Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 1: Brahmadrishtyadhikaranam: Topic 4 (Sutra 5)

When meditating on a symbol, the symbol should be considered as Brahman and not Brahman as the symbol.

Brahmadrishtirutkarshat IV.1.5 (482)

(The symbol) is to be viewed as Brahman (and not in the reverse way), on account of the exaltation (of the symbol thereby).

Brahmadrishtih: the view of Brahman, the view in the light of Brahman; Utkarshat: on account of superiority, because of super-eminence.

The same discussion is continued.

In meditations on symbols as in "The mind is Brahman", "The sun is Brahman", the question is whether the symbol is to be considered as Brahman, or Brahman as the symbol.

This Sutra declares that the symbols, the mind, the sun, etc., are to be regarded as Brahman and not in the reverse way. Because you can attain elevation or progress by looking upon an inferior thing as a superior thing and not in the reverse way. As you have to behold Brahman in everything and free yourself from the idea of differentiation and diversity, you have to contemplate on these symbols as Brahman.

To view the symbol as Brahman is quite proper, but by reversing the order to view Brahman in the light of the symbol is not justifiable, because of super-eminence of Brahman over the symbol.

It would not serve any purpose to think of Brahman in the light of a limited thing; because it would be only to degrade the Infinite Lord to the status of a finite thing. The symbol should be raised higher in thought to the level of Brahman but Brahman should not be brought down to the level of the symbol.