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Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 1-3-2

Topic 2 - The Bhūman is Brahman

In the last section the abode of heaven etc. was interpreted as referring to Brahman on account of the word ‘Self’ in the text.

The opponent now takes up for discussion another text, where the word ‘Self’ according to his view is used to denote Prāṇa, the vital force, and not Brahman. See Chh. 7. 23 and 24.

The following Sutra however says that here also it is Brahman and not Prāṇa.

 Sutra 1,3.8

भूमा संप्रसादादध्युपदेशात् ॥ ८ ॥

bhūmā saṃprasādādadhyupadeśāt || 8 ||

bhūmā—The Bhūman; saṃprasādāt-adhi—after of beyond the state of deep sleep, (here, the vital force); upadeśāt—because of the teaching.

8. The Bhūman (is Brahman) because it is taught after the state of deep sleep (i.e. after Prāṇa or the vital force, which alone functions even in that state).

In the seventh chapter of the Chāṇḍogya Upanishad, Sanatkumāra teaches Nārada several truths. He begins with ‘name’ and goes higher and higher, till he teaches the highest truth, which is Bhūman.

The Bhūman (infinite) is bliss. . . . The Bhūman you should seek to understand. . . . Where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, understands nothing else, that is the Bhūman” (Chh. 7. 28 and 7. 24. 1).

The question is what this Bhūman refers to. The opponent holds that it is the vital force. He argues as follows:

After Sanatkumāra finished teaching every truth from name up to the vital force, Nārada asks him, “Is there anything higher than this?”—to which Sanatkumāra answers, “Yes, there is,” and takes up the next higher truth.

But after being taught about the vital force Nārada does not ask whether there is any higher truth, and yet Sanatkumāra gives this dissertation on the Bhūman—which shows that this Bhūman is not different from the vital force taught already.

Not only that, he calls the knower of the vital force an Ativādin (one who makes a statement surpassing previous statements), thereby showing that the vital force is the highest truth, and in accordance with this he further elucidates the truth as Bhūman.

This Sutra refutes this argument and says that Bhūman is Brahman, for though the Sutra calls the knower of vital force an Ativādin, yet it says,

But he indeed is an Ativādin who is such through the realization of the Truth” (Chh. 7.16.1),

which clearly shows that it refers to something higher than the vital force, knowing which one becomes truly an Ativādin.

Thus it is clear that a new topic about Brahman which is the highest Truth is begun, though Nārada does not ask whether there is any truth higher than the vital force.

Sanatkumāra, in accordance with Nārada’s desire to be an Ativādin through Truth, now leads him by a series of steps to the knowledge of the Bhūman, showing that this Bhūman is Brahman.

Moreover, if the vital force, says the Sutra, were the Bhūman, then the Śruti; would not give any information about it— as it does in Chh. 7. 24. 1 cited above —beyond what it has already given in section 15.

Sutra 1,3.9

धर्मोपपत्तेश्च ॥ ९ ॥

dharmopapatteśca || 9 ||

dharma-upapatteḥ—Because the qualities are appropriate; ca—and.

9. And because the qualities (mentioned in the texts) are appropriate (only in the case of Brahman).

The qualities referred to are: Truth, resting on its own greatness, non-duality, bliss, all-pervading-ness, immortality, etc., mentioned in the text discussed,

which hold good only in the case of Brahman and not of the vital force, which is but an effect and as such cannot possess any of these qualities.

Moreover the chapter begins thus: “The knower of the Self goes beyond misery”, which shows that the Self or Brahman is the subject to be known. It is therefore delineated in the subsequent texts.