Brahma Sutra I.iii.19
It can be argued that the Space within, which is being referred as daharakasha refers only to the individual soul and not Brahman. This argument is based on what is going to be discussed hereafter. Spiritual knowledge appears to be an ocean and in reality it is not. Perfect spiritual knowledge can be attained only if there is not even an iota of doubt. For example, one cannot surely proceed without understanding the basic difference between the Self and the self (Brahman and the individual soul). What is the main difference between the two? Brahman is omnipresent and nothing can exist without Him. Individual soul is also Brahman, but He remains veiled by spiritual ignorance known as māyā. Daharakasha is the place where Brahman is seated. Hence Daharakasha should not be misconstrued for the individual soul. Without the presence of Brahman, individual soul is not possible. Hence what is meant by daharakasha is only Brahman. This is the emphasis of this Brahma Sutra.
This aphorism is explained through Chāndogya Upaniṣad (VIII.vii and viii), which goes like this: Indra (chief of gods) and Virocana (chief of demons) deeply meditated for 32 years at the doors of Prajāpati (Brahmā) to know about Brahman. After 32 years Prajāpati asked them what they want to know. Both of them replied,” Sir, the Self is free from sin, old age, death, sorrow, hunger and thirst. He is the cause of Truth and has to be sought for and thoroughly known. The person, who has learned about the Self and known Him, attains all the worlds and all desires. Sir, this is what you have said earlier. We want to know this Self and hence we are waiting at your doorsteps for the past 32 years.” Then Prajāpati said, “That which is seen in the eyes is the Self. This Self is immortal and fearless. It is Brahman.” Again Prajāpati said, “Look at yourselves in a vessel full of water. If you have any doubts about the Self, then let me know.” They looked at themselves in the water. The Prajāpati asked them, “What do you see”. They replied, “We see the reflection of our whole self, including our hair, nails, etc.” Then Prajāpati said, “This is the Self, this is Brahman” (referring to their reflection in the water). The Upaniṣhad continues to dwell on this, through other examples. The point driven home by Upaniṣad is that the Self is omnipresent. We, due to the effect of māyā, consider these reflections as something different from Brahman. Māyā has two qualities. One is to suppress the Truth and another is project Truth as something different from the Truth. Due to fear, mistaking a rope for a snake is the often cited example.
This goes to prove that nothing can exist without Brahman. Due to lack of adequate spiritual knowledge, we are seriously affected by māyā and go with the external forms, ignoring the cause of such forms. For example, let us take a balloon. When we see a big and beautiful balloon, we fix our attention only on the appearance of the balloon and we never think about the air within. Similarly, we look at the external appearance of shapes and forms and we never take pains to look into the cause of these shapes and forms. This is the effect of māyā. If we are able to remove māyā, the Self is revealed and this is Self realization. This thought descends on us for a fraction of a second and from that moment onwards, we are completely transformed.
Brahma Sutra I.iii.20
There is also reference to individual soul, but entirely for different purpose. This is solely for the purpose of understanding and comparison. When we say that Brahman is million times more powerful than the sun, it obviously limits Brahman, as Brahman is limited by this comparison. Then what is the way to explain Brahman? Hence, such comparisons are drawn. Chāndogya Upaniṣad (VIII.iii.3) says, “The Self resides in the heart”. This does not mean that the Self is not residing in other parts of the body. Since He is omnipresent, He is present everywhere, including a corpse. How then the corpse decays? We have to think beyond shapes and forms. Instead of wasting our efforts on material things, we should investigate Brahman. The more we begin to investigate, we move closer to Him. When we are very close to Him, Bliss descends on us. Bliss cannot be practiced, it can only be experienced. Once it is experienced, one can never remain without Bliss.
Let us also consider the three states of human consciousness, active state, dream state and deep sleep state. We need to refer to individual consciousness as only during deep sleep state, we become totally unconscious, during which time our individual consciousness merges with Supreme Consciousness (Brahman). Individual soul is mentioned only to make such comparisons and references. Otherwise, how can we begin to investigate Brahman?
Brahma Sutra I.iii.21
Just because the Space referred here is small, will it not mean the individual soul, particularly in view of the limitation (small space)? Further, Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (V.8) says, “The self is felt in the empty space of the heart. This space is as small as a thumb; nevertheless the self is as bright as the sun. It is distinguished by a will of its own and a sense of ego. An intellect and a body subject to birth and death are among its characteristics. Though as fine as the point of an awl it feels sure that is separate from the Cosmic Self.” This is in complete contradiction of what is said in Chāndogya Upaniṣad (VIII.i.5), “.... the space within neither decays, nor it perishes with the death of the body. This is the real Abode of Brahman. All our desires are concentrated in it. It is the Self, free from all sins.........”
This is with reference to Daharakasha. Now the question arises as to which is correct? Is it the Self or the self? Is it Brahman or individual soul? Both are correct, because, self is nothing but the superimposition on the Self. What is superimposed? The Self is superimposed by desire, egi, intellect and body. In other words, the Self is superimposed both by subtle body and gross body (organs of action and perception). What is subtle body? Subtle body is antaḥkaraṇa comprising of mind, intellect and ego. What we see is only the superimposition and not the Self, which alone is the cause. This is reason for repeatedly saying that one has to look within. Whatever we see with our biological eyes are superimpositions and not the Self. We are seeing only the effect and not the cause. This is the basis of spiritual knowledge.
Brahma Sutra I.iii.22
How is to realize Brahman? How to know Him? Meditate on That Light to know Him. What is That Light? That Light is explicable, say both Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.ii.15) and Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (II.ii.11); “In the presence of Brahman, the sun does not shine, nor do the moon and stars, nor does lightning, let alone this fire. When Brahman shines, everything follows. By Its light, all these are lighted.” This is the famous dīpa ārādhana mantra. But why Brahman is said to be in the form Light. No, He is not in the form of Light alone. He is in the form of everything. Since Light is visible to us, we meditate on Him in the form of Light. Why we should meditate in the form of Light? Because it is said in Chāndogya Upaniṣad (III.xiv.2) “He is luminous”.
Brahma Sutra I.iii.23
In order to provide further proof that Brahman is in the form Light, a reference is drawn from Bhagavad Gītā (XV.6). “Neither the sun nor the moon nor the fire can illumine that Supreme Self-effulgent state, attaining to which, they (the liberated persons) never return to this world. This is My Supreme Abode.” This clearly explains that Brahman is in the form of Self-effulgent Light. That is why, it is said that we should meditate on That Light.
(When we begin to meditate on the Self within, first, the Light appears very dim and with practice, the Light becomes brighter. Not everyone will have the same experience. Some may see bright cluster of stars or crescent moon or full moon. Appearance of bright Light, like the sun will be very rare. This will happen only if one’s kuṇḍalinī ascends on Her own.)
Brahma Sutra I.iii.24
When it is said that the Self is in the size of a thumb, how can He be called as Brahman? Where is it said so? It is said in Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.i.12), “Of the size of the thumb, Brahman resides in the body.” How it can be said that it is Brahman? The verse continues to explain this. “It controls the past, the present and the future.” This statement clearly proves that the verse refers only Brahman and not the individual soul. How? Because, it is said that it controls the past, present and future. Individual soul cannot control the time. It can only remain in the time, but it cannot control the three periods of time.
If it is Brahman, who is omnipresent, what is the need to describe Him in the size of the thumb? Such references are made only to enable us to comprehend. If it is merely said that He is vast, omnipresent, infinite, etc, we cannot even visualize Him. Hence Upaniṣad-s describe Brahman in the form of Light, in the size of the thumb, etc. Ancient sages and saints know that we will not take Self-realization seriously, as they also know that māyā is always powerful. They have taken inexplicable pains in formulating Upaniṣad –s. But, we continue to show disinterest towards Self-realization. If everyone begins to transcend limitations, everyone will become Brahman. Hence, the knowledge about Brahman is made highly subtle. It cannot be merely read from texts. One needs a Guru to impart this Supreme knowledge. This knowledge alone is secretive in nature; not the mantras that we discuss about frequently. There is a huge difference between a Guru and a guru. Guru is the one who has realized the Self and teaches about Brahman from his experience. On the contrary, a guru is the one, who teaches mantras, upāsana-s. Foundation is laid by a guru and the path of liberation is shown by a Guru. In reality, he liberates us.