Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 2: Pratishedhadhikaranam: Topic 6 (Sutras 12-14)

The Pranas of the knower of Brahman do not depart at the time of death.

Pratishedhaditi chenna sarirat IV.2.12 (508)

If it be said (that the Pranas of one who knows Brahman do not depart) on account of the denial made by the Sruti, (we say) not so, (because the scripture denies the departure of the Pranas) from the individual soul (and not from the body).

Pratishedhat: on account of the denial; Iti: so; Chet: if (if it be argued); Na: not so, you cannot say so; Sarirat: from the individual soul.

This Sutra consists of two parts, viz., an objection and its reply. The objection portion is ‘Pratishedhaditi chet’. The reply portion is ‘Na sarirat; Spashto hyekesham’.

This Sutra gives the view of the Purvapakshin while the thirteenth and fourteenth Sutras state the Siddhanta or correct doctrine.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad declares, "But as to the man who does not desire, who not desiring, freed from desires, is satisfied in his desires, or desires the Self only, of him, the vital airs (Pranas) do not depart" (Bri. Up. IV.4.6). From this express denial, forming part of the higher knowledge, it follows that the Pranas do not pass out of the body of him who knows Brahman. This Sruti passage refers to one who knows the Nirguna Brahman. It declares that his Pranas do not depart at death.

The Purvapakshin maintains that the passage quoted does not deny the departure of the Pranas from the body but from the individual soul. If the Pranas do not depart from the body there will be no death at all. This is made clear from the Madhyandina recension which says "From him the vital spirits do not depart."

Therefore, the soul of a knower of Brahman passes out of the body with the Pranas.

The next Sutra refutes this view.

Spashto hyekesham IV.2.13 (509)

For (the denial of the soul’s departure) is clear (in the texts) of some schools.

Spashtah: clear; Hi: for; Ekesham: of some Sakhas or schools; the statement of some Srutis.

The Pranas do not depart from the body in the case of a liberated sage. This is made clear from the Sruti texts like: "Yajnavalkya" said Artabhaga, "when the liberated man dies, do his Pranas go up from him or do they not?" "No" replied Yajnavalkya, "they merge in him only" (Bri. Up. III.2.11).

If the Pranas depart with the soul from the body, then the soul will surely take a rebirth. Hence there will be no emancipation.

Therefore, the Pranas do not depart from the body in the case of one who knows Brahman.

Smaryate cha IV.2.14 (510)

And Smriti also says that.

Smaryate: the Smriti says, it is mentioned in the Smritis; Cha: and.

In the Mahabharata also it is said that those who know Brahman do not go or depart. "He who has become the Self of all beings and has a complete intuition of all, at his way the gods themselves are perplexed, seeking for the path of him who has no path" (Mahabharata: XII.270.22).