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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 3: Yavadadhikaradhikaranam: Topic 19 (Sutra 32)

Perfected souls may take a corporeal existence for divine mission.

Yavadadhikaramavasthitiradhikarikanam III.3.32 (391)

Of those who have a mission to fulfil (there is corporeal) existence, so long as the mission is not fulfilled.

Yavadadhikaram: so long as the mission is not fulfilled; Avasthitih: (there is corporeal) existence; Adhikarikanam: of those who have a mission in life to fulfil. (Yavad: as long as; Adhikaram: mission, purpose to be fulfilled.)

A plausible objection to Sutra 31 is refuted.

The Purvapakshin says Rishi Apantaratamas, a teacher of the Vedas was by the order of Vishnu, born on this earth as Vyasa or Krishna Dvaipayana. Similarly Vasishtha, the son of Brahma's mind having parted from former body in consequence of the curse of Nimi, was on the order of Brahma, again procreated by Mitra and Varuna. Bhrigu and other sons of Brahma's mind were again born at the sacrifice of Varuna. Sanatkumara also, who likewise was a son of Brahma's mind, was in consequence of a boon being granted to Rudra, born again as Skanda. Daksha, Narada and other Rishis were born again. It is stated that some assumed a new body after the old body had perished, some assumed through their supernatural powers various new bodies while the old body remained intact all the while.

Now these Rishis had knowledge of Brahman or the Absolute and yet they had to be reborn. If this is the case what is the use of such knowledge of Brahman? The knowledge of Brahman may either be or not be the cause of final emancipation or freedom.

The Sutra refutes it and declares that ordinarily a person is not reborn after attaining knowledge of the Absolute. But the case of those who have a divine mission to fulfil is different. They may have one or more births till their mission is fulfilled, after which they are not born again. They are entrusted with the offices conducive to the subsistence of the world such as the promulgation of the Vedas and the like. They assume new bodies of their own free will and not as the result of Karma. They pass from one body to another, as if from one house into another in order to accomplish the duties of their offices. They preserve all the true memory of their identity. They create for themselves, through their power over the material of the body and the sense organs, new bodies and occupy them either all at once or in succession.

Smriti tells us that Sulabha, a woman who had knowledge of Brahman, wanted to enter into discussion with Janaka. She left her own body, entered into that of Janaka, carried on a discussion with him and again returned into her own body.

"Tat Tvam Asi" (That thou art) does not mean "Tat Tvam Mrito Bhavishyasi" (they will become That after death). It cannot be interpreted to mean "Thou wilt be that after thou hast dead." Another text declares that the fruit of Knowledge viz., union with Brahman springs up at the moment when the complete knowledge of Brahman is attained. The Rishi Vamadeva saw and understood it singing, "I was Manu, I was the sun."

But they never come under the sway of Avidya or nescience even though they may be born. The case is similar to that of a liberated sage. A Jivanmukta continues his physical existence even after attaining Brahma Jnana or Knowledge of the Absolute as long as the Prarabdha Karma lasts. The divine mission of these Rishis like Sri Vyasa, Vasishtha, Apantaratamas, can be compared to the Prarabdha Karma of Jivanmuktas.

For all these reasons it is established that those who are endowed with true and perfect knowledge attain in all cases final emancipation.