Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 2-2-7

Topic 7 - Refutation of the doctrine that God is only the efficient, not material, cause of the world

Sutra 2,2.37

पत्युः, असामञ्जस्यात् ॥ ३७ ॥

patyuḥ, asāmañjasyāt || 37 ||

patyuḥ—The Lord’s; asāmañjasyāt—on account of inconsistency.

37. The Lord's (being merely the efficient cause of the world cannot hold good) on account of the inconsistency (of that doctrine).

The Vedānta says that the Lord is both the efficient and the material cause of the world.

The Naiyāyikas, Vaiśeṣikas, Yogins, and Māheśvaras say that the Lord is the efficient cause only, and the material cause is either the atoms according to the Naiyāyikas and Vaiśeṣikas, or the Pradhāna according to the Yogins and others. He is the ruler of the Pradhāna and the souls, which are different from Him.

Such a view leads to inconsistency. How?

Because it makes the Lord partial to some and prejudiced against others, for some people are well off in this world, while others are miserable.

The opponents here may say: How does the Vedāṅtin get out of the difficulty?

He replies: The Lord is impartial, but He directs the individuals according to their merit and demerit earned in previous existences. (See Sutras 2. I. 84-35).

For the scriptures say so, and if you accept scriptural authority in this, you will have to accept its statement, “I will be many” etc. (Taitt. 2. 6), which shows that the Lord is both the efficient and the material cause.

Sutra 2,2.38

संबन्धानुपपत्तेश्च ॥ ३८ ॥

saṃbandhānupapatteśca || 38 ||

saṃbandha-anupapatteḥ—Because relation is not possible; ca—and.

38. And because relation (between the Lord and the Pradhāna or the souls) is not possible.

As the Lord is devoid of parts, and so also the Pradhāna and the souls, there can be no conjunction between the Lord and them, and consequently they cannot be ruled by Him.

Neither can the relation be one of inherence, which subsists between entities inseparably connected as whole and part, substance and attributes, etc.

This difficulty does not arise in the case of the Vedāṅtins, firstly because the relation is inexpressible identity (Tādātmya) and secondly because they depend on the Śrutis for their authority and so are not expected to base their reasoning entirely on observed facts, as the opponents have to.

 Sutra 2,2.39

अधिष्ठानानुपपत्तेश्च ॥ ३९ ॥

adhiṣṭhānānupapatteśca || 39 ||

adhiṣṭhāna-anupapatteḥ—Rulership being impossible; ca—and.

39. And on account of the rulership (of the Lord) being impossible.

These schools infer the existence of the Lord, and say that He directs the Pradhāna etc. as the potter does his clay. But the Pradhāna etc. are not objects of perception like the clay. Hence the Lord cannot direct them, for the inference must be strictly in accordance with observed facts.

Sutra 2,2.40

करणवच्चेत्, न, भोगादिभ्यः ॥ ४० ॥

karaṇavaccet, na, bhogādibhyaḥ || 40 ||

karaṇavat—As the senses; cet—if it be said; na—no; bhogādibhyaḥ—because of enjoyment etc.

40. If it be said (that the Lord rules the Pradhāna etc.) even as (the Jīva rules) the senses (which are also not perceived), (we say) no, because of the enjoyment etc.

Even as the individual soul directs the sense-organs which are not perceived, so also we can take that the Lord rules the Pradhāna etc.—says the opponent.

The analogy is not proper, for in the former case the Jīva is seen to enjoy pleasure, suffer pain, etc., from which we infer that it rules the organs.

If the analogy be true, the Lord also would suffer pain and pleasure caused by the Pradhāna etc.

 Sutra 2,2.41

अन्तवत्त्वमसर्वज्ञता वा ॥ ४१ ॥

antavattvamasarvajñatā vā || 41 ||

antavattvam-Subject to destruction; asarvajñatā—non-omnis; —or.

41. (There would result from their, doctrine the Lord’s) being subject to destruction or (His) non-omniscience.

According to these schools the Lord is omniscient and eternal, i.e. not subject to destruction.

The Lord, the Pradhāna, and the souls according to the Māheśvaras are infinite and separate.

Now the question is, does the omniscient Lord know the measure of the Pradhāna, soul, and Himself or not? In either case the doctrine of the Lord’s being the mere efficient cause of the universe is untenable.

If the Lord knows their measure, they are all limited, and therefore a time will come when they will all cease to exist. Again, if he does not know them, then He would cease to be omniscient.