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Brahma Sutra – Chatussutri
Any knowledge is achieved through particular means (instrument of knowledge)which are termed as Pramaanas. The simple pramana that is used for all worldlyknowledge is pratyaksha or perception. The ultimate pramana that is accepted bythose philosophies who believe the Vedas is the Veda or sruthi. Any means orpramana should be devoid of faults so that the knowledge achieved is also rightknowledge and without any fault. A person sees two moon at a particular time – thisis not right knowledge because there are no moons but only one moon. In this case,the two moons are known through perception which is faulty as it is sublated by thehigher knowledge of scripture that there is only one moon (scriptures mention aboutmoon and other planets in astrology or jyotisha which is one of the six angas orlimbs of Vedas).Vedas are the ultimate or final pramana because it is without any faults. It is withoutany fault because it is without any creator but is revealed by the ultimate reality of Brahman to the first manifestation of Brahma (according to Vedantins veda isapaurusheya or without any creator but according to Naiyyayikas veda is created byGod – in both the cases since God or Brahman are without any faults, Vedas arewithout any faults).The Vedas consist of two parts – the karma kaanda which consists of variousupasanaas and rituals useful for purification of the mind and the jnaana kaanda orknowledge part which consists of Upanishads that propound the ultimate reality of Brahman – one without a second and that by knowing which everything else isknown.The Upanishads are also called Vedanta as they form the last part of the Vedas andas they denote culmination of knowledge (veda is knowledge and antha means endor termination – it is in Upanishads that knowledge ends as everything becomesknown by knowing the ultimate reality of Brahman and after knowing Brahman thereremains nothing else to be known).The philosophy which is based on the Upanishads is termed the philosophy of Vedanta or Vedanta darshanam or simply Vedanta.There are six systems which either follow the Vedas as the authority or accept God.These are:1.
Nyaaya system of Gautama Muni2. Vaisheshika system of Kanaada Muni3. Sankhya system of Kapila Muni4. Yoga system of Patanjali Muni5. Purva Mimamsa of Jaimini Muni (this is based on the Karma Kaanda of Vedas)6. Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta of Baadaraayana (who is better known as VedaVyaasa)There are differences between each of these systems which require exhaustive studyfor understanding them. It is enough to remember that each of this system tries tofind out the cause of sorrow and sufferings in the world and the way out of thissorrow. It is in Vedanta that all knowledge culminates and the real goal of removal of sorrow and sufferings is achieved.
 Satya Sameeksha (commentary on Satya Darshanam) deals with two of the systemsand the way theory of creation is treated in them. It can be referred if required.Vedanta system is based on prasthaana trayam or the three different books or workswhich propound the Vedanta system.These are:1.
Sruthi Prasthaana (scriptural work) – Upanishads (principal Upanishads are10 which have been commented by Sankaracharya and other acharyaas –Upanishad Brahmendra has commented on 108 Upanishads which arementioned in the Muktikopanishad)2. Smrithi Prasthaana (work arising out of memory or intellect) – Bhagavad Gita3. Nyaaya or Sutra Prasthaana (work based on logic and harmony of Upanishadic statements) – Brahma SutraSince Brahma Sutra harmonizes the various Upanishadic statements which seem tobe contradictory in nature and in a way summarizes the Vedantic system, it is veryuseful for a seeker to contemplate and assimilate the Vedanta system and to realizethe ultimate reality of Brahman.What is a sutra?A sutra is an aphorism which is very concise, short, to the point but yet havingessential description or explanation.Brahma Sutra has 555 sutras in total as per Sankaracharya. The first four sutras arevery important in that it is the essence of entire Brahma Sutra – these four are calledChatussutri (meaning four sutras) Brahma Sutra. The rest of the Brahma sutra is anexplanation and elucidation of these four sutras only.Here, we are going to just analyze the four sutras briefly for fear of being tooexhaustive and so that everyone will be able to go through it and assimilate themeaning.
Brahma Sutra – Contents
 Brahma Sutra consists of 4 Chapters. Each Chapter is again split into 4 sections orpaadas. Each paada or section is again split into various topics or adhikaranaas.There are in total 191 adhikaranas or topics.The 4 Chapters of Brahma Sutra are:1.
Samanvaya Adhyaaya – various upanishadic statements are harmonized withthe ultimate reality of Brahman as the subject or centre matter.2. Avirodha Adhyaaya – upanishadic statements about Brahman are provedthrough logic or yukthi through refutation of other rival philosophies of Sankhya, Yoga, Bauddha, Jaina, Pancharaathra etc.3. Saadhana Adhyaaya – path to the ultimate reality4. Phala Adhyaaya – effect of realizing the ultimate reality mainly jeevanmukthior liberation while embodied and videhamukthi or liberation after the body isdisposed.
Commentaries on Brahma Sutra
 The primary commentary as well as the oldest commentary on Brahma Sutra (whichis available at present) is the commentary of Sankaracharya termed as BrahmaSutra Bhashya or Shareeraka Bhashya (Brahma Sutra is also termed as Shareerakasutra as it is about Brahman even as the body encompasses the Self or Atman).The list of sub commentaries on Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya (in short BSB) areexhaustive and main ones alone are given below (the below are sub commentarieson Sankaracharya’s commentary).1.
Bhamathi of Vachaspathi Mishra2. Nyaaya Nirnaya of Anandagiri3. Bhashya Rathna Prabha of Govindananda4. Bhashya bhaava prakaashika of Chitsukhaacharya5. Panchapaadika of Padmapaada acharya (one of the senior and direct disciplesof Sankaracharya)Another important work which expounds the topic in each adhikarana in 2 slokaseach is the Adhikarana Ratna Maala of Bharathi Teertha Swamigal of sringeri (thiswork is also based on Sankara’s BSB).Yet another work which encompasses or summarizes Sankara’s BSB is theSankshepa Sareeraka of Sarvajnaatman Muni.The below are the sub commentaries available on Bhamathi of Vachaspathi Mishra:1.
Kalpatharu of AmalaanandaParimala of Appayya Dikshitar (sub commentary on Kalpatharu)Abhoga of Lakshmi Nrsimha (sub commentary on Kalpatharu)2.
RjuPrakaashika of Akandhaananda YatiThe below are the commentary list which are on the Panchapaadika of Padmapaadaacharya (not all are mentioned as there are many commentaries on the same):1.
Prabhodha Parishodini of Atmasvaroopaacharya2. Tatparya Dyotini of Vijnaanaatman3. Panchapaadika Vivarana of PrakaashaatmanTattvadipana of Akhadananda SaraswathiRjuvivarana of sarvajnavishnuTaatparya dipika of ChitsukhacharyaBhaava prakaashika of NrsimhaacharyaA person need not be worried or surprised hearing the names of the above works –all these works explain in detail what Sankaracharya explains very briefly. Themeaning or import is the same in all these works. The import or the goal is moreimportant than the path which is being followed. Even if the path is wrong, one willreach the goal but the time taken will be more as the seeker will realize that the pathis wrong and then will go through the right path (if he doesn’t know the right pathitself, he will search for the path and will get it from a Guru). But for a person whohas the goal itself wrong, there will be no reaching the goal as he will always besearching or going towards something else.

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