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The gist of Sri Bhasyam on chatussUtrI by Dr.NSA

From: padmini ranganathan (
Date: Wed Oct 13 1999 - 11:06:17 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,

The significance of the 2 invocatory verses of Sri
Bhasyam has been discussed. Before we enter into a
descriptive narration of the first 4 sutras, we may
try to have a general understanding of the sutras.

An attempt is made here to expound the gist of the
arguments that RamAnuja has presented in the course of
his explanation on the first four sutras of Vedanta
sutras. The structure of the Vedanta sutras and their
eclassification into chapters and sutras is familiar
to the students of Vedanta. It may be briefly pointed
out that the sutras are classified into 4 chapters,
each chapter being divided into 4  quarters and a
number of topics discussed in each quarter. The
wording of the sutras generally agrees with the
several commentaries on them. The commentators have
taken the liberty of combining or splitting the sutras
according to their discretion. But the general
arrangement of the sutrakara is universally adopted by

According to RamAnuja, the number of sUtrAs is 545 and
the topics discussed are 156. The subject matter of
the four chapters is also common to all commentators.
The first chapter is called "samanvaya",  the second
"avirOdha", the third "sAdhana" and the fourth
"phala". This scheme is adopted by all commentators.
The topics that are discussed in the several sections
generally relate to some Upanishadic statements and
the decisive meaning  of such Upanishadic texts are
arrived at through a logical discussion. First, there
is a proposition and a doubt is mentioned. Next, the
prime facie view is taken and it is answered. Finally
the decision is arrived at. The sUtrAs are very
cryptic statements and sometimes the reason or the
decision is suggested in one or two terms. The five
numbered syllogism is to be worked.

Brahman is the topic of the sUtrAs. The purpose of the
Sutra is the attainment of  Brahman. An aspirant who
is yearning for the attainment of such Brahman is the
"adhikArin". The understanding of the essential
teaching is to result in the necessary spiritual
discipline leading to that attainment. 

The first four sUtrAs of this text are in the form of
an introduction to the theme and they set the trend of
the theme.  It is traditionally pointed out that each
one of these four sUtrAs has a specific purpose. The
first sUtra dismisses the view of the mImAmsakAs that
the 'word' cannot signify an existent object.  The
second sUtra answers the objection that Brahman cannot
be defined. The third sUtra refutes the view that
Brahman can be known through other means also, by
stoutly stating that Brahman can be known only thro'
the SastrAs. The fourth sUtra refutes that an enquiry
into Brahman is futile.

These four sUtrAs terminate the objections that an
enquiry into  Brahman need not be made. The sUtrakAra
has introduced these four sUtrAs to ward off  the
objection raised against the enquiry of Brahman. These
first four sUtrAs form a significant unit of the
Brahma sUtrAs and the SastrAs begin from the fifth
sUtra onwards.  The principal commentators on the
Brahma sUtrAs have recognised the importance of the
first four sUtras and have expounded the fundamentals
of their particular schools while explaining the
meanings of these sUtras. S'ankara has written the
AdhyAsa BhAsya and the way by which the sUtrAs are to
be studied. Under the first and the fourth sUtrAs, the
fundamentals of Advaita ontology are expounded by

RamAnuja who succeeds S'ankara has also discussed
elaborately the view points of Advaita and other
schools while explaining the first and the fourth
sUtrAs. So much of information is packed into the
expositions of the four sUtrAs that we will be able to
know the fundamentals of those schools by studying the
first four sUtras. It may be said that the commentary
on the remaining portion of the SutrAs is an
explanation and elaboration of the fundamentals
described under these four sUtrAs.

To be continued……………..
RamAnujar thiruvaDihaLE SaraNam


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