Introduction to Brahma Sutrani|
Traditionally teaching was only at the oral level, remembering ideas of huge texts,
Upanishads and other text works was quite difficult. So, the Rishis had to find out ways
and means to memorise the ideas of these works.
There are 2 methods:
- Keeping the ideas in Sutra form (Aphorisms) - it is a cryptic statement with ideas
packed in it.
- All ideas in the metrical verse form (Poetry).
The basic texts called PRASTHAANA TRAYAM are:
- Brahmasutra - Nyaya Prasthaana
- Bhagawad Gita - Smriti Prasthaana
- Upanishads - Shruti Prasthaana.
A Spiritual student may wonder if the study of Brahmasutra is required for Knowledge
and Moksha. We do not require Brahmasutra for Knowldege and Moksha. But the teaching of
Brahmasutra is essential because it is considered as one of the basic texts of Vedantic
Brahmasutra is such a literature packed with various ideas, a Vedantic work written by
Sage Vyasacharya. The work consists of 555 Sutras dealing with BRAHMAN/VEDANTIC teaching.
Sage Vyasacharya performs 3 tasks here:
- ANALYSES the key statements of the Upanishads. It involves
- Establishing the Siddhanta
- Refuting all possible wrong interpretations.
- DEFENCE: Defending the Vedantic teaching when other systems of Philosophy charge the
teaching with various defects.
- OFFENCE: Pointing out the defects and the illogical statements of those systems of
Philosophy which attempt to invalidate Vedanta.
Before starting with the text proper we should know certain qualifications of the student
trying to study Brahmasutra.
Qualifications: The ideal student is one who is mentally prepared for Tarka (Logic),
Meemamsa (Analytical Science), Niruktam (Etymology), Vyakaranam (Grammar) and one who has
the knowledge of atleast 10 Upanishads, mainly Chanddogya and Brihadaranyaka.
The approach of this teaching adopted here is studying Brahmasutra along with the
commentary of Adi Shankaracharya.
The study of the text will become meaningful only if a man starts thinking about
certain aspects of his daily life. The power of reasoning being a strong faculty of man,
he should think in terms of the following topics which are important for our study.
- Jeeva (Individual) - Who am I?
- Jagat (World) - What is this world?
- Ishwara (Lord) - Cause of Jeeva and Jagat.
- Bandha (Bondage) - Cause of human bondage (Samsara).
- Moksha (Freedom) - Freedom from bondage.
- Sadhanam(Means) - Means by which a person goes from bondage to liberation.
One who has consistently thought of these and formed a conclusion is called DARSHANIKA.
They are called ACHARYAS. This philosophy is DARSHANAM. As there is consistency, there
will be followers. In the Indian tradition there are 12 such DARSHANAMS. Where six are
NASTIKA DARSHANAMS - they do not accept Veda Pramanam(Means of Knowledge) . Their
Darshanam is based on Pratyaksham (Perception) and Anumanam (Inference) only. The other
six are ASTIKA DARSHANAMS - they accept Veda as a valid source of knowledge.
The NASTIKA DARSHANAMS are:
- Carvaka Darshanam : Materialism.
Source : Brihaspati (Deva Guru).
Purpose : To mislead the Asuras.
The first disciple's name was Carvaka who popularised this philosophy hence called
Carvaka Philosophy. It is based on Pratyaksha Pramanam only. Brahmasutra does not discuss
about this philosophy because it is in Prakrit.
- Jaina Darshanam : The teaching is given by 24 Acharyas called Teerthankaras beginning
from Rishaba to Vardhamana Mahadheera. Jina was responsible for the wide popularity and
this philosophy came to be called as Jaina. Jina means one who has conquered himself. This
system has 2 divisions called Shwetaambaras and Digambaras.
The Bauddha Darshanam
consists of four different systems: The founder of this philosophy is Buddha. The word
'Buddha' means the Enlightened One. He did not systematically teach but taught only
through dialogues giving out stray statements. Therefore, Buddhism was not well developed
initially. Later many followed and they collected his teachings and brought out the ideas
in 3 books called Tripitakam.
Sutra Pitakam deals with statements of Buddha. Abhidharma Pitakam deals with philosophy
that is based on the statements of Buddha. Vinaya Pitakam gives code of conduct and
- Sutra Pitakam (Supta in Pali).
- Abhidharma Pitakam (Abhidamma in Pali)
- Vinaya Pitakam (Vinaya in Pali).
After deep analysis and many commentaries there arose difference of opinion and this gave
rise to 4 branches of Buddhism.
- Sautraantika is based on Sutra Pitakam.
- Vaibhashika is based on the commentary on the Abhidharma Pitakam called Vibhasha.
- Yogachara emphasises on the practice of Yoga and Aachara.
- Maadhyamika claims to follow the teachings of Buddha - the middle way.
The AASTIKA DARSHANAMS are:
1. SAANKHYA Darshanam by Sage KAPILA.
2. YOGA Darshanam by Sage PATANJALI.
3. NYAYA Darshanam by Sage GAUTAMA.
4. VAISHESHIKA Darshanam by Sage KANAADA.
5. POORVA MEEMAMSA by Sage JAIMINI.
6. UTTARA MEEMASA by Sage VYASAACHARYA.
The common feature of all these 6 Darshanams are that all are in Sutra forms and the
founders accept the Veda Pramanam. Saankhya, Vaisheshika and Poorva Meemamsa do not accept
God. Saankhya, Yoga, Nyaya and Vaisheshika gives more important to Tarka (Logic). Shankara
calls them Taarkikas. Shankara calls even the Naastikas as Taarkikas. Whereas the Poorva
and the Uttara Meemamsa are Veda Pramana Darshanam.
UTTARA MEEMAMSA is also called Brahmasutra because it deals with Brahman, the other
names being: Vedanta Sutrani, Shastrika Sutrani, Vyasa Sutrani, Badarayana Sutrani. This
has given rise to 3 popular schools:
- Nirvishesha Adwaitam of Shankara the Bhashyam (commentary) called Shaareerika Meemamsa.
- Vishishta Adwaitam of Ramanujan the Bhashyam called Shree.
- Dwaitam of Maadhvaacharya the Bhashyam called Anu.
Classification of the text will be discussed in the next session...