Brahma Sutra I.iii.25

Again the discussion is about the size of the Self in a human body. For example, Kaṭha Upanishad (II.i.13) says, “He is a thumb sized being and shines like a smokeless flame”.  It is argued that this size could vary according to beings. For example the same Self cannot be in the form of a thumb in an ant. Therefore, Brahman is limited according to the size of the body. No, this is not true. Why it is not true? It is not true, because He is omnipresent. The same Self is present in an ant and a human form. Size does not matter for Him. He transcends time and space. That is His speciality. This is explained in Chāndogya Upanishad (VI.viii.7), which says, “That which is subtlest of all is the Self. You are that Self”. His omnipresent nature is explained through this verse, which says that He is the subtlest of all (God particle discovered by Higgs Boson*), subtlest than air about which we are aware of. Self realization is a practice, which is commonly known as sādhana and is often misinterpreted as abysmal rituals. Kaṭha Upanishad (II.iii.8 & 9) says, “He is all pervasive and formless. If anyone knows Him, he is liberated. It (Brahman) is not an object of vision. No one can see It by eyes. It reveals Itself when the mind is pure and constantly thinking of It. Having realized It properly, he becomes immortal (the Self).”  Upanishad is explicit in saying that Brahman is to be contemplated and realized. He cannot be attained through senses (rituals), but can be attained only through mind. Frankly speaking, even meditation is not necessary. He is to be contemplated even during eating, walking, etc. Such kind of mind is required to attain Him, not those impermanent moments of meditation. Is it right on our part to think about Him for a few minutes or a few hours? If we want to be with Him, we have to think about Him perpetually. This is real meditation, which alone will lead to liberation.

Brahma Sutra I.iii.26

Spiritual knowledge is the ultimate knowledge and according to this Brahma Sutra, even gods do meditate to attain this spiritual knowledge. Gods here does not mean the physical forms of gods. According to our understanding, there gods exist in shapes and forms, but in the form of different energies. God here refers to those who have reached the states of sthitaprajña or jīvanmukta. They have realized the Self within, but have not yet merged into Him. They are waiting for their karmas to be spent by continuing to experience the pains of existence. However, there are references in Upanishad-s about Indra, Varuṇa, etc spending hundreds of years at the gates of Brahmā to know about Brahman. Had they approached Brahmā much earlier, they could have saved hundreds of years. Therefore, the thought about Brahman comes to a person only when he is fit enough to know Him. Till such time, he gets struck in rituals. In order to avoid wasting of this highly precious time (time between birth and death), Brahma Sūtra and Upanishad-s repeatedly advise all of us to seek Brahman within. But we are not listening. We have to wake up before it is too late in this life.

There are references to austerities in Upanishad-s. Austerities do not mean self-denial. Śaṁkarācārya quotes a verse from Mahābhārata to prove this point, which says, “Concentration of the mind and the sense organs is the best austerity”. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa also said, “Our thoughts, our actions and everything should be conditioned by that One idea (contemplating Brahman). That is tapasya (penance) and he is tapasvin”. Therefore, it must be understood, that meditation is not an act of sitting erect in silence, while our thought processes wander intractably.

Brahma Sutra I.iii.27

This is a very important aphorism both from spiritual point of view as well as from the point of view of ritualism and hence there is a need to understand this sūtra properly.

Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad chapter IX elaborately dwells on this most intriguing subject through a conversation between Vidagdha and Yājñavalkya (both were great sages).

“How many gods are there?”

“Thirty three”

“Very well. How many gods are there?”


“How many gods are there?”


“Very well. How many gods are there?”


“Which are those numbers you said earlier?”

“They are manifestations of them. But there are thirty three gods.”

“Which are those thirty three gods?”

“They are eight Vasu-s, eleven Rudra-s, twelve Āditya-s, Indra and Prajāpati.”

“Which are these Vasus-s?”

“Fire, the earth, air, the sky, the sun, the heaven, the moon and the stars.”

“Which are the eleven Rudra-s?”

“The ten organs of perception and ten organs of action and the mind. When they depart from this mortal body, they make one’s relatives weep. Since they make them weep, they are called Rudra-s. (Rudra means crying).”

(There are other interpretations, in contravention of this interpretation and explain Rudras as Aśvins, Agni, Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, etc. Upanishad always looks within and dwell on realities and subtleties.)

“Which are the twelve Āditya-s?”

“The twelve months of a year.”

“Who is Indra and who is Prajāpati?”

“The cloud is Indra and sacrifice is Prajāpati.”

The conversation continues and finally it is declared that Brahman is the cause for all these energies. Significant part of their conversation is given here to enable us to understand that Brahman alone prevails everywhere. Forgetting this reality, we are associated with various forms, etc and waste our limited time of existence. Brahma Sūtra, with the aid of Upanishad-s elucidates the reality and awakens us and it is up to us to get spiritually awakened or stay put with various shapes and forms ignoring His gift to be born as a human being. Human birth is a gift, because only through human birth we can attain liberation. Why liberation is possible through human birth alone? Brahman is subtle and subtle can only be realized and cannot be seen. Mind is the only subtle organ that is capable of realization. Though mind is present in all the creatures, human mind alone is powerful enough and is capable of understanding refinements. Hence, human birth is considered as God’s gift.

This is explained in Chāndogya Upanishad (VII.xxvi.2), which says, “He who has realized the Self does not see death. For him, there is no disease or sorrow. Such a seer sees everything and also attains everything in whatever way he wants.” A Self-realized person will not want anything. He is not interested in material wealth, as the one who is showered with Divine Grace never would like to get immersed in the fathom of material life. However he continues to exist in the material world, but remains unattached. His mere glance will kindle the burning fire of spirituality in our lives. This alone is true initiation.

Brahma Sutra I.iii.28

If these gods are explained in this manner, is it not a contravention of Vedas? No, it is not, because, Vedas did not speak about forms with so many hands, so many heads, etc. Vedas never described about forms. They speak only about Divine energies like, Indra, Aśvins, Agni, Mitra, Varuṇa, etc.

Let us take a mantra from Ṛgveda (IX.61.18) says, “…It makes the pervading universal light visible.” What is that pervading universal light? It is the Prakāśa aspect of Brahman. Prakāśa means Self illuminating and He alone is Self illuminating. We have already seen that before this Prakāśa, the shine of sun and moon are nothing. In fact they get their illuminating power only from Him. In fact, Ṛgveda subtly conveys the flow of nectar into the throat during deep states of meditation.  IX.62 goes still further. It says, “These rapid streams of divine love have been directed through cosmic filter to bring us all felicities…” These chapters of Ṛgveda talks in the way Upanishad-s explain. Śaṁkarācārya explains IX.62.1 thus: “Brahman certainly created gods taking into account all the beings…”All this go to prove that what we worship in shapes and forms are nothing but the different energies of Brahman. The universe cannot be sustained without these energies even for a second. This means that these energies are present throughout the universe either in a subtle manner (like air, sky, etc) or in a gross manner (like water, sun, moon, etc) and hence, Brahman is known not only as omnipresent, but also omnipotent and omniscient. He is everywhere, He is all powerful and He is all knowing. All our actions whether known to others or not, He witnesses every bit of our actions and they get recorded in our karmic account.

Thus, if we say that Upanishad-s are against the inherent values of Vedas, this cannot be accepted, as Upanishad-s never contravene the sayings of Vedas. In fact, Upanishad-s give the inherent and subtle meanings of Vedas in understandable terms. Upanishad-s are known as essence of Vedas.

Brahma Sutra I.iii.29

Therefore, the subtleties of Vedas should be understood. Vedas are considered as secretive revelations, because they declare Brahman through various energy sources. Why such revelations are made only to those ancient sages and saints? Why further revelations are not made in the modern times? It is not right to say that further revelations are not made. Further revelations are being made even today. It is an ongoing process. Divine secrets are shared with certain blessed souls, but they do not reveal themselves to the external world. But they do say about the ways and means to get liberated. But, he goes unnoticed, because he is one amongst us, not revealing his true identity. He goes into hiding, afraid of the deceptive spiritual world. He is disinterested in worthless arguments. Spiritual knowledge should never be commercialised. If someone does so, he not only accumulates insurmountable sins for him, but also drags down his followers into fathomless miseries and pains, if not in this birth, at least in the births to come. But, mostly these sins manifest in this birth itself in some way or other.

*God particle discovered by Higgs Boson. Physicists Peter Higgs and François Englert and the European Organization for Nuclear Research will share the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research in recognition of their work establishing the existence of the so-called God particle, the Asturias Foundation said on May 29, 2013.

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