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The Brahma sutra is the nyaya prasthana, the logical text that sets forth the philosophy systematically (nyaya - logic/order). No study of Vedanta is considered complete without a close examination of the Prasthana Traya. Brahma Sutras is also called Vedanta Sutras. Additionally, is also known by other names: it is also called the Uttara Mimāmsā-sutras, Shariraka Sutra, Sāriraka Mimāmsā-sutras and the Bhikshu sutra.
While the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita are authoritative Vedanta texts, it is in the Brahma sutra that the teachings of Vedanta are set forth in a systematic and logical order. Additionally, the Brahma Sutras, reconciled seemingly contradictory verses of the Upanishads and set forth its teachings in a systematic manner.
The Brahma Sutra consists of 555 aphorisms or sutras, in 4 chapters, each chapter being divided into 4 sections each. The first chapter (Samanvaya: harmony) explains that all the Vedantic texts talk of Brahman, the ultimate reality, which is the goal of life. The second chapter (Avirodha: non-conflict) discusses and refutes the possible objections against Vedanta philosophy. The third chapter (Sadhana: the means) describes the process by which ultimate emancipation can be achieved. The fourth chapter (Phala: the fruit) talks of the state that is achieved in final emancipation.
- concisely stating the teaching of the Veda and of
- argumentatively establishing the special interpretation of the Veda adopted in the Sutras.
The very first sutra offers an indication into the nature of the subject matter.
VS 1.1.1 AthyAtho BrahmAn jijńAsA - Now, therefore the enquiry into Brahman.
Indian tradition identifies Badarayana, the author of the Brahma Sutra, with Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas. Many commentaries have been written on this text, the earliest extant one being the one by Adi Shankara. Later commentators include Bhaskara, Yadavaprakasha, Ramanuja, Keshava, Neelakantha, Madhva, Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Vallabha, Vijnana Bhikshu, Vacaspati and Padmapada. Among all these, and other commentaries, Shankara's commentary is considered as an exemplary model of how a commentary should be written, and most commentators are influenced by it, even when they disagree with Shankara's interpretations.
Given the concise, terse and sometimes unintelligible nature of the sutras, they need to be understood from their commentaries. The Vedanta-Sutras themselves supply ample evidence that at a very early time, i.e. a period before the final composition of the Vedanta-Sutras, there were differences of opinion among the various interpreters of the Vedanta. Quoted in the Vedanta-Sutras are opinions ascribed to, in addition to Badarayana the author himself, Audolomi, KArshnAgni, KAsakritsna, Jaimini and Badari.
Furthermore, it is notable that the Brahma Sutras refutes the heterodox Indian religions of Buddhism, Jainism, and Sankhya philosophy. Additionally, the sutras discuss the role of karma and God; see Karma in Hinduism.
- Swami Sivananda's complete translation and commentary on Brahma Sutras.
- Swami Sivananda's section of Brahma Sutras refuting Buddhism, Jainism and other schools.
- The Internet Sacred Texts Archive: Read the complete eText of the Vedanta-Sutras -- with the commentary of Ramanuja Translated by George Thibaut Sacred Books of The East Vol. 48
- Brahma sutras (Vedanta sutras) online
- sripedia.org: Collaboratively study this etext.
- Download the complete etext in Zip (569 K) or Txt (1.6 M) Formats.
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