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Brahma Sutra

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Brahma Sutras is one of the books of Prasthana-traya and is an authoritative book on Hindu Philosophy. The Brahma Sutras are attributed to Badarayana. However, some authors including Adi Shankara treat Badarayana, the author of the Brahma Sūtra, as a distinct person, than Krishna Dwipayana Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharata.

There are six schools of classical Indian philosophy, namely: Nyaya, Vaisheshhika, Sankhya, Yoga, Mimansa and Vedanta. Sutras are pithy statements that elaborate upon some specific aspect of the field and thus serve as a point of reference for all matters of philosophical import. The authors of each school's sutra are called sutra-karas. They are

  • Gautama (મહર્ષિ ગૌતમ) for the Nyaya School,
  • Kanada(મહર્ષિ કણદ) for the Vaisheshika School,
  • Kapila (મહર્ષિ કપિલ) for the Samkhya School,
  • Patanjali (મહર્ષિ પતંજલિ) for the Yoga School,
  • Jaimini (મહર્ષિ જૈમિનિ) for the Mimansa School, and
  • Badarayan (બાદરાયણ) for the Vedanta School.

Upanishads (Shruti prasthāna, the starting point of revelation) and the Bhagavad-Gita (Smriti prasthana, the starting point of remembered tradition) are the basic source texts of Vedanta school. The Brahma Sutras attempt to reconcile the seemingly contradictory and diverse statements of the various Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, by placing each teaching in a doctrinal context.

The word sutra means thread, and the Brahma Sutras literally stitch together the various Vedanta teachings into a systematic and logical order. At the time of composition of Brahma Sutras, there were difference of opinion among the various interpreters of the Vedānta namely Audulomi, Jaimini, Badarayan to name a few. Brahma Sutra seamlessly arrange and interprete their views and offer conclusion.

Brahma Sutras consists of 555 Sutras (aphorisms) arranged in Adhikaranas (topics) and divided in 16 Padas (sections) inside 4 Adhyayas (chapters). The very first sutra which says athato brahma jignasa – Now, therefore the inquiry (into the real nature of Brahman) set tone for discussion. Besides elaborating upon Brahman, Brahma Sutras discuss the role of karma and God and critically address the various doctrines associated with Buddhism, Jainism, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Shaiva, Shakta, Atheism, and Sankhya philosophies.

Sanskrit is very elastic. One can derive different meaning according to his own intellectual calibre and spiritual experiences. The Brahma Sutras are so terse that not only are they capable of being interpreted in multiple ways, but they are often incomprehensible without proper commentary.

Many commentaries have been written on Brahma Sutras, the earliest one being the one by Adi Shankara with his non-dualistic (Advaita) interpretation of the Vedānta. It was subsequently commented by Vachaspati and Padmapada. Ramanuja’s commentary, also called Sri Bhasya, lays the foundations of the Vishisht-advaita tradition and refutes Adi Shankara’s Advaita views. Other commentators on the Brahma Sutras include Bhaskara, Yadavaprakasa, Kesava, Nilakantha, Madhvacharya, Vallabha, Vijnanabhiksu and Nimbarka.

Their commentaries are in Sanskrit and are too short and insufficient for a comprehensive study or are extremely tough to be of any use by men of ordinary understanding. The work of Yogeshwarji on Brahma Sutra in Gujarati language is unique in itself and is unrivalled by any other. His commentary is neither too short to be useless, nor too verbose to be unintelligible, but is useful to all, especially the spiritual aspirants.

Explore Brahma Sutra verses in Sanskrit, along with its Gujarati translation and Shri Yogeshwarji’s commentary.

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