Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 1-4-5

Topic 5 - He who is the maker of the sun, moon, etc., is Brahman and not Prāṇa (the vital force) or the individual soul

In the last topic the word ‘existence’ occurring in one passage helped us to interpret non-existence occurring in another passage as undifferentiated existence and not absolute non-existence.

But the opponent now takes up for discussion texts where the words ‘Prāṇa’ etc. cannot be reasonably interpreted to mean Brahman, though It is mentioned in another text.

 Sutra 1,4.16

जगद्वाचित्वात् ॥ १६ ॥

jagadvācitvāt || 16 ||

jagat-vācitvāt—Because (it) denotes the world.

16. (He of whom all this is the work is Brahman) because (the work) denotes the world.

He, O Bālāki, who is the maker of these persons (whom you mentioned), and whose work this is—is alone to be known” (Kau. 4. 19).

In this section Bālāki first describes the several individual souls residing in the sun, moon, ether, etc. as Brahman.

Ajātaśatru says that these are not the true Brahman and proceeding to teach the real Brahman says, “He who is the maker of these persons is alone to be known and not these persons.

Here who is the maker of the sun, moon, etc. is the question.

The opponent holds he is either the chief Prāṇa or the individual soul. He is the chief Prāṇa, for the activity of motion connected with work refers to Prāṇa, and Prāṇa is also mentioned in a complementary passage: “Then he becomes one with that Prāṇa alone” (Kau. 4. 20).

It may also be the Jīva, for in “As the master feeds with his people . . . thus does the conscious self feed with the other selves” (Kau. 4. 20) it is referred to.

The Sutra refutes all this and says it is Brahman that is referred to by ‘maker’ in the text; for Brahman is taught here. “I shall teach you Brahman.”

Again ‘this’, which means the world, is his work—which clearly points out that the ‘he’ is none other than Brahman. Therefore the maker is neither Prāṇa nor the individual soul, but the Supreme Lord.

 Sutra 1,4.17

जीवमुख्यप्राणलिङ्गान्नेति चेत्, तद्व्याख्यातम् ॥ १७ ॥

jīvamukhyaprāṇaliṅgānneti cet, tadvyākhyātam || 17 ||

jīva-mukhyaprāṇa-liṅgāt—On account of characteristics of the individual soul and the chief Prāṇa; na—not; iti cet—if it be said; tat—that; vyākhyātam—has already been explained.

17. If it be said that on account of the characteristics of the individual soul and the chief Prāṇa (to be found in the text, Brahman is) not (referred to by the word ‘maker’ in the passage cited), (we reply) that has already been explained.

See note on 1. 1. 31.

Sutra 1,4.18

अन्यार्थं तु जैमिनिः प्रश्नव्याख्यानाभ्यामपि चैवमेके ॥ १८ ॥

anyārthaṃ tu jaiminiḥ praśnavyākhyānābhyāmapi caivameke || 18 ||

anyārthaṃ—For another purpose; tu—but; jaiminiḥ—Jaimini; praśnavyākhyānābhyām—because of the question and elucidation; api ca—moreover; evam—thus; eke—some.

18. But (the sage) Jaimini (thinks that the reference to the individual soul in the text) has another purpose because of the question and answer; moreover thus some (the Vājasaneyi) (read in their recension).

Even the reference to the individual soul in the said chapter of the Kaushitaki Upanishad has a different purpose, and that is not to propound the individual soul but Brahman by showing that the individual soul is different from Brahman.

The questions, “Where did the person thus sleep? Where was he? Whence came he thus back?” (Kau. 4. 19) refer clearly to something different from the individual soul.

And so does the answer (Ibid. 4. 20) say that the individual soul is merged in Brahman in deep sleep.

The Brihadāraṇyaka Upanishads where also this conversation occurs, clearly points out the individual soul by the term ‘Vijñānamaya’, the person consisting of cognition, and distinguishes it from the Supreme Self. (Brih. 2. 1. 16-17).