Brahma Sutra

Govind Rengarajan govind at ISC.TAMU.EDU
Sun Oct 5 11:02:53 CDT 1997

On Sat, 4 Oct 1997 un824 at wrote:

> I'm not sure where to find this reference. If "athAto brahmajijnAsA" is the
> first aphorism of the Brahma Sutra, would someone be kind enough to type
> out this one passage by Sankara for me? Perhaps others might appreciate it
> as well.

        A good translation of shankaraa's brahma sUtra bhAShyA is
        by Swami Gambhirananda's (SG) (published by Advaita
        Ashrama). Here's the relevant portion for the first sutra:

        athAto brahma-jij~nAsA

        "Hence (is to be undertaken) thereafter a deliberation on

        <My loose paraphrasing of SG's translation of shankarA's

        shankarA interprets the word "atha" to mean a "sequence"
        rather than "commencement". Since the word means a sequence,
        it obviously implies that something has been (has to be)
        done prior to this. shankarA says that it is not learning
        the karma kAnDa portion of the vedA that is a
        prerequisite, since learning the ritual portions of the
        vedA will only lead one to perform virtuous
        deeds and hence, secular propserity. The prerequisite
        shankarA mentions are: "... discrimination between the
        eternal and the non-eternal; dispassion for the enjoyment
        of the fruits (of work) here and hereafter; a perfection of
        practices as control of the mind, control of the senses
        and organs, etc; and a hankering for liberation. Granted
        the existence of these, Brahman can be deliberated on
        or known even before or after an inquiry into virtuous
        deeds, but not otherwise."

        In this context, it is also worth noting that rAmAnujA
        (shrI vaishNavA) in his shrI bhaShyA (commentary on BS),
        differs from shankarA, and spends a great deal of time in
        the earlier verses. I will perhaps post at a later time
        his interpretation of the first sUtrA.

        In this context, the following shlokA from bhagavad gItA
        is also appropriate:

        yAvan artha udapAne sarvatas-samplutodake
        tAvAn sarveSu vadeSu brAhma.nasya vijAnata.h || (II.46)

        <Again a loose translation from a book on vishiShTAdvaita>

        A man uses only as much water as he needs out of a reservoir
        abounding in water far beyond his demand, and not more.
        In the same way does a man of discrimination choose
        from the vedA only those parts that pertain
        to him and that are conducive to his objectives.

        govind rengarajan

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