Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


CHAPTER THREE: SADHANA ADHYAYA

Section 3: Anandadyadhikaranam: Topic 6 (Sutras 11-13)

Attributes like Bliss, etc., of Brahman have to be combined into one meditation.


Anandadayah pradhanasya III.3.11 (370)

Bliss and other attributes (which depict the true nature) of the Principal or the Supreme Self, i.e., Brahman (have to be combined from all places in the meditation on Brahman).

Anandadayah: Bliss and other attributes; Pradhanasya: of the Principal i.e., the Supreme Self or Brahman.

Brahman is described as Bliss, Knowledge, all-pervading, the Self of all, true, etc., in different texts of different Sakhas. All the attributes are not mentioned in all places.

Now the question arises whether they have to be combined in the meditation on Brahman or not. This Sutra says that they have to be combined, as the object of meditation (Brahman) is one and the same in all Sakhas and therefore the Vidya is one. The reason for this conclusion is the one given in Sutra 10.

The qualities attributed to Brahman in any one place have to be combined whenever Brahman is spoken of.


Priyasirastvadyapraptirupachayapachayauhi bhede III.3.12 (371)

(Qualities like) joy being His head, etc., are not to be taken everywhere, (being subject to) increase and decrease (are possible only) if there is difference (and not in Brahman in which there is non-difference).

Priyasirastvadi: qualities like joy being His head, etc.; Apraptih: are not to be taken everywhere; Upachayapachayau: increase and decrease; Hi: because; Bhede: (are possible) in difference. (Upachaya: increase; Apachaya: decrease.)

The discussion commenced in Sutra 11 is continued, stating here as to which of the attributes are not to be culled and combined together in every form of meditation.

"More" and "less" will apply only if there is differentiation. Hence the descriptions of Priyasiras, etc., will not apply to Brahman. The description of Priyasiras (attributes like joy being His head, etc.) in the Taittiriya Upanishad are not Dharmas of Brahman but the Dharmas of the Anandamaya-kosa or the blissful sheath. The descriptions are given to turn the mind towards Brahman. Differences of higher and lower in Gunas can come in Upasanas of Saguna Brahman but have no application to Nirguna Brahman.

The attributes of having joy for His head and such other attributes are not acceptable in every form of meditation on Brahman because attributing limbs to Brahman would render Him liable to fluctuation.

Attributes like joy being His head and so on mentioned in the Taittiriya Upanishad are not to be taken and combined in other places where the Upasana of Brahman is enjoined because the successive terms, "Joy is Its head", "satisfaction is its right arm", "great satisfaction is its left arm", "bliss is His trunk", "Brahman is His tail, His support" (II.5), indicate qualities which have increase and decrease with regard to each other and to other enjoyers (individual souls or Jivas) and therefore can exist where there is difference.

Now for higher and lower degrees there is room only where there is plurality or difference but Brahman is without all plurality or difference, as we know from many scriptural passages. (One only, without a second). Therefore these attributes cannot constitute the nature of Brahman. They are to be confined to the texts which prescribe them and not taken to other places.

Moreover, these qualities are attributed to the Supreme Brahman merely as means of fixing one's mind, not as themselves being objects of meditation. From this it follows that they are not valid everywhere. The attributes mentioned in any one are not valid for others.

The case is similar to that of two wives ministering to one king; one with a fan, the other with an umbrella. Here also the object of their ministrations is one, but the acts of ministration themselves are distinct. They have each their own particular attributes. Similar is the case under discussion also.

Qualities in which lower and higher degrees can be distinguished belong to the qualified Brahman only in which there is plurality, not to the Supreme Nirguna Brahman which is above all qualifications. Such attributes as having true desires (Sat-Kama) and the like which are mentioned in some particular place have no validity for other meditations on Brahman.


Itare tvarthasamanyat III.3.13 (372)

But other attributes (like Bliss, etc., are to be combined) on account of identity of purport.

Itare: other attributes; Tu: but; Arthasamanyat: because of common purport, on account of identity of purport. (Artha: result, object, purport; Samanyat: on account of the equality or sameness.)

The previous discussion is continued.

But attributes like Bliss, knowledge, all-pervadingness, etc., which describe the nature of Brahman, are to be combined as the object of such descriptions is the same, as they directly relate to Brahman and as they are inherent attributes of Brahman, as their purport is the one indivisible, unconditioned Brahman.

These attributes which scripture sets for the purpose of teaching the true nature of Brahman are to be viewed as valid for all passages which refer to Brahman, because their purport, i.e., the Brahman whose nature is to be taught is one. These attributes are mentioned with a view to knowledge of Brahman only, and not for Upasana.