Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 3-3 18-19
Topic 18 - All the worshippers of the Saguṇā Brahman go after death by the path of the gods to Brahmaloka, and not merely those who know the Panchāgni Vidyā etc., wherein such a path is specifically mentioned
अनियमः सर्वासाम्, अविरोधः शब्दानुमानाभ्याम् ॥ ३१ ॥
aniyamaḥ sarvāsām, avirodhaḥ śabdānumānābhyām || 31 ||
aniyamaḥ—(There is) no restriction; sarvāsām—(Devayâna applies equally) to all (Vidyās of the Saguṇā Brahman); avirodhaḥ—there is non-contradiction; śabda-anumānābhyām—as is seen from the Śruti and Smriti.
31. (The passage of the soul by the path of the gods) is not restricted (only to certain Vidyās of the Saguṇā Brahman); (it applies equally) to all (Vidyās of the Saguṇā Brahman). There is no contradiction, as is seen from the Śruti and Smriti.
In the Panchāgni Vidyā of the Chāṇḍogya the result of such a meditation is said to be the passage after death to Brahmaloka by the path of the gods (Devayāna). But such a result is not explicitly stated in the case of the Vaiśvānara Vidyā.
The question is whether through this Vidyā also one goes after death along the Devayāna or not.
This Sutra says that all worshippers of the Saguṇā Brahman, whatever their Vidyās, go after death by this path. For so it is seen from the Śruti and Smriti:
“Those who meditate thus (through Panchāgni Vidyā) and also those who meditate in the forest endowed with Śraddhā and Tapas go by the path of the gods” (Chh. 5. 10. 1).
This text clearly shows that those who meditate upon these five fires, and those dwellers in the forest who, endowed with faith and austerity, worship the Saguṇā Brahman through any other Vidyā, both go by the path of the gods. For the support of this view by the Smriti see Gītā 8. 26.
Topic 19 - Perfected Souls May Be Reborn For The Fulfilment Of Some Divine Mission
यावदधिकारमवस्थितिराधिकारिकाणाम् ॥ ३२ ॥
yāvadadhikāramavasthitirādhikārikāṇām || 32 ||
yāvat-adhikāram—So long as the mission is not fulfilled; avasthitiḥ—(there is corporeal) existence; ādhikārikāṇām—of those who have a mission to fulfil.
32. Of those who have a mission to fulfil (there is corporeal) existence, so long as the mission is not fulfilled.
Rishi Apāntaratamas was born again as Vyāsa. Sanatkumāra was born as Skanda. So also other Rishis like Vāsishṭha and Nārada were born again.
Now these Rishis had attained the knowledge of Brahman, and yet they had to be reborn. If that is so, what is the utility of such knowledge of Brahman?—says the opponent.
This Sutra refutes it and says that ordinarily a person after attaining Knowledge is not reborn.
But the case of those who have a divine mission to fulfil is different. Those perfected sages have one or more births until their mission is fulfilled, after which they are not born again. But then they never come under the sway of ignorance although they may be reborn.
Their case is analogous to that of a Jīvanmukta, who even after attaining Knowledge continues his corporeal existence as long as the Prārabdha Karma lasts. The divine mission of these people is comparable to the Prārabdha Karma.