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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 4: Introduction

In the last Section the Vidyas or Upasanas (meditations) which are the means to the knowledge of Brahman were discussed.

In this Section the Sutrakara enters into an enquiry whether the knowledge of Brahman is connected with ritualistic work through one who is entitled to perform the works or is an independent means to accomplish the purpose of man.

Sri Baadarayana, the Sutrakara, begins by stating the final view in the first Sutra, "Thence" etc. He is of opinion that through the independent Knowledge of Brahman enjoined in the Vedanta-texts the purpose of man is effected.

In the present Section it will be shown that Knowledge of Brahman is independent of Karma and that is not subordinate to sacrificial acts.

Baadarayana establishes that the attainment of the final emancipation is the direct result of Brahma Vidya of knowledge of Brahman, that works or sacrifices are only indirect aids to contemplating by purifying the heart, that Karma does not directly lead to the final beatitude, that the seeker of Brahman may even do away with Karma and may attain freedom solely by contemplation on Brahman and that even in that case he should not abandon the duties enjoined by the scriptures.


Adhikarana I:

(Sutras 1-17) proves that the knowledge of Brahman is not Kratvartha, i.e., subordinate to action (sacrificial acts) but independent.

Adhikarana II:

(Sutras 18-20) confirms this conclusion that Sannyasa is prescribed by the scriptures, that the state of the Pravrajins is enjoined by the sacred law and that for them Brahma Vidya only is prescribed, and not action.

Adhikarana III:

(Sutras 21-22) determines that certain clauses forming part of Vidyas are not mere glorificatory passages (Srutis or Arthavadas) but themselves enjoin the meditation.

Adhikarana IV:

(Sutras 23-24) The stories recorded in the Upanishads are not to be used as subordinate members of acts. They do not serve the purpose of Pariplavas and do not form part of the ritualistic acts. They are meant to glorify the Vidya taught in them. They have the purpose of glorifying as Arthavadas the injunctions with which they are connected.

Adhikarana V:

(Sutra 25) For all these reasons the Sannyasin need not observe ritualistic acts as knowledge serves their purpose. They require no actions but only knowledge.

Adhikarana VI:

(Sutras 26-27) Nevertheless the actions enjoined by scripture such as sacrifices, conduct of certain kinds, etc., are useful as they are indirect means of knowledge.

Adhikarana VII:

(Sutras 28-31) Certain relaxations allowed by scripture of the laws regarding food, are meant only for cases of extreme need. Restrictions as regards food may be abandoned only when life is in danger.

Adhikarana VIII:

(Sutras 32-35) The duties of the Ashramas are to be performed by even one who does not strive after liberation or who is not desirous of knowledge.

Adhikarana IX:

(Sutras 36-39) Those who stand midway between two Ashramas are also entitled to knowledge. Those also who owing to poverty and so on, are Anasramins, have claims to Vidya.

Adhikarana X:

(Sutra 40) A Sannyasi who has taken the vow of life-long celibacy cannot revoke his vow. He cannot revert back to his former stages of life.

Adhikarana XI:

(Sutras 41-42) Expiation of the fall of an Urdhvareta, of one who transgresses the vow of life-long celibacy.

Adhikarana XII:

(Sutra 43) Exclusion of the fallen Urdhvaretas or life-long celibate. He must be shunned by Society.

Adhikarana XIII:

(Sutras 44-46) Those meditations which are connected with subordinate members of the sacrifice are the business of the priest, not of the Yajamana or sacrificer.

Adhikarana XIV:

(Sutras 47-49) Bri. Up. III.5.1 enjoins Mauna or meditation as a third in addition to Balya (child-like state) and Panditya (scholarship or erudition).

Adhikarana XV:

(Sutra 50) By Balya or child-like state is to be understood a child-like innocent state of mind, being free from passion, anger, etc.

Adhikarana XVI:

(Sutra 51) intimates that the fruition of knowledge may take place even in this life if there be no obstruction to it (the means adopted).

Adhikarana XVII:

(Sutra 52) declares that there is no difference in liberation, i.e., in the realisation of Brahman. It is of one kind in all cases.