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interesting views from Dr. SMS Chari's Sribhasya class

From: Krishna Kalale (
Date: Wed Feb 14 1996 - 13:42:14 PST

Shreemathe Srivan Satagopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatheendra Maha Desikaya Namaha:
Shreemathe Lakshmi Nrisimha Divya paaduka Sevaka Srivan Satagopa Sri
Narayana Yatheendra Maha Desikaya Namaha
Asmad Gurubyo Namha, Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha parabramhane Namaha.

For the last few days I am attending classes from Dr. CHari regarding
SriBhasya.  These ideas were very informative.  There is no doubt that the
very birth of Sribhasya is to establish a system of vedanta different from
advaita and the rest.  The approach taken by Sri Ramanuja is unique and very
thorough.  Let us examine some aspects here:

The first sutra establishes the context of sutras:  Atha Atho Bramha
Jijnasa.  Then, therefore enquiry into bramhan.
What is this bramhan?  How can it ever mean - Nirvishesha bramhan ( ie. an
Entity without any attributes??) Let us look into the etymological meaning
of the word bramhan - brihatvaat brimhanatvaat cha bramha ityucchate.
Brihatvaat - because it is big (in every sense - shape, size, attributes
etc.) brimhanatvaat - that which makes the rest to grow big (Bramhan-
creates this prakriti or universe which is huge---sort of infinite in size
and also it helps the jeevatma's knowledge to grow - as indicated by the
sruthi sentence - sa cha aaananthyaya kalpate (Jeevan though infinitesimal
then expands to infinity ie. is the jnanam of jeeva.).  Hence the term
bramha - etymologically means that which is big and makes others big! how
can this be an entity without attributes?  The very term bramha means it has
attributes.  So the very subject of bramha sutras cannot be nirvishesha bramhan.

This is further confirmed by the next sutra - janmaadyasya yathaha - from
whom this universe is created, protected, in whom all this gets destroyed,
etc. - is bramhan.  So the action of creation, destruction, protection
become attributes of this bramhan - they are tatastha lakshanas - ie.
incidental attributes not attributes of form of bramhan (they are satyam
jnanam anantham). Since action is indicated in creation etc., then bramhan
is definitely not nirvishesha here.  Even Sri Sankaracharya accepts that
bramhan here means ishwara  - who is Saguna who is ultimately not real -
only relatively real as per advaita.  Then where in the sutras is the
nirvishesha aspects discussed???  we will come to this in a different sutra
and see whether it is really mentioned there. sribhasya's view is that this
issue is never discussed in bramhasutras. the only sutra which talks close
to identity is the avibhagena drishtatvaat. this aspect will be examined in
another mail.

NOTE:  As per advaita, major importance is not given to Bramha sutras and
Bhagawadgita - since they are both paurusheya - ie. they are not unauthored
like the Vedas or Upanishads.  Visisitadvaitins strongly uphold all the
three canons - prasthana traya - ie. upanishads, bramhasutras, bhagawadgita.
The sutras are definitely non-descriptive and hence offer possibilitiies for
different interpretations.  Atleast Sri Ramanuja's and Sri Shankara's
commentaries are comparable since they atleast agree with the vishaya vakyas
- upanishadic statement references.  In fact the interesting issue is the
striking similarity between these bhasyas - except the maya issue, and
nirvishesha issues!.  It is quite difficult to compare Sri Madhva bhasya and
Sribhasya since their reference vedanta vakyas - are different and they have
a number of areas of disagreement regarding the very topic of the sutras.  

Krishna P. Kalale