Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 3-3-30

Topic 30 - The Self is a separate entity from the body

Till now the Upāsanās have been discussed.

But the utility of these Upāsanās depends on the existence of an individual apart from the body who can reap the results of the Upāsanās. In the absence of such an individual the Upāsanās and even Vedanta teaching become useless.

So in this topic the existence of an Ātman apart from the body is taken up for discussion.

 Sutra 3,3.53

एक आत्मनः शरीरे भावात् ॥ ५३ ॥

eka ātmanaḥ śarīre bhāvāt || 53 ||

eka—Some (deny); ātmanaḥ—(the existence) of an Ātman (besides the body); śarīre (suti) bhāvāt—(for It) exists (only) when there is a body.

53. Some (deny) (the existence) of an Ātman (separate from the body), (for It) exists (only) when there is a body.

This Sutra gives the view of the Chārvākas or materialists, who deny the existence of an Ātman other than the body:

They say that man is only a body, having consciousness for its quality, and that consciousness is like the intoxicating property that is produced when certain materials are put together, none of which singly is intoxicating.

They arrive at this conclusion in this way: Consciousness is seen to exist only when there is a body. Independent of the body it is nowhere experienced.

Hence it is only a quality of the body. Therefore, there is no separate Self in this body.

Sutra 3,3.54

व्यतिरेकः, तद्भावाभावित्वात्, न तु, उपलब्धिवत् ॥ ५४ ॥

vyatirekaḥ, tadbhāvābhāvitvāt, na tu, upalabdhivat || 54 ||

vyatirekaḥ—Separateness; tadbhāva-abhāvitvātfor (consciousness) does not exist even when there is the body; na—not (so); tu—but; upalabdhivat—as in the case of cognition.

54. But not (so); (a Self) separate (from the body does exist), for (consciousness) does not exist even when there is the body (after death); as in the case of cognition.

This Sutra refutes the view expressed in the previous one.

Consciousness cannot be a quality of the body, for we do not find consciousness in a body; after a person dies. So this consciousness is a quality of something different from and residing in the body.

Again, the Chārvākas also accept that the cognizer is different from the thing cognized.

If so, since we experience our body, we who cognize it must be different from our body; and this thing which cognizes this body of ours is the Self, and consciousness is a quality of this Self, rather its nature.