Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Vedanta Sutra 4.4.2

muktaḥ pratijñānāt

2. Manifestation in its own form mentioned in
Chandogya Upanishad [8.12.3] is the condition of
the Mukta,
because that is what Prajapati has promised
to teach in the opening part of the Upanishad. - 539


It is verily the Mukta who manifests itself in its own form. Why? Because of the promise. In the opening sentence [8.7.1] Brahma describes the condition of the Mukta Jiva thus:-

"The Self which is free from sin, free from old age, free from death and grief, from hunger and thirst, which desires nothing but what it ought to desire, and imagines nothing but what it ought to imagine, that it is which we must search out, that it is which we must try to understand. He who has searched out that Self and understands it, obtains all worlds and desires. [Thus spake Prajapati.]"

This shows the condition of the Mukta Jiva, and Prajapati promises to teach Indra this Mukta condition, by saying "I shall explain the true Self further to you." This promise is given several times. It is first given when Indra, dissatisfied with the waking Self, comes back to Prajapati, again to be taught, and Prajapati says [8.9.3] "I shall explain it further to you. Live with me another thirty-two years". Then he explains to him the Self in dream, and when Indra is not satisfied with that, he teaches him the Self in dreamless sleep; and when Indra is not satisfied with that even, Prajapati at last describes to him the true Self, free from all the three conditions of waking, etc., and teaches the condition of the Self in the state of Mukti in these terms:

"Maghavat, this body is mortal and always held by death. It is the abode of that Self which is immortal and without body. When in the body (by thinking this body is I amd I am this body) the Self is heald by pleasure and pain. But when he is free of the body (when he knows himself different from the body), then neither pleasure nor pain touches him.
"The wind is without body, the cloud, lightning, and thunder are without body, (without hands, feet, etc). Now as these arising from this heavenly ether (space), appear in their own form, as soon as they have approached the highest light.
"Thus does that serene being, arising from this body, appear in its own form, as soon as it approaches the Highest Light. He (in that state) is the highest person (uttama pUruSa). He moves about there laughing (or eating), playing, and rejoicing (in his mind), be it with women, carriages, or relatives, never minding the body into which he was born."

This final teaching of Prajapati is in accordance with his final promise given in [Chandogya Upanishad] 8.11.3, where he says "I shall explain the true Self further to you and nothing more than this." Thus, because of this promise, the teaching about the "Self appearing in its own form" must relate to the condition of the Muktas. Therefore, Mukti is indeed the manifestation of one's own form, which consists in remaining in one's own natural condition, free from the body, etc., which are produced through the effect of Karmas. This bodiless condition, free from pleasure and pain, is Mukti.

This condition is described in the text as coming subsequent to the approaching of the soul to the Highest Light. After the Highest Light is reached, there appears this manifestation.

Doubt: But on this point a further doubt is raised. What is this Highest Light? Is it the solar orb, for light generally means the sun, or is it the Supreme Brahman?

Purvapaksa: The opponent maintains the view that the Highest Light refers here to the solar orb. Because in the Mundaka Upanishad it is said that it is after reaching the sun that one gets Mukti. The present passage also says that it is after reaching the Highest Light that one manifests his own nature. Therefore, the Highest Light of the Chandogya passage is the solar orb mentioned in the Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.11 and it is the same solar orb which comes as the Adityaloka in the ārchirādi path already mentioned before.

Siddhānta: This view is set aside in the next sūtra.


Chandogya Upanishad 8.7.1:

ya ātmā apahata-pāpmā vijaro vimṛtyur viśoko vijighatso'pipāsaḥ satya-kāmaḥ satya-saṁkalpaḥ, so'nveṣṭavyaḥ, sovijijñāsitavyaḥ sa sarvāṁś ca lokān āpnoti sarvāṁś ca kāmān, yas tam ātmānam anuvidya vijānāti: [iti ha prajā-patir uvāca].

Chandogya Upanishad 8.9.3:

evam evaiṣa, maghavan, iti hovāca, etam tv eva, te bhūyo 'nuvyākhyāsyāmi; vasāparāṇi dvātriṁśataṁ varṣāṇīti.

Chandogya Upanishad 8.11.3:

evam evaiṣa, maghavan, iti hovāca, etam tv eva te bhūyo 'nuvyakhyāsyāmi, no evānyatraitasmāt.

Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.11:
na tatra sūryo bhāti, na candra-tārakam, nemā vidyuto bhānti, kuto'yam agniḥ.
tam eva bhāntam anubhāti sarvam, tasya bhāsā sarvam, idaṁ vibhāti.

Vedanta Sutra 4.4.1

Adhikarana I - The form of the Souls in Mukti.

In this chapter is determined the enjoyment of lordliness and the rest which the freed souls experience, as well as the nature of such souls. In the Chandogya Upanishad is heard the following (8.12.3):-

evam evaiṣa samprasādo'smāc charīrāt samutthāya paraṁ jyotir upasampadya svena rūpeṇābhiniṣpadyate, sa uttamaḥ puruSaḥ, sa tatra paryeti, jakṣat krīḍan ramamāṇaḥ strībhir vā yānair vā jñātibhir vā nopajanaṁ smarann idaṁ śarīram: sa yathā prayogya ācaraṇe yuktaḥ, evam evāyam asmin śarīre prāṇo yuktaḥ

"He through whose grace this released soul, arising from his last body, and having approached the Highest Light, is restored to his own form is the Highest Person. The Mukta moves about there laughing, playing, and rejoicing, with women, carriages, with other Muktas of his own period or of the past Kalpas. (So great is his ecstasy) that he does not remember even the person standing near him, nor even his own body. And as a charioteer is appointed by his master to drive the carriage, just so is the Prana appointed to drive this chariot of the body."

Doubt: Here arises the doubt - does the soul, in getting Mukti, get a shape and body which is a result accomplished, and which is to be brought about then as, for example, the body of a Deva; or is it only manifesting its own natural character? In other words, what is the meaning of the phrase "svena rūpeṇa abhiniṣpadyate", "appears in his true form"? Does this "appearance in true form" mean getting a new body, like that of the messengers of Vishnu, or manifesting its own nature?

Purvapaksa: The opponent maintains the view that the soul assumes a new body, to be brought about by then. Because the meaning of the word 'abhiniSpatti' is accomplishment, so the body is one which the soul accomplishes or makes. If it were otherwise, the the above word would have no meaning at all; and the scriptural texts relating to release would declare what was of no advantage to man. If the word "abhiniṣpatti" meant "manifestation of one's own natural charater," then since this natural character already exists in man, it cannot be said to be something accomplished, and it can be of no advantage to man. Therefore, the phrase "manifests itself in its own form" means that he assumes a new body, to be brought about then.

Siddhānta: This view is set aside in the next sūtra.

sampad-āvirbhāvaḥ svena-śabdāt

1. The phrase 'accomplishing one's own form,' means
manifestation in
one's real form, because the word Svena,
"in its own," indicates that. - 538


When the soul approaches the Highest Light, through the force of its devotion, accompanied by knowledge and dispassion, then there is release for it from the chain of Karma, and there is manifestation in it of the eight-fold superior qualities, which from latency come into manifestation then. It is then said that there has taken place the manifestation of its natural character. This particular condition, characterised by the rise of one's natural condition to the surface is called svarūpa abhiniṣpatti. Why? Because the word Svena in the above text requires this explanation. This word is an adjective qualifying the word rūpa in the above. If the soul assumed a new body, then this word would have no force. Because, even without that, it would be clear that the new body belonged to the soul. The other meaning of Svena would be "belonging to it" and rūpena would mean "in a form belonging to it." This would be purely a useless expression, for the body, which the soul takes, must ipso facto belong to it. Moreover the word niṣpatti does not always mean accomplishment, but manifestation also. As in the phrase "idam ekam suniṣpannam."

To the objection that the soul's own true nature is something eternally accomplished, and hence the manifestation of that nature cannot be the soul of man (puruṣārtha) we reply; true, it is the eternal nature of the soul that manifests in Mukti. And yet such manifestation cannot be said to be useless, because the very object and end of all human exertion is to bring about this manifestation. Consequently all such efforts are not useless because they subserve the purpose of bringing about this manifestation. The School of Patanjali holds the view that the mere cessation of pain which arises through the super-imposition of prakṛiti, constitutes the well-being of the soul which has approached the Highest Light, and that niṣpatti is nothing more than this condition of the Self-luminous, pure intelligence. This however is not the Vedānta view. The "release" of the Vedānta is not a state of negation, not a state in which there is merely an absence of all sufferings caused by prakṛiti, but it is a positive state of enjoyment of bliss, as we find in the Taittiriya Upanishad (2.7), "For having tasted a flavour of the Supreme, he experiences bliss." This shows that in the state of Mukti there is experiencing of intense bliss and not merely a cessation of pain.

But, how do we know that approaching the Highest Light is Mukti? To this question the next sūtra gives a reply.

Note - To understand the argument fully it is necessary to know the context of the whole passage of the Chandogya Upanishad in which the above text of "approaching the Highest Light" occurs. One must read the whole of the history of the teaching given by Prajapati to Indra and Virochana as we find in the Chandogya Upanishad (8.7-12). It is in those Khandas from 7-12 that Prajapati teaches the nature of the soul in the waking state as well as in the dreaming and dreamless sleep. When, however, Indra is not satisfied with these partial truths, Prajapati finally promises "I shall explain him further to you, and nothing more than this." In fulfilment of this promise, he teaches the condition of the soul in Mukti.


Taittiriya Upanishad 2.7:

asad vā idam agra āsīt, tato vai sad ajāyata, tad ātmānaṁ svayam akuruta, tasmāt tat sukṛtam ucyate.
yad vai tat sukṛtam, raso vai saḥ, rasām hy evāyaṁ labdhvānandī bhavati, ko hy evānyat kaḥ prāṇyāt, yad eṣa ākāśa ānando na syāt, eṣa hy evānandayāti, yathā hy evaiṣa etasmin nadṛśye'nātmye'nirukte'nilayane'bhayaṁ pratiṣṭhaṁ vindate, atha so'bhayaṁ gato bhavati, yadā hy evaiṣa etasminn udaram antaraṁ kurute, atha tasya bhayam bhavati, tattveva bhayaṁ viduṣo'manvānasya.

"Non-existent, verily, was this (world) in the beginning, Therefrom, verily was existence produced. That made itself a soul. Therefore is it called the well-made.
"Verily, what that well-made is - that, verily, is the essence of existence. For, truly, on getting the essence, one becomes blissful. For who, indeed, could live, who breathe, if there were not this bliss in space? This, verily is it that bestows bliss. For truly, when one finds fearlessness as support in Him who is invisible, bodiless, undefined, without support, then has he reached fearlessness. When, however, this (soul) makes in this One the smallest interval, the, for him, there is fear. That, verily, is the fear of the knower, who does not reflect. As to that, there is also this verse." (S. Radhakrishnan)

Chandogya Upanishad 8.12.3 Alternative translation:

"Even so that serene one when he rises up from this body and reaches the highest light appears in his own form. Such a person is the Supreme Person. There such a one moves about, laughing, playinmg, rejoicing with women, chariots or relations, not remembering the appendages of this body. As an animal is attached to a cart so is life attached to this body." (S. Radhakrishnan)

Vedanta Sutra 4.3.16

Adhikarana IX.

Now the author teaches that as regards certain Nirapekṣas the Lord Himself comes to take them to His abode and does not leave that task to any of His messengers.

Visaya: In the Gopala Purva Tapani we have the following:-

1. They who constantly harmonised and without heedlessness fully worship the Supreme state of Vishnu, not with the desire of getting rewards, to them that Cow-herd-shaped One verily then carefully reveals his own state.
2. He who repeats silently this five-syllabled prayer of Govinda with the word 'Om' preceding it, him verily the Lord Himself shows His own Form, therefore, let the seeker of freedom always recite this mantra in order to get eternal peace.

Doubt: Are the Nirapeksa [sannyasi] worshippers of the Lord carried also by the ātivāhika divinities to the Lord, or are they carried by the Lord Himself.

Purvapaksa: The opponent maintains the view that the Lord Himself carries no one. The scriptures mention only two paths, the path of the Devas and the path of the Pitṛis. All knowers of Brahman have to go by the path of light, and are to be carried by the divinities of that path. The scripture also declares that the Lord is the causal agent in everything, for He never directly does anything. His agents work out His will.

Siddhānta: This view is set aside in the next sūtra.

viśeṣam ca darśayati

16. And the Scripture itself shows the special case
with regard to some Nirapeksas. - 537.


The general rule is no doubt that the conducting divinities carry all the knowers of Brahman to Brahman. But with regard to those Nirapeksa devotees who are extremely ardent, and much suffering in their yearning, in their case the Lord Himself comes to fetch them to Himself; because He Himself feels impatient to bring such souls at once to Him. This is a special case only. The scripture also shows this. The two verses of the Gopala Tapani quoted above are an authority for this proposition.

In the Gita also [12.6-7] we find that the Lord Himself comes to carry His ardent devotees to Himself:

ye tu sarvāṇi karmāṇi
mayi sannyasya mat-parāḥ
ananyenaiva yogena
māḿ dhyāyanta upāsate

"Those verily who, renouncing all actions in Me and
intent on Me, worship meditating in Me, with whole-hearted Yoga."

teṣām ahaḿ samuddhartā
bhavāmi na cirāt pārtha
mayy āveśita-cetasām

"Those I speedily lift up from the ocean of death and
existence, O Partha, their minds being fixed on me."

The word "Cha", "and", used in the sūtra means by implication that as soon as such devotees die and shake off final body or Liṅga Deha, the Lord gives them the celestial or apṛākritic body at once. These devotees get rid of their Liṅga Deha along with their physical body, at the time of death. Other devotees have to remain in their Liṅga Deha for some time after death.

Nor is it correct to say that there are only two paths and no third, and that all the knowers of Brahman must pass over the road to archirādi, to the abode of the Lord. For in the Varaha Purana we have the following:

"I bring him seated on the shoulder of Garuda, without hindrance and according to my own will, to my Supreme abode, by a path other than that of archirādi."

Therefore, what the author has said is perfectly correct. The above passage is to be found at the end of the Varaha Purana.

Vedanta of the Siddha-Deha

Opinions have clashed with regards to the subject matter of cultivating a spiritual body and identity for the sadhaka to operate with in his sublime desire of possessing said identity upon his entrance into the spiritual world. One school of devotees hold that this identity and body (siddha-deha) is given to the disciple by the guru after a period of deep contemplation and revelation, and that they will realise that identity in the course of their spiritual practice and especially after their achievement of liberation.
The other school holds that the siddha-deha is an inherent feature of the soul which is "covered" by lifetimes of sin and avidya. The intensity of spiritual practice and the mercy of the guru and Vaishnavas etc. will itself bring forth the siddha-deha at the opportune time for the sadhaka to realise it and interact with the Lord within it, which is also especially true upon the sadhaka's achievement of liberation.

The proponents of the latter theory have employed the Vedanta-sutras in support of their arguments, also claiming that Srimat Baladeva Vidyabhushan - Gaudiya Vedanta-bhashyakara - is in agreement with their views. As I have recently acquired a copy of 'The Vedantasutras of Badarayana - with the commentary of Baladeva' by Srisa Chandra Vasu, I took the liberty of typing up the relevant sections for the good of the public. I believe that, in agreement with the mainstream Gaudiya tradition and practice at large and also in line with scriptural reasoning, the former view of being bestowed a siddha-deha is true.

I have corrected spelling mistakes where necessary, added Upanishadic references at the end of each entry when the text made reference to them, and also highlighted relevant portions of the commentary in bold. Below are the links for each Vedanta Sutra with Baladeva's commentary. If it is all too hard to understand, please feel free to go straight to the digest where the main points of each sutra have been summed up.