Brahma Sutra I.iii.12
Akṣara is Brahman, said Brahma Sutra I.iii.10. When we say that Akṣara is Brahman, obviously, others such as individual soul or prakṛti are not Brahman. They are excluded (for the time being, as later we come to know that everything is Brahman*). Why they are excluded? They are excluded because they cannot create anything on their own. They need support. How Brahman supports? He supports everything and He does not need a support. Therefore, except Brahman nothing can support other beings. As nothing contrary to this has been stated in any of the Sacred Texts, Brahman alone is the supporter. Brihadaranyaka upanishad (III.viii.11) says, “This Immutable is never seen” which means He is omnipresent and subtle. He is only a witness to all our actions. Chāndogya Upanishad (VII.24.1) says, “That which is infinite is immortal and that which is finite is mortal. It rests on its own power – or not even on that power (as it depends on nothing else, not even its own power).” This is known as nirādhārā and Brahman alone is nirādhārā. Further, Brihadaranyaka upanishad (III.viii.8) says, “That Akṣara is Brahman”. Literally, Akṣara means imperishable and also refers to OM. Thus, there can be no dispute that Akṣara is Brahman.
Brahma Sutra I.iii.13
Brahman is the object of sight. What is the object of sight? He is both the seer and the seen; in other words, He is the cause of sight and also the object of sight. This explains His omnipresence. *There is nothing in the universe except Him. But due to our inherent māyā, we differentiate, which is nothing but dualism. If we sincerely follow Advaita, we do not follow non-dualism, not even by 1%. What Advaita says? There is nothing in the universe, except Brahman. But we do not think and act that way. We always attribute a form to Brahman. We call Him Śiva, Śakti, Kṛṣṇa, etc. When we talk about non-dualism in all sincerity, there cannot be any dualistic bent of mind. What is dualistic bent of mind? When the mind looks for God outside out body, it is dualistic bent of mind. Sage Ramana says, “Brahman is not a personal God. He is the formless being who sustains the universe.” The great sage explains the status of a Self-realized person; “For him who is immersed in the Bliss of the Self, arising from the extinction of ego, what remains to be accomplished? He is not aware of anything, except the Self.” Such a person continues to exist in his body, but his thought process is annihilated. For him, all are Brahman.
Praśna Upanishad (V.2) says, “OM stands for both Saguṇa Brahman and Nirguṇa Brahman”. Saguṇa Brahman is Brahman with attributes and Nirguṇa Brahman is Brahman without attributes. Saguṇa Brahman refers to māyā, with name and form (nāma rūpa). Saguṇa Brahman can also be explained as iṣṭa devatā (favourite deity) The Upanishad says that depending upon the type of meditation, (meditation on a form or without a form), one attains that status. When one attains Saguṇa Brahman, he is reborn and on the contrary, if one attains Nirguṇa Brahman, he is not reborn. For example, if we meditate on Śakti, we become one with Śakti or if we meditate on Śiva, we become Śiva. Śakti and Śiva are forms of Saguṇa Brahman. If we become one with them, we are born again. Then how do we avoid rebirth? Meditate on Nirguṇa Brahman. Who is Nirguṇa Brahman and how to meditate on Him? For the purpose of easier understanding Nirguṇa Brahman can be explained as Paramaśiva, where Brahman and His Power of māyā remain as one. To explain this further (only for the purpose of easier understanding), Nirguṇa Brahman is Paramaśiva where Śiva and Śakti remain as one.
According to this Brahma Sutra, there is no differentiation between the seer and the seen. Both are one and that one is Brahman. It is an indirect form of conveying His omnipresence.
Brahma Sutra I.iii.14
According to this Brahma Sutra, daharākāśa is Brahman. If we go by the previous sūtra, no further explanation of Brahman is necessary. But, we need to have authenticity and proof and Brahma Sūtra provides proof for us. In spiritual pursuit, there should be no doubt anywhere, and if doubts persist, there will be obstructions and blockades. A realized Guru comes to the rescue of his disciple here.
What is daharākāśa? Dahara means small and of course ākāśa means the sky. Then what is small sky (daharākāśa)? , Brihadaranyaka upanishad (VIII.i.1) explains daharākāśa. It says, “daharaḥ antarākāśaḥ”, which is explained as a small space. Where is that small space? This space is in the heart (meaning mind) within our body. What is the difference between daharākāśa and parākāśa? Parākāśa is the cosmos. Former is microcosm and the later is macrocosm. That is the only difference, otherwise both are same, no difference whatsoever, except the limitation. For example, what prevails in a home, the same air prevails everywhere. Air is limited in a home only because of the limiting factor of boundaries and this does not mean that air is limited. Similarly Brahman in daharākāśa and parākāśa are the same and no difference between the two whatsoever.
This is clearly explained in Chāndogya Upanishad (VIII.i.5). “The body may die due to old age, but the space within (daharākāśa) never decays......All our desires are concentrated in it. It is the Self free from all sins...” Concentration of desires refers to subconscious mind, which is also known as karmic imprint. Because of the embedment of karmic impressions, the Self is not affected and It continues to be sinless, as It remains only as a witness. What is the need for looking within is explained in this Brahma Sutra.
After having explained individual soul and the Self and after having pointed out the difference between Nirguṇa and Saguṇa Brahman, the omnipresence of Brahman was explained. Further elucidations come up in the following sūtra-s.
Brahma Sutra I.iii.15
Now reasons for considering daharākāśa as Brahman is being explained. What happens during our deep sleep? Technically speaking, we become unconscious, where both mind and sensory organs cease to function. This is a temporary merger into Brahman. What merges temporarily with Brahman? It is the individual soul (can be explained as individual consciousness, which remains pure during deep sleep state) that merges into Brahman. Chāndogya Upanishad (VI.viii.1) explains the state of deep sleep (suṣupti). “During deep sleep state, he (the one who sleeps) becomes one with Sat (existence, one of the ‘attributes’ of Brahman viz. sat-cit- ānanda or existence-consciousness-bliss) and attains the real Self.” But where is that Brahman and does one’s consciousness travels a long distance to remain with Brahman during deep sleep? No, because Brahman is within daharākāśa, the Self within. What is the difference between the Self within and the Cosmic Self? There is no difference, whatsoever. Then why only during deep sleep individual consciousness merges with Brahman? This is because, during deep sleep state, mind, consciousness and ego remain in suspended animation. They cease to function only during deep sleep state. What we need to do to remain with Brahman during active state? Nothing new, except to keep senses, mind, consciousness and ego in suspended animation. If this is practiced, this becomes perpetual. This is Self-realization.
Brahma Sutra I.iii.16
Discussion on daharākāśa continues. All the planets are held in their places due to cosmic gravitation. There should be some cause for this cosmic gravitation. This cause is explained as daharākāśa, which is the Abode of Brahman within our body. Whether it is in the heart or in the mind does not matter. The point is that the Abode of Brahman is within and this is known as daharākāśa. Chāndogya Upanishad (VIII.i.1) said that our body is the city of Brahman. But how do we know that Brahman is daharākāśa? This is answered in again Chāndogya Upanishad (VIII.iv.1). “The Self is like a dam. It supports the worlds (the universe) and protects them from getting mixed up”. But where it is said that the daharākāśa is the Self? The same verse of the Upanishad answers this. “Day and night cannot cross over this dam, nor can old age, death, bereavement, good and bad actions. All sins turn away from it, for Brahmaloka is free from evil.” What is referred here as Brahmaloka is daharākāśa, which is within.
This Brahma Sutra says look for Brahman within. The concern of the author to get us liberated is clearly seen in this sūtra. Due to our spiritual ignorance, we go after shapes and forms, including iṣṭa devatā. As long as we are associated with shapes and forms, our consciousness remains limited. It is like our consciousness during our active state. Brahman is Pure Consciousness, the kind of consciousness we have during our deep sleep state. If we are able to have this kind of consciousness during our other states, we become Self-realized. We understand that He is within and ultimately we become That.
Brahma Sutra I.iii.17
Further, Infinity is referred as ākāśa. In our daily life, we look at the sky for Divine intervention. Why should we look at the sky? Because, it is said that Brahman is Infinite. Where is the authority for this? Chāndogya Upanishad (VIII.14) towards the end says, “ākāśa manifests names and forms. The names and forms are within Brahman, who is immortal. It is the Self.” If ākāśa is Brahman, is it not limitation; is Brahman limited then? No, Brahman is not limited. We cannot understand the infinity. In order to make us understand, ākāśa is only shown as an example. Our knowledge is limited hence this limitation is required. Therefore, it should be understood that ākāśa is not Brahman, but only a miniscule of Brahman. Chāndogya Upanishad (I.ix.1) says authentically, “Everything that exists arises from space and also goes back into space. Space is superior to everything. Space is the highest goal.” Space here refers to Brahman. In order to make us understand the word space is used. Our knowledge, until we are Self-realized, always remains limited. This limitation is caused by our mind. Our mind is afflicted by māyā. That is why, Vivekacūḍāmaṇī (verse 255) says, “You are Brahman. Meditate on this in your mind.” Guru teaches his disciple, “You are That” (tat tvam asi) and at the end of Guru’s teachings the student says, “I am That” (ahaṁ brahmaṁ asi). This alone is the Truth and this teaching leads to liberation.
Taittirīya Upanishad (II.7) beautifully explains this phenomenon. “First, there was no world. There was only Brahman, who was unmanifested. The word, with all its names and forms, then manifested itself. It was as if Brahman created Himself this way, because Brahman created Himself.” What is meant by Brahman created Himself? This means He was one and at the time of creation, He became many. He only became many, which means that whatever we see is nothing but Brahman. There are two aspects in Self realization. One is to realize Brahman within and another is to look the world through the eyes of Brahman. Former leads to the latter. This alone is true Self-realization.
Brahma Sutra I.iii.18
It can be argued that the individual soul is referred here and not Brahman. First, this argument itself is to be negated for the simple reason that only Brahman alone exists everywhere. Even in the individual soul, Brahman exists. Further, individual soul has limiting adjuncts, which is not the case with Brahman, who is infinite. In the previous aphorisms this aspect was discussed. Further, individual soul is not free from sins, whereas, Brahman is free of sins, etc. Therefore, individual soul is not being discussed here. We discuss only about Brahman. How can individual soul be compared to ākāśa? Moreover, Brahma Sūtra is not meant to realize the individual soul. It is about knowing Brahman and merging with Him.
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