The Mahabharata
  Srimad Bhagavatam

  Rig Veda
  Yajur Veda
  Sama Veda
  Atharva Veda

  Bhagavad Gita
  Sankara Bhashya
  By Edwin Arnold

  Brahma Sutra
  Sankara Bhashya I
  Sankara Bhashya II
  Ramanuja SriBhashya


  Agni Purana
  Brahma Purana
  Garuda Purana
  Markandeya Purana
  Varaha Purana
  Matsya Purana
  Vishnu Purana
  Linga Purana
  Narada Purana
  Padma Purana
  Shiva Purana
  Skanda Purana
  Vamana Purana

  Manu Smriti

  Vedanta Deshikar
  Appayya Dikshitar
  Samartha Ramdas

  Bhagavad Gita
  Brahma Sutras

Ramanujacharya's Brahma Sutra Bhashya translated By George Thibaut
SriBhashya - Ramanuja's Commentary On Brahma Sutra (Vedanta Sutra)

Sri Bhashya (also spelled as Sri Bhasya) is a commentary of Ramanujacharya on the Brama Sutras (also known as Vedanta Sutras) of Badarayana. In this bhashya, Ramanuja presents the fundamental philosophical principles of Visistadvaita based on his interpretation of the Upanishads, Bhagavad-gita and other smrti texts. In his Sri-bhashya he describes the three categories of reality (tattvas): God, soul and matter, which have been used by the later Vaisnava theologians including Madhva. The principles of bhakti as a means to liberation were also developed.


To this argumentation we make the following reply. We admit that release consists only in the cessation of Nescience, and that this cessation results entirely from the knowledge of Brahman. But a distinction has here to be made regarding the nature of this knowledge which

p. 12

the Vedânta-texts aim at enjoining for the purpose of putting an end to Nescience. Is it merely the knowledge of the sense of sentences which originates from the sentences? or is it knowledge in the form of meditation (upâsana) which has the knowledge just referred to as its antecedent? It cannot be knowledge of the former kind: for such knowledge springs from the mere apprehension of the sentence, apart from any special injunction, and moreover we do not observe that the cessation of Nescience is effected by such knowledge merely. Our adversary will perhaps attempt to explain things in the following way. The Vedânta-texts do not, he will say, produce that knowledge which makes an end of Nescience, so long as the imagination of plurality is not dispelled. And the fact that such knowledge, even when produced, does not at once and for every one put a stop to the view of plurality by no means subverts my opinion; for, to mention an analogous instance, the double appearance of the moon--presenting itself to a person affected with a certain weakness of vision--does not come to an end as soon as the oneness of the moon has been apprehended by reason. Moreover, even without having come to an end, the view of plurality is powerless to effect further bondage, as soon as the root, i.e. Nescience, has once been cut But this defence we are unable to admit. It is impossible that knowledge should not arise when its means, i.e. the texts conveying knowledge, are once present. And we observe that even when there exists an antagonistic imagination (interfering with the rise of knowledge), information given by competent persons, the presence of characteristic marks (on which a correct inference may be based), and the like give rise to knowledge which sublates the erroneous imagination. Nor can we admit that even after the sense of texts has been apprehended, the view of plurality may continue owing to some small remainder of beginningless imagination. For as this imagination which constitutes the means for the view of plurality is itself false, it is necessarily put an end to by the rise of true knowledge. If this did not take place, that imagination would never come to an end, since there is no

p. 13

other means but knowledge to effect its cessation. To say that the view of plurality, which is the effect of that imagination, continues even after its root has been cut, is mere nonsense. The instance of some one seeing the moon double is not analogous. For in his case the non-cessation of wrong knowledge explains itself from the circumstance that the cause of wrong knowledge, viz. the real defect of the eye which does not admit of being sublated by knowledge, is not removed, although that which would sublate wrong knowledge is near. On the other hand, effects, such as fear and the like, may come to an end because they can be sublated by means of knowledge of superior force. Moreover, if it were true that knowledge arises through the dispelling of the imagination of plurality, the rise of knowledge would really never be brought about. For the imagination of plurality has through gradual growth in the course of beginningless time acquired an infinite strength, and does not therefore admit of being dispelled by the comparatively weak conception of non-duality. Hence we conclude that the knowledge which the Vedânta-texts aim at inculcating is a knowledge other than the mere knowledge of the sense of sentences, and denoted by 'dhyâna,' 'upâsanâ' (i. e. meditation), and similar terms.

With this agree scriptural texts such as 'Having known it, let him practise meditation' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 21); 'He who, having searched out the Self, knows it' (Kh. Up. VIII, 7, 1); 'Meditate on the Self as Om' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 6); 'Having known that, he is freed from the jaws of death' (Ka. Up. I, 3, 15); 'Let a man meditate on the Self only as his world' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 15); 'The Self is to be seen, to be heard, to her reflected on, to be meditated on' (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 6); 'That we must search out, that we must try to understand' (Kh. Up. VIII, 7, 1).

(According to the principle of the oneness of purport of the different sâkhâs) all these texts must be viewed as agreeing in meaning with the injunction of meditation contained in the passage quoted from the Bri. Up.; and what they enjoin is therefore meditation. In the first and second passages quoted, the words 'having known' and

p. 14

[paragraph continues] 'having searched out' (viâya; anuvidya) contain a mere reference to (not injunction of) the apprehension of the meaning of texts, such apprehension subserving meditation; while the injunction of meditation (which is the true purport of the passages) is conveyed by the clauses 'let him practise meditation' (praâm kurvîta) and 'he knows it.' In the same way the clause 'the Self is to be heard' is a mere anuvâda, i.e. a mere reference to what is already established by other means; for a person who has read the Veda observes that it contains instruction about matters connected with certain definite purposes, and then on his own account applies himself to methodical 'hearing,' in order definitely to ascertain these matters; 'hearing' thus is established already. In the same way the clause 'the Self is to be reflected upon' is a mere anuvâda of reflection which is known as a means of confirming what one has 'heard.' It is therefore meditation only which all those texts enjoin. In agreement with this a later Sûtra also says, 'Repetition more than once, on account of instruction' (Ve. Sû. IV, I, I). That the knowledge intended to be enjoined as the means of final release is of the nature of meditation, we conclude from the circumstance that the terms 'knowing' and'meditating' are seen to be used in place of each other in the earlier and later parts of Vedic texts. Compare the following passages: 'Let a man meditate on mind as Brahman,' and 'he who knows this shines and warms through his celebrity, fame, and glory of countenance' (Kh. Up. III, 18, 1; 6). And 'He does not know him, for he is not complete,' and 'Let men meditate on him as the Self (Bri. Up. I, 4, 7). And 'He who knows what he knows,' and 'Teach me the deity on which you meditate' (Kh. Up. IV, 1,6; 2, 2).

'Meditation' means steady remembrance, i.e. a continuity of steady remembrance, uninterrupted like the flow of oil; in agreement with the scriptural passage which declares steady remembrance to be the means of release, 'on the attainment of remembrance all the ties are loosened' (Kh. Up. VII, 26, 2). Such remembrance is of

p. 15

the same character (form) as seeing (intuition); for the passage quoted has the same purport as the following one, 'The fetter of the heart is broken, all doubts are solved, and all the works of that man perish when he has been seen who is high and low' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 8). And this being so, we conclude that the passage 'the Self is to be seen' teaches that 'Meditation' has the character of 'seeing' or 'intuition.' And that remembrance has the character of 'seeing' is due to the element of imagination (representation) which prevails in it. All this has been set forth at length by the Vâkyakâra. 'Knowledge (vedana) means meditation (upâsana), scripture using the word in that sense'; i.e. in all Upanishads that knowledge which is enjoined as the means of final release is Meditation. The Vâkyakâra then propounds a pûrvapaksha (primâ facie view), 'Once he is to make the meditation, the matter enjoined by scripture being accomplished thereby, as in the case of the prayâgas and the like'; and then sums up against this in the words 'but (meditation) is established on account of the term meditation'; that means--knowledge repeated more than once (i.e. meditation) is determined to be the means of Release.--The Vâkyakâra then goes on 'Meditation is steady remembrance, on the ground of observation and statement.' That means--this knowledge, of the form of meditation, and repeated more than once, is of the nature of steady remembrance.

Such remembrance has been declared to be of the character of 'seeing,' and this character of seeing consists in its possessing the character of immediate presentation (pratyakshatâ). With reference to remembrance, which thus acquires the character of immediate presentation and is the means of final release, scripture makes a further determination, viz. in the passage Ka. Up. I, 2, 23, 'That Self cannot be gained by the study of the Veda ("reflection"), nor by thought ("meditation"), nor by much hearing. Whom the Self chooses, by him it may be gained; to him the Self reveals its being.' This text says at first that mere hearing, reflection, and meditation do not suffice to gain the Self, and then declares, 'Whom the Self chooses, by him

p. 16

it may be gained.' Now a 'chosen' one means a most beloved person; the relation being that he by whom that Self is held most dear is most dear to the Self. That the Lord (bhagavân) himself endeavours that this most beloved person should gain the Self, he himself declares in the following words, 'To those who are constantly devoted and worship with love I give that knowledge by which they reach me' (Bha. Gî. X, 10), and 'To him who has knowledge I am dear above all things, and he is dear to me' (VII, 17). Hence, he who possesses remembrance, marked by the character of immediate presentation (sâkshâtkâra), and which itself is dear above all things since the object remembered is such; he, we say, is chosen by the highest Self, and by him the highest Self is gained. Steady remembrance of this kind is designated by the word 'devotion' (bhakti); for this term has the same meaning as upâsanâ (meditation). For this reason scripture and smriti agree in making the following declarations, 'A man knowing him passes over death' (Svet. Up. III, 8); 'Knowing him thus he here becomes immortal' (Taitt. Âr. III, 12,7); 'Neither by the Vedas, nor by austerities, nor by gifts, nor by sacrifice can I be so seen as thou hast seen me. But by devotion exclusive I may in this form be known and seen in truth, O Arguna, and also be entered into' (Bha. Gî. XI, 53, 54); 'That highest Person, O Pârtha, may be obtained by exclusive devotion' (VIII, 22).

That of such steady remembrance sacrifices and so on are means will be declared later on (Ve. Sû. III, 4, 26). Although sacrifices and the like are enjoined with a view to the origination of knowledge (in accordance with the passage 'They desire to know,' Bri. Up. IV, 4, 22), it is only knowledge in the form of meditation which--being daily practised, constantly improved by repetition, and continued up to death--is the means of reaching Brahman, and hence all the works connected with the different conditions of life are to be performed throughout life only for the purpose of originating such knowledge. This the Sûtrakâra declares in Ve. Sû. IV, 1, 12; 16; III, 4, 33, and other places. The Vâkyakâra also declares that

p. 17

steady remembrance results only from abstention, and so on; his words being 'This (viz. steady remembrance= meditation) is obtained through abstention (viveka), freeness of mind (vimoka), repetition (abhyâsa), works (kriyâ), virtuous conduct (kalyâna), freedom from dejection (anavasâda), absence of exultation (anuddharsha); according to feasibility and scriptural statement.' The Vâkyakâra also gives definitions of all these terms. Abstention (viveka) means keeping the body clean from all food, impure either owing to species (such as the flesh of certain animals), or abode (such as food belonging to a Kândâla or the like), or accidental cause (such as food into which a hair or the like has fallen). The scriptural passage authorising this point is Kh. Up. VII, 26, 'The food being pure, the mind becomes pure; the mind being pure, there results steady remembrance.' Freeness of mind (vimoka) means absence of attachment to desires. The authoritative passage here is 'Let him meditate with a calm mind' (Kh. Up. III, 14, 1). Repetition means continued practice. For this point the Bhâshya-kâra quotes an authoritative text from Smriti, viz.: 'Having constantly been absorbed in the thought of that being' (sadâ tadbhâvabhâvitah; Bha. Gî.VIII, 6).--By 'works' (kriyâ) is understood the performance, according to one's ability, of the five great sacrifices. The authoritative passages here are 'This person who performs works is the best of those who know Brahman' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 4); and 'Him Brâhmanas seek to know by recitation of the Veda, by sacrifice, by gifts, by penance, by fasting' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 22).--By virtuous conduct (kalyânâni) are meant truthfulness, honesty, kindness, liberality, gentleness, absence of covetousness. Confirmatory texts are 'By truth he is to be obtained' (Mu. Up. III, 1, 5) and 'to them belongs that pure Brahman-world' (Pr. Up. I, 16).--That lowness of spirit or want of cheerfulness which results from unfavourable conditions of place or time and the remembrance of causes of sorrow, is denoted by the term 'dejection'; the contrary of this is 'freedom from dejection.' The relevant scriptural passage is 'This Self cannot be obtained by one lacking in strength' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 4).

p. 18

[paragraph continues] --'Exultation' is that satisfaction of mind which springs from circumstances opposite to those just mentioned; the contrary is 'absence of exultation.' Overgreat satisfaction also stands in the way (of meditation). The scriptural passage for this is 'Calm, subdued,' &c. (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 23).--What the Vâkyakâra means to say is therefore that knowledge is realised only through the performance of the duly prescribed works, on the part of a person fulfilling all the enumerated conditions.

Analogously another scriptural passage says 'He who knows both knowledge and non-knowledge together, overcoming death by non-knowledge reaches the Immortal through knowledge' (Îs. Up. II). Here the term 'non-knowledge' denotes the works enjoined on the different castes and âsramas; and the meaning of the text is that, having discarded by such works death, i.e. the previous works antagonistic to the origination of knowledge, a man reaches the Immortal, i.e. Brahman, through knowledge. The non-knowledge of which this passage speaks as being the means of overcoming death can only mean that which is other than knowledge, viz. prescribed works. The word has the same sense in the following passage: 'Firm in traditional knowledge he offered many sacrifices, leaning on the knowledge of Brahman, so as to pass beyond death by non-knowledge' (Vi. Pu. VI, 6, l2).--Antagonistic to knowledge (as said above) are all good and evil actions, and hence--as equally giving rise to an undesirable result--they may both be designated as evil. They stand in the way of the origination of knowledge in so far as they strengthen the elements of passion and darkness which are antagonistic to the element of goodness which is the cause of the rise of knowledge. That evil works stand in the way of such origination, the following scriptural text declares: 'He makes him whom he wishes to lead down from these worlds do an evil deed' (Ka. Up. III, 8). That passion and darkness veil the knowledge of truth while goodness on the other hand gives rise to it, the Divine one has declared himself, in the passage 'From goodness springs knowledge' (Bha. Gî. XIV, 17). Hence, in order that

p. 19

knowledge may arise, evil works have to be got rid of, and this is effected by the performance of acts of religious duty not aiming at some immediate result (such as the heavenly world and the like); according to the text 'by works of religious duty he discards all evil.' Knowledge which is the means of reaching Brahman, thus requires the works prescribed for the different âsramas; and hence the systematic enquiry into works (i. e. the Pûrva Mîmâmsâ)--from which we ascertain the nature of the works required and also the transitoriness and limitation of the fruits of mere works--forms a necessary antecedent to the systematic enquiry into Brahman. Moreover the discrimination of permanent and non-permanent things, &c. (i.e. the tetrad of 'means' mentioned above, p. 11) cannot be accomplished without the study of the Mîmâmsâ; for unless we ascertain all the distinctions of fruits of works, means, modes of procedure and qualification (on the part of the agent) we can hardly understand the true nature of works, their fruits, the transitoriness or non-transitoriness of the latter, the permanence of the Self, and similar matters. That those conditions (viz. nityânityavastuviveka, sama, dama, &c.) are 'means' must be determined on the basis of viniyoga ('application' which determines the relation of principal and subordinate matters--angin and anga); and this viniyoga which depends on direct scriptural statement (sruti), inferential signs (linga), and so on, is treated of in the third book of the Pûrva Mîmâmsâ-sûtras. And further we must, in this connexion, consider also the meditations on the Udgîtha and similar things--which, although aiming at the success of works, are of the nature of reflections on Brahman (which is viewed in them under various forms)--and as such have reference to knowledge of Brahman. Those works also (with which these meditations are connected) aim at no special results of their own, and produce and help to perfect the knowledge of Brahman: they are therefore particularly connected with the enquiry into Brahman. And that these meditations presuppose an understanding of the nature of works is admitted by every one.

home      contact us