Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 1: Agnihotradyadhikaranam: Topic 12 (Sutras 16-17)

Permanent obligatory works enjoined by the Vedas for different Ashramas are not to be given up.

Agnihotradi tu tatkaryayaiva taddarsanat IV.1.16 (493)

But the Agnihotra and the like (tend) towards the same effect, knowledge (liberation), because that is seen from the scriptures.

Agnihotradi: daily Agnihotra, etc., daily offering of oblations to the perpetually maintained fire; Tu: but; Tatkarya: tend towards the same result as that (knowledge); Eva: only; Taddarsanat: that being seen from the scriptures.

Works of permanent obligation (Nitya Karmas) enjoined by the Vedas such as Agnihotra tend towards the same effect, i.e., have the same effect as knowledge. Because this is declared by the texts such as the following, "Brahmanas seek to know him by the study of the Vedas, by sacrifices, by gifts" (Bri. Up. IV.4.22).

But an objection is raised as knowledge and works have different effects, it is not possible that they should have one and the same effect.

It is observed, we reply, that curd and poison whose ordinary effects are fever and death have for their effects satisfaction and a flourishing state of the body, if the curd is mixed with sugar and the poison taken while certain Mantras are recited. Even so works if joined with knowledge may effect final emancipation.

The Purvapakshin maintains that even obligatory works (Nitya Karmas) such as Agnihotra which do not give any fruits but which are enjoined by the scriptures as a sort of discipline are destroyed by the dawn of knowledge, just as other works done with desires, because the idea of non-agency of the knower of Brahman is the same with respect to both.

This Sutra refutes this view and declares that the regular obligatory works are not destroyed.

Obligatory duties exercise a purifying influence on the heart and are helpful to the origination of knowledge. They contribute indirectly to knowledge i.e., liberation. They subserve final emancipation immediately. Therefore, their results persist till death.

Ato’nyapi hi ekeshamubhayoh IV.1.17 (494)

For (there is) also (a class of good works) other than this, according to some. (There is agreement) of both (teachers, Jaimini and Baadarayana) (as to the fate of those works).

Atah: from this; Anya: different; Api: also; Hi: because, indeed; Ekesham: of some (Sakhas); Ubhayoh: of both.

There is also a class of good works different from works of permanent obligation (Nitya Karmas like the daily Agnihotra and the like) which are performed with a view to a fruit. The following statement of some Sakhas is made with reference to these: "His friends get his good works and enemies his evil actions."

Both teachers, Jaimini and Baadarayana, are of the opinion that works performed for the fulfilment of some special desire do not contribute towards the origination of true knowledge.