Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 1-1-3

Topic 3 - Brahman cognisable only through the scriptures

Sutra 1,1.3

शास्त्रयोनित्वात् ॥ ३ ॥

śāstrayonitvāt || 4 ||

śāstrayonitvāt—The scripture being the means of right knowledge.

3. The scriptures (alone) being the means of right knowledge (with regard to Brahman, the proposition laid in Sutra 2 becomes corroborated).

This Sutra makes the idea expressed in Sutra 2 clearer. If any doubt has been left regarding the fact that Brahman as the origin etc. of the world is established by scriptural authority and not by inference etc. independently of it, this Sutra makes it clear that Śrutis alone are proof about Brahman.

Objection: Brahman is an already existing thing like a pot, and so It can be known by other means of right knowledge independently of the scriptures.

Answer: Brahman has no form etc. and so cannot be cognized by direct perception. Again in the absence of inseparable characteristics, as smoke is of fire, It cannot be established by inference or analogy (Upamāna). Therefore, It can be known only through the scriptures.

The scriptures themselves say, “One who is ignorant of the scriptures cannot know that Brahman”.

No doubt, as already referred to in the previous Sutra, these means of right knowledge also have a scope, but it is only after Brahman is established by the scriptures—as supplementary to them and not independent of them.