Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 2-3-16

Topic 16 - The soul in its activity is dependent on the Lord

Sutra 2,3.41

परात्तु तच्छ्रुतेः ॥ ४१ ॥

parāttu tacchruteḥ || 41 ||

parāt—From the Supreme lord; tu—but; tat—that (agency); śruteḥ—so declares the Śruti.

41. But (even) that (agency of the soul) is from the Supreme Lord; so declares the Śruti.

The agency of the soul is also due to the Supreme Lord.

The soul does good and bad deeds, being so directed by the Lord. “He makes those whom He will raise do good deeds” (Kau. 3. 8). It is through His grace that the soul attains to Knowledge and becomes free.

Sutra 2,3.42

कृतप्रयत्नापेक्षस्तु विहितप्रतिषिद्धावैयर्थ्यादिभ्यः ॥ ४२ ॥

kṛtaprayatnāpekṣastu vihitapratiṣiddhāvaiyarthyādibhyaḥ || 42 ||

kṛtaprayatna-apekṣaḥ—Depends on works done; tu—but; vihita-pratiṣiddha-avaiyarthyādibhyaḥ—on account of the relevancy of injunctions and prohibitions etc.

42. But (the Lord’s making the soul act) depends on works done (by it); (thus only would) injunctions and prohibitions etc. be relevant.

This Sutra refutes a possible doubt that since the Lord makes some persons do good and others evil, He must be cruel and whimsical.

It says, that the Lord always directs the soul according to its good or bad deeds in previous births. And Samsāra being without beginning, there will always be previous births, with actions done in them, for the guidance of the Lord.

So He cannot be accused of being cruel and whimsical. It is thus alone that the scriptural injunctions and prohibitions can have any meaning; for otherwise the Jīva will gain nothing by observing these injunctions.

This does not however mar the independence of the Lord, though it may be said that since He depends on the acts of the soul, He is not free to do what He likes;

for a king who presents or punishes His subjects according to their acts does not cease to be a sovereign thereby.