Notes on BSB I-i-4-1L

K. Sadananda sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Fri Jul 20 06:21:54 CDT 2001

This was posted on Wednesday to advaitaL at yahoogroup.  Since it it do
not appear, I am postingit again to  If you get two
copies my apologies.
Hari Om

                                  Notes on BSB I-i-4-1L

     sadaashiva samaarambhaa.n sha~Nkaraachaarya madhyamam.h |
     asmadaachaarya paryantaa.n vande guruparamparaam.h ||

I prostrate to the lineage of teachers starting from Lord Shiva who
is ever auspicious and with Bhagavaan Shankara in the middle and all
the way up to my own teacher.

vaatsalya ruupa.n triguNairatiitaM
aananda saandram amalairnidhaanam.h .|
shrii chinmayaananda guro praNiitaM
sadaa bhaje.aha.n tava paada pa~Nkajam.h ||

Who is the very embodiment of motherly affection who is beyond the
three guNa-s, who is  full with bliss, and who is the very source of
purity who is the best among the teachers,  Shree Chinmayaananda, to
his lotus feet I (sada) always prostrate.
                                samanvaya adhyaaya - I
                         spashhTa brahma li~Nga vaakya samanvaya paada- i
                               samanvaya adhikaraNam.h .-4
                          suutra: tat tu samanvayaat.h .-1L
                                    Sutra 4-L

We are discussing vR^ittikaara-s argument that the upanishads say
that after gaining Brahma-j~naanam, one must do nididhyaasanam.  This
implies that upanishads prescribe upasanaa after gaining
Brahma-j~naanam.  Since it says nididyaasitavyam implying that it is
vidhi or one must do, it is clear that upaasanaa shruti declares that
Brahma-j~naanam is not sufficient and one must do upaasanaa to attain

Shankara says -what vR^ittikara says is right- that nididhyaasanam is
important.  But what it implies is that shravanam, mananam and
nididhyaasanam- all are meant for j~naanam only. They are not
practised after j~naanam, they are practised for j~naanam. How can
one prove that all these three are meant for j~naanam only? (This
answer is from sub-commentators) Shravanam is the main saadhana,
which gives j~naanam - it is called angi saadhana or mukhyasaadhana.
Shravanam reveals my true nature 'tat tvam asi'.  Hence the emphasis
on the Vedantic or scriptural study as the most important saadhana -
Systematic, consistent listening to the scriptures.  But even though
j~naanam takes place through shravanam, there are obstacles,
pratibandhaa-s, obstructing j~naanam from giving moksha. There are
two obstacles - one is doubt with regard to the goal - whether aham
brahmaasmi is a fact - this doubt can arise from my own intellect or
can come from other systems of philosophy. For example
vishishhTaadvaitam says 'you can never be Brahman'. It is sacrilege
and it is impossible - all you can be at the most is become a part of
Brahman. It is sheshha-sheshhii bhaava.  There is an organic relation
between the jiiva and Brahman.  Jiiva is only of the size of anu or
atom or finite and is part of Brahman and cannot be Brahman who is
infinite or ananta. In Advaita jiivanmukta is possible; in
VishishhTaadvaita jiivanmukta is not possible, only vidheha mukti.
Now both Advaita and VishishhTaadvaita are put forth by great
aachaarya-s - How can I decide who is right? Acceptance of one
philosophy is automatically is a rejection of the other. Similarly
several daarshanika-s have proposed philosophies that contradict one
another.  In the adhyaatma vidya, my intellect cannot be diplomatic
and accept all.  It has to accept one and accepting one involves
rejecting the rest.  Thus intellect will have to be sure about the
nature of oneself and the nature of Brahman.  As long as there is a
lingering doubt, it does not come under 'dR^iDha j~naanam' or firm
understanding - it comes under sa pratibandhaka j~naanam - incomplete
understanding. Thus samshhayaH or lingering doubt is the first

The second obstacle is the habitual notion that aatma is something
else other than I. We hear an advaitic vedanta student complaining -
I know I am Brahman, but I have problem with my wife or job, my son,
my neighbor or my employer etc. Such a self-contradiction is the
result of incomplete understanding due to habitual notion of taking
aatma as an entity other than oneself - this is called vipariita
bhaavana. (The purpose of serious study of brahmasuutra and other
scriptures as well as participating in Vedantic discussions should
become very clear now - it is to establish a firm logical foundation
for an understanding of the nature of the problem and the nature of
the solution. By discussing puurvapakshaa-s and siddhanta-s the
intellect is provided a field of inquiry to investigate and
understand clearly the fundamental problem of adhyaasa and firm
understanding that takes one beyond ones habitual notions). Because
of this vipariita bhaavana, we have only sa pratibandhaka j~naanam -
Hence mananam and nididhyaasanam removes the obstacles - mananam
removes doubt - whether I am Brahman or not - this should become
clear - with conviction one must accept one philosophy rejecting all
other systems of philosophies and any other interpretation of
Vedanta.  It is not a fanatical approach to Vedanta, due to some
reverence to a tradition or to an aachaarya or to an upbringing, but
conviction based on clear understanding of the nature of the problem
and solution to the problem.  I have to think, weigh and analyze the
philosophies presented -  all the darshhana-s that have been put
forth as well as any other interpretations and in the final analysis
come to firm conclusion in my mind of what is right and what is wrong
and, thus I should be completely doubt free in my own mind.

This doubt-free knowledge involve four things: 1. One should know
what is right as right and 2. Should also know what is wrong as
wrong, 3. Why the right is right i.e. logically able to establish in
my own mind that, that right is right or that right cannot be wrong
and 4. Why wrong is wrong - what is wrong with the wrong or why it
cannot be right.  In fact the second chapter of Brahmasuutra
discusses exclusively what is wrong with the wrong.  Respecting a
person is one thing but accepting the philosophy that he preaches is
another. Hence one can have respect for Shankara or Ramanuja or
Maadhva, Kapila or Jaimini etc- but one should have firm conviction
what is the right philosophy and why is it the right philosophy and
what are the wrong philosophies and why are they wrong philosophies.
Respecting is the sign of a cultured person, but accepting all
philosophies is the sign of a confused person. If one is not
fanatical but convinced in one philosophy one should able to
communicate his knowledge without disrespecting the others.

Hence mananam removes samshaya pratibandha. Nidhidhyaasanam is meant
for removing the second obstacles - vipariita bhaavana - looking upon
aatma or Brahman as something other than oneself- it is this that
makes one to ask or state - I have studied all scriptures and
understand Advaita Vedanta, now what should I do? Enough of
intellectual analysis - it is useless - I want to withdraw myself or
want to devote myself (to non-intellectual?) to something more
useful. When Vedanta says it is swataH siddham - ever existing
eternally present - how does doing something or not-doing something
help or obstruct? But the very question and the statement implies the
vipariita bhaavana or habitual obstacles due to taking anaatma as
aatma and aatma as anaatma - that is looking aatma as some third
person. The solution is to start looking aatma as the first person
that is I am that aatma and I am not this anaatma. - I should not
wait for moksha or liberation - since moksha is here and right now.

    I heard people saying Advaita is very difficult to understand and
follow and in the kaliyuga it is simpler and easier to get liberated
by kiirtana or through bhakti, etc. The fact is there is nothing to
practise in Advaita -  it is some thing to be - as one's own self or
owning one's own self.  Nididhyaasana involves firm establishment in
the correct understanding that there is nothing to do or achieve, and
one is already liberated - I am sidhha suddha mukta swaruupaH. This
is called changing the thought pattern or reorientating the ways of
one's thinking. A complete over-haul of one's mind. Nididhyaasanam
does not give j~naanam, it does not give moksha - it removes the
obstacles for j~naanam - It converts sa pratibandhaka j~naanam to
apratibandhaka j~naanam. Thus all the three- shravanam, mananam and
nidhidhyaasanam- are meant for dR^iDa j~naanaartham eva - for firm
abiding knowledge only. This can be illustrated by a simple example.
We know as soon as we turn on the switch, the electric bulb glows and
instantly the light of the bulb eliminates the darkness. Suppose when
the switch is turned on and the darkness still remained. Upon
inquiring we find there is nothing wrong with the switch nor with the
bulb nor with the line in between and we also know that current is
flowing and the bulb is also burning. Further investigation revealed
that the darkness is still there because the light from the burning
bulb is obstructed by two thick dark opaque sheets of clothes. Hence
even though the electric current has done its job and bulb is also in
working condition, yet the darkness remained only because of the
obstruction of the light coming from the bulb. All one has to do is
to remove the obstructing material and that very instant the darkness
will be removed by the light from the bulb. Now, the question is what
removed the darkness - is it light from the bulb or the action of
removing the covering sheets. Action of the removing the covering
sheets is required in this particular case but what actually
contributes to the removal of darkness is the turning of the switch
that resulted in passing the current to the bulb, which caused to
emanate the light. It is the light that is opposite to darkness.
Everything else is required but they are not the primary cause for
the removal of darkness. In the same way the Nididhyaasana is like
removing obstacles that obstruct the removal of darkness of ignorance
by the light of knowledge which is already glowing in the bulb of
intellect. Hence mananam and nididhyaasanam removes the two obstacles
for knowledge, the samshhayaH and vipariita bhaavana, but j~naanam
alone removes the ignorance and leads to moksha.

   Hence the arguments of Shankara can be briefly
   a) Nididhyaasanam is not after j~naanam but for j~naanam only. It is
not a upaasanaa after j~naanam as vR^ittikaara argues but it is part
of the process for j~naanam. Hence there is big difference between
the role of nididhyaasanam in the vR^ittikaara outlook versus an
advaitin outlook. b) The second difference is for vR^iittikaara
nididhyaasanam is a karma that comes after j~naanam whereas for
Vedantin nididhyaasana is not a karma after j~naanam, but a process
of j~naanam. c) In the vR^ittikaara mata nidhidhyaasana as upaasanaa
produces a puNya phalam where as in Vedanta, it is not karma
producing a positive result as adR^ishhTa phalam but for Vedantin it
only removes our habitual dehaatma-buddhi which is the dR^ishhTa
phalam. d) In upaasanaa one expects moksha to happen in future, an
event in future, a result after an action.  In Vedanta nidhidhyaasana
is not with an expectation of moksha, but it is knocking of an
expectation of moksha - I am free here and now and not an event in
future will be the affirmative knowledge. Thus even though both
Vedantin and vR^ittikaara translates nidhidhyaasana as meditation -
the connotation and its implication are different. Hence from
Vedantin's perspective all the three, shravanam, mananam and
nididhyaasanam put to together as one gives the knowledge. Of these
shravanam has the positive role of producing knowledge and mananam
and nididhyaasanam have the negative roles of removing doubt and
habits, respectively. Thus all the three play different roles but the
ultimate result is j~naanam and after j~naanam there is nothing else
to be done.

Next comes the last puurvapaksha. Up to this point Shankara has
established using various arguments that there is no karma involved
in Vedanta. While negating karma he negated upaasanaa also since it
is only a karma but at mental level. Now vR^ittikaara puts forth his
last straw. If Vedantin says there is no moksha by karma and upasanaa
since they are activities, then j~naana also cannot give moksha since
it is also a kind of action involving mental activity or maanasika
vR^itti. If upaasanaa involving meditation is considered as a mental
activity then j~naanam should also be considered as a mental
activity, since both involve manasika vR^itti. Hence if upaasanaa is
negated as not a means for moksha, then j~naanam also gets negated
since it is also equally a karma involving mental activity. The
argument can be stated as - j~naanam karmaruupam, maanasa vR^itti
ruupatvaat, upaasanavat.  j~naanam is also a type of karma, since it
involves a mental activity, just like upaasanaa. This is the
vR^ittikaara's argument.

   Shankara refutes by this saying that j~naanam does not come under
karma.  Even though upaasanaa and j~naanam both are maanasika
vR^itti-s, upaasanaa comes under karma but not j~naanam. Why is it
so?  Shankara gives two arguments in support of this - these
arguments are presented in three stages.

1) The first difference between j~naanam and karma is j~naanam
depends on the object of knowledge - vastu tantram where as karma
depends on the subject of action - kartR^i tantram. For example
student who comes to the class performs two types of efforts - one is
a student is using the ears, j~naanedriyam to hear and he takes the
role of hearer. After hearing the student wants to take the notes.
Then he takes the role of kartaa, a writer of the notes. The moment
one becomes hearer, what one hears is not under the controller of the
hearer, it is under the control of speaker or a teacher since he
determines what the student hears. Thus what one hears does not
depend on the subject, the hearer, but the object of hearing.
J~naanam vastu tantram or prameya tantram and not pramaatR^i tantram.
Where as the moment the student becomes a note-taker or writer, what
one writes using the karmendriya-s depends on the writer. Hence the
first difference is j~naanam is vastu tantram where as karma is
kartR^i tantram.

2. The second difference is actually the same as the first but put in
a different way. j~naanam is dependent on the type of pramaaNam one
uses - pramaaNa tantram whereas karma, particularly shaastra karma or
ritual, depends on shaastra vidhi or chodana -hence it is chodana
tantram.  If I am using ears for j~naanam then I am using shabda
pramaaNam, if I am using eyes for j~naanamm then ruupa prapancha.
Hence as a pramaataa or knower, the knowledge I get depends on the
type of pramaaNam that I use to gain the knowledge - I, the
pramaataa, cannot decide -or rather cannot choose - the choice
depends on the pramaaNa or the type of objective knowledge - is it
some thing to see, some thing to hear or something to taste or
something to smell etc.  Thus it depends on pramaaNa.  Karma is
chodana tantram, that is shaastric injunction will determine the type
of karma that one must perform.  Shankara give a beautiful example
here - In Chandogya upanishad there is pa~nchaagni vidya.  In that
context the upanishad talks about a type of meditation to be done
which is termed as pa~nchaagni vidya. In that meditation various
things in the creation are to be seen as agni. At the end of that
meditation as a final part it instructs - "purushhaH vaava
goutamaagniH | "- May you look upon the male or the father as the
fire principle.  Finally it says "yoshaa vaava goutamaagniH | "-May
you look upon the mother or female also as fire principle. This is a
kind of upaasana or meditation.   This type of meditation is chodana
tantram or shaastra vidhi or injunction by shaastra as karma.
Suppose a person sees a man as a man and woman as woman.  Is it
because of shaastra vidhi or injunction by shaastra?  Looking at man
as a man and woman as a woman is not considered as shaastra vidhi or
injunction by shaastra since it is natural to look woman as woman and
man as a man.  It is not a chodana tantram whereas seeing a man as a
fire or anything other than a man is chodana tantram or an injunction
by shaastra.  Hence seeing man as a man is j~naanam or knowledge
while seeing man as a fire is upaasanam.  Seeing a stone as a stone
is j~naanam, seeing a stone as Vishnu is upaasanaa. Seeing a stone as
a stone does not depend on our choice, but seeing the stone as Vishnu
depends on seer's choice. A DMK fellow may not choose to look upon
the stone as God to do puuja for it, unless it is the statue of his
DMK founder!  Hence j~naanam is pramaaNa tantram, karma or upaasanaa
is chodana tantram.

3. Karma can produce four types of results that we discussed before
-aaptiH or reaching a place; utpattiH or producing a new thing;
sa.nskaaraH or purifying a thing; and vikaaraH or modifying a thing.
Where as j~naanam does not produce any one of the four results. It
only reveals a thing as it is but it does not produce. Suppose I
learned about Himaalaya-s from a book. By  that knowledge - there is
no reaching of Himaalayas. Similarly j~naama does not produce
anything - Reading a cook book does not produce a dinner on the
table. Similarly knowledge does not purify - knowledge that the house
is dirty does not clean the house. Action only cleans the house -
Hence  Shankara says in VivekachuuDamani
chittasya shuddhaye karma na tu vastu upalabdhaye |
vastusiddhiH vichaareNa na ki~nchit karmakoTibhiH ||

Karma (yoga) purifies the mind only but does not help to gain the
knowledge.  Only by inquiry into the nature of reality can one gain
the knowledge, and  not by performing countless actions. Hence if you
want chitta suddhi mere knowledge will not do, you have to do karma
yoga.  Does j~naanam modify any thing - knowing that I am fat does
not make me slim. Thus karma produces one of the four results where
as j~naanam does not produce these four results. Hence j~naanam and
karma are not identical.  Hence self-knowledge is not a type of
karma. It does not produce anything -including moksha!  j~naanam only
reveals the fact as a fact - the fact that I was, I am, I ever will
be a mukta purushhaH - thus it only reveals a fact!  It does not make
one to reach, produce, purify or modify - it reveals the fact that I
am nitya muktaH. Therefore I have nothing to do. Thus j~naanam is not
karma and after j~naanam no karma is required either. Then why
karmaakaaNda- since there is no need of karma after j~naanam? Before
j~naanam it is useful - as the above vivekachuuDamani sloka
emphasizes, for chitta suddhi or for acquiring saadhana chatushhTayam
that is required before Brahman inquiry can be done as discussed in
Suutra 1.
With this Shankara concludes the vR^ittikaara khanDana also.

With this we  end our discussion of the word 'tu' in the suutra ' tat
tu  samanvyayaat'


Now the conclusion where we present the fourth suutra in the standard
technical format.

vishhayaH - subject matter - vedanta shaastram

vishayaH or  sa.nshayaH - doubt - whether it is karma param or brahma
param -some action to be done or just revealing Brahman.

puurvapaksha - karma param - Vedanta shaastra prescribes action -
karma alone gives one something whereas mere knowledge does not give
any benefit. Theory has to lead to technology for it to be useful.

siddhanta: Vedanta shaastram is brahma param - since ignorance is the
root  cause for the human suffering, the knowledge alone is the
solution to this problem.  Just as by mere knowledge of the rope the
fear associated with snake etc are gone. Karma cannot get rid of
ignorance. No action is necessary or possible for getting rid of
ignorance.  Gaining knowledge does not involve action although
thinking or inquiry is involved in that process.  Thinking or inquiry
is not an action like upaasana which for example involves visualizing
Vishnu while one is seeing a stone.  Hence gaining j~naanam involves
no action - there is nothing to do but something to know.  In fact it
involves in knowing that one is akarthaa or a non-doer.

   sa~NgatiH -How is related to previous adhikaraNam-s?  It is aakshepa
sangatiH - the fourth adhikaraNam is an answer to the objection,
which is raised on the third adhikaraNam. Brahman is the subject
matter of Vedanta is the third adhikaraNam and based on that
objection that Brahman is not the subject matter but karma is the
subject matter of Vedanta. That objection is answered - by tat tu
samanvayaat - that Brahman alone is the subject matter.

With this fourth adhikaraNa and forth suutra is over.
Generally people stop the study of Brahmasuutra-s with this fourth suutra.
But we will continue thanks to the help of Geetha, Sunder and Dennis
in making sure I work hard along with them.
   End of the post
Notes on Brahmasuutra-s are now stored in a folder and can be accessed at
for personal study.

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K. Sadananda
Code 6323
Naval Research Laboratory
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