Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 1: Tadadhigamadhikaranam: Topic 9 (Sutra 13)

Knowledge of Brahman frees one from all past and future sins.

Tadadhigama uttarapurvaghayorasleshavinasau tadvyapadesat IV.1.13 (490)

On the attainment of this (viz., Brahman) (there takes place) the non-clinging and the destruction of later and earlier sins; because it is so declared by the scriptures.

Tadadhigama: when that is realised; Uttarapurvaghayoh: of the subsequent and the previous sins; Asleshavinasau: non-clinging and destruction; Tadvyapadesat: because Sruti has declared so.

The result of knowledge of Brahman or the state of Jivanmukti is now discussed.

The supplement to the Third Chapter is finished herewith. With the last Adhikarana the topics connected with the Third Chapter have come to an end. From this Adhikarana the Fourth Chapter proper begins. The Fourth Chapter is the Phaladhyaya, i.e., the Chapter relating to the fruits of Brahma Vidya.

The Purvapakshin maintains that emancipation is attained in spite of knowledge, only after one has experienced effects of one’s sins committed before enlightenment because the Smritis declare "Karma is not destroyed before it has yielded its effects." The law of Karma is unrelenting.

This Sutra says that when a person attains knowledge all his past sins are destroyed and future sins do not cling to him.

Karma has doubtless its power of bringing its effects but that power can be nullified and overcome by knowledge of Brahman. Prayaschittas (expiatory acts) have the power of cleansing sin. Saguna-Brahma-Vidya cleanses all sins. Nirguna-Brahma-Vidya puts an end to agency or doership and destroys all sins. Hence no future doership can come to him and the effects of the entire past doership vanish when knowledge dawns. Otherwise there will be no liberation as Karma is Anadi (beginningless). If it is said that emancipation is caused like the fruits of Karma, it will be transient and not eternal.

Further, the results of Jnana must be direct and immediate. So all sins vanish when one attains knowledge of Brahman or Self-realisation.

The scripture declares that future sins which might be presumed to cling to the agent do not cling to him who knows. "As water does not cling to lotus leaf, so no evil deed clings to him who knows this" (Chh. Up. IV.14.3). Similarly scripture declares the destruction of previous accumulated evil deeds. "As the fibres of the Ishika reed when thrown into the fire are burnt, thus all sins are burnt" (Chh. Up. V.24.3). The extinction of works the following passage also declares: "The fetter of the heart is broken, all doubts are solved, all his works are destroyed when He who is high and low is seen" (Mun. Up. II.2.8).

As regards the verses which say that no Karma is destroyed, but by producing its effects, that holds good in the case of ordinary men who are in ignorance and who have no knowledge of Brahman. It does not hold good in the case of those enlightened sages who have knowledge of Brahman.

The knower of Brahman feels and realises thus: "That Brahman whose nature it is to be at all times neither agent not enjoyer, and which is thus opposed in being to the soul’s previously established state of agency and enjoyment that Brahman am I; hence I neither was an agent, nor an enjoyer at any previous time, nor am I such at the present time, nor shall I be such at any future time."

In this way only the final emancipation is possible; for otherwise, i.e., if the chain of works which has been running on from eternity could not be cut short, liberation could never take place. Emancipation cannot depend on locality, time and special causes, as the fruit of works is; because therefrom it would follow that the fruit of knowledge is non-permanent.

Therefore, it is an established conclusion that there results the extinction of all sins on attaining Brahman.