Brahma Sutra I.iv.21

According to the schools of satya-bheda vāda (the school of thought led by Auḍulomi, which believes that there is always difference between the Self and the self) difference between the individual soul and Brahman (the Self) is real and exists from the beginning. Their faith is based on Chāndogya Upanishad (VI.iii.2) which says, “Brahman said unto Himself, “Entering into these three deities (fire, water, earth) as the individual soul, I shall manifest in many names and forms.” Satya-bheda Vāda School erroneously interpreted this verse. This verse conveys omnipresence nature of Brahman and does not in any way convey the difference between the Self and the self. In reality, there is no difference between the Self and the self. It is only due to our ignorance, we consider individual soul as different from the Self. Where is the proof for this interpretation? The same Upanishad (VI.viii.7) says, “That which is subtlest of all is the Self of all this. It is the Truth. It is the Self. You are That (the Self)”.

This concept will be discussed in detail as we progress (in subsequent aphorisms). Now the question whether the Self and the self are one and the same. Some scholars think so and others do not accept this. Further discussion is based only on this theory to find the correct answer.

Brahma Sutra I.iv.22

According to another school of thought (led by Kāśakṛtsna), Brahman Himself manifests individual souls. Thus there exists no difference between Brahman and the individual souls. Then, why we consider the Self and the self are different? There are two reasons. One is due to the spiritual ignorance known as māyā and another is due to upādhi (substitution – for example substituting the self for the Self). In fact, upādhi is also a product of māyā, which is the single important deterrent factor in Self-realization.

What happens when the Self is realized? This is answered in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad (IV.v.15), which says, “Because when there is duality, as it were, the one sees something, one smells something.....But to the knower of Brahman, everything has become the Self, then what should one see.......The Self is That which has been described as ‘not this, not this’ (neti neti).”

Though we consider the individual self as different from Brahman, in fact these two are not different. This is simply because there is no second to Brahman and all that exists is only Brahman. It is only due to the influence of māyā (illusion) we perceive duality.

Brahma Sutra I.iv.23

Brahman is not only the material cause but also the efficient cause of the universe. Material cause means ‘that out of which’ (for example metal bronze for a bronze statue) and efficient cause means ‘the primary source of the change’ (for example the artisan who makes the bronze statue). Why Brahman is both material and efficient cause? Primarily it is due to His omnipresence.

The process of creation is explained in Praśna Upanishad which says that sixteen parts emerge from Brahman. These sixteen parts are known as ṣoḍaśakalā (different from ṣoḍaśakala of the moon). Praśna Upanishad (VI.4) describes ṣoḍaśakalā. The verse says, “That Puruṣa (Brahman) created Hiraṇyagarbha, known as prāṇātman (the spirit which connects the totality of subtle bodies like a thread, also known as sūtrātman; it is considered as the lowest of the three types of souls, the other two being jīvātman and Paramātman); from Hiraṇyagarbha came faith (possibly referring to the power that controls human destiny or karmic theory), from faith came space, from space air, from air fire, from fire water,  from water earth, from earth organs (organs of perception and organs of action), then mind, food, virility, austerities, the Vedas (four Vedas), the sacrifices (rituals, oblations, etc), heaven (including other worlds as referred by seven vyāhṛti-s of Gāyatrī mantra) and finally various creations. These are the sixteen parts of creation known as ṣoḍaśakalā.

An example is cited in Chāndogya Upanishad (VI.i.5) which says, “By knowing a single lump of gold, you know all objects made of gold. Different ornaments made of gold in different shapes and forms are expressed through different words (such as necklace, bangles, ear studs, etc). But gold is the reality.” Now let us compare this with Brahman. The entire universe is Brahman (gold) and names, forms and shapes are only different words (such as necklace, bangles, ear stud, etc). Therefore, Brahman alone is reality like gold. Thus Brahman becomes both the material cause and the efficient cause of the universe. Brahman is not only the gold, but also the goldsmith, as He alone is omnipresent.

Brahma Sutra I.iv.24

The entire creation is due to Divine Will to create (will of Brahman). Chāndogya Upanishad (VI.ii.3) says, “I (Brahman) shall be many and I shall be born.” This confirms that Brahman is both the material cause and the efficient cause of the universe (unity in diversity).

Spanda-kārikā (a Trika Scripture) explains the process of creation differently. “Spandana means some sort of movement. If there is movement from the essential nature of the Divne towards another object, it is definite movement, not some sort of movement. Spanda is only a throb, a heaving of spiritual rapture in the essential nature of the Divine which excludes all succession. Spanda is therefore spiritual dynamism without any movement in itself, but serving as the cause (both material and efficient cause).” This is explained as ‘the unchanging principle of all changes’ in Vedānta. It is like electricity being the cause of all forms of lights. Without electricity, different shapes and forms of lights fittings are of no use and further, these fittings are manufacture with the help of electricity. Electricity is subtle and cannot be seen (like Brahman). Different shapes and forms of light fittings are like different gross bodies (man, animals, insects, plants, etc).

This sūtra goes to prove that Brahman alone prevails everywhere at the same time (omnipresence).

Brahma Sutra I.iv.25

Both for creation and dissolution, Brahman is the material cause (that out of which). Chāndogya Upanishad (I.ix.1) explains this. “Everything that exists arises from space (here space refers to Brahman) and also goes back into space. Space is superior to everything. Space is the highest goal.”

Taittirīya Upanishad (III.1) also confirms this by saying, “Try to understand that Brahman is the source of everything, then everything is sustained by it and that everything dissolves into it. That is Brahman.” We need no other authority to understand the omnipresence of Brahman.

Brahma Sutra I.iv.26

Brahman is the material cause because Taittirīya Upanishad (II.7) says, “At first there was no world. There was only Brahman. The universe was then in Brahman (inherent in Brahman), who was un-manifested. The universe will all its names and forms then created itself. It was as if Brahman created himself this way. Because Brahman created Himself, He came to be known as sukṛta (doing good, benevolent, virtuous; or creation in an orderly manner, which is substantiated in Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.1) which says, “From this Self came space, from space air, from air, fire, from fire water, from water the earth, from the earth plants, from plants food and from food originated human being. A human being is in fact, a product of food.” For the same reason it is said “annam prāṇaḥ.”)

Brahma Sutra I.iv.27

Brahman is also the source because it is said so in Muṇḍaka Upanishad (III.i.3). “When a spiritual aspirant realizes his self as the Supreme Being, he then goes beyond good and evil (good and evil are dualities and all dualities are impure; as long as we are associated with dualities, we continue to remain impure), becomes pure and attains a deep feeling of oneness (oneness not only means oneness with Brahman but oneness with the universe and all the beings of the universe – universal brotherhood).

Another example is given in Muṇḍaka Upanishad (I.i.7) which says, “The spider brings out its web from within its own body and again takes it back within itself...” In the same manner everything originates from Brahman and goes back to Brahman. Thus Brahman becomes the material cause of the universe. This is known as Brahmayoni (the original source of creation).” Bhagavad Gītā (XIV.3) says, “mama yonirmahadbrahma” which means “My primordial nature known as the great Brahman is the womb of all creatures. In that womb I place the seed of all life.”

Brahma Sutra I.iv.28

Thus, the origin of the universe is explained overruling all other theories other than Upanishad-s. Why Brahma Sūtra goes by Upanishad-s? It is because they are the essence of Vedas, which are nothing but direct revelations from Brahman Himself.

With this part I of Brahma Sūtra consisting of 134 sūtra-s (out of 555 sūtra-s) is concluded.

Related articles:

Brahma Sutra I.iv.13 - 20

Brahma Sutra - II.i.1 - 4