Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 3: Karyadhikaranam: Topic 5 (Sutras 7-14)

The departed souls go by the path of gods to Saguna Brahman.

Karyam baadarirasya gatyupapatteh IV.3.7 (524)

To the Karya Brahman or Hiranyagarbha or Saguna Brahman (the departed souls are led); (thus opines) the sage Baadari on account of the possibility of its being the goal (of their journey).

Karyam: the relative Brahman or Hiranyagarbha; Baadarih: the sage Baadari (holds); Asya: his; Gati-upapatteh: on account of the possibility of being the goal.

A discussion is now taken up whether the soul is conducted to the Nirguna Brahman or the Saguna Brahman.

In the previous Sutra the way was discussed.

Now from this Sutra onwards the discussion is about the goal reached.

The Chhandogya text declares, "Then a being who is not a man (Amanava Purusha) leads them to Brahman" (Chh. Up. V.10.1).

A doubt arises whether the Brahman is the Saguna Brahman or the Supreme Nirguna Brahman. The opinion of the teacher Baadari is that the person, who is not a man, leads them to the lower qualified, effected Brahman (Saguna or Karya Brahman); because it is possible to go to that. Because Saguna Brahman which occupies a definite place, which has a special abode and which is finite can be the goal of a journey. But it is not possible with respect to the Nirguna Brahman which is Infinite and all-pervading. With the Highest Nirguna Brahman on the other hand, we cannot connect the ideas of one who goes, or object of going or act of going; because that Brahman is present everywhere and is the inner Self of all.

Viseshitatvaccha IV.3.8 (525)

And on account of the qualification (with respect to this Brahman in another text).

Viseshitatvat: because of being specified in Sruti, on account of the qualification; Cha: and.

An argument in support of Sutra 7 is adduced.

Because the word Brahman is qualified by the word ‘lokam’.

"He leads them to the worlds of Brahman; in these worlds of Brahman they live for ever and ever" (Bri. Up. VI.2.15). The plural number is not possible with respect to the Supreme Infinite Brahman which may abide in different conditions.

Samipyattu tadvyapadesah IV.3.9 (526)

But on account of the nearness (of the Saguna Brahman to the Supreme Brahman it is) designated as that (Supreme Brahman).

Samipyat: because of the nearness or proximity; Tu: but; Tad: that; Vyapadesah: designation.

The argument in support of Sutra 7 is continued.

The word ‘tu’ (but) sets aside any doubt that may arise on account of the word ‘Brahma’ being used for the Saguna Brahman in the Chhandogya text.

This Sutra says that this designation is on account of the proximity of the Saguna Brahman to the supreme Brahman or the Absolute.

The manifested Brahman also can be called Brahman as it is in the closest proximity to the Unmanifested Para Brahman. The Para Brahman assumes absolutely pure limiting adjuncts such as mind, etc., to become an object of devotion and meditation, i.e., the lower Brahman or Karya Brahman or Saguna Brahman.

Karyatyaye tadadhyakshena sahatah paramabhidhanat IV.3.10 (527)

On the dissolution of the Brahmaloka (the souls attain) along with the ruler of that world what is higher than that (i.e., the Supreme Brahman) on account of the declaration of the Sruti.

Karyatyaye: on the dissolution of the Brahmaloka (Karya: of the effect, i.e., the universe, the relative Saguna Brahman); Tad: of that; Adhyakshena: with the ruler-president, i.e., Hiranyagarbha or the four-faced Brahma; Saha: with; Atahparam: higher than that, i.e., the Supreme Brahman; Abhidhanat: on account of the declaration of the Sruti.

The individual soul’s final absorption in the Para Brahman or the Absolute is now stated.

The Purvapakshin says: If the souls who go by the path of the gods reach the Saguna Brahman, then how can statements like, "They who proceed on that path do not return to the life of man" (Chh. Up. IV.15.6); "For them there is no return here" (Bri. Up. VI.2.15); "Moving upwards by that a man reaches immortality" (Chh. Up. VIII.6.5), be made with respect to them, as there is no permanency anywhere apart from the Highest Brahman?

The Sutra declares that at the dissolution of Brahmaloka the souls, which by that time have attained knowledge, along with the Saguna Brahman attain what is higher than the Saguna Brahman, i.e., Para Brahman or the pure highest place of Vishnu. This is called Kramamukti or successive (progressive) liberation or release by successive steps. So the Sruti texts declare.

Smritescha IV.3.11 (528)

And on account of the Smriti (texts supporting this view).

Smriteh: on account of the statement of the Smriti, as Smriti agrees with the view, according to the Smriti; Cha: and.

An argument in support of Sutra 10 is adduced.

The view expressed in the preceding Sutra is corroborated by Smriti also, "When the Pralaya has come and when the first person (Hiranyagarbha) comes to His end, then they all, together with Brahman, with purified minds enter the highest place."

The above are the Siddhanta Sutras. The final conclusion (Siddhanta), therefore is that the going of the souls of which scripture speaks, has for its goal the Karya Brahman or Saguna Brahman.

The Purvapaksha is stated in Sutras 12-14.

Param jaiminirmukhyatvat IV.3.12 (529)

To the highest (Brahman) (the souls are led); Jaimini opines, on account of that being the primary meaning (of the word ‘Brahman’).

Param: the Supreme (Brahman); Jaiminih: the sage Jaimini (opines or holds); Mukhyatvat: on account of that being the primary meaning (of the word ‘Brahman’).

Sutras 12-14 give a prima facie view of the matter. An objection to Sutra 7 is adduced by presenting an opposite view.

Jaimini is of opinion that the word ‘Brahman’ in the Chhandogya text "He leads them to Brahman" refers to the Highest Brahman, as that is the primary meaning of the word.

Darsanaccha IV.3.13 (530)

And because the Sruti declares that.

Darsanat: on account of the Sruti texts; Cha: and, also.

An argument in support of Jaimini is adduced.

The text "Going upwards by that he reaches immortality" (Chh. Up. VIII.6.6) (Katha Up. II.6.16) declares that immortality is attained by going. But immortality is possible only in the Supreme Brahman, not in the Saguna Brahman, because the latter is transitory. So scripture says, "Where one sees something else, that is little, that is mortal" (Chh. Up. VIII.24.1).

According to the text of the Kathopanishad also the going of the soul is towards the supreme Brahman. The soul which passes out of the body by the Sushumna Nadi reaches immortality. This can be attained only in the Supreme Brahman.

Na cha karye pratipattyabhisandhih IV.3.14 (531)

And the desire to attain Brahman cannot be with respect to the Saguna Brahman.

Na: not; Cha: and; Karye: in the Saguna Brahman; Pratipatti: realisation of Brahman; Abhisandhih: desire. (Pratipatti-abhisandhih: the desire to attain or realise Brahman.)

The argument in support of Sutra 12 is continued.

"I enter the hall of Prajapati, the house" (Chh. Up. VIII.14.1), cannot have the lower or Saguna Brahman for its object. This desire to enter the ‘hall’ or the ‘house’ cannot be with respect to the Saguna Brahman. It is appropriate with regard to the Highest Brahman (Para Brahman). Because the immediately preceding passage intimates "And that within which these (names and forms) are contained is Brahman." The passage "I am the glory of the Brahmanas" represents "the soul as the self of all". ‘Glory’ is the name of the supreme Brahman. "There is no likeness of him whose name is great glory" (Vajasaneya Samhita: XXXII.3). Here the Supreme Brahman is referred to.

Sutras 12-14 give the view of the Purvapakshin against what has been said in Sutras 7-11. The arguments of Sutras 12-14 are refuted thus:

The Brahman attained by those who go by the path of the gods (Devayana) cannot be the Supreme Brahman (Nirguna Brahman). They attain only the Saguna Brahman. Para Brahman is all-pervading. He is the Inner Self of all. He cannot be attained as He is the Innermost Self of everyone.

We do not go to what is already reached. Ordinary experience rather tells us that a person goes to something different from him. Journey or attainment is possible only where there is difference, where the attainer is different from the attained.

The Supreme Brahman cannot be assumed to possess any differences depending on time, or space or anything else and cannot, therefore, become the object of going.

In the realisation of the Supreme Brahman the veil of ignorance is removed and the seeker knows his essential divine nature. He realises his identity with the Supreme Brahman. When the ignorance is removed Brahman manifests itself. That is all. There is no going or attaining in such a realisation.

But the attainment of Brahman spoken of in the texts connected with the path of the gods is not merely the removal of ignorance but actual.

The passage "I enter the hall of Prajapati, the house", can be separated from what precedes and be connected with the Saguna Brahman.

The fact that Chh. Up. VIII.14.1 says "I am the glory of the Brahmanas, of the kings" cannot make it refer to the Nirguna Brahman, because the Saguna Brahman can also be said to be the self of all, as we find in texts like "He, to whom all works, all desires belong" (Chh. Up. III.14.2).

The reference to the journey to Brahman which belongs to the realm of relative or qualified knowledge in a chapter which deals with the Highest Knowledge is only by way of glorification of the latter.

For all these reasons the view of Baadari as set forth in Sutras 7-11 is the correct one.