An Analysis of the Brahma Sutra by Swami Krishnananda
When a Cosmic Perception enunciates a Truth, it may look like amultiple proclamation of different hues, colours and emphases, which anordinary person will not be able to reconcile. You cannot know which is thecorrect vision and which is lesser or higher. To obviate these difficulties, thegreat Master Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa wrote the wonderful interpretativetextbook called the Brahma Sutras.‘What do you want?’ is the first question. ‘I want the ultimate Being,Brahman’. This is a terrific question, and a statement. Who is it that wantsBrahman?To avoid the quandary that may arise out of making a statement of thiskind, the Sutra—the first one—avoids ‘who’, ‘why’ and all that. It simplymakes an impersonal statement that Brahman should be known. Who shouldknow It, it does not say, because if you ask such questions you will involveyourself in some kind of preliminary contradiction. Who are you to knowBrahman? What right have you? So, avoiding such possible objections, theBrahma Sutra goes directly into the main theme, ‘It has to be known’.What is the meaning of ‘knowing’? You know that there is a meetinghere, I know that many people are sitting here, you know that I amspeaking—this is a kind of knowledge, of course. Is it in this sense that youhave to know Brahman? Or is there any other way?The word ‘Brahman’ comes from a Sanskrit root, ‘Brhm’—to expand,to be comprehensive, to include and be perfect. If the thing that is to beknown you call Brahman is that which is inclusive and comprehensive, itmust be including the knowing individual also. If the knowing person isoutside this comprehensive Being, then that being would not becomprehensive, because it has excluded the knower or the person whoaspires for it. So, it should include even the aspirant for it. Here is a knottypoint before us.If that which is to be known includes the knower of it also, then what isthe answer to this question “Brahman is to be known?” Known by whom? Itis already told that nobody is there to know it. Yet at the very beginningitself is a statement, ‘It has to be known’. Is Brahman knowing Itself?Brahman is to be known—
‘Athato Brahma Jijnasa’
—when thus it is said,does it mean that Brahman is wanting to know Itself? What for is this book which is to be read by people when only Brahman can know Itself and noone else can know It? That is to say, there is no passage to It with which youcan be acquainted.