Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 3: Takshadhikaranam: Topic 15 (Sutra 40)

The soul is an agent as long as it is limited by the adjuncts.

Yatha cha takshobhayatha II.3.40 (256)

And as the carpenter is both.

Yatha: as; Cha: also, and; Taksha: the carpenter; Ubhayatha: in both ways, is both.

The argument in support of Sutra 33 is continued.

That the individual soul is an agent has been proved by the reasons set forth in Sutras 33 to 39. We now have to consider whether this agency is its real nature or only a superimposition due to its limiting adjuncts. The Nyaya School maintains that it is its very nature.

This Sutra refutes it and declares that it is superimposed on the soul and not real. Such doership is not the soul's nature, because if it is so, there could be no liberation, just as fire, being hot in its nature, can never be free from heat. Doing is essentially of the nature of pain. You cannot say that even if there is the power of doing, emancipation can come when there is nothing to do, because the power of doing will result in doing at some time or other. The Sruti calls the Atman as having an eternally pure conscious and free nature. How could that be if doership is its nature? Hence, its doership is due to its identification with a limiting function. So there is no soul as doer or enjoyer apart from Para-Brahman. You cannot say that in that case God will become a Samsarin, because doership and enjoyment are due only to Avidya.

The body of the carpenter is not the cause of his function. His tools are the cause. Even so the soul is a doer only through the mind and the senses. The scriptural injunctions do not command doing but command acts to be done on the basis of such doership which is due to Avidya.

The Sruti declares "This Atman is non-attached" (Bri. Up. IV.3.15). Just as in ordinary life, a carpenter suffers when he is working with his tools and is happy when he leaves his work, so does the Atman suffer when he is active in the waking and dream states through his connection with the intellect, etc., and is blissful when he ceases to be an agent as in the state of deep sleep.

The scriptural injunctions in prescribing certain acts refer to the conditioned state of the self. By nature the soul is inactive. It becomes active through connection with its Upadhis or limiting adjuncts, the intellect, etc. Doership really belongs to the intellect. Eternal Upalabdhi or Consciousness is in the soul. Doership implies Ahamkara or ego-consciousness. Hence such doership does not belong to the soul as its nature but belongs to the intellect.

The scriptural injunctions in prescribing certain acts presuppose an agentship established somehow on account of Avidya or ignorance, but do not themselves aim at establishing the direct agentship of the Self. The agentship of the Self does not constitute its real nature because scripture teaches that its true Self is Brahman. We, therefore, conclude that the Vedic injunctions are operative with reference to that agentship of the soul which is due to Avidya.

Nor can you infer doership from the description of Vihara (play or activity) in dreams, because the connection with the mind or intellect continues in dreams. Even in the state of dream the instruments of the Self are not altogether at rest; because scripture declares that even then it is connected with the Buddhi. "Having become a dream, together with Buddhi, it passes beyond this world." Smriti also says, "when the senses being at rest, the mind not being at rest is occupied with the objects, that state know to be a dream."

It is clearly established that the agentship of the soul is due to its limiting adjunct Buddhi only.