Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 3: Ativahikadhikaranam: Topic 4 (Sutras 4-6)

Light, etc., referred to in the text describing the path of the gods mean deities identified with light, etc., who conduct the soul stage after stage till Brahmaloka is reached.

Ativahikastallingat IV.3.4 (521)

(These are) deities conducting the soul (on the path of the gods), on account of indicatory marks to that effect.

Ativahikah: conductors, deities conducting the departed soul; Tad-lingat: on account of indicatory marks to that effect.

The description of the path of the gods is continued.

With regard to those beginning with light a doubt arises whether they are marks of the road, or places of enjoyment, or conductors of the travelling souls.

The Purvapakshin says: Light and so on are marks of the road, because the instruction has that character. In ordinary life a man who wishes to go to a village or a town is told "Go from here to that hill, from there to a banyan tree, from that tree to a river, from that to a village, after that you will reach the town." So here also the text says, "From light to day, from day to the waxing half of the month," etc.

Or else light and so on may be viewed as places of enjoyment. Because the text connects Agni and so on with the "world" "He comes to the world of Agni." Now the term "world" denotes places of enjoyment of living beings, as when we say "the world of men", "the world of fathers", "the world of gods".

Therefore, light and the rest are not conductors. Further they cannot be conductors as they are without intelligence. In ordinary life, intelligent men only are appointed by the king to conduct travellers over difficult roads.

The present Sutra refutes this. They must be the conductors. They receive the departed souls and conduct them on their way to Brahmaloka. That conductors are meant here and not marks or places of enjoyment is indicated by the text of the Chhandogya which ends thus, "From the moon to the lightning. Then a being who is not a man leads them to Brahman" (Chh. Up. IV.15.5; V.10.1). This text shows that unlike the previous guides or conductors who were more or less human, this particular guide or conductor is not a human in nature – "Amanava".

Ubhayavyamohat tatsiddheh IV.3.5 (522)

(That deities or divine guides are meant in these texts, they are personal conductors) is established, because both (i.e., the path and the traveller) become unconscious.

Ubhaya: both (the path and the traveller); Vyamohat: because of unconsciousness; Tat-siddheh: that is established.

This Sutra is an argument in support of Sutra 4.

The departed souls are not capable of guiding themselves as their organs are withdrawn in the mind. The light, etc., are without intelligence. Hence they are equally incapable and cannot guide the souls. Hence it follows that the particular intelligent deities identified with the light, etc., guide the souls to Brahmaloka. In ordinary life also drunken or senseless people follow a road as commanded by others.

Again light and the rest cannot be taken for marks of the path or road, because they are not always present.

Further the departed souls cannot enjoy as their organs are withdrawn into the mind. Hence light and the rest cannot be worlds where they enjoy.

Although the wanderers or the departed souls do not enjoy anything, the word "world" may be explained on the ground that those worlds are places of enjoyment for other beings dwelling there.

The conclusion, therefore, is that he who has reached the world of Agni is led on by Agni and he who has reached the world ruled by Vayu is led by Vayu.

Vaidyutenaiva tatastacchruteh IV.3.6 (523)

From thence (the souls are led or guided) by the very same (superhuman) person who comes to lightning, that being known from the Sruti.

Vaidyutena: by the (superhuman) guide connected with lightning, by the superhuman being who takes his charge from the god of lightning; Eva: alone, only, indeed; Tatah: from thence; Tat sruteh: that being known from the Sruti, as Sruti states so, because of the Vedic text.

The discussion on the journey is continued.

"From thence, i.e., after they have come to the lightning they go to the world of Brahman, being led through the worlds of Varuna and the rest by the person, not a man (Amanava-purusha) who follows immediately after the lightning. When they have reached the place of lightning, a person, not a man, leads them to the world of Brahman" (Bri. Up. VI.2.15).

Varuna and the rest only favour the souls either by not obstructing or helping them in some way.

Therefore, it is well established that light and so on are the gods who act as conductors or guards.