Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 3: Atmadhikaranam: Topic 11 (Sutra 17)

The individual soul is eternal. 'It is not produced'.

Natma, asruternityatvat cha tabhyah II.3.17 (233)

The individual soul is not (produced), (because) it is not (so) mentioned by the scriptures, and as it is eternal according to them (the Sruti texts).

Na: not (produced); Atma: the individual soul; Asruteh: because of no mention in Sruti, as it is not found in Sruti; Nityatvat: because of its permanence, as it is eternal; Cha: also, and; Tabhyah: from them (Srutis), according to the Srutis.

The discussion on the essential characteristics of the individual soul is being continued.

Aitareya Upanishad declares: At the beginning of creation there was only "One Brahman without a second" (I.1). Therefore it is not reasonable to say that the individual soul is not born, because then there was nothing but Brahman.

Again the Sruti says, "As small sparks come forth from fire, thus from that Atman all Pranas, all worlds, all gods emanate" (Bri. Up. II.1.20). "As from a blazing fire sparks, being of the same nature as fire, fly forth a thousandfold, thus are various beings brought forth from the Imperishable, my friend, and return thither also," (Mun. Up. II.1.1). Therefore the Purvapakshin or the objector argues that the individual soul is born at the beginning of the cycle, just as Akasa and other elements are born.

This Sutra refutes it and says that the individual soul is not born. Why? on account of the absence of scriptural statement. For in the chapters which treat of the creation the Sruti texts expressly deny birth to the individual soul.

We know from scriptural passages that the soul is eternal, that it has no origin, that it is unchanging, that what constitutes the soul is the unmodified Brahman, and that the soul has its self rooted in Brahman. A being of such a nature cannot be produced.

The scriptural passages to which we are alluding are the following: "The great unborn Self undecaying, undying, immortal, fearless is indeed Brahman" (Bri. Up. IV.4.25). "The knowing self is not born, it dies not" (Katha Up. I.2.18). "The ancient is unborn, eternal, everlasting" (Katha Up. I.2.18).

It is the one Brahman without a second that enters the intellect and appears as the individual soul "Having sent forth that entered into it" (Tait. Up. II.6). "Let me now enter those with this living self and let me then evolve names and forms" (Chh. Up. VI.3.2). "He entered thither to the very tips of finger-nails" (Bri. Up. I.4.7).

"Thou art That" (Chh. Up. VI.8.7). "I am Brahman" (Bri. Up. I.4.10). "This self is Brahman, knowing all" (Bri. Up. II.5.19). All these texts declare the eternity of the soul and thus contend against the view of its having been produced.

Therefore there is in reality no difference between the individual soul and Brahman. Jiva is not created. It is not a product. It is not born just as Akasa and other elements are born. The fact of the individual soul's being non-created does not contradict the Sruti passage "At the beginning there was only the Atman the one without a second" (Ait. Up. I.1).

The mention of creation of souls in the other Sruti passages cited is only in a secondary sense. It does not therefore contradict the Sruti passage "Having created it, It entered into it."

The doctrine that souls are born from Brahman is not correct. Those who propound this doctrine declare that if souls are born from Brahman, the scriptural statement that by knowing Brahman everything can become true, because Brahman is the cause and the knowledge of the cause will lead to the knowledge of all the objects. They say further that Brahman cannot be identified with the individual souls, because He is sinless and pure, whereas they are not so. They further say that all that is separate is an effect and that as the souls are separate they must be effects.

The souls are not separate. The Sruti declares, "There is one God hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the Self within all beings" (Svet. Up. VI.11). It only appears divided owing to its limiting adjuncts, such as the mind and so on, just as the ether appears divided by its connection with jars and the like. It is His connection with the intellect that leads to his being called a Jiva, or the individual soul. Ether in a pot is identical with the ether in space. All the above objections cannot stand because of the actual identity of the individual soul and Brahman. Therefore there is no contradiction of the declaration of the Sruti that by knowing Brahman we can know everything. Origination of souls has reference only to the body.