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BRAHMA SUTRAS
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BRAHMA SUTRAS
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Preface

It need not be over-emphasised that the Brahma Sutras, or the Nyaya-Prasthana of the triad of Indian Philosophical treatises holds supreme sway over the later rationalistic and scholastic developments. Right from the mighty brain of Sankara down to the master-intellects like Sriharsha, Chitsukha and Madhusudana, the main polemics have been occupied with the task of establishing the doctrine of Absolute Monism and refuting the views contrary to it, by appeal to logic as well as authority alike, which find their seeds already sown in the Brahma Sutras. The founder of a new religious and philosophical school had simply to write a new commentary on the Brahma Sutras so that his view may be accepted by the mass of people. Such is the authority of the Braham Sutras, the work of Baadarayana.

Commentaries there have been many on the Brahma Sutras, but either they are too short and insufficient to be useful for a comprehensive study of the Sutras, or are extremely tough and abstruse to be utilized by men of ordinary understanding. This work of Swami Sivananda is of a unique type in itself, unrivalled by any other. This commentary is neither too short to be useless, nor too verbose to be unintelligible, but follows a via media course, useful to one and all, mainly the spiritual aspirants, who want thought, not mere word.

Swamiji has got his own inimitable way of writing, which is a boon to the inquisitive student on the spiritual path. All real aspirants after Truth should possess this book, for it is a guide-light that is capable of steering them across the sea of ignorance and doubt.

Swamiji has left nothing unsaid that may be useful to the student of the Brahma Sutras, and in addition has given useful information, which will not be found in other notes and commentaries. The division of each Pada into the relevant Adhikaranas marking at the same time the number of Sutras they contain, the subject matter they treat of, and the accompaniment of each Sutra by the serial number from the very beginning is for the use and guidance of the student. An elaborate introduction precedes the work in addition to a short introduction and a summary of the different Adhikaranas preceding each Pada. These are all a boon to the student of the Brahma Sutras for which the incomparable Swamiji has to be eulogized. Each Sutra also contains a word-by-word meaning and a running translation.

More need not be said than that the production is a marvelous one. Swamiji has completed his annotations on the Prasthanatraya with his Brahma Sutras. His writings are too famous to necessitate further introduction.

The text of the Brahma Sutras has been included herein to enable the readers to do Svadhyaya and get them by heart for purposes of meditation.

Introduction

Hari Om! Salutations to Sri Vyasa, the Avatara of Vishnu, the wise Badarayana and Sri Krishna Dvaipayana.

Vedas consist of three portions viz., the Karma Kanda which deals with sacrifices or ceremonial rites, the Upasana Kanda which treats of Upasana (worship) and the Jnana Kanda represents the feet of a man, Upasana Kanda the heart, and the Jnana Kanda the head. Just as the head is the most important portion of a man, so also the Upanishads which treat of the knowledge portion of the Vedas is the head of the Vedas. Hence it is said to be the Siras (head) of Vedas.

Mimamsa means the investigation or enquiry into the connected meaning of the sacred texts. Of this Mimamsa two branches have been recognized, the Purva Mimamsa (earlier) and the Uttara Mimamsa (the latter). The former systematizes the Karma Kanda-the portion of the Veda which pertains to action and sacrifices and which comprises Samhitas and the Brahmans; the latter systematizes the Jnana Kanda i.e., that part of the Vedas which includes the Aranyaka portion of the Purva Mimamsa. Sri Vyasa (Badarayana or Krishna Dvaipayana) the Guru of Jaimini is the author of the Brahma Sutras otherwise known as Vedanta Sutras. The study of Brahma is a synthetic study of the Upanishads. It treats of the Vedanta philosophy.

The Vedas are eternal. They were not written by any individual. They came out from the breath of Hiranyagarbha (Lord Brama). Vedanta is the end or gist of the Vedas. It deals with the knowledge portion. Vedanta is not mere speculation. It is the authentic record of transcendental experiences or direct and actual realization of the great Hindu Rishis or seer. Brahma Sutras is the Science of the Soul.

Sutras are concise aphorisms. They give the essence of the arguments on a topic. Maximum of thought is compressed or condensed into these Sutras in as few words as possible. It is easy to remember them. Great intellectual people only, with realization, can compose Sutras. They are clues or aids to memory. They cannot be understood without a lucid commentary (Bhashya). The commentary also is in need of further elaborate explanation. Thus the interpretations of the Sutras gave rise to various kinds of literary writings such as Vrittis (gloss) and Karikas. The different Acharyas (founders of different schools of thought) have given their own interpretations of the Sutras to establish their own doctrines. The Bhashya of Sri Sankara on Brahma Sutras is known as Sariraka Bhashya. His school of thought is Kevala Advaita. The Bhashya of Sri Ramanuja who founded the Visishtadvaita School is called Sri Bhashya. The commentary of Sri Nimbarkacharya is known as Vedantaparijata-saurabha. Sri Vallabhacharya expounded his system of philosophy of Suddhadvaita (pure monism) and his commentary on the Brahma Sutras is known as Anu Bhashya.

Sanskrit is very elastic. It is like Kamadhenu or Kalpataru. You can milk out of it various kinds of Rasas according to your intellectual caliber and spiritual experiences. Therefore different Acharyas have built different systems of thought or cults by interpreting the Sutras in their own ways and became founders of sects. Madhva founded his own system of Dvaita. The cults of Vishnu known as Bhagavata or Pancharatra and those of Siva, Pasupata or Mahesvara have interpreted Brahma Sutras in accordance with their own tenets. Nimbarkacharya interpreted the Vedanta system from the standpoint of Bhedabheda-Dvaitadvaita. He was largely influenced by the teachings of Bhaskara who flourished in the first half of the ninth century. The theory held by Bhaskara and Nimbarka was held by the ancient teacher Audulomi. Badarayana himself refers to this theory in his Brahma Sutras.

There are more than fourteen commentaries on the Brahma Sutras. Sri Appaya Dikshita rendered the commentary of Sri Sankara more clear by his Parimala, Sri Vachaspati Misra by his work Bhamati and Sri Amalananda Sarasvati by his Kalpataru.

The erroneous identification of the body with the pure Atman is the root cause for human sufferings and miseries and for births and deaths. You identify yourself with the body and say, 'I am fair, dark, stout or thin. I am a Brahmin, I am a Kshatriya, I am a doctor'. You identify yourself with the senses and say, 'I know nothing. I know everything. I became angry. I enjoyed a good meal. I am suffering from this disease'. The entire object of the Brahma Sutras is to remove this erroneous identification of the Soul with the body which is the root cause of your sufferings and miseries, which is the product of Avidya (ignorance) and help you in the attainment of the final emancipation through knowledge of Brahman.

The Upanishads seem to be full of contradictions at first. They do not contain consistent system of thought. Sri Vyasa systematized the thoughts or philosophy of the Upanishads in his Brahma Sutras. The Sutras reconcile the conflicting statements of the Upanishads. In reality there are no conflicts for the thinker. Audulomi and Asmarathya also did this work in their own way and founded their own schools of thought.

Those who wish to study the philosophy of Vedanta should study the Ten Classical Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras. All Acharyas have commented on Brahma Sutras. This is a great authority for every philosophical school in India. If any Acharya wishes to establish his own cult or sect or school of thought he will have to write a commentary of his won on Brahma Sutras. Then only it will be recognized.

The five great Acharyas: Sri Sankara the exponent of Kevala Advaita or uncompromising monism, Sri Ramanuja the exponent of Visishtadvaita or qualified monism, Sri Nimbarka the exponent of Bhedabheda-vada, Sri Madhva the exponent of strict Dvaitism or Dvaita-vada, Sri Vallabha the exponent of Suddhadvaita-vada or pure monism agree that Brahman is the cause of this world and that knowledge of Brahman leads to Moksha or the final emancipation, which is the goal of life. They also emphatically declared that Brahman can be known only through the scriptures and not through mere reasoning. But they differ amongst themselves as to the nature of this Brahman, the relation of the individual soul to Brahman, the state of the soul in the state of final emancipation, the means of attaining It and Its causality with reference to this universe.

According to Sri Sankara, there is one Absolute Brahman who is Sat-chit-ananda, who is of an absolutely homogeneous nature. The appearance of this world is due to Maya-the illusory power of Brahman which is neither Sat nor Asat. This world is unreal. This world is a Vivarta or apparent modification through Maya. Brahman appears as this universe through Maya. Brahman is the only reality. The individual soul has limited himself through Avidya and identification with the body and other vehicles. Through his selfish actions he enjoys the fruits of his actions. He becomes the actor and enjoyer. He regards himself as atomic and as an agent on account of Avidya or the limiting Antahkarana. The individual soul becomes identical with Brahman when his Avidya is destroyed. In reality Jiva is all-pervading and identical with Brahman. Isvara or Saguna Brahman is a product of Maya. Worship of Isvara leads to Krama Mukti. The pious devotees (the knowers of Saguna Brahman) go to Brahmaloka and attain final release through highest knowledge. They do not return to this world. They attain the Nirguan Brahman at the end of the cycle. Knowledge of Nirguna Brahman is the only means of liberation. The knowers of Nirguna Brahman attain immediate final release or Sadyomukti. They merge themselves in Para Brahman. They do not go to any Loka or world. Sri Sankara's Brahman is Nirvisesha Brahman (Impersonal Absolute) without attributes.

According to Sri Ramanuja, Brahman is with attributes (Savisesha). He is endowed with all auspicious qualities. He is not intelligence itself. Intelligence is his chief attribute. He contains within Himself whatever exists. World and individual souls are essential teal constituents of Brahman's nature. Matter (Achit) and soul (Chit) form the body of the Lord, Lord Narayana who is the Inner Ruler (Antaryamin). Matter and souls are called modes of Him (Prakara). The individual souls will never be entirely resolved in Brahman. According to Ramanuja, Brahman is not absolutely one and homogeneous. The individual souls undergo a state of Sankocha (contraction) during Pralaya. They expand (Vikasa) during creation. Sri Ramanuja's Brahman is a Personal God with attributes. The individual soul of Ramanuja is really individual. It will remain a personality forever. The soul remains in Vaikuntha for ever in a state of bliss and enjoys the divine Aisvarya of Lord Narayana. Bhakti is the chief means to final emancipation and not Jnana. Sri Ramanuja follows in his Bhashya the authority of Bodhayana.

According to Sri Nimbarkacharya, Brahman is considered as both the efficient and material cause of the world. Brahman is both Nirguna and Saguna. The universe is not unreal or illusory but is a true manifestation or Parinama of Brahman. (Sri Ramanuja also holds this view. He says "Just as milk is transformed into curd, so also Brahman has transformed Himself as this universe"). This world is identical with and at the same time different from Brahman just as the wave or bubble is the same and at the same time different from water. The individual souls are parts of the Supreme Self. They are controlled by the Supreme Being. The final salvation lies in realizing the true nature of one's own soul. This can be achieved by Bhakti (devotion). The individuality of the final self (Jivatman) is not dissolved even in the state of final emancipation. Sri Ramanuja also holds that the Jiva assumes the divine body of Sri Narayana with four hands and enjoys in Vaikuntha the divine Aisvarya of the Lord.

You may ask why do such great realized souls hold different views, why have they started different cults or systems. The highest philosophy of Sri Sankara which bespeaks of the identity of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul cannot be understood by the vast majority of persons. Therefore Sri Madhva and Sri Ramanuja started their Bhakti cult. The different schools are different rungs in the ladder of Yoga. The student must place his foot step by step and finally reach the highest peak of perfection-the Kevaladvaita realization of Sri Sankara. As temperaments are different, different schools are also necessary to suit the taste, capacity and stage of evolution of the aspirant. Therefore all schools and cults are necessary. They have got their own place and scope.

The views of various Acharyas are all true in respect of the particular aspect of Brahman dealt with by them each in his own way. Sankara has taken Brahman in his transcendental aspect, while Sri Ramanuja has taken Him chiefly in his immanent aspect. People were following blindly the rituals during the time of Sri Sankara. When he was preparing his commentary he had in view the purpose of combating the baneful effects which blind ritualism produced. He never condemned selfless service or Nishkama Karma Yoga. He condemned the performance of rituals with selfish motives.

Sankara Bhashya is the oldest of all commentaries. It upholds Suddha-Para-Brahman or the Supreme Self of the Upanishads as something superior to other divine beings. It propounds a very bold philosophy and declares emphatically that the individual soul is identical with the Supreme self. Sankara's philosophical view accurately represents the meaning of Badarayana. His explanations only faithfully render the intended meaning of Sri Vyasa. This is beyond doubt and dispute.

Students of Kevaladvaita School of Philosophy should study the Sariraka Bhashya of sri Sankara which is profound, subtle and unique. It is an authority, which leads to the right understanding of the Brahma Sutras. The best thinkers of India, Germany, America and England belong to this school. It occupies a high rank in books on philosophy. Advaita philosophy is the most sublime and the grandest philosophy of the Hindus.

You can understand the Brahma Sutras if you have a knowledge of the twelve classical Upanishads. You can understand the second chapter if you have a knowledge of sankhya, Nyaya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vaiseshika Darsana and Buddhistic school, too. All these schools are refuted here by Sri Sankara. Sri Sankara's commentary is the best commentary. Dr. Thibaut has translated this commentary into English. "Braham Sutras" is one of the books of Prasthanatraya. This is an authoritative book on Hindu philosophy. The work consists of 4 Adhyayas (chapters), 16 Padas (sections), 223 Adhikaranas (topics) and 555 Sutras (aphorisms). The first chapter (Samanvayadhyaya) unifies Brahman, the second (Avirodhadhyaya) refutes other philosophies, the third (Sadhanadhyaya) deals with practice (Sadhana) to attain Brahman and the fourth (Phaladhyaya) treats of fruits of Self-realisation. Each chapter contains four Padas. Each Pada contains Adhikaranas. Each Adhikarana has separate question to discuss. The first five Adhikaranas of the first chapter are very, very important.

Glory to Sri Vyasa Bhagavan, son of Parasara, the mighty sage, a Chiranjivi who has written all Puranas and also divided the Vedas. May his blessings be upon you all!

About the Author:

Born on the 8th September, 1887, in the illustrious family of Saga Appayya Diskhita and several other renowned saints and savants, Sri Swami Sivananda had a natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of Vedanta. Added to this was an inborn eagerness to serve all and an innate feeling of unity with all mankind. His passion for service drew him to the medical career; and soon he gravitated to where he thought that his service was most needed. Malaya claimed him. He had earlier been editing a Health Journal and wrote extensively on health problems. He discovered that people needed right knowledge most of all; dissemination of that knowledge he espoused as his own mission. It was divine dispensation and the blessing of God upon mankind that the doctor of body and mind renounced his career and took to a life of renunciation to qualify himself for ministering to the soul of man. He settled down at Rishikesh in 1924, practiced intense austerities and shone as a great Yogi, Saint, Sage and Jivanmukta. In 1932 he started the Sivanandashram. In 1936 was born The Divine Life Society. In 1948 the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was organized. Dissemination of spiritual knowledge and training of people in Yoga and Vedanta were their aim and object. In 1950 he undertook a lightning tour of India and Ceylon. In 1953 he convened a 'World Parliament Reliogions'. He is the author of over 300 volumes and has disciples all over the world, belonging to all nationalities, religions and creeds. To read his works is to drink at the fountain of Wisdom Supreme. On 14th July, 1963 he entered Mahasamadhi.

About the Book:

A clear and easy exposition by Swami Sivananda. Swamiji, in his own inimitable way, explains the Brahma Sutras to all aspirants of Truth dispelling all ignorance and doubts. In addition, he has given useful information which will not be found elsewhere. An elaborate introduction precedes the work, along with a short introduction and summary of the different Adhikaranas preceding each Pada. Each Sutra contains a word-by-word and a running translation. The text of the Brahma Sutras in included herein to enable the readers to do Svadhyaya and get them by heart for purpose of meditation.

 

CONTENTS

 

Preface vii
Dhyana Slokas ix
Sri Sankaradesikashtakam (by Hastamalaka) xi
Brahma Sutras: Sutrapatha xv
Introduction 3-9
Chapter I
 
SAMANVAYA ADHYAYA
 
Section 1 (Sutras 1-31) 10-60
Section 2 (Sutras 32-63) 61-93
Section 3 (Sutras 64-106) 94-139
Section 4 (Sutras 107-134) 140-176
Chapter II
 
AVIRODHA ADHYAYA
 
Section 1 (Sutras 135-171) 177-225
Section 2 (Sutras 172-216) 226-290
Section 3 (Sutras 217-269) 291-353
Section 4 (Sutras 270-291) 354-379
Chapter III
 
SADHANA ADHYAYA
 
Section 1 (Sutras 292-318) 380-407
Section 2 (Sutras 319-359) 408-456
Section 3 (Sutras 360-425) 457-535
Section 4 (Sutras 426-477) 536-584
Chapter IV
 
PHALA ADHYAYA
 
Section 1 (Sutras 478-496) 585-610
Section 2 (Sutras 497-517) 611-632
Section 3 (Sutras 518-533) 633-649
Section 4 (Sutras 534-555) 650-667
INDEX to Important Topics Discussed 668-671

Click Here for More Books Published By Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

 

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BRAHMA SUTRAS

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Preface

It need not be over-emphasised that the Brahma Sutras, or the Nyaya-Prasthana of the triad of Indian Philosophical treatises holds supreme sway over the later rationalistic and scholastic developments. Right from the mighty brain of Sankara down to the master-intellects like Sriharsha, Chitsukha and Madhusudana, the main polemics have been occupied with the task of establishing the doctrine of Absolute Monism and refuting the views contrary to it, by appeal to logic as well as authority alike, which find their seeds already sown in the Brahma Sutras. The founder of a new religious and philosophical school had simply to write a new commentary on the Brahma Sutras so that his view may be accepted by the mass of people. Such is the authority of the Braham Sutras, the work of Baadarayana.

Commentaries there have been many on the Brahma Sutras, but either they are too short and insufficient to be useful for a comprehensive study of the Sutras, or are extremely tough and abstruse to be utilized by men of ordinary understanding. This work of Swami Sivananda is of a unique type in itself, unrivalled by any other. This commentary is neither too short to be useless, nor too verbose to be unintelligible, but follows a via media course, useful to one and all, mainly the spiritual aspirants, who want thought, not mere word.

Swamiji has got his own inimitable way of writing, which is a boon to the inquisitive student on the spiritual path. All real aspirants after Truth should possess this book, for it is a guide-light that is capable of steering them across the sea of ignorance and doubt.

Swamiji has left nothing unsaid that may be useful to the student of the Brahma Sutras, and in addition has given useful information, which will not be found in other notes and commentaries. The division of each Pada into the relevant Adhikaranas marking at the same time the number of Sutras they contain, the subject matter they treat of, and the accompaniment of each Sutra by the serial number from the very beginning is for the use and guidance of the student. An elaborate introduction precedes the work in addition to a short introduction and a summary of the different Adhikaranas preceding each Pada. These are all a boon to the student of the Brahma Sutras for which the incomparable Swamiji has to be eulogized. Each Sutra also contains a word-by-word meaning and a running translation.

More need not be said than that the production is a marvelous one. Swamiji has completed his annotations on the Prasthanatraya with his Brahma Sutras. His writings are too famous to necessitate further introduction.

The text of the Brahma Sutras has been included herein to enable the readers to do Svadhyaya and get them by heart for purposes of meditation.

Introduction

Hari Om! Salutations to Sri Vyasa, the Avatara of Vishnu, the wise Badarayana and Sri Krishna Dvaipayana.

Vedas consist of three portions viz., the Karma Kanda which deals with sacrifices or ceremonial rites, the Upasana Kanda which treats of Upasana (worship) and the Jnana Kanda represents the feet of a man, Upasana Kanda the heart, and the Jnana Kanda the head. Just as the head is the most important portion of a man, so also the Upanishads which treat of the knowledge portion of the Vedas is the head of the Vedas. Hence it is said to be the Siras (head) of Vedas.

Mimamsa means the investigation or enquiry into the connected meaning of the sacred texts. Of this Mimamsa two branches have been recognized, the Purva Mimamsa (earlier) and the Uttara Mimamsa (the latter). The former systematizes the Karma Kanda-the portion of the Veda which pertains to action and sacrifices and which comprises Samhitas and the Brahmans; the latter systematizes the Jnana Kanda i.e., that part of the Vedas which includes the Aranyaka portion of the Purva Mimamsa. Sri Vyasa (Badarayana or Krishna Dvaipayana) the Guru of Jaimini is the author of the Brahma Sutras otherwise known as Vedanta Sutras. The study of Brahma is a synthetic study of the Upanishads. It treats of the Vedanta philosophy.

The Vedas are eternal. They were not written by any individual. They came out from the breath of Hiranyagarbha (Lord Brama). Vedanta is the end or gist of the Vedas. It deals with the knowledge portion. Vedanta is not mere speculation. It is the authentic record of transcendental experiences or direct and actual realization of the great Hindu Rishis or seer. Brahma Sutras is the Science of the Soul.

Sutras are concise aphorisms. They give the essence of the arguments on a topic. Maximum of thought is compressed or condensed into these Sutras in as few words as possible. It is easy to remember them. Great intellectual people only, with realization, can compose Sutras. They are clues or aids to memory. They cannot be understood without a lucid commentary (Bhashya). The commentary also is in need of further elaborate explanation. Thus the interpretations of the Sutras gave rise to various kinds of literary writings such as Vrittis (gloss) and Karikas. The different Acharyas (founders of different schools of thought) have given their own interpretations of the Sutras to establish their own doctrines. The Bhashya of Sri Sankara on Brahma Sutras is known as Sariraka Bhashya. His school of thought is Kevala Advaita. The Bhashya of Sri Ramanuja who founded the Visishtadvaita School is called Sri Bhashya. The commentary of Sri Nimbarkacharya is known as Vedantaparijata-saurabha. Sri Vallabhacharya expounded his system of philosophy of Suddhadvaita (pure monism) and his commentary on the Brahma Sutras is known as Anu Bhashya.

Sanskrit is very elastic. It is like Kamadhenu or Kalpataru. You can milk out of it various kinds of Rasas according to your intellectual caliber and spiritual experiences. Therefore different Acharyas have built different systems of thought or cults by interpreting the Sutras in their own ways and became founders of sects. Madhva founded his own system of Dvaita. The cults of Vishnu known as Bhagavata or Pancharatra and those of Siva, Pasupata or Mahesvara have interpreted Brahma Sutras in accordance with their own tenets. Nimbarkacharya interpreted the Vedanta system from the standpoint of Bhedabheda-Dvaitadvaita. He was largely influenced by the teachings of Bhaskara who flourished in the first half of the ninth century. The theory held by Bhaskara and Nimbarka was held by the ancient teacher Audulomi. Badarayana himself refers to this theory in his Brahma Sutras.

There are more than fourteen commentaries on the Brahma Sutras. Sri Appaya Dikshita rendered the commentary of Sri Sankara more clear by his Parimala, Sri Vachaspati Misra by his work Bhamati and Sri Amalananda Sarasvati by his Kalpataru.

The erroneous identification of the body with the pure Atman is the root cause for human sufferings and miseries and for births and deaths. You identify yourself with the body and say, 'I am fair, dark, stout or thin. I am a Brahmin, I am a Kshatriya, I am a doctor'. You identify yourself with the senses and say, 'I know nothing. I know everything. I became angry. I enjoyed a good meal. I am suffering from this disease'. The entire object of the Brahma Sutras is to remove this erroneous identification of the Soul with the body which is the root cause of your sufferings and miseries, which is the product of Avidya (ignorance) and help you in the attainment of the final emancipation through knowledge of Brahman.

The Upanishads seem to be full of contradictions at first. They do not contain consistent system of thought. Sri Vyasa systematized the thoughts or philosophy of the Upanishads in his Brahma Sutras. The Sutras reconcile the conflicting statements of the Upanishads. In reality there are no conflicts for the thinker. Audulomi and Asmarathya also did this work in their own way and founded their own schools of thought.

Those who wish to study the philosophy of Vedanta should study the Ten Classical Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras. All Acharyas have commented on Brahma Sutras. This is a great authority for every philosophical school in India. If any Acharya wishes to establish his own cult or sect or school of thought he will have to write a commentary of his won on Brahma Sutras. Then only it will be recognized.

The five great Acharyas: Sri Sankara the exponent of Kevala Advaita or uncompromising monism, Sri Ramanuja the exponent of Visishtadvaita or qualified monism, Sri Nimbarka the exponent of Bhedabheda-vada, Sri Madhva the exponent of strict Dvaitism or Dvaita-vada, Sri Vallabha the exponent of Suddhadvaita-vada or pure monism agree that Brahman is the cause of this world and that knowledge of Brahman leads to Moksha or the final emancipation, which is the goal of life. They also emphatically declared that Brahman can be known only through the scriptures and not through mere reasoning. But they differ amongst themselves as to the nature of this Brahman, the relation of the individual soul to Brahman, the state of the soul in the state of final emancipation, the means of attaining It and Its causality with reference to this universe.

According to Sri Sankara, there is one Absolute Brahman who is Sat-chit-ananda, who is of an absolutely homogeneous nature. The appearance of this world is due to Maya-the illusory power of Brahman which is neither Sat nor Asat. This world is unreal. This world is a Vivarta or apparent modification through Maya. Brahman appears as this universe through Maya. Brahman is the only reality. The individual soul has limited himself through Avidya and identification with the body and other vehicles. Through his selfish actions he enjoys the fruits of his actions. He becomes the actor and enjoyer. He regards himself as atomic and as an agent on account of Avidya or the limiting Antahkarana. The individual soul becomes identical with Brahman when his Avidya is destroyed. In reality Jiva is all-pervading and identical with Brahman. Isvara or Saguna Brahman is a product of Maya. Worship of Isvara leads to Krama Mukti. The pious devotees (the knowers of Saguna Brahman) go to Brahmaloka and attain final release through highest knowledge. They do not return to this world. They attain the Nirguan Brahman at the end of the cycle. Knowledge of Nirguna Brahman is the only means of liberation. The knowers of Nirguna Brahman attain immediate final release or Sadyomukti. They merge themselves in Para Brahman. They do not go to any Loka or world. Sri Sankara's Brahman is Nirvisesha Brahman (Impersonal Absolute) without attributes.

According to Sri Ramanuja, Brahman is with attributes (Savisesha). He is endowed with all auspicious qualities. He is not intelligence itself. Intelligence is his chief attribute. He contains within Himself whatever exists. World and individual souls are essential teal constituents of Brahman's nature. Matter (Achit) and soul (Chit) form the body of the Lord, Lord Narayana who is the Inner Ruler (Antaryamin). Matter and souls are called modes of Him (Prakara). The individual souls will never be entirely resolved in Brahman. According to Ramanuja, Brahman is not absolutely one and homogeneous. The individual souls undergo a state of Sankocha (contraction) during Pralaya. They expand (Vikasa) during creation. Sri Ramanuja's Brahman is a Personal God with attributes. The individual soul of Ramanuja is really individual. It will remain a personality forever. The soul remains in Vaikuntha for ever in a state of bliss and enjoys the divine Aisvarya of Lord Narayana. Bhakti is the chief means to final emancipation and not Jnana. Sri Ramanuja follows in his Bhashya the authority of Bodhayana.

According to Sri Nimbarkacharya, Brahman is considered as both the efficient and material cause of the world. Brahman is both Nirguna and Saguna. The universe is not unreal or illusory but is a true manifestation or Parinama of Brahman. (Sri Ramanuja also holds this view. He says "Just as milk is transformed into curd, so also Brahman has transformed Himself as this universe"). This world is identical with and at the same time different from Brahman just as the wave or bubble is the same and at the same time different from water. The individual souls are parts of the Supreme Self. They are controlled by the Supreme Being. The final salvation lies in realizing the true nature of one's own soul. This can be achieved by Bhakti (devotion). The individuality of the final self (Jivatman) is not dissolved even in the state of final emancipation. Sri Ramanuja also holds that the Jiva assumes the divine body of Sri Narayana with four hands and enjoys in Vaikuntha the divine Aisvarya of the Lord.

You may ask why do such great realized souls hold different views, why have they started different cults or systems. The highest philosophy of Sri Sankara which bespeaks of the identity of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul cannot be understood by the vast majority of persons. Therefore Sri Madhva and Sri Ramanuja started their Bhakti cult. The different schools are different rungs in the ladder of Yoga. The student must place his foot step by step and finally reach the highest peak of perfection-the Kevaladvaita realization of Sri Sankara. As temperaments are different, different schools are also necessary to suit the taste, capacity and stage of evolution of the aspirant. Therefore all schools and cults are necessary. They have got their own place and scope.

The views of various Acharyas are all true in respect of the particular aspect of Brahman dealt with by them each in his own way. Sankara has taken Brahman in his transcendental aspect, while Sri Ramanuja has taken Him chiefly in his immanent aspect. People were following blindly the rituals during the time of Sri Sankara. When he was preparing his commentary he had in view the purpose of combating the baneful effects which blind ritualism produced. He never condemned selfless service or Nishkama Karma Yoga. He condemned the performance of rituals with selfish motives.

Sankara Bhashya is the oldest of all commentaries. It upholds Suddha-Para-Brahman or the Supreme Self of the Upanishads as something superior to other divine beings. It propounds a very bold philosophy and declares emphatically that the individual soul is identical with the Supreme self. Sankara's philosophical view accurately represents the meaning of Badarayana. His explanations only faithfully render the intended meaning of Sri Vyasa. This is beyond doubt and dispute.

Students of Kevaladvaita School of Philosophy should study the Sariraka Bhashya of sri Sankara which is profound, subtle and unique. It is an authority, which leads to the right understanding of the Brahma Sutras. The best thinkers of India, Germany, America and England belong to this school. It occupies a high rank in books on philosophy. Advaita philosophy is the most sublime and the grandest philosophy of the Hindus.

You can understand the Brahma Sutras if you have a knowledge of the twelve classical Upanishads. You can understand the second chapter if you have a knowledge of sankhya, Nyaya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vaiseshika Darsana and Buddhistic school, too. All these schools are refuted here by Sri Sankara. Sri Sankara's commentary is the best commentary. Dr. Thibaut has translated this commentary into English. "Braham Sutras" is one of the books of Prasthanatraya. This is an authoritative book on Hindu philosophy. The work consists of 4 Adhyayas (chapters), 16 Padas (sections), 223 Adhikaranas (topics) and 555 Sutras (aphorisms). The first chapter (Samanvayadhyaya) unifies Brahman, the second (Avirodhadhyaya) refutes other philosophies, the third (Sadhanadhyaya) deals with practice (Sadhana) to attain Brahman and the fourth (Phaladhyaya) treats of fruits of Self-realisation. Each chapter contains four Padas. Each Pada contains Adhikaranas. Each Adhikarana has separate question to discuss. The first five Adhikaranas of the first chapter are very, very important.

Glory to Sri Vyasa Bhagavan, son of Parasara, the mighty sage, a Chiranjivi who has written all Puranas and also divided the Vedas. May his blessings be upon you all!

About the Author:

Born on the 8th September, 1887, in the illustrious family of Saga Appayya Diskhita and several other renowned saints and savants, Sri Swami Sivananda had a natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of Vedanta. Added to this was an inborn eagerness to serve all and an innate feeling of unity with all mankind. His passion for service drew him to the medical career; and soon he gravitated to where he thought that his service was most needed. Malaya claimed him. He had earlier been editing a Health Journal and wrote extensively on health problems. He discovered that people needed right knowledge most of all; dissemination of that knowledge he espoused as his own mission. It was divine dispensation and the blessing of God upon mankind that the doctor of body and mind renounced his career and took to a life of renunciation to qualify himself for ministering to the soul of man. He settled down at Rishikesh in 1924, practiced intense austerities and shone as a great Yogi, Saint, Sage and Jivanmukta. In 1932 he started the Sivanandashram. In 1936 was born The Divine Life Society. In 1948 the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy was organized. Dissemination of spiritual knowledge and training of people in Yoga and Vedanta were their aim and object. In 1950 he undertook a lightning tour of India and Ceylon. In 1953 he convened a 'World Parliament Reliogions'. He is the author of over 300 volumes and has disciples all over the world, belonging to all nationalities, religions and creeds. To read his works is to drink at the fountain of Wisdom Supreme. On 14th July, 1963 he entered Mahasamadhi.

About the Book:

A clear and easy exposition by Swami Sivananda. Swamiji, in his own inimitable way, explains the Brahma Sutras to all aspirants of Truth dispelling all ignorance and doubts. In addition, he has given useful information which will not be found elsewhere. An elaborate introduction precedes the work, along with a short introduction and summary of the different Adhikaranas preceding each Pada. Each Sutra contains a word-by-word and a running translation. The text of the Brahma Sutras in included herein to enable the readers to do Svadhyaya and get them by heart for purpose of meditation.

 

CONTENTS

 

Preface vii
Dhyana Slokas ix
Sri Sankaradesikashtakam (by Hastamalaka) xi
Brahma Sutras: Sutrapatha xv
Introduction 3-9
Chapter I
 
SAMANVAYA ADHYAYA
 
Section 1 (Sutras 1-31) 10-60
Section 2 (Sutras 32-63) 61-93
Section 3 (Sutras 64-106) 94-139
Section 4 (Sutras 107-134) 140-176
Chapter II
 
AVIRODHA ADHYAYA
 
Section 1 (Sutras 135-171) 177-225
Section 2 (Sutras 172-216) 226-290
Section 3 (Sutras 217-269) 291-353
Section 4 (Sutras 270-291) 354-379
Chapter III
 
SADHANA ADHYAYA
 
Section 1 (Sutras 292-318) 380-407
Section 2 (Sutras 319-359) 408-456
Section 3 (Sutras 360-425) 457-535
Section 4 (Sutras 426-477) 536-584
Chapter IV
 
PHALA ADHYAYA
 
Section 1 (Sutras 478-496) 585-610
Section 2 (Sutras 497-517) 611-632
Section 3 (Sutras 518-533) 633-649
Section 4 (Sutras 534-555) 650-667
INDEX to Important Topics Discussed 668-671

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  • I am looking for a copy of the Brahma Sutras that re only the sanskrit in devanagari, the transliteration of the sanskrit in english alphabet, the word for word translation in english and english paraphrase of each sutra. Is there such a book? If it must have commentary, then only the commentary of sri Sankara.
    by Rich on 30th Sep 2013
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