Thursday, March 13, 2008

Brahma Sutra; Shankara Bhashya 2




Athato Brahma Jijnasa

Therafter(now) Therefore an enquiry into Brahman.

Now we shall briefly try to understand what is referred to as thereafter and therefore.

The Vedas in general deal with ways and means for achieving specific desirable ends. The Purvamimamsa Dharmasutras by Jaimini start with Athato Dharma jijnasa. In this work what is analyzed is the entire karmakanda portion of the Vedas, what is dharma/adharma, the correct performance of various rituals – both principal rituals, and satellite rituals, and utpatti, karmaphalas, apoorva etc.

However the Vedas themselves acknowledge that any karma can only produce anitya phalam – finite result. And this law applies to the entire srshti – it is not that if one is able to get to a better loka, perhaps Vaikuntha, that these laws may not apply, that somehow in another place such as heaven I can enjoy unlimited unalloyed bliss for eternity.

Yat yathaa iha karmachitolokakshiyate tat tathaa amutrapunyachitolokakshiyate

What is true “here” on earth also hold good “there” in the Heavens. The Smrti also supports this – Krishna Himself in te BG talks about

te tam bhuktva svarga-lokam visalam ksine punye martya-lokam visanti

evam trayi-dharmam anuprapanna gatagatam kama-kama labhante

So now then, the question is, is there anything that can give you permanent happiness? Something besides karma and heaven-going or loka-travelling that is talked about in the Vedas. And the answer is yes. The very Shruti that details all of these rituals and their results, also talks about a special kind of seeker, and a special kind of result or fruits for him - mukti, which is unobtainable by any action – nAsti akrtah krtena.

Pareekshy lokan karmachitAnbrAhmana: nirvedamayatastiakruthkruthena,

Ta vignanartham s gurumevabhigached samidpani: srotriyambrahmanishtam.”

An viveki, a person endowed with a discerning intellect, and who is gunataha Brahmin, in other words has a sattvic disposition, should discover by analysis, by vichAra, that even the heavens, etc that one obtains even by the highest type of karma are only ‘anitya’ (impermanent); they do not provide any lasting or eternal happiness, - and he should get the knowledge of that Brahman which is actionless - cannot be obtained by any action; and thus get *nirvedaM* , that is, he should get vairAgyaM. Thereafter he should seek a Guru, and get himself this teaching.

So the conclusion is that there indeed is something more that the Vedas are pointing to that is yet left uncovered – something that does not involve karma or rituals, - and the whole purpose of the karmakAnda is to help this particularly blessed seeker, this viveki, to develop vairagya or dispassion – nirvedam kuryAt – why? Nasti akrtah krtena – whatever can be gained is anityam – will be lost -the only thing that can give permanent freedom would have to be swayamsidha, something already gained. Hence alone the Shruti mentions about a veda-vid like Narada, who tells Sanatkumara

“So'ham, bhagavah, mantra-vid-evasmi na'tma-vit;

srutum hyeva me bhagavad-drsebhyah, tarati sokam, atmavid-iti;

so'ham bhagavah, socami, tam ma, bhagavan, sokasya param tarayatviti;

“I have a lot of information about every aspect of the Vedas. I have heard that knowing the Self alone gives one freedom from sorrow. But I do not know the Self and I am a specimen of sorrow. Take me across this sea of sorrow."

Another example is also given of Shvetaketu who after a study of the entire vEdhas under a scholar for several years returns to his father's house, fluffed with pride - he thought that he has finished studying everything. On seeing this nature of the son, his father called him and thoughtfully asked a question - "O my son! Have you studied that thing (Adesa) through which the unheard of becomes heard, the unthought of becomes thought of, and knowing which everything becomes known?" Swetaketu was of coursed surprised that after all this study, there could be such a important thing he had yet not yet heard of and replied "Father! In what way is that instruction imparted?!" The Kaivalya Up also talks about the same thing - “Na karmana na prajaya …tyage naike amrtatvamanushu”.

So it is clear that beyond the subject matter of the karmakanda portion of the Vedas there is still something vital that is left unsaid, something still to be taught. So therafer and therefore, alone, with viveka, with vairagya born out of such viveka, such a special seeker, a mumukshu, becomes fit for this portion of the Vedas – the Jnanakanda or Vedanta and, he becomes a jijnasu, a adhikari. This jnatum iccha is very important – merely having dispassion or nirvedam is not enough – the word jijnasu reflects a total commitment on the part of the seeker towards seeking this knowledge.

So we have a special adhikari, we have a phalam – in the form of mukti – that too the ultimate purushartha or moksha – which alone leads to dukha nivrtti – freedom from sorrows; and we have a vishayam – a subject matter – which is jiva-ishwara aikyam – it is a subject that requires vichara – because like any other aikya-jnanam – it deals with entities which appear different.

Hence alone “therefore” “therafter” – athato – may there be an enuiry into Brahman - brahmajijnasa –with the help of the pramana which is the Shruti. Let the adhikari mumukshu do vichara. Hence let us begin our study – shastram Arambhaniyam. At this point the purvapakshi or the opponent throws up a interesting question.

To be continued..


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Athatho Brahma Jigyasa


This is a key phrase while narrating the Brahma sutras .

The phrase means " from now on , let the knowledge of BRAHMAN BEGIN' - 'now on ', denotes a sense on continuity .... so , acquiring Brahma jnana , it is important not only to be a mumukshu ( desire liberation) and a jigyasu ( desire jnana) but also possess 'adhikaratwam' that is 'preparedness' - and Shyamji , it would be kind of nice , if you could elaborate on Sadhana chatushtyam and shad shampati in detail for all levels obloggers ( beginners , intermediate and advanced) before elaborating on brahma sutras ! specially , about karma yoga and chitta shuddhi without which jnana yoga is harder .

well, what do you think , shyamji!

regards

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Shymaji, for a very helpful commentary. Hope to see more from you here soon, whatever it is you choose to comment on.

Hari OM

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