Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 1-2-4

Topic 4 - The person within the eye is Brahman

In the last topic the reference to ‘two’ occurring at the beginning of the text discussed, was interpreted to denote two of the same class, i.e. two sentient beings, and the entrance into the cavity of the heart, mentioned later on, was interpreted accordingly.

The same line of argument should be used, says the opponent, to interpret the text of this topic.

That is, the person in the eye ought to be taken as a reflection in the eye, as it occurs at the beginning of the text, and the subsequent mention of immortality, fearlessness, etc. ought to be explained away, as praise or otherwise.

The inverse method, i.e. taking these words to refer to Brahman and thus fixing the person in the eye to be Brahman, should not be followed.

In this way the opponent wants to show that the argument of the previous one is defective, for it will launch us into difficulties with respect to other texts of the Śruti.

 Sutra 1,2.13

अन्तर उपपत्तेः ॥ १३ ॥

antara upapatteḥ || 13 ||

antaraḥ—Inside (the eye); upapatteḥ—on account of the appropriateness of (attributes).

13. (The person) inside (the eye is Brahman) on account of (the attributes mentioned therein) being appropriate (only to Brahman).

This person that is seen in the eye is the self. This is immortal and fearless; this is Brahman” (Chh. 4. 15. 1).

The question is whether the person referred to here is the reflection of a person in the eye, or the individual soul, or the sun, which helps sight, or Brahman.

The Sutra says that this person in the eye is Brahman, because the qualities, ‘immortal’, ‘fearless’, etc., mentioned here with respect to that person can be true only of Brahman, and they cannot be otherwise explained away.

 Sutra 1,2.14

स्थानादिव्यपदेशाच्च ॥ १४ ॥

sthānādivyapadeśācca || 14 ||

sthānādivyapadeśāt—Because abode etc. (i.e. name and form) are attributed to it; ca—and.

14. And because abode etc. (i.e. name and form) are attributed to It (Brahman) (by other scriptural texts also, for the sake of contemplation).

But, how can the all-pervading Brahman be in a limited space like the eye?

The assignation of a definite locality to the all-pervading Brahman only serves the purpose of meditation (upāsanā).

In other scriptural texts, the disc of the sun, the cavity of the heart, even the eye itself (Brih. 3. 7. 18) and similar pure spots have been prescribed as places for the contemplation of Brahman.

So here it is prescribed that Brahman should be contemplated in the eye.

Not only abode, but even name and form are attributed to Brahman for the purpose of meditation, as Brahman without attributes cannot be an object of contemplation. (Vide Chh. 1. 6. 6-7).

Sutra 1,2.15

सुखविशिष्टाभिधानादेव च ॥ १५ ॥

sukhaviśiṣṭābhidhānādeva ca || 15 ||

sukhaviśiṣṭa-abhidhānāt—On account of the reference (to Brahman) distinguished by bliss; eva—verily; ca—and.

15. And verily on account of the reference (in the passage to Brahman) distinguished by bliss (mentioned at the beginning of the Prakaraṇa).

The vital energy is Brahman, bliss is Brahman, the ether is Brahman” (Chh. 4. 10. 5)—so taught the fires to Upakosala Kāmalāyana about Brahman, and this same Brahman is further elucidated by his teacher as “the person in the eye”.

Sutra 1,2.16

श्रुतोपनिषत्कगत्यभिधानाच्च ॥ १६ ॥

śrutopaniṣatkagatyabhidhānācca || 16 ||

śruta-upaniṣatka-gati—The way of those who have realized the Truth of the Upanishads; abhidhānāt—on account of the statement; ca—also;

16. Also on account of the statement of the way (after death) of those who have known the Truth of the Upanishads (i.e. knowers of Brahman) (with reference to the knower of the person in the eye).

The Devayāna path or the path of the gods, by which a knower of Brahman travels after death and which is described in the Praśna Upanishad 1.10 and other scriptural texts, is referred to here.

Since the knower of “the person in the eye” also goes by this path after death, and since it is known from scriptures that none other except the knower of Brahman goes by this path after death, “the person in the eye” must be Brahman.

 Sutra 1,2.17

अनवस्थितेरसंभवाच्च नेतरः ॥ १७ ॥

anavasthiterasaṃbhavācca netaraḥ || 17 ||

anavasthiteḥ—Not existing always; asaṃbhavāt—on account of the impossibility; ca—and; na—not; itaraḥ—any other.

17. (The person in the eye is the Supreme Self) and not any other (i.e. individual soul etc.) as these do not exist always; and on account of the impossibility (of the qualities of the person in the eye being attributed to any of these).

The reflection in the eye, for example, does not exist always, nor can the qualities like immortality, fearlessness, etc., be appropriately ascribed to this reflection.

So no other self except the Supreme Self is here spoken of as the person in the eye.