Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 3-4-9
Topic 9 - Those who stand midway between two Āśramas are also entitled to Knowledge
अन्तरा चापि तु, तद्दृष्टेः ॥ ३६ ॥
antarā cāpi tu, taddṛṣṭeḥ || 36 ||
antarā—(Persons standing) in between (two Āśramas); ca—and; api tu—also; taddṛṣṭeḥ—such cases being seen.
36. And (persons standing) in between (two Āśramas) are also (entitled to Knowledge), because such cases are seen.
The question is raised whether persons of dubious position—who have not the means etc., to do the duties of an Āśrama, or who stand midway between two Āśramas, as for example a widower—are entitled to Knowledge or not.
The opponent holds that they are not, since they cannot do the works of any Āśrama which are means to Knowledge.
This Sutra says that they are entitled, for such cases are seen from the scriptures, as for example Raikva and Gārgī, who had the knowledge of Brahman. Vide Chh. 4.1 and Brih. 3.6 and 8.
अपि च स्मर्यते ॥ ३७ ॥
api ca smaryate || 37 ||
api ca—Further; smaryate—the Smriti records such cases.
37. The Smriti also records such cases.
Samvarta and other Rishis, without doing the works enjoined on the Āśramas, became great Yogis.
विशेषानुग्रहश्च ॥ ३८ ॥
viśeṣānugrahaśca || 38 ||
viśeṣa-anugrahaḥ—Favour due to special works; ca—and.
38. And special works favour (Knowledge).
A widower, who cannot be said to be a householder in the proper sense of the word or a poor man who has not the means to perform the duties of the Āśrama,
can attain Knowledge through special works like player, fasting, Japa etc., which are not opposed to the condition of those who do not belong to any Āśrama.
अतस्त्वितरज्ज्यायो लिङ्गाच्च ॥ ३९ ॥
atastvitarajjyāyo liṅgācca || 39 ||
ataḥ—Than this; tu—but; itarat—the other; jyāyoḥ—better; liṅgāt—because of the indicatory marks; ca—and.
39. But better than this is the other (state of being in some Āśrama or other), (being maintained by the Śruti and the Smriti) and because of the indicatory marks (in the Śruti and the Smriti).
Though it is possible for one who stands between two Āśramas to attain Knowledge, yet both the Śruti and Smriti say directly and indirectly that it is a better means to Knowledge to belong to some Āśrama.
“The Brāhmaṇas seek to know It through . . . sacrifices” etc. (Brih. 4. 4. 22)—this is a direct statement of the Śruti;
“Any other knower of Brahman who has done good deeds” etc. (Brih. 4. 4. 9), and “Let not a Brāhmaṇa stay even for a day outside the Āśrama”—these are indirect statements of the Śruti and Smriti respectively.