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The gist of Sri Bhashyam on ChatussUtrI by Dr.NSA

From: padmini ranganathan (pammi_r_at_YAHOO.COM)
Date: Thu Nov 18 1999 - 08:49:19 PST

Before commenting  on the sutras of Bhagavan
Badarayana, Ramanuja makes a declaration that he would
comment upon the wordings of the sutras strictly
according to their denotation, without torturing the
text. The idea is that he would explain the meanings
according to the senses of the 'prakrti' and 'the
pratyaya'. Ramanuja declares,

1. That he would abide by the interpretation of the
poorvacharyas or the ancient masters propagating this

2. That the masters of yore had abridged the lengthy
explanations of Bhagavan Bodhayana on the Brahma
Sutras.  Those former teachers are to be known as 
'Brahma NandI andothers according to Vedanta Desika.
By the mention of the name of Bhagavan Bodhayana,
later commentators like Sankara and others are
excluded. The lengthy commentary would not be possible
of being studied easily byall. The abridgements would
be very profound and so difficult to understand.
'tanmatAnusArENa' signifies that the untrustworhy
explanations of later writers are not taken into
account. BY this, Ramanuja declares that he would not
impute his own views on the Sutras. 'SutrAksharAni'
means 'aksharArthamAtram;  i.e. the literal meanings
of the words. All the profound meaningsthat are
suggested are not possible of being described
thoroughly. The term 'vyAkyAsyanthE' isalso having
significant meaning. It means that the commentary
would neither be very brief nor very elaborate  but it
would be stating the meanings clearly.  Howw the terms
have to be split and how the terms have to be
understood would be clearly pointed out.

After giving this  brief declaration defining the
scope of his commentary , Ramanuja starts his
commentary by explaning the meaning of the 3 terms of
the first Sutra. The meaning of the sutra is, " then,
therefore, an enquiry into Brahman is to me made". The
first term here is "atha" which means sequence.


The great Badarayan, author of the Brahma Sutras
declares in the very first Aphorism, Athaato Brahama
Jijinaasa 'Then therefore, the enquiry into Brahman',
that the deliberation on Brahman invariably requires
certain prerequisities, on account of which alone one
transforms oneself into a Brahmopaasaka. The word
'Atha' in the Sutra expresses immediate sequence. The
word 'Therefore' implies causality. The word 'Atha'
has a variety of meanings. It is used ain
'Adhikaaraartha' or in the sense of introduction of a
subject. This sense is not implied here as it serves
no purpose. A subject will be known to have been
commenced inspite of the absence of a statement to
that effect. Could this word be taken in the sense of
ordaining the understanding of something ? No. Even
this is not tenable because the Sutras are not
mandatory. They are logical and of the nature of a
deliberation. 'Atha' may also mean 'auspiciousness'.

'SankhasvanAdivat atha Sabda mangalAvaha"'

'Omkara' and 'Atha' Sabda are auspicious. Even this
meansing cannot be the purport in this context. If it
is taken that an enquiry into Brahman is of an
auspicious nature then enquiry into Brahman becomes
praised and then the Sutras become 'arthavada', and
not 'nyaya nibandhana'. If 'atha' is having the
meaning of an interrogative word; then the meaning
will be 'Is Brahmajijnasa to be done ? There is no
answer to it here and so this meaning also is
untenable. 'Atha' also means totality and according to
this the meaning will be 'Enqiury into Brahman is to
be made in its completeness'. This meaning also is not
jusitified as a doubt has never been raised regarding
its partial enquriy. So the word 'atha' here has the
sense of sequence only.

When we arrive at this understanding we have to find
out what that prerequisite is, after gaining which
only, deliberation on Brahman can proceed.

The study of the Vedas is a prerequisite for making
'Dharma Jijnasa' or an enquiry into Karma. Likewise,
it may be pointed out that Brahma jijnasa is to be
undertaken after Dhama Jijnasa. Shankara is not in
favour of this view.  He states that it is quite
possible for one to undertake a deliberation on
Brahman, if he has studied the Vedic lore inclusive of
the Upanishats, even though he has not studied the
philosophy of Karma. There is no definite order
enjoined in this matter of taking up a study of these
two parts. Moreover one is not subservient to the
other. The object of inquiry and the results of Karma
are different from those of Brahman. One leads to
earthly prosperity whereas the other leads to eternal
beatitude. The results of Karma are to be accomplished
as they are not present at the time of knowledge and
they depend upon human effort. But Brahman is an ever
- existent entity and is not dependant on human

BhavyaScha dharmO jign~asyO na JnAnakAlE asti
purushavyApAra tantratvAt|
Iha tu bhUtam  brahma cha JignAsyam nityatvAt na

There is also a difference in the nature of the Vedic
texts relating to Karma and Brahman. The meaning of an
injection related to Karma is to be understood and the
hearer has to act likewise if he is prompted by the
desire for those respective results. Thus there is
knowledge which is followed by action. But those
scriptural passages that speak of Brahman give rise
only to its knowledge and are not followed by any

In view of the fact that Karma vicahara is not in any
way invariably contributing to Brahma vichara,
something, acquiring which alone Brahma jijnasa
becomes possible is to be taught as the prerequisite.
Having thus examined these facts Shankara outlines the
Sadhana ChatushTaya as the prerequisities for
commencing a deliberation on Brahman.

They are as follows :

1. nityAnityavastuvivEka :-
 discrimination between the eternal and non - eternal.

2.ihAmutraphalabhOgavirAga :-
 Dispassion for the enjoyment of the fruits of Karma
here and hereafter.

3. SamadamAdisAdhanasampath :-
 Being endowed with spiritual discipline and practices
such as control of the mind, control of the senses

4. mumukshutvam :-
 Aspiration for liberation.

To be continued.........


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