Section ii of chapter I consists of 32 sūtra-s. Section I said that Brahman is the cause for creation, sustenance, etc and He can only be realized through inquiry. Though Brahman is the cause of all attributes, certain attributes such as illumination, vital breath, individual soul, etc were highlighted in this section. In the present section (I.ii), certain sayings of Upanishad-s, which cause confusion in our minds, are explained and clarified so that we can contemplate Him, as He is. This section dwells more on cause and effect concept.  Beginning from this article, interpretation is simplified and condensed without losing sight on the purport of sūtra-s or its essence. Only through proper understanding of Brahma Sūtra, Brahman can be realized, as highest spiritual knowledge is a prerequisite to realization.

Brahma Sutra I.ii.1:

Brahman alone is to be meditated upon. But, why Brahman alone is to be mediated upon? Because it is said so in Chāndogya Upanishad (III.xiv.1). The Upanishad says that everything is Brahman; everything originates from Him, sustained by Him and dissolved unto Him. Since He is the cause for everything, we should meditate upon Him. Meditating on Him works effectively in one’s mind and makes his mind pure. Why it is said that we should meditate upon Him? In a man, mind is supreme and effective meditation can be done only through a purified mind. In such a condition, only His thoughts pervade the mind. When that man dies contemplating only Brahman, he is liberated. Upanishad says what a person wills in his present life, he becomes that after his death (however, subject to his karmic account). If one meditates on Brahman, he becomes one with Brahman. Kṛṣṇa also says in Bhagavad Gītā (VIII. 6-8), “Arjuna, thinking of whatever entity while leaving his body at the time of death, that alone one attains in his next birth, as he is always absorbed in that thought.  Therefore, Arjuna think of Me all the times and fight.  With mind and intellect set on Me, you will undoubtedly come to Me. Arjuna, he whose mind is perfected by practicing yoga, thinking nothing else except effulgent Puruṣa (Brahman), attains Him.”  It also implies that Brahman like ānandamaya and prāṇamaya is also manomaya. Not bliss and prāṇa alone originate from Him; mind also originates from Him and in order to realize Him as manomaya, He is to be meditated upon. It is not necessary that Brahman should be meditated upon as something larger than the largest or smaller than the smallest. He should be meditated upon as we are, as He manifests through our forms.

Vivekacūḍāmaṇī (verse 362) explains this beautifully. “When the mind thus purified by constant practice is merged in Brahman, then samādhi (trance) passes on from savikalpa to nirvikalpa stage, which directly leads to realization of the Bliss of Brahman.”

Brahma Sutra I.ii.2:

Intended qualities or thought processes are indeed Brahman. How our thought processes are affected? The nature of our thoughts depends upon inputs received by the mind through organs of action and perception. This is known as distraction of mind, where the mind is not focussed on Brahman alone, but wanders to different places (due to desires, attachments, etc).  Thus the purity of the mind is affected and this state of mind is called afflicted mind and we are responsible for this state. During meditation, we disconnect our minds from external world and as a result our mind gets cleansed (due to lack of sensory inputs). Brahman cannot be meditated upon as someone with any trace of impurity. Chāndogya Upanishad says (III.xiv.2) says, “Brahman has subtle body (which means that He is formless), He is luminous, if He desires to have something He will get it. He is spotless. He is everywhere in the world and is free from desires.” Qualities of Brahman are being explained. What are the qualities of Brahman? It is nothing but purity and purity alone. In order to mediate on Him, we should keep our mind free from mundane thought processes. Muṇḍaka Upanishad (III.i.2) takes forward this principle. It says, “He has no form, He is luminous, without prāṇa and mind”.  Both these Upanishad-s do not contradict each other, but corroborate each other. Brahman is manomaya, ānandamaya, etc, which means He is full of these attributes. But He is not affected by these attributes. Mind is derived from His manomaya and bliss is derived from His ānandamaya. We say that such attributes originate from Him and at the same time, He is not either affected or bound by these attributes, as He is beyond these attributes. Attributes cause limitation; since He is beyond limitations, He is free from such attributes, though these attributes originate from Him. He is bigger than the biggest and smaller than the smallest. This being the Truth, how we can define Brahman? Infinity cannot be defined. Infinity is infinity and similarly Brahman is Brahman.

Brahma Sutra I.ii.3:

Individual souls are not mentioned here because these qualities do not fit the individual souls. What is an individual soul? It is nothing but embodied Brahman, who is covered by māyā. Though Brahman is covered by māyā, yet He remains as He is. He is not affected or He is not bound. Because He is veiled by māyā, we feel as if He is bound. Therefore it is implied that one should not meditate on an embodied soul. What is meditating on embodied soul? Embody means that the Self is covered by māyā and sheaths such as manomaya kośa, ānandamaya kośa, etc. Difference between the Self and the individual soul is about manomaya, ānandamaya, etc. Brahman is manomaya, whereas individual soul is covered by manomaya kośa. Thus Brahman is the source of manomaya and from this manomaya, manomaya kośa of the individual soul is developed. Even in the individual soul, Brahman is there, as without Him, nothing can happen. He is omnipresent. Only difference is, purity of Brahman is covered by sheaths, there by blocking His effulgence. It is like bright sun covered by dark clouds. Can we say that the brightness of sun is lost, because it is covered by dark clouds?
Therefore, meditation means thinking about the purity of Brahman and not contemplating an individual soul.

Brahma Sutra I.ii.4:

Why the differentiation between the Self and self is being explained? This has become necessary, as they are mentioned separately as the knower and the known. Knower is the self and the known is the Self. A knower (an aspirant) uses his meditative skills to know the Self. In order to give him clarity, difference between the Self and the self is being explained. How to meditate on formless Brahman? Chāndogya Upanishad (III.xiv.4) explains this. “He who is free from desires, He who has no sense organs, etc, is my Self and is in my heart. When I leave this body (death), I shall attain Him. He, who firmly believes this and has no doubt in his mind about this, will surely attain Brahman.” Faith is being taught here. Since Brahman is subtle, cannot be seen, etc, one has to believe that He is within us. If one meditates on this Brahman, he is bound to be released from the pains of transmigration after his death, subject to his karmic account. There should be no karmic imprints for merging into Brahman.

Brahma Sutra I.ii.5:

Difference between the Self and the self is being discussed because of usage of words. Brahman is ānandamaya, full of Bliss. For individual soul ānandamaya is not applicable. It is only ānandamaya kośa or sheath of bliss.  During meditation, we have to look for Brahman within, transcending all the kośa-s. There are five types of kośa-s placed in three types of bodies (gross, subtle and causal) and the Self is beyond all these. Through meditation, we have to transcend these kośa-s and bodies to reach the Self within.


types of koshas

Brahma Sutra I.ii.6:

Difference between the Self and the self is also highlighted in Smṛti-s (essence of Vedas, like Upanishad-s) also. Difference between the Self and the self is not only the teaching of Brahma Sūtra; the difference is also explained in Smṛti-s like Upanishad-s, Bhagavad Gītā, etc. The authenticity is being explained here. When we proceed towards realization, we should not nurse any sort of doubts. Without clarifying doubts from one’s Guru, attainment of realization is too difficult, though not impossible.  

That is why, Kṛṣṇa has chosen to teach Arjuna in Bhagavad Gītā, “Arjuna, the Lord abides in the hearts of all beings, causing them to revolve according to their karmas as if attached to a machine, by His cosmic delusion known as māyā, Take shelter in Him completely, and by His mere grace, you shall obtain supreme peace and the eternal abode. Thus, I have imparted the supreme wisdom, the secret of all secrets.  Ponder over it thoroughly and act as you desire.” We need no more authentic proof than the words of Kṛṣṇa. Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad (III.vii.23) says, “He is the Internal Ruler, your own immortal Self. He is never seen, but is the witness.” This proves His formlessness and all pervasive nature. Just like He is outside our body, He is also within the body. First, we have to try to search Him within and later on, we can look from His eyes, the entire universe. What happens if we look through His ‘eyes’? We understand the meaning of “sarvam īśvaramayam jagat”. The whole world is Īśvara, wherever we look at it is only Īśvara. We are not able to realize this due to His own power, known as māyā.

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