Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Parayattadhikaranam: Topic 16 (Sutras 41-42)

The soul is dependent on the Lord, when he works.

Parattu tat sruteh II.3.41 (257)

But (even) that (agency of the soul) is from the Supreme Lord, so declares the Sruti.

Parat: from the Supreme Lord; Tu: but, indeed; Tat: agency, agentship; Sruteh: from Sruti, so declares the Sruti.

A limitation to Sutra 33 is stated.

We now enter on the discussion whether the agentship characterising the individual soul in the state of ignorance on account of its limiting adjuncts is independent of the Lord or dependent on Him.

The Purvapakshin maintains that the soul as far as it is an agent does not depend on the Lord.

The word 'tu' (but), is employed in order to remove the doubt raised by the Purvapakshin. The view that the soul's doership is due to its desires and its possession of the senses as instruments and not to the Lord is wrong, because the Sruti declares that Lord is the cause.

The agency of the soul is also due to the Supreme Lord. It can be understood from Sruti that the agentship of the individual soul is verily subordinate to and controlled by the Supreme Lord. The soul does good and bad deeds being so directed by the Lord.

Sruti declares, "He makes him, whom He wishes to lead up from these worlds do good deeds; He makes him, whom He wishes to lead down from these worlds, do bad deeds." (Kau. Up. III.8) and, again, "He who dwelling within the Self pulls the Self within" (Sat. Br. XIV.6.7.30). "The Universal Soul entering within, governs the individual souls" – "Antah pravishtah sasta jivanam" "The Lord is within all, the Ruler of all creatures."

You cannot say that that will cause the attribution of partiality (Vaishamya) and cruelty (Nairghrinya) to the Lord, because He acts according to Dharma (merit) and Adharma (demerit). You may reply that these are due to doership and if doership is due to the Lord, how can the Lord act according to Dharma and Adharma?

We reply that the Sruti says that the soul is the doer and declares as cause of doership the Supreme Lord who is the bestower of the fruits of actions, who is immanent in all, who is the witness of all actions, and who is the inspirer and guider of all.

Kritaprayatnapekshastu vihitapratishiddha vaiyarthyadibhyah II.3.42 (258)

But (the Lord's making the soul act) depends on the works done (by it), for otherwise there will be uselessness of the scriptural injunctions and prohibitions.

Kritaprayatnapekshah: depends on works done; Tu: but; Vihita-pratishiddha-avaiyarthyadibhyah: so that the scriptural injunctions and prohibitions may not be meaningless. (Vihita: ordained; Pratishiddha: prohibited; Avaiyarthyadibhyah: on account of non-meaninglessness.)

This Sutra proceeds to narrow the scope of Sutra 41 within certain limits.

If causal agency belongs to the Lord, it follows that He must be cruel and unjust and that the soul has to undergo consequences of what it has not done. He must be cruel and whimsical too as He makes some persons do good acts and others evil deeds. This Sutra refutes this doubt.

The word 'tu' (but), removes the objections. The Lord always directs the soul according to its good or bad actions done in previous births. He bestows good and bad fruits according to the soul's good and bad actions. He is the rain which always causes each seed to fructify according to its power. Though doership is dependent on the Lord, doing is the soul's act. What the soul does the Lord causes to be done. Such doing is due to deeds done in previous birth and Vasanas which, again, are due to previous Karmas and so on, Samsara being without beginning (Anadi). As Samsara is beginningless there will always be previous births with actions performed in those births for the guidance of the Lord. Hence He cannot be accused of being cruel, unjust and whimsical. To give fruits the Lord depends on the soul's actions. If this were not so, the scriptural injunctions and prohibitions would be meaningless. If Lord does not depend on the soul's actions for giving fruit, effort or exertion (Purushartha) will have no place at all. The soul will gain nothing by following these injunctions.

Moreover, time, place and causation will be capriciously operative and not according to the law of cause and effect, if our Karma is not the instrumental cause, and the Lord the Supervising Cause.