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Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 3-4 11-12

Topic 11 - Expiation for one who transgresses the vow of lifelong celibacy

 Sutra 3,4.41

न च आधिकारिकमपि, पतनानुमानात्, तदयोगात् ॥ ४१ ॥

na ca ādhikārikamapi, patanānumānāt, tadayogāt || 41 ||

na—Not; ca—and; ādhikārikam—(expiation) mentioned in the chapter dealing with the qualification; api— even; patana-anumānāt—because a fall (in his case) is inferred from the Smriti; tadayogāt—and because of its inefficacy(in his case).

41. And (the expiation), although mentioned in the chapter dealing with qualifications (in Pūrva Mīmāṃsā), is not (with reference to one who has taken the vow of lifelong celibacy), because a fall (in his case) is inferred from the Smriti, and because of its (of the expiatory ceremony) inefficacy (in his case).

The case of those who have taken the vow of lifelong celibacy and yet have transgressed this vow through a mistake in judgment, is taken up for discussion.

The opponent, whose view is given in this Sutra, holds that for such transgressions there is no expiation. For no such ceremony is mentioned with respect to them, the one mentioned in Pūrva Mīmāṃsā 6.8.22 referring to ordinary Brahmachārins, who are students, and not to Naishthika Brahmachārins.

It can also be inferred that the Smriti declares such lapses as not expiable. A beheaded man cannot be cured. “For him who lapses after having embraced the vow of a Naishthika Brahmachāri I see no expiatory ceremony by which such a suicide can be purified.”

The Smriti here does not refer to the ordinary Brahmachārin, and so the expiatory ceremony applies only to them and not to the Naishthika.

Moreover, the ceremony referred to in Pūrva Mīmāṃsā is not efficacious in his case, for, to perform the ceremony he will have to light the sacrificial fire and therefore have to marry, which means that he will tease to be a Naishthika thereafter.

Sutra 3,4.42

उपपूर्वमपि तु, एके भावमशनवत्, तदुक्तम् ॥ ४२ ॥

upapūrvamapi tu, eke bhāvamaśanavat, taduktam || 42 ||

upapūrvam—Prefixed with ‘Upa’, i.e. an Upapâtaka or a minor sin; api tu—but; eke—some; bhāvam—the existence; aśanavat—as in the case of eating; tat—this; uktam—is explained in Purva Mimâmsâ.

42. But some (consider this transgression on the part of the Naishthika) a minor sin (and therefore claim) the existence (of expiation for it), as in the case of eating (prohibited food by ordinary Brahmachārins). This is explained in Pūrva Mīmāṃsā.

Some, however, think that such lapses on the part of a Naishthika, other than disloyalty to teacher’s wife etc., are minor sins and not major ones, and so can be expiated by proper ceremonies, even as ordinary Brahmachārins who take prohibited food are again purified by expiatory ceremonies.

The reference to the text denying any such ceremony in his case is meant only to bring home to the Naishthika Brahmachāri the grave responsibility on his part so that he may struggle with all his soul.

Similarly in the case of the recluse and the Sannyāsin.  As a matter of fact, the Smriti does prescribe the purification ceremony for both the recluse and the Sannyāsin:

The recluse when he has broken his vows undergoes the Krichchhra penance for twelve nights and then develops a place which is full of trees and grass.”

The Sannyāsin also undergoes the purification ceremony, with certain modifications.

Topic 12 - The lifelong celibate who lapses in his vows to be shunned by society

 Sutra 3,4.43

बहिस्तूभयथापि स्मृतेराचाराच्च ॥ ४३ ॥

bahistūbhayathāpi smṛterācārācca || 43 ||

bahiḥ—Outside; tu—but; bhayathā-api—in either case; smṛteḥ—from the Smriti; ācārāt—from custom; ca—and.

43. But in either case (they are to be kept) outside the society, on account of the Smriti and custom.

Whether the lapses be regarded as major sins or minor sins, in either case good people are to avoid such transgressors; because the Smriti and approved custom both condemn them.