Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 4: Pranotpattyadhikaranam: Topic 1 (Sutras 1-4)

The Pranas have their origin from Brahman.

Tatha pranah II.4.1 (270)

Thus the vital airs (are produced from Brahman).

Tatha: thus, likewise, similarly, like the creation of the five primal elements as stated in the previous section; Pranah: the Pranas, the organs..

The creation of the Pranas or senses is now described.

The Pranas are divided into two classes, namely Pranas in a strict sense and Pranas in a metaphorical sense. The eleven senses, sight, hearing, etc., are called Pranas in a secondary meaning. The five Pranas, Prana, Apana, Vyana, Samana and Udana are the principal Pranas. Among these, the author first takes up the eleven senses which are called Pranas in a secondary sense.

Purvapakshin: The Pranas have no origin for they are eternal like the Jivas and existed even before creation.

Siddhantin: The Pranas have origin.

The Purvapakshin or the opponent says: The chapters which treat of the origin of things do not record an origin of the vital airs, e.g., "It sent forth fire", etc., (Chh. Up. VI.2.3). "From that Self sprang ether", etc., (Tait. Up. II.1). It is said clearly in some places that the vital airs were not produced. "This was indeed non-existence in the beginning. They say what was that nonbeing? Those Rishis indeed were the nonbeing in the beginning. They say who are those Rishis? The Pranas (organs) are indeed the Rishis" (Sat. Br. VI.1.1.1). This shows that the Pranas (organs) are eternal and not created.

This Sutra refutes the above view and says that the Pranas are produced just like ether from Brahman. The word 'Tatha (thus or likewise)' does not refer to the preceding topic of the last section which is the plurality of souls but to the creation of ether, etc., treated in the last section. Sruti texts directly declare their origination. "From that (Brahman) are produced the vital air, mind and all the organs" (Mun. Up. II.1.3). "As small sparks come forth from fire, thus do all vital airs come forth from that Brahman" (Bri. Up. II.1.20). "The seven vital airs also spring from Him" (Mun. Up. II.1.8). "He sent forth the vital air; from the vital air, Sraddha, ether, air, light, water, earth, sense, mind, food" (Pras. Up. VI.4).

Therefore, the senses are created.

If the creation of the Prana is not stated in some places, that will not lessen the force of the passages about such creation. "Na hi kvachidasravanamanyatra srutam nivarayitumutsahate"; "Tattejo'srijat"; "Etasmajjayate Pranah".

The circumstance of a thing not being stated in some places has no power to invalidate what is stated about it in other places.

Therefore, an account of equality of scriptural statements, it is proper to maintain that the Pranas also are produced in the same way as ether and so on.

Gaunyasambhavat II.4.2 (271)

On account of the impossibility of a secondary (origin of the Pranas).

Gauni: secondary sense; Asambhavat: on account of impossibility, as it is impossible, being impossible.

A plausible objection to Sutra 1 is refuted.

The Purvapakshin says: The Satapatha Brahmana speaks of the existence of the Pranas (organs) before creation. The texts which describe their creation speak in a secondary sense only.

This Sutra refutes it. The statement as to the origin of the Pranas cannot be taken in a secondary sense because therefrom the abandonment of a general assertion would result. "By the knowledge of one, everything else is known." "What is that through which when it is known everything else becomes known?" (Mun. Up. I.1.3). Therefore the Pranas are produced from Brahman.

The creation of everything from Brahman has been reiterated in Sruti. There is no Sruti which contradicts it. "Yato va imani bhutani jayante – from which originate all these things" (Tait. Bhriguvalli I). In the face of the express statement in Srutis that all things are created from Brahman, it is absurd to suppose the Pranas (senses) are the sole exceptions.

The reference to the existence of the Pranas (organs) before creation in the Satapatha Brahmana pertains to Hiranyagarbha. Hiranyagarbha is Cosmic Prana. It is not resolved in partial dissolution of the universe. Even Hiranyagarbha is resolved in complete dissolution (Mahapralaya).

Tatprakcchrutescha II.4.3 (272)

On account of that (word which indicates origin) being mentioned first (in connection with Pranas).

Tat: that; Prak: first; Sruteh: from Sruti, on account of the Sruti text being mentioned; Cha: and, also.

An argument in support of Sutra 2 is given.

A further reason is given in this Sutra to indicate that the Pranas (organs) have taken their origin from Brahman.

Further, because of the use of the word 'Jayate' (is born) in respect of Pranas existing prior to Akasa or ether, etc., it is clear that the Pranas (organs) have originated from Brahman.

The scriptural statement about the origin of the Pranas is to be taken in its literal or primary sense only. The text referred to is "From that (Brahman) are produced the Prana (vital air), mind and all the organs, ether, air, water, fire and earth." (Mun. Up. II.1.3). Here the word 'Jayate' (is born) occurs at the very beginning of the things enumerated. If the word is interpreted in its primary sense with reference to ether, etc., it must be all the more so interpreted with reference to the Pranas, mind and organs which are mentioned earlier.

The secondary sense is not acceptable because the Sruti places the Pranas (organs) prior to Akasa, air, etc. The word (Jayate) occurs first, then the words signifying Prana and the senses, and, last of all, come Akasa, air, etc. Now that the word 'Jayate' is accepted in its primary sense with respect to Akasa, etc., why should it be taken in a secondary sense, in connection with Pranas (organs) which the Sruti has placed prior to Akasa, etc.?

It would be absurd to decide that a word enumerated once only in one chapter and one sentence and connected with many other words, has in some cases to be taken in its primary sense and others in a secondary sense, because such a decision would imply want of uniformity. The word 'Jayate' which comes in the end must be connected with the Pranas, etc., mentioned in the earlier part of the sentence.

Tatpurvakatvadvachah II.4.4 (273)

Because speech is preceded by that, (viz., fire and the other elements).

Another argument in support of Sutra 2 is given.

The Chhandogya Upanishad declares "For, truly, my child, mind consists of earth (i.e., food), Prana of water, Vak of speech of fire" (VI.5.4). This text clearly indicates that the organs, etc., are products of the elements. The elements in their turn originate from Brahman. Therefore the organs (Pranas) are also products of Brahman. As the Pranas (organs) are the products of the elements, they are not separately mentioned in the Sruti passages which treat of the origin of things.

By the statement in the Sruti of the direct causation of the elements it is suggested that the Pranas (senses) have Brahman for their immediate cause.

Moreover, the passage concludes by saying that the entire world is the creation of Brahman, and is the form of Brahman and is ensouled by Brahman.

Therefore it is an established conclusion that the Pranas also are effects of Brahman. The Pranas (organs) have an origin just like the elements ether, etc., and are not eternal.