Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 2: Dakshinayanadhikaranam: Topic 11 (Sutras 20-21)

Even if the knower of the Saguna Brahman dies in Dakshinayana, he still goes to Brahmaloka.

Ataschayane’pi dakshine IV.2.20 (516)

And for the same reason (the departed soul follows the rays) also during the sun’s southern course.

Atah: for this very reason, therefore, for the same reason; Cha: and; Ayane: during the sun’s course; Api: also, even; Dakshine: in the southern.

This Sutra is a corollary drawn from the preceding Sutra.

The Purvapakshin raises an objection and maintains that the soul of the knower of Brahman who passes away during Dakshinayana or the southern course of the sun does not follow the rays to Brahmaloka. The Sruti and the Smriti declare that only one who dies during Uttarayana or the northern course of the sun goes to Brahmaloka.

Further it is also written that Bhishma waited for the northern course of the sun to leave the body.

This Sutra says that for the same reason as mentioned in the previous Sutra, i.e., the unreasonableness of making the result of knowledge depend on the accident of death happening at a particular time, the knower of Saguna Brahman goes to Brahmaloka even if he dies during the southern course of the sun.

For the same reason, viz., because waiting is impossible, and because the fruit of knowledge is not merely eventual one, and because the time of death is not fixed, also he who has true knowledge, and who dies during the southern course of the sun obtains the fruit of his knowledge.

In the text "Those who know thus go by light, from light to day, from day to the bright half of the month, and from that to the six months of the northern course of the sun" (Chh. Up. V.10.1), the points in the northern course of the sun do not refer to any division of time but to deities as will be shown under IV.3.4.

The Devayana path can be trodden by those who die in the Dakshinayana.

Bhishma waited for the Uttarayana, because he wanted to uphold an approved custom and to show that he could die at will owing to his father’s boon.

Yoginah prati cha smaryate smarte chaite IV.2.21 (517)

And (these times or details) are recorded by Smriti with reference to the Yogins and these two (Yoga and Sankhya) and classed as Smritis (only).

Yoginah prati: with respect to the Yogi; Cha: and; Smaryate: the Smriti declares; Smarte: belonging to the class of Smritis; Cha: and; Ete: these two.

The argument in the two preceding Sutras is strengthened here by further exposition.

The Purvapakshin says: We have the following Smriti text, "That time wherein going Yogins return not, and also that wherein going forth they return, that time shall I declare to thee, O Prince of the Bharatas" (Bhagavad Gita VIII. 23-24). This determines specially that to die by day and so on causes the soul not to return. How then can he who dies by night or during the sun’s southern course depart not to return? The decision of the previous Sutra cannot be correct.

This Sutra refutes the objection and says that these details as to time mentioned in the Gita apply only to Yogis who practise Sadhana according to Yoga and Sankhya systems. These two are Smritis, not Srutis. Therefore, the limitations as to the time mentioned in them do not apply to those who meditate on the Saguna Brahman according to the Sruti texts.

Yoga and Sankhya are mere Smritis. They are not of spiritual character. As it has a different sphere of application, and is based on a special kind of authority, the Smriti rule as to the time of dying has no influence on knowledge based on scripture.

But an objection is raised. We have such passages as "Fire, light, the day, the bright half of the month, the six months of the northern path, smoke, night, the dark half of the month, the six months of the southern path" (Bhagavad Gita VIII. 24-25), in which though belonging to Smriti we recognise the path of the fathers as determined by scripture.

Our refutation, we reply, of the claims of Smriti applies only to the contradiction which may arise from the teaching of Smriti regarding the legitimate time of dying, "I will tell you the time," etc. In so far as Smriti also mentions Agni and the other divinities which lead on the departed soul, there is no contradiction whatsoever.

What appears to refer to time in the above passage refers only to the deities presiding over the day-time and the bright half of the month and the Uttarayana and over the night time, and the dark half of the month and the Dakshinayana.

Thus ends the Second Pada (Section 2) of the Fourth Chapter (Adhyaya IV) of the Brahma Sutras or the Vedanta Philosophy.