The Brahma Sutras Of Bhagavan Vyasa
Sri Vyasa wrote the Brahma Sutras or the Vedanta Sutras which explain the doctrine of Brahman. Brahma Sutras are also known by the name Sariraka Sutras, because they deal with the embodiment of the Supreme Nirguna Brahman. ‘Brahma Sutras’ is one of the three books of the Prasthana Traya, the three authoritative books on Hinduism, the other two being the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita. Sri Vyasa has systematised the principles of Vedanta and removed the apparent contradictions in the doctrines. The Brahma Sutras are 555 in number. Sri Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Nimbarka, Vallabha, Bhaskara, Yadavaprakasa, Kesava, Nilakantha, Baladeva and Vijnana Bhikshu are the chief commentators on the Brahma Sutras. Each has commented in his own way and built his own philosophy. The most reputed teacher of this school of philosophy was Sri Sankaracharya.
Sri Vyasa has criticised the doctrines of the Vaiseshika system and the Sankhya system. The several schools of Buddhism and the Bhagavata doctrines are also discussed.
There are four chapters, viz., Samanvaya, Avirodha, Sadhana and Phala. In the first chapter, an account of the nature of Brahman and of its relation to the world and the individual soul, is given. In the second chapter, the rival theories, viz., Sankhya, Yoga, Vaiseshika, etc., are criticised. Suitable answers are given to the objections levelled against this view. In the third chapter, the means of attaining Brahma-Vidya are treated. In the fourth chapter, there is a description of the fruits of Brahma-Vidya. There is also a description of how the individual soul reaches Brahman through the Devayana or the path of the Devas, whence there is no return. The characteristics of the Jivanmukta or liberated soul are also discussed in this chapter. Each chapter has four parts (Padas). The Sutras in each part form Adhikaranas or topics.
The first five Sutras of the first chapter are very important. The first Sutra is: “Athato Brahma-Jijnasa—Now, therefore, the enquiry into Brahman.” The first aphorism states the object of the whole system in one word, viz., Brahma-Jijnasa, the desire of knowing Brahman. The second Sutra is: “Janmadyasya Yatah—Brahman is the Supreme Being from whom proceeds the origin, sustenance and dissolution of the world.” The third Sutra is: “Sastra-Yonitvat—The scriptures alone are the means of right knowledge. The omniscience of Brahman follows from Its being the source of the scriptures.” The fourth Sutra is: “Tat Tu Samanvayat—That Brahman is to be known only from the scriptures and not independently by any other means is established, because it is the main purport of all Vedanta texts.” The fifth Sutra is: “Ikshater Na Asabdam—On account of ‘thinking,’ Prakriti or Pradhana not being the first cause.” Pradhana is not based on the scriptures. The last Sutra of the fourth chapter is: “Anavrittih Sabdat, Anavrittih Sabdat—There is no return for the released souls, on account of scriptural declaration to that effect.”
It is metaphysics, not physics… It is not about the world seen by the mind and the senses, but what is beyond all that.
While the Upanishads (Śruti prasthāna, the starting point of revelation) and the Bhagavad-Gītā (Smriti prasthāna, the starting point of remembered tradition) are the basic source texts of Vedānta, it is in the Brahma sūtras that the teachings of Vedānta are set forth in a systematic and logical order.Indian tradition identifies Badrayana, the author of the Brahma Sutra, with Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas. Many commentaries have been written on this text, the earliest extant one being the one by Adi Sankara. Later commentators include Bhaskara, Yadavaprakasha, Ramanuja, Keshava, Neelakantha, Madhva, Baladeva, Vallabha, Vijnana Bhikshu, Vacaspati and Padmapada. Among all these, and other commentaries, Sankara’s commentary is considered as an exemplary model of how a commentary should be written, and most commentators are influenced by it, even when they disagree with Sankara’s interpretations.
The Brahma Sutra consists of 555 aphorisms or sutras, in 4 chapters, each chapter being divided into 4 sections each. The first chapter (Samanvaya: harmony) explains that all the Vedantic texts talk of Brahman, the ultimate reality, which is the goal of life. The second chapter (Avirodha: non-conflict) discusses and refutes the possible objections against Vedanta philosophy. The third chapter (Sadhana: the means) describes the process by which ultimate emancipation can be achieved. The fourth chapter (Phala: the fruit) talks of the state that is achieved in final emancipation.
Many commentaries have been written on this text, the earliest extant one being the one by Ādi Śankara Bhagavatpāda. His commentary set forth the non-dualistic (Advaita) interpretation of the Vedānta, and was commented upon by Vācaspati and Padmapāda. These sub-commentaries, in turn, inspired other derivative texts in the Advaita school.
Ramanujacharya also wrote a commentary on Brahma sutra, called, Sri Bhasya, which lays foundations to the Visishtadvaita tradition. In this, he firmly refutes the Advaita view as proposed by Adi Shankara in his commentary.
Other commentators on the Brahma Sūtras, belonging to other schools of Vedānta, include Bhāskara, Yādavaprakāśa, Keśava, Nīlakaņţha, Madhva, Vallabha, Vijnanabhiksu, Nimbarka, and Baladeva Vidyābhūshaņa.
The Brahma Sūtras are also known by other names: Vedānta Sūtras, Uttara Mīmāmsā-sūtras, Śārīraka Sūtras, Śārīraka Mimāmsā-sūtras. Vaishnavas also call this the Bhikṣu sūtras.
The Brahma Sūtras attempt to reconcile the seemingly contradictory and diverse statements of the various Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gītā, by placing each teaching in a doctrinal context. The word “sūtra” means “thread”, and the Brahma sūtras literally stitch together the various Vedanta teachings into a logical and self-consistent whole.
However, the Brahma Sūtras are so terse that not only are they capable of being interpreted in multiple ways, but they are often incomprehensible without the aid of the various commentaries handed down in the main schools of Vedānta thought.
The Vedānta Sūtras supply ample evidence that at a very early time, i.e. a period before their own final composition, there were differences of opinion among the various interpreters of the Vedānta. Quoted in the Vedānta Sūtras are opinions ascribed to Audulomi, Kārshnāgni, Kāśakŗtsna, Jaimini and Bādari, in addition to Vyasa.
These sūtras systematize the jñānakāņda (path of wisdom, as opposed to Karmakāņda, the path of action) of the Veda, by combining the two tasks of concisely stating the teaching of the Veda and argumentatively establishing the specific interpretation of the Veda adopted in the sūtras.
The sūtras also discuss the role of karma and God and critically address the various doctrines associated with Buddhism, Jainism, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaisheshika, Shaiva, Shakta, Atheism, and Sankhyaphilosophies.
A thorough study of Vedānta requires a close examination of these three texts, known in Sanskritas the Prasthanatrayi, or the three starting points. The Brahma sutras constitute the Nyāya prasthāna(न्याय प्रस्थान), or “Logic-based starting point”, of the above triplet (Sanskrit न्याय, Nyāya: logic, order). Thus they are also referred to as the Yukti prasthāna, since Yukti (युक्ति) also means reasoning or logic. While the Upanishads (Śruti prasthāna, the starting point of revelation) and the Bhagavad-Gītā (Smriti prasthāna, the starting point of remembered tradition) are the basic source texts of Vedānta, it is in the Brahma sūtras that the teachings of Vedānta are set forth in a systematic and logical order.
The task of reconciling the different Vedic texts, indicating their mutual relations, is assigned to a scripture called the Mimāṃsā (मीमांसा) which means investigation or inquiry. In the orthodox Hindu tradition, Mimāṃsā is divided into two systems, the Purva-Mimāṃsā by Jaimini which is concerned with the correct interpretation of the Vedic ritual and Uttara-Mimāṃsā by Badarayana which is called Brahma-Mimāṃsā or Sariraka-Mimāṃsā which deals chiefly with the nature of Brahman, the status of the world and the individual self. Since it attempts to determine the exact nature of these entities it is also called nirnāyaka-shāstra.
These is only one Brahma-sutra text written by Vyasa. Based on this text, Vedanta darsana is established by Vyasa.
The Vedanta darsana – Vedanta darsana is one of the six darsana [six systems of Indian philosophy] preached by Vyasa. He wrote a text named Brahma-sutra to summarize his Vedanta darsana. Other five darsanas are Sankshya, Nyaya, Vaisesika, Yoga, Mimansa. All these darsanas are based on Vedic authority. Later there are many commentators on Vedanta darsana – by Sankara, Ramanuja, Madva, Vallava, Jiva Gosvami etc.
There are 555 sutras or formulas in this text. Ramakrishna mission publishes Brahma-sutra text. It talks of ‘oneness’ of cosmos – Advaita as interpreted by Sankara.
However same Brahma-sutra is interpreted as Visista-dvaita by Ramanujacharya and Dvaita by Madvacharya.
It is said Brahma-sutra is a summary of Upanishads. And Upanishads are called Vedanta. Brahma-sutra is called Vedanta-darshana, a philosophy.
So Vedanta is used with two meanings –
1. The Upanishads – Upanishads are the last part of Veda [Veda+Anta=Vedanta]. Since these are last [Anta] of Veda, so these Upanishads texts are called Vedanta. There were 1180 Vedic traditions in India. And each tradition has one Upanishad. So there were originally 1180 Upanishads. However we found the list of only 108 Upanishads currently. Upanishads document the Indians ancient revelations or divine experiences.
2. The Vedanta darsana – Vedanta darsana is one of the six darsana [six systems of Indian philosophy] preached by Vyasa. He wrote a text named Brahma-sutra to summarize his Vedanta darsana. Other five darsanas are Sankshya, Nyaya, Vaisesika, Yoga, Mimansa. All these darsanas are based on Vedic authority. Later there are many commentators on Vedanta darsana – by Sankara, Ramanuja, Madva, Vallava, Jiva Gosvami etc.
People interchangeably use Vedanta word to express both Upanishads and Vedanta philosophy. Few give more emphasis on philosophical part and few give more emphasis on direct Upanishadic revelation. However both are different in their approaches. Upanishads is the original source which document divine revelation and taken as it is. Vedanta darsana is a man made philosophy based on understanding of Upanishads. Since Upanishads are interpretative and contains different views of same divinity, we have many types of Vedanta philosophies like Advaita darsana, Visistadvaita darsana, Dvaita darsana etc, all are based on Upanishads.
It is nothing to do with science.
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