Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 3: Gaterarthavattvadhikaranam: Topic 17 (Sutras 29-30)

The knower of Saguna Brahman alone goes along Devayana, and not the knower of Nirguna Brahman.

Gaterarthavattvamubhayathanyatha hi virodhah III.3.29 (388)

(The soul's) journey (along the path of the gods, Devayana) is applicable in a two-fold manner, otherwise there would be contradiction (of scripture).

Gateh: of the journey of the soul (after death), along the path of the gods; Arthavatvam: utility; Ubhayatha: in two ways; Anyatha: otherwise; Hi: for, certainly; Virodhah: contradiction.

Here is a side issue of Sutra 27.

In some scriptural texts the dead man's going on the path of the gods is mentioned in connection with his freeing himself from good and evil. In other texts it is not mentioned. The doubt now arises whether the two things go together in all cases or only in certain cases.

The Purvapakshin holds that the two are to be connected in all cases, just as the man's freeing himself from his good and evil works is always followed by their passing over to his friends and enemies.

This Sutra declares that the worshipper of Saguna Brahman only takes journey after death along the Devayana. The going on that path has a sense in the case of Saguna Upasana only and not in worshippers of Nirguna Brahman. Brahmaloka is located elsewhere in space. The Saguna Upasaka has to move and attain that abode. There is actual going through which another place is reached. Therefore, the journey has a meaning in his case only. The Prana of Nirguna Upasaka is absorbed in Brahman. He is one with the Infinite or the Absolute. Where will he move? The liberated sage who is free from all desires and egoism does not go to another place. He does not move. The Supreme Brahman is not to be reached by the liberated sage. He need not transport himself to another locality. There is no meaning at all in journey for such a sage who is absorbed in Nirguna Brahman. His ignorance is destroyed by the dawn of knowledge of Brahman. He becomes identical with the Supreme Self. If there is journey for him also, then it would contradict Sruti texts like "Shaking off good and evil, free from passions, he reaches the Highest Self, or Para-Brahman" (Mun. Up. III.1.3).

How can the liberated sage who has become one with the Supreme Brahman who is secondless, who is all-pervading, who is Infinite, who is without motion, go to another place by Devayana? He has already attained his goal or union with Brahman. The journey along the Devayana is meaningless for him.

Therefore, he who has realised the Saguna Brahman, he who worships Saguna Brahman alone goes by the Devayana.

Upapannastallakshanarthopalabdherlokavat III.3.30 (389)

(The two-fold view taken above) is justified because we observe a purpose characterised thereby (i.e., a purpose of the going) as in ordinary life.

Upapannah: Is reasonable; Tallakshanarthopalabdheh: for the characteristics which render such journey possible are seen; Lokavat: as is seen in the world, as is the ordinary experience. (Tat: that; Lakshana: mark, characteristic features; Artha: object; Upalabdheh: being known, on account of the obtaining.)

The previous discussion is continued.

The meditations on Saguna or qualified Brahman, such as the Paryankavidya of the Kaushitaki Upanishad, there is a reason for the man's proceeding on the path of the gods (Devayana); because the text mentions certain results which can be attained only by the man going to different places, such as his mounting a couch, his holding conversation with Brahman seated on a couch, his experiencing various odours and so on.

On the contrary going on the path of the gods has nothing to do with perfect knowledge. No purpose is served by such a journey in the case of a liberated sage or Nirguna Upasaka in whom ignorance has been destroyed by the dawn of knowledge of Brahman or the Imperishable. He has attained oneness or unity with the Supreme Self. All his desires have been fulfilled. All his Karmas have been destroyed. He is only waiting for the dissolution of the body.

The destruction is similar to what is observed in ordinary life. If we wish to reach some village we have to proceed on a path leading there, but no moving on a path is needed when we want to attain freedom from a disease.