Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 3-3-6

Topic 6 - In all the meditations on Brahman qualities like ‘Bliss’ etc., which describe Its nature, are to be combined into one meditation, and not others

Sutra 3,3.11

आनन्दादयः प्रधानस्य ॥ ११ ॥

ānandādayaḥ pradhānasya || 11 ||

ānandādayaḥ—Bliss and other attributes; pradhānasya—of the subject (i.e. Brahman).

11. Bliss and other attributes (which depict the true nature) of the subject (i.e. Brahman) (have to be combined from all places in the meditation on Brahman).

Brahman is described as Bliss, Knowledge, all-pervading, the self of all, true, etc. in different texts of different Śākhās. All the attributes are not mentioned in all places. Now the question is whether they have to be combined in the meditation on Brahman or not.

This Sutra says that they have to be combined, since the object of meditation (Brahman) is one and the same in all Śākhās, and therefore the Vidyā is one.

Sutra 3,3.12

प्रियशिरस्त्वाद्यप्राप्तिः, उपचयापचयौ हि भेदे ॥ १२ ॥

priyaśirastvādyaprāptiḥ, upacayāpacayau hi bhede || 12 ||

priyaśirastvādi—(Qualities like) joy being Its head etc.; aprāptiḥ—are not to be taken everywhere; upacayāpacayau—increase and decrease; hi—because; bhede—(are possible) in difference.

12. (Qualities like) joy being Its head etc. are not to be taken everywhere, (being subject to increase and decrease and) increase and decrease (are possible only) if there is difference (and not in Brahman in which there is non-difference).

Attributes like joy being Its head etc. mentioned in the Taittirīya Upanishad are not to be taken and combined in other places where the Upāsanā of Brahman is enjoined,

because the terms ‘joy’, ‘satisfaction’, ‘great satisfaction’, ‘bliss’, etc. indicate qualities which have increase and decrease relatively to each other and to other experiencers (Jīvas), and therefore can exist only where there is difference.

But Brahman being absolutely without any difference, these attributes cannot constitute Its nature, and as such they are to be confined to the texts prescribing them and not taken in other places.

Sutra 3,3.13

इतरे त्वर्थसामान्यात् ॥ १३ ॥

itare tvarthasāmānyāt || 13 ||

itare—Other attributes; tu—but; arthasāmānyāt—on account of identity of purport.

33. But other attributes (like Bliss etc. are to be combined) on account of identity of purport.

Attributes like Bliss, Knowledge, all-pervading, etc., which describe the nature of Brahman are to be combined, because their purport is the one and indivisible, unconditioned Brahman. These attributes are mentioned with a view to the knowledge of Brahman and not for Upāsanā.