chandraloka, then no new body can be produced in their case: because there is no fifth oblation possible in their case and the fifth oblation depends on one's going to the sphere of moon. Therefore all must go to the Chandraloka in order to get a new body. This objection is answered by the next Sutra.

Na tritiye tathopalabdheh III.1.18 (309)

Not in (the case of) a third place, as it is thus declared in the scriptures.

Na: not; Tritiye: in the third; Tatha: so thus; Upalabdheh: it being perceived or seen to be.

The fifth oblation is not necessary in the case of those who go to the third place, because it is thus declared in the scriptures.

The rule about the five oblations does not apply in the case of evildoers or sinners because they are born without the oblations. The Sruti says, "Live and die. That is the third place." That is to say these small creatures (flies, worms, etc.,) are continually being born and are dying. The sinners are called small creatures because they assume the bodies of insects, gnats etc. Their place is called the third place, because it is neither the Brahmaloka nor the Chandraloka. Hence the heaven world never becomes full, because these sinners never go there. Moreover, in the passage, "In the fifth oblation water is called man" the water becomes the body of a man only, not of an insect or moth etc. The word 'man' applies to the human species only.

Smaryate'pi cha loke III.1.19 (310)

And (moreover the) Smritis have recorded also (that) in this world (there had been cases of birth without the course of five oblations).

Smaryate: is stated in Smritis; Api: also; Cha: and; Loke: in the world.

The argument commenced in Sutra 17 to refute the objections raised in Sutra 12, is continued.

There are, moreover, traditions, apart from the Vedas that certain persons like Drona, Dhrishtadyumna, Sita, Draupadi and others were not born in the ordinary way from mother's womb. In their cases there was wanting the fifth oblation which is made to the woman. In the case of Dhrishtadyumna and others, even two of the oblations, viz., the one offered into woman and the one offered into man, were absent. Drona had no mother. Dhrishtadyumna had neither father nor mother. Hence in many other cases also, procreation or birth may be supposed to take place independently of oblations. The female crane conceives without a male.

The five oblations are not absolutely necessary for a future birth. The rule about the five oblations is not universal. It applies only to those who do sacrifices. Therefore the sinners need not go to heaven.

The five oblations have nothing to do with the third way, i.e., die and be born in low bodies. They refer only to human births in the case of souls who ascend and then descend. In the case of others embodiment may take place in a manner other than through wombs.

By the particle 'Cha' (and) the Sutrakara shows that the observation of the world is also one corroborated by Smriti.

Darsanaccha III.1.20 (311)

Also on account of observation.

Darsanat: on account of observation; Cha: also, and.

The argument commenced in Sutra 17 is continued.

It is also observed that of the four classes of organic beings, namely viviparous animals, oviparous animals, animals springing from heat and moisture and beings springing from germs (plants) – the last two classes are produced without sexual intercourse, so that in their case the number of oblations is of no consequence.

The Purvapakshin or the objector says, "The Sruti passage speaks only of three classes of beings: That which springs from an egg (Andaja), that which springs from a living being (Jivaja) and that which springs from a germ (Udbhija)" (Chh. Up. VI.3.1). How then can it be maintained that there are four classes? The following Sutra gives a reply to his objection.

Tritiyasabdavarodhah samsokajasya III.1.21 (312)

The third term (i.e. plant life) includes that which springs from heat and moisture.

Tritiya sabda: the third term; Avarodhah: inclusion; Samsokajasya: of that which springs from heat and moisture.

The two classes spring from earth or water, from something stable. They both germinate: one from the earth and the other from water. It makes no difference because that which springs from moisture is included in the place of plant life (Udbhijja). There is similarity between Svedaja and Udbhijja. Hence there is no contradiction. Those which are born of sweat are called Svedaja. Svedaja and Udbhijja are not born of wombs. The word Udbhijja literally means born by bursting through. The plants burst through the earth. The sweatborn burst through the water. Thus the origin of both is similar, for both are born by bursting through.

Thus the evil-doers do not go to heaven. Only those who perform sacrifices go to heaven. This is the settled conclusion.