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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 3: Antaratvadhikaranam: Topic 22 (Sutras 35-36)

Brihadaranyaka III.4.1 and III.5.1 constitute one Vidya.

Antara bhutagramavatsvatmanah III.3.35 (394)

As the Self is within all, as in the case of the aggregate of the elements, (there is oneness of Vidya).

Antara: as being innermost of all, inside, the status of being the inmost; Bhutagramavat: as in the case of the aggregate of the elements; Svatmanah: of one's own self.

Two passages from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad are taken up for discussion to show that they relate to the same Vidya.

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Ushasta questions Yajnavalkya, "Explain to me the Brahman which is present to intuition, not hidden – this Atman or Self which is within all" (Bri. Up. III.4.1). Yajnavalkya replies, "That which breathes through Prana is your self, that is within all."

In the same Upanishad Yajnavalkya gives an answer to the same question put by Kahola, "That which transcends hunger and thirst, grief and delusion, decay and death, knowing this very self" etc. (Bri. Up. III.5.1).

The Purvapakshin maintains that these two are separate Vidyas, because the replies given being different, the objects referred to must also be different.

This Sutra refutes this and declares that the object is one, the Highest Self or Para Brahman, because it is impossible to conceive two selves being simultaneously innermost of all in the same body.

Atman alone is taught in the two texts as being ultimately immanent just as Atman is also taught as being immanent in the elements. The two passages refer only to one Vidya, because there could be only one Atman, who is Sarvantara, i.e., ultimately immanent. Among the elements water is immanent in earth, fire in water and so on. But none has ultimate immanency. Even so there is only one ultimate immanent entity.

Relatively one element can be inside the other. But none of the five elements which constitute this physical body can be truly the innermost of all. Similarly two selves cannot be simultaneously the innermost of all in the same body. Even so one self alone can be the innermost of all.

Therefore, the same self is taught in both the replies of Yajnavalkya.

In both the cases the subject-matter of the question and the answer is Brahman. This is emphasised by the sage Yajnavalkya himself, when he repeats "That soul of thine is the innermost soul of individuals." The different expositions of Yajnavalkya refer to the one and the same object of worship, viz., Brahman.

As both texts equally declare the self to be within all, they must be taken as constituting one Vidya only. In both passages question and answer equally refer to a Self which is within everything. For in one body, there cannot be two selves, each of which is inside everything else. One Self only may be within everything. We read in the Svetasvatara Upanishad "He is the one God, hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the Self within all beings." As this Mantra records that one Self lives within the aggregate of all beings, the same holds good with regard to the two passages of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

As the object of Knowledge or the object of worship is one, the Vidya also is one only.

Anyatha bhedanupapattiriti chennopadesantaravat III.3.36 (395)

If it be said (that the two Vidyas are separate, for) otherwise the repetition cannot be accounted for, we reply not so; (it is) like (the repetition) in another instruction (in the Chhandogya).

Anyatha: otherwise; Bhedanupapattih: the repetition cannot be accounted for, no justification for the variety in the wording of the two replies; Iti: so, this; Chet: if; Na: no, not so; Upadesantaravat: as will be seen from other teachings, as in the teaching of another Vidya, mode of meditation, namely the Satya Vidya in the Chhandogya. (Bheda: difference; Anupapattih: not obtaining.)

The opponent says that unless the separateness of the two Vidyas be admitted, the separation of the two statements cannot be accounted for. He remarks that unless the two texts refer to two different selves the repetition of the same subject would be meaningless.

This Sutra says that it is not so. The repetition has a definite purpose or aim. It helps the aspirant to comprehend the subjects more clearly and deeply from different view points. The repetition does not justify us to take that two different selves are taught here. In Chhandogya Upanishad the instruction conveyed in the words "That is the Self, Thou art That (Tat Tvam Asi), O Svetaketu", is repeated nine times, and yet the one Vidya is not thereby split into many. Similarly is this case also.

The introductory and concluding clauses indicate that all those passages have the same sense. There also the Upakrama (beginning) is the same. So is the conclusion (Upasamhara). It says, "Everything else is perishable, Everything else is of evil."

In the earlier Brahmana, Atman is taught as being separate from the body and the senses. In the later Brahmana, Atman is taught as not having hunger, etc. But the Vidya is the same.

The former section declares the existence of the Supreme Self which is neither cause nor effect, while the latter qualifies it as that which transcends all the relative attributes of the Samsara state, such as hunger, thirst and so on. The second answer tells something special about the Self.

The two sections, therefore, form one Vidya only.