THE FOREST OF THE BRAHMA SUTRA
The greatest truths available for human comprehension are supposed to be documentedin the great scriptures called the Upanishads. They are exultations of masters who aredeeply involved in the ultimate principles of the cosmos. They are realised souls, calledRishis, but these Rishis in their expressions through the Upanishads spoke in terms of their particular vision of the Ultimate Reality. A common student of the Upanishads is likely to feel embarrassed over apparently irreconcilable differences and contradictions among the statements of these greatMasters. Every kind of philosophy you will find in the Upanishads. There are provisionsfor establishing the monism aspect of philosophy, the dualistic aspect, the active aspect,the volitional aspect - everything can be found. Even Sankhya and Mimamsa have areference. What is it that you are supposed to take from this big forest of statements on the natureof Reality? To clarify the intention of these sages and to reconcile these statements in aharmonious manner, and to point out that different expressions do not necessarily mean contradictory presentations, Brahma Sutras was written. They can be harmonised by a higher perception of what is there and what is happening. In order to harmonisethese multifaceted statements, Bhagavan Sri Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa wrote a new text called the Brahma Sutras. Sutra is a thread that connects different parts of the vision of Truth. All the statements connected with Ultimate Reality, known as Brahman in the Sanskritlanguage, have to be threaded together so that instead of the various statements of theUpanishads being contradictory outbursts, they become beautiful pearls in the garlandof the knowledge of the Supreme Being, from various points of view. This act of reconciliation is called
. We have problems like this in the Gita also. What is it that the Gita is telling us? ‘Goahead and fight’; ‘Think of Me always’; ‘I am doing everything’ - what is the point insaying all these things which seem to be negating one another? When a Cosmic Perception enunciates a Truth, it may look like a multiple proclamationof different hues, colours and emphases, which an ordinary person will not be able toreconcile. You cannot know which is the correct vision and which is lesser or higher. Toobviate these difficulties, the great Master Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa wrote the wonderful interpretative textbook called the Brahma Sutras.‘What do you want?’ is the first question. ‘I want the ultimate Being, Brahman’. This is aterrific question, and a statement. Who is it that wants Brahman?To avoid the quandary that may arise out of making a statement of this kind, the Sutra -the first one - avoids ‘who’, ‘why’ and all that. It simply makes an impersonal statementthat Brahman should be known. Who should know It, it does not say, because if you ask such questions you will involve yourself in some kind of preliminary contradiction. Whoare you to know Brahman? What right have you? So, avoiding such possible objections,the Brahma Sutra goes directly into the main theme, ‘It has to be known’.
An Analysis of the Brahma Sutra by Swami Krishnananda2