Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 2-1-1


In the first chapter it has been proved that all the Vedānta texts deal with Brahman as the First Cause, yet the arguments based on reasoning against this doctrine remain to be refuted.

With this object in view this section is begun.

In section iv of Chapter I it was shown that the Pradhāna of the Sānkhyas, as also the atoms of the Vaiśeṣikās, are not based on scriptural authority.

In this section arguments, claiming their authoritativeness from the Smṛiti, to establish the Pradhāna and the atoms etc., are refuted.

Topic 1 - Refutation of Smṛiti that are not based on the Śrutis

Sutra 2,1.1

स्मृत्यनवकाशदोषप्रसङ्ग इति चेत्, न,
अन्यस्मृत्यनवकाशदोषप्रसङ्गात् ॥ १ ॥

smṛtyanavakāśadoṣaprasaṅga iti cet, na,
anyasmṛtyanavakāśadoṣaprasaṅgāt || 1 ||

smṛti-anavakāśa-doṣaprasaṅgaḥ—There would result the defect of leaving no scope for certain Smṛiti; iti cet—if it be said; na—no; anyasmṛti-anavakāśa-doṣaprasaṅgāt—because there would result the defect of leaving no scope to some other Smṛiti.

1. If it be said that (from the doctrine of Brahman being the cause of the world) there would result the defect of leaving no scope for certain Smṛiti, (we say) no; because (by the rejection of that doctrine) there would result the defect of leaving no scope for some other Smṛiti.

In the last chapter it has been shown that the Sānkhya’s view is not based on scriptural authority. Now its authority even as a Smriti is denied and refuted.

If the doctrine of the Pradhāna is rejected, then the Sānkhya Smṛiti, propounded by a great seer like Kapila and acknowledged by other great thinkers, would cease to be authoritative:

hence it is but reasonable that the Vedānta texts be so interpreted as to preserve the authoritativeness of this Smriti and not contradict it in toto, So says the opponent.

The Sutra answers this by saying that if the doctrine of Brahman being the cause of the world be rejected to accommodate the Sānkhya Smriti, which goes counter to the Śrutis,

then by that rejection many other Smṛiti like the Manu Smriti, which are based on the Śrutis and therefore more authoritative, and, which also propound the doctrine of Brahman, an intelligent principle, being the cause of the world, would find no scope.

So between the two it is desirable that the Smṛiti which go counter to the Vedas be rejected.

Sutra 2,1.2

इतरेषां चानुपलब्धेः ॥ २ ॥

itareṣāṃ cānupalabdheḥ || 2 ||

itareṣāṃ—Of the others; ca—and; anupalabdheḥ—there being no mention.

2. And there being no mention (in the scriptures) of the other entities, (i.e. the categories beside the Pradhāna), (the Sānkhya system cannot be authoritative).

Even accepting the Pradhāna of the Sānkhyas for argument’s sake—

for the Vedāṅtins also recognize Māyā as the cause of the world, the difference between the two being that the Pradhāna according to the Sānkhyas is an independent entity, whereas Māyā is a dependent entity, being a power of Brahman

— yet there is no mention of the other categories of the Sānkhyas anywhere in the Vedas. Hence the Sānkhya philosophy cannot be authoritative.