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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 4: Pariplavadhikaranam: Topic 4 (Sutras 23-24)

The stories mentioned in the Upanishads do not serve the purpose of Pariplavas and so do not form part of the ritualistic acts. They are meant to euloisge the Vidya taught in them.

Pariplavartha iti chenna viseshitatvat III.4.23 (448)

If it be said (that the stories told in the Upanishads) are for the purpose of Pariplava (only, we say) not so, because (certain stories above) are specified (by the Sruti for this purpose).

Pariplavarthah: for the purpose of Pariplavas; Iti: so; Chet: if; Na: not so; Viseshitatvat: because of specification, on account of (certain stories alone) being specified. (Iti chet: if it be said.)

The purpose of narration of stories in the Upanishads is stated in this Sutra and in the next one.

This Sutra consists of two parts namely, an objection and its reply. The objection portion is 'Pariplavartha iti chet'. And the reply is: 'Na viseshitatvat'.

In the Asvamedha sacrifice the priest recites stories to the king who performs the Asvamedha sacrifice, and his relatives at intervals during the performance of the sacrifice. These are known as Pariplavas and form part of the ritualistic acts.

The question is whether the stories of the Upanishads such as those relating to Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi (Bri. Up. IV.5.1), Pratardana (Kau. Up. III.1), Janasruti (Chh. Up. IV.1.1), and so on also serve this purpose in which case they become part of the rites, and the whole of Jnana Kanda becomes subordinate to Karma Kanda.

The Purvapakshin holds that those stories of the Upanishads serve the purpose of Pariplava, because they are stories like others and because the telling of stories is enjoined for the Pariplava. From this it follows that the Upanishadic stories and Vedanta texts do not chiefly aim at knowledge, because like Mantras they stand in a complimentary relation to sacrificial acts.

Tatha chaikavakyatopabandhat III.4.24 (449)

And so (they are meant to illustrate the nearest Vidyas), being connected as one coherent whole.

Tatha: so, similarly; Cha: and; Ekavakyatopabandhat: being connected as one whole. (Ekavakya: unity cf construction or of statements or that of sense; Upabandhat: because of connection.)

The discussion commenced in Sutra 23 is concluded here.

Therefore, it is for the purpose of praise of Vidya because only then there would be unity of idea in the context. Only such a view will lead to harmony of the context.

The stories of the Upanishads are to be regarded as essential parts of Brahma Vidya. They are introduced only to facilitate an intelligent grouping of the subject. The stories are intended to introduce the Vidyas. The story form creates more attention and interest on the part of the aspirant. Their object is to make it clear to our understanding in a concrete form, the Vidyas taught in other portions of the Upanishads in the abstract.

Why do we say so? Ekavakyatopabandhat. Because of their syntactical connection with the Vidyas taught in the succeeding passages.

Thus in the story beginning with "Yajnavalkya had two wives", etc., we find immediately following in that very section, the Vidya taught about the Atman in these words "The Atman is verily to be seen, to be heard of, to be meditated upon." As these stories are immediately preceded or succeeded by instructions about Brahman, we infer that they are meant to glorify the Vidyas and are not Pariplava stories. The stories are told in order to facilitate the understanding of these abstruse subjects and they are eminently fitted to subserve that purpose.