Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 1-4-8

Topic 8 - The arguments which refute the Sānkhyas refute also others

Sutra 1,4.28

एतेन सर्वे व्याख्याता व्याख्याताः ॥ २८ ॥

etena sarve vyākhyātā vyākhyātāḥ || 28 ||

etena—By this; sarve—all; vyākhyātāḥ—are explained.

28. By this all (doctrines with reference to the origin of the world contrary to the Vedânta texts) are explained.

By this identity of the material and the efficient cause of the world all doctrines that speak of two separate causes for it are refuted.

That is, not only the Sānkhya’s, but also the atomic and other theories are refuted, as they are not based on scriptural authority and contradict many scriptural texts.

The repetition of the verb in the aphorism only shows that the chapter ends here.

Those who hold the atomic theory, or who say that the First Cause is non-existence or that it is Śūnya (Void) — as the Nihilists say—cite respectively the following texts as authority.

These seeds, almost infinitesimal” (Chh. 6. 12. 1);

This was indeed non-existent at the beginning” (Chh. 3. 19. 1);

Some learned men being deluded, speak of nature, and others of time, as the cause of everything” (Svet. 6. 1).

But the arguments put forward against the Sānkhyas, i.e. that contrary to the scriptures their First Cause is insentient, that the proposition that through the knowledge of the one everything is known, will not be true, etc. will apply here also, and so these views cannot be held to be authoritative and based on the scriptures.

The Śrutis quoted are explained thus:

The word ‘infinitesimal’ or ‘atomic’ refers to the Ātman, which can be so-called as it is very fine.

The non-existence spoken of is only a fine causal condition or the world undeveloped into name and form as yet, and not absolute non-existence;

and the fact of nature being the First Cause is mentioned as a Purvapaksha by the Śruti, which itself refutes it further on in the succeeding texts.

So Brahman alone is the First Cause, and nothing else.