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.

7. The bhûman (is the highest Self), as the instruction about it is additional to that about serenity.

The Khandogas read as follows: 'Where one sees nothing

p. 300

else, hears nothing else, knows nothing else, that is fulness (bhûman). Where one sees something else, hears something else, knows something else, that is the Little' (Kh. Up. VII, 23, 24).

The term 'bhûman' is derived from bahu (much, many), and primarily signifies 'muchness.' By 'much' in this connexion, we have however to understand, not what is numerous, but what is large, for the text uses the term in contrast with the 'Little' (alpa), i.e. the 'Small.' And the being qualified as 'large,' we conclude from the context to be the Self; for this section of the Upanishad at the outset states that he who knows the Self overcomes grief (VII, 1, 3), then teaches the knowledge of the bhûman, and concludes by saying that 'the Self is all this' (VII, 25, 2).

The question now arises whether the Self called bhûman is the individual Self or the highest Self.--The Pûrvapakshin maintains the former view. For, he says, to Narada who had approached Sanatkumâra with the desire to be instructed about the Self, a series of beings, beginning with 'name' and ending with 'breath,' are enumerated as objects of devout meditation; Nârada asks each time whether there be anything greater than name, and so on, and each time receives an affirmative reply ('speech is greater than name,' &c.); when, however, the series has advanced as far as Breath, there is no such question and reply. This shows that the instruction about the Self terminates with Breath, and hence we conclude that breath in this place means the individual soul which is associated with breath, not a mere modification of air. Also the clauses 'Breath is father, breath is mother,' &c. (VII, 15, 1), show that breath here is something intelligent. And this is further proved by the clause 'Slayer of thy father, slayer of thy mother,' &c. (VII, 15, 2; 3), which declares that he who offends a father, a mother, &c., as long as there is breath in them, really hurts them, and therefore deserves reproach; while no blame attaches to him who offers even the grossest violence to them after their breath has departed. For a conscious being only is capable of being

p. 301

hurt, and hence the word 'breath' here denotes such a being only. Moreover, as it is observed that also in the case of such living beings as have no vital breath (viz. plants), suffering results, or does not result, according as injury is inflicted or not, we must for this reason also decide that the breath spoken of in the text as something susceptible of injury is the individual soul. It consequently would be an error to suppose, on the ground of the comparison of Prâna to the nave of a wheel in which the spokes are set, that Prâna here denotes the highest Self; for the highest Self is incapable of being injured. That comparison, on the other hand, is quite in its place, if we understand by Prâna the individual soul, for the whole aggregate of non-sentient matter which stands to the individual soul in the relation of object or instrument of enjoyment, has an existence dependent on the individual soul. And this soul, there called Prâna, is what the text later on calls Bhûman; for as there is no question and reply as to something greater than Prâna , Prâna continues, without break, to be the subject-matter up to the mention of bhûman. The paragraphs intervening between the section on Prâna (VII, 15) and the section on the bhûman (VII, 23 ff.) are to be understood as follows. The Prâna section closes with the remark that he who fully knows Prâna is an ativâdin, i.e. one who makes a final supreme declaration. In the next sentence then, 'But this one in truth is an ativâdin who makes a supreme statement by means of the True,' the clause 'But this one is an ativâdin' refers back to the previously mentioned person who knows the Prâna, and the relative clause 'who makes,' &c., enjoins on him the speaking of the truth as an auxiliary element in the meditation on Prâna . The next paragraph, 'When one understands the truth then one declares the truth,' intimates that speaking the truth stands in a supplementary relation towards the cognition of the true nature of the Prâna as described before. For the accomplishment of such cognition the subsequent four paragraphs enjoin reflection, faith, attendance on a spiritual guide, and the due performance of sacred duties. In order that such

p. 302

duties may be undertaken, the next paragraphs then teach that bliss constitutes the nature of the individual soul, previously called Prâna, and finally that the Bhûman, i.e. the supreme fulness of such bliss, is the proper object of inquiry. The final purport of the teaching, therefore, is that the true nature of the individual soul, freed from Nescience, is abundant bliss--a conclusion which perfectly agrees with the initial statement that he who knows the Self passes beyond sorrow. That being, therefore, which has the attribute of being 'bhûman,' is the individual Self. This being so, it is also intelligible why, further on, when the text describes the glory and power of the individual Self, it uses the term 'I'; for 'I' denotes just the individual Self: 'I am below, I am above, &c., I am all this' (VII, 25, 1). This conclusion having been settled, all remaining clauses must be explained so as to agree with it.

This primâ facie view is set aside by the Sûtra. The being characterised in the text as 'bhûman' is not the individual Self, but the highest Self, since instruction is given about the bhûman in addition to 'serenity' (samprasâda). 'Samprasâda' denotes the individual soul, as we know from the following text, 'Now that "serenity", having risen from out this body, and having reached the highest light, appears in its true form' (Kh. Up.VIII, 3, 4). Now in the text under discussion instruction is given about a being called 'the True,' and possessing the attribute of 'bhûman,' as being something additional to the individual soul; and this being called 'the True' is none other than the highest Brahman. Just as in the series of beings beginning with name and ending with breath, each successive being is mentioned in addition to the preceding one--wherefrom we conclude that it is something really different from what precedes; so that being also which is called 'the True,' and which is mentioned in addition to the individual Self called Prâna, is something different from the individual Self, and this being called 'the True' is the same as the Bhûman; in other words, the text teaches that the Bhûman is the highest Brahman called 'the True.' This the Vrittikâra also declares: 'But the Bhûman only. The Bhûman

p. 303

is Brahman, because in the series beginning with name instruction is given about it subsequently to the individual Self.'

But how do we know that the instruction as to 'the True' is in addition to, and refers to something different from, the being called Prâna?--The text, after having declared that he who knows the Prâna is an ativâdin, goes on, 'But really that one is an ativâdin who makes a supreme declaration by means of the True.' The 'but' here clearly separates him who is an ativâdin by means of the True from the previous ativâdin, and the clause thus does not cause us to recognise him who is ativâdin by means of Prâna; hence 'the True' which is the cause of the latter ativâdin being what he is must be something different from the Prâna which is the cause of the former ativâdin's quality.--But we have maintained above that the text enjoins the speaking of 'the True' merely as an auxiliary duty for him who knows Prâna; and that hence the Prâna continues to be the general subject-matter!--This contention is untenable, we reply. The conjunction 'but' shows that the section gives instruction about a new ativâdin, and does not merely declare that the ativâdin previously mentioned has to speak the truth. It is different with texts such as 'But that one indeed is an Agnihotrin who speaks the truth'; there we have no knowledge of any further Agnihotrin, and therefore must interpret the text as enjoining truthfulness as an obligation incumbent on the ordinary Agnihotrin. In the text under discussion, on the other hand, we have the term 'the True', which makes us apprehend that there is a further ativâdin different from the preceding one; and we know that that term is used to denote the highest Brahman, as e.g. in the text, 'The True, knowledge, the Infinite is Brahman.' The ativâdin who takes his stand on this Brahman, therefore, must be viewed as different from the preceding ativâdin; and a difference thus established on the basis of the meaning and connexion of the different sentences cannot be set aside. An ativâdin ('one who in his declaration goes beyond') is one who maintains, as object of his devotion,

p. 304

something which, as being more beneficial to man, surpasses other objects of devotion. The text at first declares that he who knows Prâna, i.e. the individual soul, is an ativâdin, in so far as the object of his devout meditation surpasses the objects from name up to hope; and then goes on to say that, as that object also is not of supreme benefit to man, an ativâdin in the full sense of the term is he only who proclaims as the object of his devotion the highest Brahman, which alone is of supreme unsurpassable benefit to man. 'He who is an ativâdin by the True,' i.e. he who is an ativâdin characterised by the highest Brahman as the object of his meditation. For the same reason the pupil entreats, 'Sir, may I be an ativâdin with the True!' and the teacher replies, 'But we must desire to know the True!'--Moreover, the text, VII, 26, I, 'Prâna springs from the Self,' declares the origination from the Self of the being called Prâna; and from this we infer that the Self which is introduced as the general subject-matter of the section, in the clause 'He who knows the Self passes beyond death,' is different from the being called Prâna.--The contention that, because there is no question and answer as to something greater than Prâna, the instruction about the Self must be supposed to come to an end with the instruction about Prâna, is by no means legitimate. For that a new subject is introduced is proved, not only by those questions and answers; it may be proved by other means also, and we have already explained such means. The following is the reason why the pupil does not ask the question whether there is anything greater than Prâna. With regard to the non-sentient objects extending from name to hope--each of which surpasses the preceding one in so far as it is more beneficial to man--the teacher does not declare that he who knows them is an ativâdin; when, however, he comes to the individual soul, there called Prâna, the knowledge of whose true nature he considers highly beneficial, he expressly says that 'he who sees this, notes this, understands this is an ativâdin' (VII, 15, 4). The pupil therefore imagines that the instruction about the Self is now completed, and hence asks no further question. The

p. 305

teacher on the other hand, holding that even that knowledge is not the highest, spontaneously continues his teaching, and tells the pupil that truly he only is an ativâdin who proclaims the supremely and absolutely beneficial being which is called 'the True,' i.e. the highest Brahman. On this suggestion of the highest Brahman the pupil, desirous to learn its true nature and true worship, entreats the teacher, 'Sir, may I become an ativâdin by the True!' Thereupon the teacher--in order to help the pupil to become an ativâdin,--a position which requires previous intuition of Brahman--enjoins on him meditation on Brahman which is the means to attain intuition ('You must desire to know the True!'); next recommends to him reflection (manana) which is the means towards meditation ('You must desire to understand reflection'); then--taking it for granted that the injunction of reflection implies the injunction of 'hearing' the sacred texts which is the preliminary for reflecting--advises him to cherish faith in Brahman which is the preliminary means towards hearing ('You must desire to understand faith '); after that tells him to practise, as a preliminary towards faith, reliance on Brahman ('You must desire to understand reliance'); next admonishes him, to apply himself to 'action,' i.e. to make the effort which is a preliminary requisite for all the activities enumerated ('You must desire to understand action'). Finally, in order to encourage the pupil to enter on all this, the teacher tells him to recognise that bliss constitutes the nature of that Brahman which is the aim of all his effort ('You must desire to understand bliss '); and bids him to realise that the bliss which constitutes Brahman's nature is supremely large and full ('You must endeavour to understand the "bhûman," i.e. the supreme fulness of bliss'). And of this Brahman, whose nature is absolute bliss, a definition is then given as follows,' Where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, knows nothing else, that is bhûman.' This means--when the meditating devotee realises the intuition of this Brahman, which consists of absolute bliss, he does not see anything apart from it, since the whole aggregate of things is contained within

p. 306

the essence and outward manifestation (vibhûti) of Brahman. He, therefore, who has an intuitive knowledge of Brahman as qualified by its attributes and its vibhûti--which also is called aisvarya, i.e. lordly power--and consisting of supreme bliss, sees nothing else since there is nothing apart from Brahman; and sees, i.e. feels no pain since all possible objects of perception and feeling are of the nature of bliss or pleasure; for pleasure is just that which, being experienced, is agreeable to man's nature.--But an objection is raised, it is an actual fact that this very world is perceived as something different from Brahman, and as being of the nature of pain, or at the best, limited pleasure; how then can it be perceived as being a manifestation of Brahman, as having Brahman for its Self, and hence consisting of bliss?--The individual souls, we reply, which are under the influence of karman, are conscious of this world as different from Brahman, and, according to their individual karman, as either made up of pain or limited pleasure. But as this view depends altogether on karman, to him who has freed himself from Nescience in the form of karman, this same world presents itself as lying within the intuition of Brahman, together with its qualities and vibhûti, and hence as essentially blissful. To a man troubled with excess of bile the water he drinks has a taste either downright unpleasant or moderately pleasant, according to the degree to which his health is affected; while the same water has an unmixedly pleasant taste for a man in good health. As long as a boy is not aware that some plaything is meant to amuse him, he does not care for it; when on the other hand he apprehends it as meant to give him delight, the thing becomes very dear to him. In the same way the world becomes an object of supreme love to him who recognises it as having Brahman for its Self, and being a mere plaything of Brahman--of Brahman, whose essential nature is supreme bliss, and which is a treasure-house, as it were, of numberless auspicious qualities of supreme excellence. He who has reached such intuition of Brahman, sees nothing apart from it and feels no pain. This the concluding passages of the text set

p. 307

forth in detail, 'He who sees, perceives and understands this, loves the Self, delights in the Self, revels in the Self, rejoices in the Self; he becomes a Self ruler, he moves and rules in all worlds according to his pleasure. But those who have a different knowledge from this, they are ruled by others, they live in perishable worlds, they do not move in all the worlds according to their liking.' 'They are ruled by others,' means 'they are in the power of karman.' And further on, 'He who sees this does not see death, nor illness, nor pain; he who sees this sees everything and obtains everything everywhere.'

That Brahman is of the nature of supreme bliss has been shown in detail under I, 1, 12 ff.--The conclusion from all this is that, as the text applies the term 'bhûman' to what was previously called the Real or True, and which is different from the individual soul there called Prâna, the bhûman is the highest Brahman.

home      contact us