Monday, September 8, 2008

Brahma Sutras

One of the most fascinating and useful aspects of the Vedic Literature are the Brahma Sutras. The Brahma Sutras are composed of four Adhyaya (Chapters) and are pointers to the transcendental, beyond the mind. If we attempt to understand the Brahma Sutras on the surface level of the meaning of words, then the mind will become caught up in the words and we will miss Brahman. Brahman is not a thing to be known. Brahman is for Being. Brahman is the essence of Being, the silence of Being. The Brahma Sutras are to be known in silence and are revealed in silence. The true knowledge of Brahman is in the gap between the sutras. Think a sutra then transcend. The manifestation of the sutra will spring forth with the fullness of Brahman. Each sutra has this power, this mission and this glory.

The first sutra points the way to the dawn of Brahman Consciousness - the desire for knowledge of Brahman:

Athato Brahmajijnasa
Now, therefore, the enquiry into Brahman.
Atha: now, then, afterwards; Atah: therefore; Brahmajijnasa: a desire for the knowledge of Brahman (the enquiry into the real nature of Brahman).

In the second sutra we are given the pointer to the origin of the world:

Janmadyasya yatah 
(Brahman is that) from which the origin etc., (i.e. the origin, sustenance and dissolution) of this (world proceeds).
Janmadi: origin etc.; Asya: of this (world); Yatah: from which.

The third sutra is about the importance of Sastra. Sastra is sometimes translated as scriptures or holy texts. What makes the Sastras holy texts is their ability to reveal Brahman. Sastras may be in the form of sutras, as in the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, or the Brahma Sutras. Sastras may be in the form of prose, such as the Bhagavat Gita, or the Srimad Bhagavatum. In all cases, Sastras are writings that have as their sole purport the knowledge of Brahman. The ultimate author of all Sastras is Lord Brahma, the creator of our Universe. Our Universe is a dream in the Mind of Lord Brahma and we are His dream creatures. When those who are awake record the thoughts of Lord Brahma, Sastras are the result. The proper way to study Sastras is through the practice of samyama. One must not allow the mind to get caught up in trying to "understand" the Sastras. This understanding that the mind offers is very superficial and will not get at the Truth. Instead we do not try to understand the Sastras, we simply, innocently read the Sastras and then look inward for the revelation of the Truth they contain.

The scripture being the source of right knowledge.
Sastra: the scripture; Yonitvat:  being the source of or the means of the right knowledge.
The Omniscience of Brahman follows from His being the source of scripture.

Tattu Samanvayat
Brahman the main purport of all Vedantic texts.

Tat: that; Tu: but; Samanvayat: on account of agreement or harmony, because it is the main purpose.

The fifth sutra reminds us that thinking about Brahman is not realization of Brahman:

Thinking about (Brahman) is not (Brahman because thinking) is not subtle (enough for the realization of Brahman).
Ikshateh: on account of seeing (thinking); Na: is not; Asabdam: not subtle.

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