Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 4: Sampadyavirbhavadhikaranam: Topic 1 (Sutras 1-3)

The liberated soul does not acquire anything new but only manifests its essential or true nature.

Sampadyavirbhavah svena sabdat IV.4.1 (534)

(When the Jiva or the individual soul) has attained (the highest light) there is manifestation (of its own real nature) as we infer from the word ‘own’.

Sampadya: having attained; Avirbhavah: there is manifestation; Svena sabdat: from the word ‘own’. (Svena: by one’s own; Sabdat: inferred from the word.)

The Chhandogya text says "Now this serene and happy being, after having risen out of this body and having attained the highest light, manifests itself by its own nature" (Chh. Up. VII.12.3).

The Purvapakshin holds that the Jiva or the individual soul which has freed itself from identification with the three bodies attains emancipation after realising Brahman. Release also is a fruit like other fruits, e.g., Svarga or heaven. Manifestation means as much as origination. Liberation was not a pre-existent thing. It is something that is newly acquired like heaven, as the word ‘reaches’ in the text clearly indicates. Therefore emancipation is something new that is acquired by the individual soul. If the manifestation took place only through the self’s own nature, it would already appear in the self’s former states, because a thing’s own nature is never absent in it.

The present Sutra refutes this view and says that the word ‘own’ indicates that emancipation was a pre-existent thing. The individual soul manifests its own, essential divine nature which was so long covered by ignorance (Avidya). This is his attainment of the final beatitude or release. It is certainly nothing that is newly acquired.

Muktah pratijnanat IV.4.2 (535)

(The self whose true nature has manifested itself is) released; according to the promise (made by scripture).

Muktah: the liberated one, released, freed; Pratijnanat: according to the promise.

The previous Sutra is further elucidated.

Emancipation is a cessation of all bondage and not the accession of something new, just as health is merely the removal of illness and not a new acquisition.

If release is nothing new that is acquired by the individual soul, then what is its difference from bondage? The Jiva was stained in the state of bondage by the three states, i.e., the state of waking, dreaming and dreamless sleep. According to Chhandogya Upanishad VIII. 9-11, "It is blind" "It weeps as it were" "It goes to utter annihilation". It imagines itself to be finite. It identifies itself with the illusory vehicles or Upadhis and experiences pleasure, pain, joy and sorrow. After Self-realisation it realises its true nature which is absolute bliss. It is freed from all erroneous notions and misconceptions. It is freed from Avidya or ignorance and its effects. It is perfect, free, independent. This is the difference.

Annihilation of ignorance is salvation. Eradication of all erroneous notions or misconceptions is liberation. Destruction of the veil of ignorance, that separates the individual soul from the Supreme Soul is emancipation or the final beatitude.

But how is it known that in its present condition the soul is released? On account of the promise made in the scriptures, says the Sutra.

The Chhandogya Upanishad says, "I will explain It to you further" (Chh. Up. VIII.9.3; VIII.10.4; VIII.11.3). Here the Sruti proposes to expound that Self which is free from all imperfections. It begins thus, "The Self which is free from sin" (Chh. Up. VIII.7.1). "It being without the body, is not touched by pleasure and pain" (Chh. Up. VIII.12.1), and concludes "By his own nature he manifests himself. That is the highest person. The serene being rises above its body, reaches the highest light and appears in its own true nature" (Chh. Up. VIII.12.3).

Atma prakaranat IV.4.3 (536)

(The light into which the individual soul enters is) the Supreme Self; owing to the subject matter of the chapter.

Atma: the Supreme Self; Prakaranat: on account of the subject matter of the discourse or context.

This Sutra says that the individual soul recovers his own Self (the Supreme Self) as stated in Sutra 1.

The Purvapakshin holds: How can the soul be called "liberated" considering that the clause "(having entered into) the highest light" speaks of it as within the sphere of what is a mere effect? Because the word ‘light’ in common parlance denotes physical light. No one who has not transcended beyond the sphere of effects can be liberated, as whatever is an effect is tainted with evil.

We reply: this objection is without force. It cannot stand; for in the passage referred to in the Chh. Up. VIII.3.4 the word ‘light’ denotes the Self Supreme, in accordance with the subject matter of the Chapter and not any physical light.

The word ‘Jyotih’ (light) in the passage refers to the Atma which is described as sinless, undecaying and deathless (Ya Atma apahatapapma vijaro vimrityuh – Chh. Up. VIII.7.1).

We, therefore, may not all at once pass over to physical light incurring thereby the fault of abandoning the topic under discussion and introducing a new one.

The word ‘light’ is also used to denote the Self in the texts like "The gods meditate on the immortal Light of all lights as longevity" (Bri. Up. IV.4.16). We have discussed this in detail under I.3.40.