Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 2-3-11

Topic 11 - The individual soul is permanent, eternal, etc.

Sutra 2,3.17

नात्मा, आश्रुतेर्नित्यत्वाच्च ताभ्यः ॥ १७ ॥

nātmā, āśruternityatvācca tābhyaḥ || 17 ||

na—Is not (produced); ātmā—the individual self; āśruteḥ—not being (so) mentioned by the scriptures; nityatvāt—being eternal; ca—also; tābhyaḥ—from them (Śrutis);

17. The individual self is not (produced), (for it is) not (so) mentioned by the scriptures; also (on account of its) being eternal, (for so it is known) from them (the Śruti texts).

At the beginning of creation there was only “One Brahman without a second” (Ait. 1. 1), and so it is not reasonable to say that the individual soul is not born, for then there was nothing but Brahman.

Again the Śruti says: “Just as from a fire tiny sparks fly in all directions, even so from this Ātman emanate all Prāṇas (organs), all worlds, all gods, and all the selves” (Brih. 2. 1. 20, Mādhyandina recension).

So the opponent argues that the individual soul is born at the beginning of the cycle, just as Ākāśa and other elements are born.

This Sutra refutes it and says that the individual soul is not born, for there is no statement to that effect in the Śruti in the section dealing with creation.

On the other hand Śruti texts clearly deny such birth to the individual soul. “Unborn, eternal” (Kath. 1. 2. 18); “This great birthless Self” (Brih. 4. 4. 25).

It is the one Brahman without a second that enters the intellect and appears as the individual soul (Jīva). “Having created it, It entered into it” (Taitt. 2. 6).

Hence as there is in reality no difference between the individual soul and Brahman; the fact of the Jīva’s being non-created does not contradict the text, “At the beginning there was only the Ātman without a second” (Ait. 1. 1).

The creation of souls spoken of in the other texts cited is only in a secondary sense. It does not therefore contradict the text, “Having created it, It entered into it.”