Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 3-3-22

Topic 22 - Brihadāraṇyaka 3.4.1 and 3.5.1 constitute one Vidyā

Sutra 3,3.35

अन्तरा भूतग्रामवत्स्वात्मनः ॥ ३५ ॥

antarā bhūtagrāmavatsvātmanaḥ || 35 ||

antarā—As being innermost of all; bhūtagrāmavat—as in the case of the elements; svātmanaḥ—(teaching) of the same Self.

35. The same Self (is taught) as being the innermost of all, as in the case of the elements.

In the Brihadāraṇyaka we find Uṣasta questioning Yājñyavalkya thus: “Explain to me the Brahman that is immediate and direct—the self that is within all”; and Yājñyavalkya replies: “That which breathes through Prāṇa is your self, that is within all” (Brih. 3. 4. 1).

In the same Upanishad 8.5.1, to the same question put by Kahola, Yājñyavalkya replies: “That which transcends hunger and thirst, grief and delusion, decay and death. Knowing this very Self” etc.

The opponent holds that these two are separate Vidyās, because the answers given being different, the objects referred to must be different.

The Sutra refutes this and says that the object is one, the Supreme Self, for it is impossible to conceive two Selves being simultaneously innermost of all in the same body,

even as none of the five elements constituting the body can be the innermost of all in the true sense of the term, though relatively one element can be inside another.

Similarly one Self alone can be the innermost of all. Therefore the same Self is taught in both the answers.

Sutra 3,3.36

अन्यथा भेदानुपपत्तिरिति चेत्, न, उपदेशान्तरवत् ॥ ३६ ॥

anyathā bhedānupapattiriti cet, na, upadeśāntaravat || 36 ||

anyathā—Otherwise; bheda-anupapattiḥ—the repetition cannot be accounted for; iti cet—if it be said; na—not so; upadeśānta-ravat—like another instruction (in the Chāṇḍogya).

36. If it be said (that the two Vidyās are separate, for) otherwise the repetition cannot be accounted for, (we say) not so; (it is) like (the repetition) in another instruction (in the Chāṇḍogya).

An objection is raised that unless the two texts refer to two different Selves, the repetition of the same subject would be meaningless.

This Sutra says that it is not like that. The repetition has a significance. It is intended to make the student understand the subject more convincingly from different angles,

and so the repetition does not justify us to take that two different Selves are taught here, even as the repetition of the teaching ‘Thou art That’ nine times does not entitle us to take the whole teaching in the Chāṇḍogya as more than one Vidyā.

The difference in answer is due to the fact that the second answer tells something special about the Self. In the first it is taught that the Self is different from the body; in the second, that It is beyond relative attributes.