Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 2-2-2

Topic 2 - Refutation of the objection from the Vaiśeṣika standpoint against Brahman being the First Cause

Sutra 2,2.11

महद्दीर्घवद्वा ह्रस्वपरिमण्डलाभ्याम् ॥ ११ ॥

mahaddīrghavadvā hrasvaparimaṇḍalābhyām || 11 ||

mahat-dīrgha-vat—Even as the great and logn; va—or; hrasvaparimaṇḍalābhyām—from the short and the infinitesimal.

11. (The world may originate from Brahman) even as the great and long (triad etc.) originate from the short (and the minute dyad) or (this kind of dyad) from the infinitesimal (atom).

The Sānkhyas having been refuted, the Vaiśeṣika philosophy is taken up in Sutras 11—17 and refuted.

First, the plausible objection against Brahman being the First Cause is answered from the standpoint of the Vaiśeṣikas in Sutra 11.

According to them the qualities of the cause produce similar qualities in the effects, even as the whiteness of the threads produce that of the cloth woven out of them.

So if the world is created from Brahman, the quality of intelligence should abide in the world also; but as a matter of fact it does not. So Brahman cannot be the cause of the world.

This argument is refuted on the ground that the same objection applies to the Vaiśeṣika view of creation also; hence it is no special objection against Vedānta.

According to them the ultimate condition of the world is atomic, and all things in this world are but aggregates of the different kinds of atoms.

The atoms are eternal and the ultimate cause of the world. In the state of dissolution the world exists in the atomic state.

At the time of creation the atoms of air are set in motion by Adriṣṭa, the unseen principle, and two atoms combine to form a dyad. Again, three dyads combine to form a triad and four dyads form a tetrad, and in this way gross air is created.

Similarly, the other elements are created from their respective atoms and dyads.

An atom, according to this philosophy, is infinitesimal, a dyad is minute and short, and compounds from the triad upwards are great and long.

Now, if two atoms which are spherical, produce a dyad which is minute and short, but in which the sphericity of the atom is not reproduced,

or if four dyads, which are short and minute, produce a tetrad, which is great and long, but the minuteness and shortness of the dyad are not handed down, it is clear that all the qualities of the cause are not reproduced in the effect.

So there can be no objection to an intelligent Brahman being the cause of the world, which is not intelligent. Brahman, which is Knowledge and Bliss, can produce a world which is inert and full of misery.