Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 3-2-8

Topic 8 - Īśvara the giver of the fruits of actions

Sutra 3,2.38

फलमतः, उपपत्तेः ॥ ३८ ॥

phalamataḥ, upapatteḥ || 38 ||

phalam—Fruits of actions; ataḥ—from Him; upapatteḥ—for that is reasonable.

38. From Him (the Lord) are the fruits of actions; for that is reasonable.

Having described the nature of Brahman, the author proceeds now to discuss the view of the Mimāmsakas, who say that Karma (work) and not Īśvara gives the fruits of one’s actions.

According to them it is useless to set up an Īśvara for this purpose, since Karma itself can give that result at a future time.

This Sutra refutes it and says that from Īśvara alone come the fruits of one’s work. Karma is insentient and short-lived, and cannot therefore be expected to bestow the fruits of actions at a future time according to one’s deserts.

We do not see any insentient thing bestowing fruits on those who worship it. Therefore it is only from the Lord, who is worshipped through actions, that their results proceed.

Sutra 3,2.39

श्रुतत्वाच्च ॥ ३९ ॥

śrutatvācca || 39 ||

śrutatvāt—Because the scripture so teaches; ca—and.

39. And because the scripture so teaches.

The scripture declares that the fruits of actions come from the Lord:

That great, birthless Self is the eater of food and the giver of wealth (the fruit of one’s work)” (Brih. 4. 4. 24).

Sutra 3,2.40

धर्मं जैमिनिः, अत एव ॥ ४० ॥

dharmaṃ jaiminiḥ, ata eva || 40 ||

dharmaṃ—Religious merits; jaiminiḥ—(sage) Jaimini; ata eva—for the same reasons.

40. Jaimini (thinks) for the same reasons (i.e. scriptural authority and reasoning) that religious merit (is what brings about the fruits of actions).

The view of the previous Sutra is being criticized.

The scripture enjoins, “He who is desirous of the heavenly world is to sacrifice” (Tandya).

Since every scriptural injunction has an object, it is reasonable to think that the sacrifice itself produces the fruit. But it may be objected that since the deed is destroyed, it cannot produce a result at a future time.

This is met by the positing of an Apūrva or extraordinary principle, which is produced by the Karma before it is destroyed, and through the intervention of which the result is produced in the distant future.

Again, if the deed itself did not produce the result, it would be useless to perform it; and moreover it is not reasonable to imagine one cause (the Lord) for a great variety of effects.

Sutra 3,2.41

पूर्वं तु बादरायणः, हेतुव्यपदेशात् ॥ ४१ ॥

pūrvaṃ tu bādarāyaṇaḥ, hetuvyapadeśāt || 41 ||

pūrvam—The former (i.e. the Lord); tu—but; bādarāyaṇaḥ—Bâdarâyana; hetu-vyapadeśāt—on account of His being declared to be the cause (of the actions even).

41. But Bādarāyaṇa (thinks) the former (the Lord, as the bestower of the fruits of actions) on account of His being declared to be the cause (of the actions even).

But’ refutes the view of Sutra 40.

Both Karma and Apūrva are insentient, and as such incapable of producing results without the intervention of an intelligent principle. For such a phenomenon is not experienced in the world. No one gets anything by worshipping stocks and stones.

So the fruits of actions come only from the Lord, and this is all the more established, as the Lord Himself causes people to act one way or the other; and since the Jīva acts as directed by Him, He Himself is the bestower of the fruits of his actions according to his deserts.

He makes him whom He wishes to lead up from these worlds do a good deed” etc. (Kau. 3. 8); “Whichever divine form a devotee wishes to worship . . . and obtains from it the results he desires, as ordained by Me” (Gītā 7. 21-22).

Since the Lord has regard for the merit and demerit of the souls, the objection that a uniform cause is incapable of producing various effects does not stand.

In the last four topics the entity ‘That’ has been explained.

Firstly, Brahman has been shown to be formless, self-effulgent, and without difference; secondly, by the denial of manifoldness in It it has been established that It is one without a second; and lastly, It has been proved to be the giver of the fruits of people’s actions in the relative world.

Thus the two entities ‘thou’ and ‘That’ have been explained in these two sections.