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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 4: Sarvapekshadhikaranam: Topic 6 (Sutras 26-27)

Works prescribed by the scriptures are means to the attainment of knowledge.

Sarvapeksha cha yajnadi sruterasvavat III.4.26 (451)

And there is the necessity of all works because the scriptures prescribe sacrifices, etc., (as means to the attainment of knowledge) even as the horse (is used to draw a chariot, and not for ploughing).

Sarvapeksha: there is the necessity of all works; Cha: and; Yajnadisruteh: for the scriptures prescribe sacrifices, etc., (as means to knowledge); Asvavat: like a horse, as in the case of the horse.

The Sutra says that sacrificial works and the like are necessary for origination of knowledge of Brahman.

We may conclude from the previous Sutra that works are altogether useless.

This Sutra says that all these works are useful for origination of knowledge. Even the scriptures prescribe them as they serve an indirect means to the attainment of knowledge. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad declares, "Brahmanas seek to know Brahman by the study of the Vedas, by scriptures, gifts, penance and renunciation" (Bri. Up. IV.4.22). Similarly the passage, "what people call sacrifice that is really Brahmacharya" (Chh. Up. VIII.5.1), by connecting sacrifices and so on with Brahmacharya which is a means of knowledge, intimates that sacrifices, etc., also are means of knowledge. Again the passage "That word which all the Vedas record, which all penances proclaim, desiring which men live as religious students, that word I tell thee briefly, it is OM" (Katha Up. I.2.15), likewise intimates that the works enjoined on the Ashramas are means of knowledge.

When knowledge once is attained requires no help from external works for the production of this result namely, Liberation. The case is analogous to a horse, whose help is required until the place of destination is reached but it may be dispensed with after the journey has been accomplished.

When Atma-Jnana is attained it does not need any other accessory to bring about salvation, but Karma is needed for Atma-Jnana. Just as a horse is not used to drag a plough but is used to drag a car, so the Ashrama Karmas are not needed for the fruition of Jnana but are needed for Jnana.

The final emancipation results only from knowledge of Brahman and not from work. Work purifies the mind and knowledge dawns in a pure mind.

Hence works are useful as they are an indirect means to knowledge.

If knowledge be originated by sacrifices, gifts, penance and fasting, what is the necessity of other qualifications like Sama (serenity) and Dama (self-restraint)? To this the author replies in the next Sutra.

Samadamadyupetah syat tathapi tu tadvidhestadangatayateshamavasyanushtheyatvat III.4.27 (452)

But all the same (even though there is no injunction to do sacrificial acts to attain knowledge in the Brihadaranyaka text) one must possess serenity, self-control and the like, as these are enjoined as auxiliaries to knowledge and therefore have necessarily to be practised.

Samadamadyupetah syat: one must possess serenity, self-control and the like; Tathapi: still, all the same, even if it be so; Tu: verily; Tadvidheh: as they are enjoined; Tadangataya: on account of their being a part, as helps to knowledge; Tesham: their; Avasyanushtheyatvat: because it being necessary to be practised. (Avasya: necessarily; Anushtheyatvat: because they must be practised.)

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad declares, "The Brahmanas seek to know Brahman through the study of the Vedas, sacrifices, charity," etc. (Bri. Up. IV.4.22). In this passage there is no word to indicate that sacrifice is enjoined on one who wants to know Brahman.

So the Purvapakshin maintains that there is no necessity at all for work for one who aspires after knowledge.

This present Sutra says that even should this be so. The seeker for knowledge must possess calmness of mind, must subdue his senses and so on; because all this is enjoined as a means of knowledge in the following scriptural passage, "There he who knows this, having become calm, subdued, satisfied, patient and collected sees Self in Self" (Bri. Up. IV.4.23).

What is enjoined must necessarily be carried out. The introductory word 'therefore' (Tasmat) which expresses the praise of the subject under discussion makes us understand that the passage has an injunctive character, because if there were no injunction, the praise would be meaningless.

Further the Madhyandina Sruti uses the word "pasyet" let him see and not 'he sees'. Hence calmness of mind, etc., are required even if sacrifices, etc., should not be required.

As these qualities are enjoined, they are necessarily to be practised. Sama, Dama etc., are proximate or direct means of knowledge (Antaranga-Sadhana). Yajnas or sacrifices, etc., are remote or indirect means of knowledge (Bahiranga-Sadhana).

The word 'Adi' (and the rest) mentioned in the Sutra, indicates that the aspirant after Brahma Vidya must possess all these qualifications of truthfulness, generosity, asceticism, celibacy, indifference to worldly objects, tolerance, endurance, faith, equilibrium, compassion etc.