Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 1: Anarabdhadhikaranam: Topic 11 (Sutra 15)

Works which have not begun to yield results are alone destroyed by knowledge and not those which have already begun to bear fruits.

Anarabdhakarye eva tu purve tadavadheh IV.1.15 (492)

But only those former (works) whose effects have not yet begun (are destroyed by knowledge; because the scripture states) that (i.e., the death of the body) to be the term.

Anarabdhakarye: in the case of those works, the effects of which have not begun to operate, i.e. to yield fruits or results; Eva: only; Tu: but; Purve: former works; Tadavadheh: that (death) being the limit, because of waiting till death.

Discussion on the consequence of Brahma Jnana is continued.

In the last two Adhikaranas (topics) it has been stated that all the past works of a knower of Brahman are destroyed. Past works are of two kinds, viz., Sanchita (accumulated works) those which have not yet begun to yield results and Prarabdha, i.e., those works whose effects have already begun to operate and have produced the body through which the aspirant has attained Brahma Jnana or knowledge of Brahman.

The Purvapakshin maintains that both these are destroyed, because the Mundaka Upanishad says that all his works are destroyed. "He thereby overcomes both". This refers to all works without any distinction, all works whatever must be regarded to undergo destruction.

Further the sage who has attained Self-realisation is a non-doer. He has no idea or feeling of agency. His idea of non-doership is the same with reference to Sanchita or Prarabdha. Hence both these works are destroyed when one attains knowledge of Brahman or the Supreme Self.

This Sutra refutes this view and declares that only Sanchita Karmas or accumulated works whose fruits have not yet begun to operate are destroyed by knowledge but not the Prarabdha. Prarabdha Karmas are destroyed only by being worked out. Those works whose effects have begun and whose results have been half enjoyed, i.e., those very works to which there is due the present state of existence in which the knowledge of Brahman arises and not destroyed by that knowledge. This view is founded on the scriptural passage "For him there is delay only as long as he is not delivered from this body, and then he is one with Brahman" (Chh. Up. VI.14.2), which fixes the death of the body as the term of the statement of the attainment of final release.

If it were not so, then there would be no teachers of knowledge.

Therefore, the Prarabdha Karmas are not destroyed by knowledge.

If it is said that fire must destroy all seeds, the reply is that what has begun to operate, like a potter’s wheel, must have its operation. Mithya Jnana (the erroneous knowledge of multiplicity) though negated by Jnana, will persist for a while (Badhitanuvritti).

Each man’s inner realisation cannot be denied or disputed by another. This truth is declared by the description of the Sthitaprajna in the Bhagavad Gita.

The Knowledge of Brahman in a knower or a sage cannot check the Prarabdha Karma, just as an archer has no control over the arrows already discharged, which comes to rest only when its momentum is exhausted. The liberated sage must keep up this body as long as the momentum of Prarabdha Karmas lasts. When the Prarabdha Karmas are worked out or exhausted the body falls off and he attains Videha-Mukti or disembodied salvation.

The final discussion, therefore, is that knowledge effects the destruction of those works only whether good or evil, whose effects have not yet begun to operate.