SRI BHASHYA-1-By Dr Saroja Ramanujam..

Ramanuja opens Sribhashya his commentary on the Brahmasuthra with an invocational verse,
Akhila    bhuvana     janma    sthembhangaadhi    leele
Vinatha   vidhitha    bhootha    vratharakshai    kadheekshe

Sruthi      sirasi Vidheepthe brahmani     sreenivaase

bhavathu mama parasmin semushee bhakthi   rupaa

‘May my intellect, semushi, be engrossed in devotion, bhakthirupa bhavathu, on LordSrinivasa, the Supreme Brahman, brahmani srinivase, who is shining on the crown of the vedas,sruthisirasi Vidheepthe, who has vowed to protect all beings who bow down to Him and followHis path vinathavidhitha bhothavraatha rakshaika dhikshe, and for whom the acts like creationsustenance and annihilation are mere sport, akhilabhuvanajanmasthemabhangaadhileele.’As in vedharthasangraha here also Ramanuja uses the name Srinivasa as a synonym forParabrahman. Srinivasa could be taken to have reference to the Lord of Thirumala, but considering the subject matter dealt with in this work Srinivasa can be construed as sriyahnivasah, the abode of Sri, that is Lord Narayana, Paravasudeva, the Brahman of visishtadvaita.Bhavathu mama semushi bhakthirupa implies that bhakthi is the sole means of salvation.Jnana as a result of bhakthi is stressed in visishtadvaita. Srinivasa or Brahman crowns thesruthi, Veda, as its chief import Srutisirasividheepte. Veda is the only source of knowledgeabout Brahman and Brahman is the only purport of the Veda. Brahman or Narayana isdescribed as having taken the diksha, vow of protecting His bhakthas, vinatha vidhitha bhoothavraatharakshaikadheekshe. Bhootha, all beings, who are Vinatha, surrender to Him and vidhitha, follow the path of devotion. May it be man bird or beast, as can be seen in the case of Vibheeshana, Gajendhra and Jatayu? It is His only vow as Rama says whenVibheeshana surrenders to Him,
Sakrdheva    prapannaanaam     thavaasmi    ithi     vadhinaam      abhayam      sarva     bhootha    anaamdhadhaami     ithi vratham mama
‘It is my vow to give protection to all beings whoever surrenders to me saying, “I am yours”.’
The reason for this vow is denoted by..As Sudharsana Suri puts it His vow to protect is, to give them Mukthi ultimately. 


Sri Ramanuja starts his SribhAshya with the words ‘athra ayam aTHa shabdhah AnanthyaaryE bhavathi.’ Before we examine the meaning of these words we have to understand a little of the structure of the vedas, each of which basically consists of two parts. The purva bhaga, deals with the Ritualistic portion while The uttarabhaga, known as Vedanta consists of upanishads.The interpretation of the ritualistic texts and clarification of the doubts therein is called PurvamimAmsa or karmamimamsa and it was prepounded by Jaimini in the form of suthras While the study of the nature of Brahman and other concepts of Vedanta are called UttharamimAmsa consisting of the Brahmasuthras of BAdharAyaNa. Brahmasuthras have been interpreted by Sankara and Madhwa according to their siddhanatha while tha commentary of Ramanuja is based on Bhodhaayana vritthi and is in accordance with Visishtadvaita. Now coming to the sentence’ athra ayam aTHa sabdhah AnanthryE bhavathi,’ means that the word ‘aTHa’ is used here in the sense of ‘then’, that is, ‘after something.’ The cryptic suthra should be understood as follows. Then, aTHa-after the study of purvamimamsa, therefore, athah-knowing that the result of the rituals done for specific purpose are finite and transitory,inquiry of Brahman, brahmajijnAsA-to be taken up because the knowledge of the real nature of Brahman secures infinite and eternal result, that is moksha. So the Ananthrya referred to ihere is after the study of karmamimamsa. Then ramanuja explains the word ‘athah’ thus:

Atha sabdhah vrtthasyahethubhAve Vrttha refers to the meaning of ‘aTHA’ which is ‘then’ and the word ‘atha’ explains the reason for the previous word-meaning. If the aword ‘atha’ is removed, the suthra would mean that the inquiry of Brahman is to be taken then, but it would not justify the action of taking up the inquiry without the word athah, meaning ‘therefore’, which implies the need of the knowledge of Brahman because the knowledge rituals alone will not secure the release from bondage. Ramanuja explains as to why the study of Brahman comes after that of karmakanda of the vedas. When the vedas are learned along with their angas, the karmajnana acquired thereby produces results which are of alpa, trivial and asthira, transitory. So to one who is desirous of attaining moksha, sanjAtha mokshAbhilAshah, the inquiry of Brahman, brahmajijnAsa, is anantharabhAvinee, subsequent to vedhAdhyayana.

Next Ramanuja analyses the word ‘ brahmajijnAsA.’ It is jijnAsA, desire to know Brahman, ‘brahmaNah jijnAsA.’ he word brahmaNah is in genitive case denoting sambandha, connection or relationship as in ‘rAjnah puthrah,’ the son of the king. But here the rule ‘karmaNi shashati’ is applied and the word brahmaNah is used in the sense of an object. It is because the act of knowing requires an object and by knowing what is Brahman includes knowing about Brahman also.

A bhashya must have five requisites, namely, PadhacchEdha, splitting the words like separating the suthra as aTHa, atha, etc. PadhArthkthivigrahah, etymological meaning of the words as in brahmNah jijnAsA, vAkyayojanA, it must consist of full sentences, Akshepasya samAdhAnam, reply to any possible objection and vyAkhyAnam, commentary on the text.

In Sribhashya also we see that according to the above  lakshana Ramanuja presupposes the possible objection from the opponent  and answers them after explaining about the word’brahma.’ The adjectives anavadhika and asankhyeya with reference to His wonderful, athisaya and infinite, anantha kalyANa gunagana, auspicious qualities, show that they are inconceivable by vAk and manas. Avadhi is limit and Sankhya is number. His qualities are anavadhika, not limited by words or thiught and asankhyEya, countless, as Desika says in YadhvAbhyudhaya,

Ramanuja outlines the basic concept of visishtadvaita by his explanation of the word ‘brahma. ’ He says

Brahma     sabdhEnacha   svabhAvathah    nirasthanikhiladhoshah    anavadhika     athisaya    asankhyEyakalyANa    gunaganah Purushotthamah abhidheeyathE The word ‘brahma’ refers to the supreme Purusha, NArAyaNa, who is naturally devoid of alldefects, (this eliminates other realized, muktha, everfree, nitya, souls), and possesses infinite,wonderful, inconceivable auspicious qualities. These words serve to deny the concept of nirguNabrahman. By this statement he declares without any ambiguity that the word brahma  is synonymous with NArAyaNa, removing any doubt to the contrary(devathAntharavyAvrtthyarTHah-Sudarsanasuri) The adjectives anavadhika and asankhyeya with reference to His wonderful, athisaya and infinite, anantha kalyANa gunagana, auspicious qualities, show that they are inconceivable by  vAk and manas. Avadhi is limit and Sankhya is number . His qualities are anavadhika, notlimited by words or thought and asankhyEya, countless, as Desika says in YadhvAbhyudhaya, ‘yadhEkaikaguNaprAnthE shrAnthAh nigamavandhinah yathAvath VarNanE asya, ’ the vedas  Proceeding to describe Him as He is, become exhausted by the time they finish relating about  even one of His qualities.  Ramanuja then proceeds to show that the word Brahman can only mean nothing but  sarvesvara. Brahma sabda is derived from the root ‘brh’ to mean greatness and though it can be applied to anything which is great, the mukhyArTha of the word can only be that which is by nature possesses the greatness to an infinite degree, as in the case of the word ‘bhagavat’ which denotes only the Lord. The implication here is that the word, great being, brahma, is not meant in the adjectival sense but as the mukhyArTHa, in its denotation of something which is great by nature. Another reason for the word ‘brahma’ denoting sarvesvara is given by Ramanuja as  ‘thApathrayA   thuraih   amrthathvAya sa Eva jijnAsyah.’ As the Lord is the sole resort for those who are affected by thApathraya, the three afflictions of samsara, namely Adhibhouthika, Adhidhaivika and AdhyaAthmika, He alone becomes the  object of jijnAsA. The ills of samsara are due to the three thApaas, Suffering due to fate due to  no reason, Adhidhaivika, Due to other beings and natural elements, Adhiboutika and Due to our own physical and mental conflicts for which our own actions are responsible, AdhyAthmika  Even though these may be remedied by other means they are not permanent and permanent remedy is possible only by the grace of the Lord, who alone can release us from the samsara. So ‘sa EvA JIJNaSYAH, ’ He alone has to be inquired.  After examining the implications of the word ‘brahma’ and explaining it to mean Narayana the  last word of the suthra jijnAsA is examined. The word is a compound meaning jnAthum icchA, desire to know. The one who has studied the PurvamimaAmsA comes to know of its alpa  asTHira phalathva and turns to Utthara mimAmsA with the desire to attain the permanent bliss of moksha.  The PurvamimAmsa sastram discusses the purusharthas beginning with the suthra     



‘ and it is precedent to the UttharamimAmsa in as much as, in order tounderstand the asthiraphalathva one has to study the sastra and follow the injunctions. So the UttharamimAmsa forms the latter part of study of vedas and hence forms one whole with the  purvamimAmsa.  Ramanuja elaborates on the krama, the order of study of the vedas by saying, ‘ thaTHA hipraTHamam  thaavath “svaaDHyaayo adhyEthavyah” ithi adhyayanEnaivasvADHyAya     

SabdhavAchyavedhAkyAkshararAsEh grahaNamviDHeeyathE’


First the vedas are learnt after  upanayanam by word of mouth, that is chanting with svaras. The proper time of aDHyayana is  denoted by “ashtavarsham brAhmaNam upanayeetha; tham aDhyApayEth.” A brahmin should be sanctified with upanayana at eight years of age and should start the aDHyayana. So aDHyayana means learning the chanting of the vedas from the acharya. The result of the vedaDHyayana is self evident as given by the manthras japas etc. The meanings of the Vedic texts are learnt in due course along with the vedaAngas. The next step is to realise that the results of the ritualistic karma are transient and the aspirant turns to the Upanishads for attaining permanent well-being through the enquiry ofUttaramimAmsA, also known as sAreerakamimAmsa The Vedanta texts such as


“thadyathEha karmachitho lokah ksheeyathE EvamEva amuthra punyachithah lokah


Just as this world entered through one’s karma is transitory so also are the worlds attainedthrough punyaphala, affirm the transient and finite nature of the karmaphala. In theBaghavatgita the Lord says,

‘ksheenE punyE martyalokam visanthi,

‘ when the acquired merit  through karma enjoined in the vedas is exausted the jiva returns to the earth, the karmaloka. Only by brahmajnana the cycle of birth and death can be got rid off. The texts


“brahmavid aApnothi param”, (Taitt.Ana.1)”napunarmrthyavE thdhEkam pasyathi” (chan.7-


and the like are asserting that one who knows brahman reaches the ultimate and after the perception of the one ultimate reality never resorts back to mortality. Here the objection of the advaitin that since the study of the vedas makes one realise that the result of karma is transient and finite, the study of UttharamimAmsA could be pursued straight away without following the course of karmakanda. Ramanuja answers that it is not so. The mere knowledge of brahman by study of vedanta is not enough to secure liberation. The inquiry into the nature of brahman, after clearing the doubts and misconceptions through deep study and practice and contemplation alone can result in brahmajnana. So too mere study of the karmakanda of the vedas will not result in the knowledge of the ephemeral and limited nature of the karmaphala. That is, one has to learn through experience as otherwise mere teaching will make one realise the impermanence of the world. But we see that it is not so in practice. To know whether something is conducive to welfare or not, one has to know what it is in order to get convinced beyond doubt.



Advaitin argues further that the word   aTha  explained in the meaning of Anantharya, ‘after that’ thus referring to the study of purvamimAmsa being the forerunner to the study of  UttaramimAmsA is not tenable. One can attain the knowledge of Brahman through the study of UttharamimAmsA which alone can destroy the avidya, the cause of the perception of  manifoldness of the universe. Hence the study of PurvamimAmsA helps in no way towards     enlightenment, on the contrary is detrimental to it because the study of PurvamimAmsA makes one get involved in the manifold world and may as a consequence turn him away from brahmajijnaAsA. The study of the vedas itself can give the idea of the transitory nature of karmaphala and there is no necessity for the inquiry into purvamimAmsA. But it remains to be explained as to what does the word aTHa means if it is not used with the implication of Anantharya to purvamimAmsA. Advaitin comes with the answer that though the word is used in the sense of Anantharya, ‘after something,’ it really means that the brahmajijnaAsA follows after the saDHana chathushtaya, namely nithyAnithyavasthuvivekah, discrimination between what is permanent and what is not, samadhamAdhi sAdhanasampath, the acquirement of inner and outer control, ihAmuthraphalabhogaviraAgah, detachment towards the karmaphala in this world and the next and mumukshuthvam, an intense deire for moksha. If one is endowed with these as a result of his merits in purvajanma he has no need of enquiry into the karmakanda. Advaitin presupposes the counter argument that the injunctions about Udgita etc found in UttharamimAmsA with reference to upasanA requires the knowledge of purvamimAmsA and says 
‘sasthre pradhAnathayA prathipAdhyam jnAnam idham ithi thvayaA na jnAtham ithyarthah’.


’ anabhijno bhavAn sAreerakasasthravijnaAnasya.’Sudarsana suri explains this as, This means “You do not seem to understand the main idea explicit in the sAreerakasAsthra. We should remember when reading the arguments of the opponents that it is Ramanuja’s words and not that of the opponent as it is the practice to supply the counter arguments and establish one’s own siddhAntha by answering them The upasana texts in Utthara mimAmsa though connected with karamkanda are not actually so, because, the karma expounded in purvamimAmsA has no connection whatsoever with the subjectmatter of UttharmimAmsA, namely, Brahman. Besides the sruti texts like

‘thath yatTHEha karmachithah lokah ksheeyathE EvameEva amuthra puNyachithah lokah ksheeyathe’ (ch.8-1-6)
also denote karma as an obstacle to the attainment of brahmajnana. Even the texts like
‘yajnEna dhAnEna thapasA anAsanEna brAhmaNAh vividhishanthi’ (Brhad.-6-4-22)
enjoin only anthahkaraNa nairmalya, puriity of inner equipment, and not for the sake of result or moksha. Work done without desire for fruit purifies anthahkaraNa and creates desire for knowledge.when the anthahkaraNa is pure then


knowledge is acquired through sravaNa, manana and niidhiDhyAsana.

Sravana consists in hearing or learning the meaning of the vedantavakyas affirming the unity ofAtman with Brahman, such as ‘satyam jnanam anantham brahma,'(tait.ana.1), Brahman isexistence, knowledge and infinity, ‘ayam Athma brahma, (brhd.6.4.5), this atman is brahman, ‘thathvamasi'(chan.6.8.7), ‘that thou art,’ from an acharya.


Assimilating the teaching of the acharya and making its one’s own is manana Continuous contemplation of the same in order to get rid of the beginningless vAsana is  nidhiDhyAsana. Therefore the prerequisite of brahmajijnAsaA is only the sADHana  chthushtayam and not the inquiry into work.



Brahmavijnana may arise when avidhya is dispelled

, ‘avidhyA nivrtthirEva mokshah sA cha brhmavijanAdhEva bhavathi,’as professed by the advatin, but the concept of avidhya, brahman and vijnana are different in every system of philosophy. Avidhya is bhAvarrupa or existent independent entity in advaita and anAdhi, beginningless. In VisishtaAdhvaita however, it is the result of karma in the form of puNya and pApa. To the advaitin Brahman is nirguNa, without attributes while for visishtadvaitin Brahman, synonymous with NArAyaNa is saguna,possessing of innumerable, infinite auspicious qualities, ananthakalyANguNa visishta. The difference in the concept of vijAna will be examined here.Ramanuja here questions the concept of jnAna saying, ‘jnAnam kim rupam ithi vivechaneeyam-kim vAkyAth vAkyArTHa jnaAnamAthram, utha thanmoolamupAsanAthmakam jnAnam ithi.’ Does it arises by the mere study of vedantavakyas or through meditation on the knowledge obtained by that study? If the knowledge of Brahman can be had by the mere study of the texts like ‘thathvamasi’, ‘ayam AthmA brahma,’ there would be no sense in the words like ‘brahma vidhyAth, know brahman,’ and ‘upAseetha, meditate.’ Experience also disproves this. On the other hand as in the case Suka, Sanakaa and others it is seen that the meditation on Brahmanhas given the brahmajnAna with which the sruthivakhyas are easily comprehended. Advaitin may contend that even after acquiring the jnAna the bhedhavAsanA, the experience of duality due to avidhya may remain though avidhya does not, as in the case of one who sees two moons due to some defect in the eyes, the knowledge that there is only one moon does not make the illusion disappear. But even if it remains it does not cause bondage because the root cause of the illusion of duality, namely, avdhya is removed by brahmajnAna. Sudarsana suri gives two more examples and says that a cloth burnt, though retains its shape, will not serve the purpose of covering and will be destroyed in due course. Similarly the wheel of a potter may keep revolving for some tiime even after the operation of making the pot is over.  Ramanuja says ‘sathyAmapi sAmagryAm jnAna anuthpattthi anupapatthEh .’ When there is the necessary requisite of the rise of jnAna, the absence of it is not acceptable. Avidhya is like darkness which should immediately vanish when the light of jnAna dawns and when there is noavidhya, the cause, its effect, namely, the perception of duality should also vanish. Sudarsanasuri explains this further that the darkness of a cave vanishes the moment a bright lamp is brought inside and when one is frightened that there is a snake, learns from a reliable Wellwisher that there is no snake there but only a rope, the bhramajnAna, illusory notion of a  



snake vanishes. Similarly if the brahamajnAna should result from the vedavakyas about

brahman being the only reality there should be no more perception of duality. But it is not so.

Ramanuja disagrees with the statement of the advaitin that inspite of the knowledge that has

risen from the study of the vedantavakyas the perception of duality will remain due to the

beginningless vAsana, mental impressions, by saying


‘bhedhajnAna sAmagryA api vAsanAyAhmiTHyA rupathvena jnAnothptthyA Eva nivrtthathvAth,


‘ the bhedhajnAna, perception ofduality itself is miTHya, illusory according to the advaitin to whom everything other than

brahman is unreal.So being illusory the rise of brahmajnana should remove it as otherwise

there is nothing else that can cause its destruction.If it is claimed that it vanishes by itself, it is

absurd as a thing cannot destroy itself. To say that the cause of vAsana, which is avidhya, is

destroyed by jnAna and hence the illusion will remain for sometime and then vanish is a

statement of ignorance, says Ramanuja,

‘vAsanAkAryam bhedhajnAnam cchinnamoolam aTHa cha anuvarthathE’ ithi


Ramanuja explains the perception of two moons which continues even though there is the

knowledge to the contrary, thus: The illusion is due to defect in the eye which is real and not

illusory and hence will cease to exist only when the defect is removed and not by the

knowledge that there is only one moon. But in the case of a man being frightened of the

illusory snake, the fear vanishes by the knowledge that it is only a rope.


‘PrabalapramANAbhAdhithathvENA BhayAdhi kAryam thu nivarthathe.


‘ By valid means of cognition, namelyApthavAkyam, words of a reliable person or prathyaksha, by own perception, the fear of snake

which is the effect of illusion is removed.The avidhyA, nescience, being anAdhi, beginningless

and powerful according to the advaitin, the perception of duality cannot be removed by the

mere knowledge of Brahman through the vedantavAkyas.

The avidhyA, nescience, being anAdhi, beginningless and powerful according to the advaitin,

the perception of duality cannot be removed by the mere knowledge of Brahman through the


Therefore besides the study of the vedantavakyas dhyAna and upaAsanA have been prescribed

by the vedntavakyas themselves which can be seen in the texts like


‘ omithyEva AtmAnamdhyAyaTHa,


meditate on the Self as OM, ‘(Mund. 2-2-6) ‘AthmAnamEva lokam upAseetha,one should meditate on the Self alone,'(Brhd.3-4-15) ‘AthmA vA are drashtavyah manthavyah

nidhiDHyAsithavyah, the Self is to be seen, thought and meditated'(Brhd.6-5-6). The word

‘knowing, vinjAna’ is also to be taken in the sense of meditation

Now what is meditation? Ramanuja defines it as ‘dhyAnam cha thailadhArAvath avicchinna

smrthisanthAna roopam,’ continous flow of remembrance like the stream of continously

dripping of oil. ‘DhruvA smrthih; smrthilambhe sarvagranTheenAm vipramokshah,'(Chan.7-

26-2) when the constant, (dhruva) remembrance, (smrthih) is attained all knots are rent

asunder. Thus DHruvAsmrthi is prescribed as the means of liberation. Here remembering is

synonymous with seeing. As shown by the text,

‘bhidhyathE hrdhayagrantTHih cchidhyanthE sarvasamsayAh ksheeyanthe asya karmANi
ஸ்ரீ ஸ்ருதி பிரகாசர் திருவடிகளே சரணம்
பெரிய பெருமாள் பெரிய பிராட்டியார் ஆண்டாள் ஆழ்வார் எம்பெருமானார் ஜீயர் திருவடிகளே சரணம்


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