tattu samanvayāt तत्तु समन्वयात् (I.i.4)

tat (तत्) – Brahman as discussed in previous aphorisms; tu (तु) – is used here to mean pūrvapakṣa; pūrvapakṣa means objection to any assertion during discussions; like arguments to ascertain something; Samanvaya (समन्वय) - message conveyed in a sequential order (through Vedānta and Upanishad-s, as discussed in the previous aphorism I.i.3);  

This Brahma Sutra says that Brahman can be known only through Upanishad-s, etc. At the end of previous Brahma Sutra, it was said that Vedānta carries forward the subtle messages conveyed through Vedas, the complete knowledge of the Self. This Brahma Sutra is different from the previous one. Previous Brahma Sutra said that Upanishad-s, etc originate from Brahman alone, as everything originates from Brahman. If origin of Upanishad-s, etc is from Brahman is onward journey, realising Brahman through Upanishad-s is return journey. Such sacred Scriptures are revealed to us in the most subtle manner, making the spiritual path difficult to understand. Japa-s, mantra-s, are meant to realize Brahman and these are not necessary, once Brahman is realized. For the construction of a building, workers are necessary. Once the building is completed, there is no need for them. The same logic applies to the spiritual path. When someone feels that he is Brahman, where is the need to pursue upāsana? But, to honestly affirm that he is Brahman, such practices are necessary to a certain extent and to a certain point of time. For spiritual path, strong foundation is absolutely necessary and this foundation is in the form of upāsana. Upāsana means waiting upon; waiting for what; waiting for progression in his spiritual path. Upāsana also means adoration and worship. These are the words associated with dualism and not associated with Advaita philosophy or non-dualism. Advaita means simple, yet firm mental affirmation “I am Brahman”. There is no second in Advaita.

But, why such great emphasis is given to Upanishad-s? A great Scripture like Brahma Sutra would not have given such an importance to Upanishad-s without valid reasoning. This can be ascertained through a few examples from Upanishad-s. Chandogya Upanishad(VI.ii.2) says, “Before this world came into being, there was only existence, one without a second.” The same meaning is conveyed in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (II.v.19), which says, “This Self, the perceiver of everything is Brahman.” It also says that Brahman can be understood only through these Scriptures, as they are the source of Supreme Knowledge. Chandogya Upanishad (VI.viii.7) elucidates the essence of this knowledge. “Brahman is the subtlest of all. It is the Truth and it is the Self. You are That.”  This is the wording of a teacher to his student. It is not self-affirmation; it is in the form revelation or teaching. There is difference between these two sayings, you are Xyz and you are That (Brahman).  Xyz is a name associated with a shape and form; like Xyz, there could many such as Abc, etc. Such names are associated with various forms, by which persons are known. These forms are perishable and die one day. Shapes and forms are impermanent, as they undergo constant modification. Whenever and wherever there is growth and modification, the object is bound to perish one day. Upanishad says know you, not as Xyz, but as That, formless Brahman. This is known as looking within. Unless one knows that He is Brahman, he cannot look at the entire creation as Brahman. Hence highest importance is attached to Self-realization. Once the Self is realized within, his perception will undergo transformation and he will begin to look at the material world as Brahman. Thus, “You are That” is the ultimate teaching. On understanding this teaching the aspirant has to affirm “I am That”. Without fully understanding the teaching, true affirmation is not possible. Many people make this affirmation falsely, inspired by ego and illusion. Realization is not to satisfy others, but to satisfy our own selves to get liberated ultimately.

Though Upanishad-s do not prescribe any materialistic rituals to realize Brahman, in certain places, they do say that Brahman is to be meditated upon to understand Him. For example, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (II.ii.v) says, “The Self should be realized through hearing, reflection and meditation.” Hearing means the teachings of Guru, who explains Brahman and Brahman alone, not resorting to any rituals. Reflection means contemplation for a long time. The proper contemplation is possible only through proper teaching. Proper teaching means elucidating the true nature of Brahman. If A tells B that he is Brahman, then it lacks reasoning. It is only a statement and not a teaching. Any spiritual teaching should be done with reasoning otherwise they become mundane statements, which is not the purport of Upanishad-s. Upanishad-s dwell at length on reasoning to elucidate Brahman. That is why Upanishad-s often use the word ‘ney’ which means ‘not this’. They explain Brahman through negations. At the end of learning, by contemplation and ability to fix his consciousness (meditation), he understands Brahman. What is the need to understand Brahman? Muṇḍaka Upanishad (III.ii.viii) answers this FAQ. “He who knows Brahman, becomes Brahman himself. He goes beyond all sorrows and sins.” When one becomes Brahman Himself, there is no transmigration, there is no sorrow, no sin, no suffering, not even happiness and joy, as Brahman is beyond all dualities (dyads). He is beyond Bliss too. Bliss is the state relating to individual mind. When the individual mind paves way for Brahman, there is no question of even experiencing Bliss.

At the end of these teachings, one clearly understands that he is not an individual. He is the Self. In fact, there is no individual self or individual soul. These are the terms used for the sake of convenience and understanding. Only the Self prevails everywhere and Self alone is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. There is no second to the Self. If one continues to dwell on the second, it is a clear case of spiritual ignorance. For these kinds of people, it is said that Brahman should be heard, realized and meditated upon. Meditation is a process of mental exploration, inquiring Brahman using mind as the tool. Only in advanced stage of spiritual learning, one can meditate on the formless Brahman; to reach this stage, knowledge is absolutely necessary and should have the will power, determination and faith to move away from duality to non-duality. Kaṭha Upanishad (I.ii.22) says, “Brahman is present in all forms, yet It is formless. Thinking of this is meditation.” Therefore, meditation here does not mean contemplating some god with a form. In general, meditation should be done only on Brahman, who is formless and eternal. Meditating on a form tantamount to dualism, as there are two objects; one is the meditator and the other is the object of meditation. May be this is acceptable for a beginner, but not for the one who seeks highest knowledge by reading Upanishad-s, Brahma Sutra, etc. This is explained in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (III.1.9) which says that through mind alone, That can be realized. It is in the infinite mind, all forms of gods unite and merge into the eternal Brahman. When this concept is understood, who is going to make sacrifices and to whom? There is no differentiation between the performer of sacrificial rites and to whom sacrifices are performed. Brahman need not be appeased as He is beyond appeasement. It is only due to illusion that the infinite mind is made as finite. In the finite mind, Brahman cannot be realized. Whether one performs sacrificial rites, or one recites mantras, etc, even then, Brahman remains unchanged, as He does not undergo any modifications. A logical question follows. When Brahman cannot be satisfied with sacrifices and mantras, then what is the need for them? Why one should recite mantras? We have seen that mind is important tool in realizing Brahman. In fact, it would be wrong to say that mind is the important tool; in fact it is the only tool. Mantras, sacrifices, etc are done only to purify the mind.  Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā (II.25), “The Self is un-manifest, it is unthinkable and it is immutable.”  By performing sacrifices, reacting mantras, etc, one cannot bring the Self closer to him. It is already there within, remaining as a witness to all his actions. Sage Patañjali in his Yoga Sutra (I.37) says, “Meditating on the mind stuff that is free from attachments...” This goes to prove that Brahman can be realized only through the mind and there is no alternate way of realizing Him.

From the above discussion, it can be understood that there two aspects of realization. One is the knowledge imparted by Guru and another is meditating on the mind. Contemplating some form or other is not mediation, as this is not a meditation on Brahman, who is formless. There is only one type of meditation in which the practitioner merges his individual awareness with Brahman. This is true meditation. When this is practiced, all dualities are dissolved, as the mind alone is the cause for all dualities. Māyā works only through mind and not through sensory organs. It is the mind that is pervaded by māyā, commands sensory organs to perform certain actions. What happens when the mind is under our control, instead of mind controlling us? He becomes a realized person. How is a realized person different from others? Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV.v.15) answers this. “To the knower of Brahman everything is the Self (Brahman). Then what he should see and through what; through what he should speak and through what, etc.....” Vivekacūḍāmaṇī (verse 257) confirms the above discussion. The verse says, “You are Brahman and meditate on this, in your mind.” It further advises (verse 271) to do away with the desire to run after society, passion for too much study on the Scriptures (too much of mantras, japas are also to be included here), desire to keep body trim do not lead to realization.

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Brahma Sutra - I.i.3

Brahma Sutra - I.i.5