25. Also beings above them (i.e. men), Bâdarâyana thinks, on account of possibility.
In order to prove that the highest Brahman may be
viewed as having the size of a thumb, it has been declared that the scriptural texts enjoining meditation on Brahman are the concern of men. This offers an opportunity for the discussion of the question whether also other classes of individual souls, such as devas, are qualified for knowledge of Brahman. The Pûrvapakshin denies this qualification in the case of gods and other beings, on the ground of absence of capability. For, he says, bodiless beings, such as gods, are incapable of the accomplishment of meditation on Brahman, which requires as its auxiliaries the seven means enumerated above (p. 17)--This must not be objected to on the ground of the devas, and so on, having bodies; for there is no means of proof establishing such embodiedness. We have indeed proved above that the Vedânta-texts may intimate accomplished things, and hence are an authoritative means for the cognition of Brahman; but we do not meet with any Vedânta-text, the purport of which is to teach that the devas, and so on, possess bodies. Nor can this point be established through mantras and arthavâda texts; for these are merely supplementary to the injunctions of actions (sacrificial, and so on), and therefore have a different aim. And the injunctions themselves prove nothing with regard to the devas, except that the latter are that with a view to which those actions are performed. In the same way it also cannot be shown that the gods have any desires or wants (to fulfil or supply which they might enter on meditation of Brahman). For the two reasons above we therefore conclude that the devas, and so on, are not qualified for meditation on Brahman.--This view is contradicted by the Sûtra. Such meditation is possible in the case of higher beings also Bâdarâyana thinks; on account of the possibility of want and capacity on their part also. Want and wish exist in their case since they also are liable to suffering, springing from the assaults, hard to be endured, of the different kinds of pain, and since they also know that supreme enjoyment is to be found in the highest Brahman, which is untouched by the shadow even of imperfection, and is a mass of auspicious qualities in their highest perfection.
[paragraph continues] 'Capability', on the other hand, depends on the possession of a body and sense-organs of whatever degree of tenuity; and that the devas, from Brahma downward, possess a body and sense-organs, is declared in all the Upanishads, in the chapters treating of creation and the chapters enjoining meditation. In the Khândogya, e.g. it is related how the highest Being having resolved on creation, evolved the aggregate of non-sentient matter with its different kinds, and then produced the fourfold multitude of living creatures, each having a material body corresponding to its karman, and a suitable name of its own. Similarly, all the other scriptural accounts of creation declare that there are four classes of creatures--devas, men, animals, and non-moving beings, such as plants--and the difference of these classes depends on the individual Selfs being joined to various bodies capacitating them to experience the results of their works, each in that one of the fourteen worlds--beginning with the world of Brahmâ--which is the suitable place for retribution. For in themselves, apart from bodies, the individual Selfs are not distinguished as men, gods, and so on. In the same way the story of the devas and Asuras approaching Pragâpati with fuel in their hands, staying with him as pupils for thirty-two years, &c. (Kh. Up. VIII, 7 ff.), clearly shows that the devas possess bodies and sense-organs. Analogously, mantras and arthavâdas, which are complementary to injunctions of works, contain unmistakeable references to the corporeal nature of the gods ('Indra holding in his hand the thunderbolt'; 'Indra lifted the thunderbolt', &c.); and as the latter is not contradicted by any other means of proof it must be accepted on the authority stated. Nor can it be said that those mantras and arthavâdas are really meant to express something else (than those details mentioned above), in so far, namely, as they aim at proclaiming or glorifying the action with which they are connected; for those very details subserve the purpose of glorification, and so on, and without them glorification is not possible. For we praise or glorify a thing by declaring its qualities; if such qualities do not exist all glorification lapses. It cannot by any means be
maintained that anything may be glorified by the proclamation of its qualities, even if such qualities do not really exist. Hence the arthavâdas which glorify a certain action, just thereby intimate the real existence of the qualities and details of the action. The mantras again, which are prescribed in connexion with the actions, serve the purpose of throwing light on the use to be derived from the performance of the actions, and this they accomplish by making statements as to the particular qualities, such as embodiedness and the like, which belong to the devas and other classes of beings. Otherwise Indra, and so on, would not be remembered at the time of performance; for the idea of a divinity presents itself to the mind only in connexion with the special attributes of that divinity. In the case of such qualities as are not established by other means of proof, the primary statement is made by the arthavâda or the mantra: the former thereby glorifies the action, and the latter proclaims it as possessing certain qualities or details; and both these ends are accomplished by making statements as to the gods, &c., possessing certain qualities, such as embodiedness and the like. In the case, again, of certain qualities being already established by other means of proof, the mantras and arthavâdas merely refer to them (as something already known), and in this way perform their function of glorification and elucidation. And where, thirdly, there is a contradiction between the other means of knowledge and what mantras and arthavâdas state (as when, e.g. a text of the latter kind says that 'the sacrificial post is the sun'), the intention of the text is metaphorically to denote, by means of those apparently unmeaning terms, certain other qualities which are not excluded by the other means of knowledge; and in this way the function of glorification and elucidation is again accomplished. Now what the injunction of a sacrificial action demands as its supplement, is a statement as to the power of the divinity to whom the sacrifice is offered; for the performance which scripture enjoins on men desirous of certain results, is itself of a merely transitory nature, and hence requires some agent capable of bringing about,
at some future time, the result desired as, e.g. the heavenly world. 'Vâyu is the swiftest god; he (the sacrificer) approaches Vâyu with his own share; the god then leads him to prosperity' (Taitt. Samh. I, 2, 1); 'What he seeks by means of that offering, may he obtain that, may he prosper therein, may the gods favourably grant him that' (Taitt. Br. III, 5, 10, 5); these and similar arthavâdas and mantras intimate that the gods when propitiated by certain sacrificial works, give certain rewards and possess the power to do so; and they thus connect themselves with the general context of scripture as supplying an evidently required item of information. Moreover, the mere verb 'to sacrifice' (yag), as denoting worship of the gods, intimates the presence of a deity which is to be propitiated by the action called sacrifice, and thus constitutes the main element of that action. A careful consideration of the whole context thus reveals that everything which is wanted for the due accomplishment of the action enjoined is to be learned from the text itself, and that hence we need not have recourse to such entities as the 'unseen principle' (apûrva), assumed to be denoted by, or to be imagined in connexion with, the passages enjoining certain actions. Hence the dharmasâstras, itihâsas, and purânas also, which are founded on the different brâhmanas, mantras and arthavâdas, clearly teach that Brahma and the other gods, as well as the Asuras and other superhuman beings, have bodies and sense-organs, constitutions of different kinds, different abodes, enjoyments, and functions.--Owing to their having bodies, the gods therefore are also qualified for meditation on Brahman.