Brahma Sutras II.i.29

Certain philosophies like Sāṁkhya argued that there is no difference between prakṛuti and Brahman. According to Vedānta, prakṛti has got inherent guṇa-s (sattva, rajas and tamas) in the state of equipoise, which is not the case with Brahman. Brahman is full of purity and there is no question of any guṇa-s in Brahman. Brahman is pure Consciousness as per Vedānta. Hence there is no comparison between prakṛuti and Brahman. Vaiśeṣika doctrine also contradicts the theory of Vedānta in the sense that it talks about atoms. The significant factor about Vaiśeṣika is about the importance of atom (tiny piece of anything). Various combinations of atoms cause creation and disintegration of atoms cause destruction or death. This is against the teaching of Upaniṣhads and is refuted in the next aphorism.

Brahma Sutras II.i.30

It is argued that prakṛti is the cause of the universe, as prakṛti is also devoid of forms, causes illusion, etc. In general, prakṛti has all the qualities as that of Brahman. As there is no difference between prakṛuti and Brahman, prakṛti is the cause of the universe, which is not accepted by Brahma Sūtra. It is not accepted by Brahma Sūtra, as Vedānta does not accept anything in contravention to Vedas, as Vedas are considered as direct revelations of Brahman. Chāndogya Upaniṣhad (III.xiv.4) says, “He (Brahman) is the sole creator, whose desires are the desires of all, whose odours are the odours of all, whose tastes are the tastes of all, who is omnipresent, who has no sense organs, who is free from desires and He is no other than Brahman.” There are many other Upaniṣhad texts, which confirm the revelations of Chāndogya Upaniṣhad. Hence, there cannot be anyone else, who can be the cause of creation, except Brahman.

Brahma Sutras II.i.31

Now another question is being posed. When Brahman does not have organs of perception and action, how can He create? This question is based on Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣhad (III.viii.8) which says, “Brahman is without eyes and ears, without prāṇa, mind, mouth, etc”. Though this point has already been clarified in earlier aphorisms, this argument is refuted by Vedānta by quoting reference from Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣhad (III.19) which goes a step further and elucidates the subtle conveyances of Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣhad. (Spirituality is always subtle and rituals are always gross and when the latter leads to the former, there will be a strong foundation for a solid spiritual life. There can be many doubts during ritualistic practices; but there cannot be too many doubts during spiritual pursuit. If one proceeds with dilemma, lack of absolute faith and wrong understanding, the goal of spiritual life can never be attained.) Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣhad says, “He has no hands, yet he upholds everything; He has no feet, yet He goes far. He has no eyes, yet He sees everything. He has no ears, yet He hears everything.....”
Thus, it is clear, that Brahman acts in His own way in the most subtle manner and hence He is Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient. Since He is all pervasive, there is no question of Brahman seeing, hearing, etc like mortals.

Brahma Sutras II.i.32

The next opposition is that Brahman has a motive to create. Where is the question of motive for Brahman? When He is full of everything and when He does not need anything, where is the need for Brahman to have a motive? The crucial point is that Brahman in reality does not create and He only becomes many. It is not that Brahman initiates a particular process for creation, sustenance and dissolution. Every being and every action that happens in the universe is only Brahman. This also does not mean that Brahman is the cause for all such actions. He never gets involved in any action by prompting a person to do this act or that act. He is only a witness and all the actions unfold due to the combination of individual karmas and group karmas. What he sows so he reaps. As discussed earlier, the cause and effect is always the same. When one develops bad thoughts, ultimately he gets destroyed in some way or other. If this is not happening immediately, it is bound to happen at a future date. Therefore, Brahman has no motive to create, as He is beyond all motives.

Brahma Sutras II.i.33

Creation and other activities of Brahman are only his pastime. Brahman cannot be compared to a king or any other head of state, as they are compensated for their work. But acts of Brahman are not compensated as everything originates from Him and therefore, cannot be compensated. It is like showing dipārādhana to Agni (fire god). The cause of dipārādhana is only Agni and what is the purpose of offering dipārādhana to Agni? (This is only for the purpose of comparison and in every ritual, dipārādhana is offered to Agni.) Brahman does not need anything as He alone is self-sufficient in everything. He does not need anything. He only creates and all other activities are done by one’s karmic account. (Karmic theory has been discussed earlier and will be discussed in future under relevant aphorisms. )

Brahma Sutras II.i.34

Favouritism, pleasure and pain are not attributed to Brahman. One sows a seed and unless the seed is watered, it cannot sprout and even after its germination, it has to be watered regularly in order to make the seed grow into a huge tree. The effort is not on the part of the seed, but on the part of the grower. Similarly, Brahman creates and how a created being develops depends upon his or karmic account and in combination with present mental state. The quality of a person is decided on the basis of two factors. First, his or her karmic impressions and two, his present thought processes. His present thought processes are also influenced by his karmic imprints. This is explained in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣhad (III.ii.13), “One indeed becomes good through good work and one becomes evil through evil work.” Therefore deciding the qualities of a person is purely on the basis of merits or demerits he has accrued over past several births and these merits and demerits decides his thought processes during this life. A person is neither born as good nor as bad. It is only his karma that decides everything, right from his parentage and his position at the time of death. Therefore, Brahman is in no way responsible for the quality for a person.

Brahman, the Self is the cause for creation. He is like electricity, without which nothing can work. Mind, intellect, ego, organs of perception and organs of action cannot work without Brahman being present. Though electrical and electronic gadgets are present, they cannot function without electricity and similarly, without Brahman being present, body cannot function. Beyond this, Brahman has no role to play in deciding other attributes of a person. Hence Brahman is beyond favouritism, etc. He is just the creator.

Brahma Sutras II.i.35

How can the theory of karma be proved? It is referred in Upaniṣhads. In the beginning, there was only Brahman with no second. Even today this continues. When there is no second means, there was no creation. He was ādi (beginning, commencement) and anādi (having no beginning, existing from eternity). Then He created the universe due to His Will. The universe was then created and for the beings, the process of transmigration commenced. Chāndogya Upaniṣhad (VI.iii.2) says, “Entering into them, as the individual self, I shall manifest myself in many names and forms.” Having entered into various forms as individual souls, the individual characteristics are decided by the mind. In a normal person, mind is occupied by māyā, continuously causing deception and illusion. It is like mirage, wrongly depicting heat waves as water. Māyā, which is nothing but His own Power has two aspects. One, it conceals the reality and second, it projects wrongly. In the case of mirage, the heat wave is concealed and wrongly projected as water. There is another example of rope and snake.

When man was created through the theory of evolution, his mind also underwent phenomenal changes by getting attached, more and more into illusionary world, forgetting the Self. Thus, pure form of mind at the time of creation underwent several changes, thereby making the mind full of illusion and deception. Instead of purity, his mind was filled with māyā and due to the effect of māyā, man indulged in several evil thoughts and actions which got embedded in his sub-conscious mind which travels along with his soul, after his death, causing transmigration. Thus karmic theory came into existence. Therefore, Brahman is not the cause for one’s pleasures and pains, and it is only the mind of the concerned person, responsible for his or her way of living. Thus Brahman does not act and He only remains as a witness in the form of the self (Self, veiled by māyā).

Brahma Sutras II.i.36

Thus Brahman is only the efficient cause of creation and cannot be the material cause, based on the interpretations of the previous sūtra-s. For creation, both efficient and material cause are required. Wherefrom the material cause arises seems to be the logical question. This is also answered in the next sūtra.

Brahma Sutras II.i.37

Brahman has two aspects, one is His Absolute Purity and another is His Māyā. In other words, Brahman and His Power (Śakti) are revealed as two separate entities (Śiva and Śakti). It is like two sides of a coin. Nirguṇa Brahman is the efficient cause and Saguṇa Brahman is the material cause. What is the difference between Nirguṇa Brahman and Saguṇa Brahman? There is no difference and both are the same, like two sides of a coin. A seed cannot sprout, unless it is sowed. For any creation, there has to be two factors. Brahman’s two sides are the cause for both efficient and material cause of creation.

This concludes Brahma Sutras Chapter II.i.

Further Readings:

Brahma Sutra II.i.18 - 22

Brahma Sutra - II.i.23 - 28

Brahma Sutra - II.ii.1 - 10