Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 1-2-3

Topic 3 - The two that have entered the cavity of the heart are the individual soul and Brahman

Sutra 1,2.11

गुहां प्रविष्टावात्मानौ हि, तद्दर्शनात् ॥ ११ ॥

guhāṃ praviṣṭāvātmānau hi, taddarśanāt || 11 ||

guhāṃ—cavity (of the heart); praviṣṭau—the two that have entered; ātmānau—are the two selves (individual and Supreme); hi—indeed; taddarśanāt—because it is so seen.

11. The two that have entered into the cavity (of the heart) are indeed the individual self and the Supreme Self, because it is so seen.

In the Katha Upanishad there occurs the passage,

Having entered the cavity of the heart, the two enjoy the reward of their works, in the body” (1.3. 1).

The question is whether the couple referred to are the individual soul and Brahman, or the individual soul and intellect (Buddhi).

The opponent, following the argument of the previous topic, says it is the latter.

In the last topic the nearness of the word ‘death’ helped us to interpret ‘Brāhmaṇa’ and ‘Kshatriya’ as typical of the whole phenomenal world, similarly the nearness of the word ‘enjoy’ would make the two in the text refer to limited things like the individual soul and intellect.

The Sutra refutes this and says that the couple referred to are the individual soul and Brahman, for numerals denote things of the same class.

When a cow is brought to us and we say, “Bring another”, it means another cow.

So if with an intelligent self, the individual soul, another is said to enter the cavity of the heart, it must refer to another of the same class, i.e. to another sentient being, and not to the intellect (Buddhi), which is insentient.

The fact that both are said to enjoy the fruits of actions, which cannot apply to the Highest Brahman, is thus explained:

Sometimes the characteristics of one in a group are indirectly applied to the whole group, as when we say, “The men with an umbrella”, where only one has an umbrella and not the whole group. So here also, though it is only one that is enjoying the fruits of actions, both are so spoken off.

Sutra 1,2.12

विशेषणाच्च ॥ १२ ॥

viśeṣaṇācca || 12 ||

viśeṣaṇāt—From the specification; ca—and.

12. And from the (distinctive) qualities (of the two mentioned in subsequent texts).

The texts subsequent to the one under discussion mention the characteristics of the two that have entered the cavity of the heart, which show that these are the individual soul and Brahman:

Know that the soul is the charioteer” etc. (Kath. 1. 3. 3) and “He attains the end of the journey, that supreme state of Vishnu(Ibid. 1. 3. 9), where the two are mentioned as the Attainer and the goal attained, i.e. as the Jīva and Brahman.

In a previous passage also the two are spoken of as the meditator and the object of meditation.

The sage relinquishes joy and sorrow, having realized by meditation . . . that effulgent One . . . seated in the heart” (Kath. 1 .2 .12).