The Brahma Sutra defines the thread of Life Force (Prana) by which all of the universal objects are bound together. The Brahma sūtras, also known as Vedānta Sūtras, constitute the Nyāya prasthāna, the logical starting point of the Vedānta philosophy (Nyāya = logic/order). No study of Vedānta is considered complete without a close examination of the Prasthāna Traya, the texts that stand as the three starting points.
While the Upanishads (Śruti prasthāna, the starting point of revelation) and the Bhagavad-Gītā (Smriti prasthāna, the starting point of remembered tradition) are the basic source texts of Vedānta, it is in the Brahma sūtras that the teachings of Vedānta are set forth in a systematic and logical order.
Indian tradition identifies Badrayana, 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 Sankara. Later commentators include Bhaskara, Yadavaprakasha, Ramanuja, Keshava, Neelakantha, Madhva, Baladeva, Vallabha, Vijnana Bhikshu, Vacaspati and Padmapada. Among all these, and other commentaries, Sankara'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 Sankara's interpretations.
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.
Many commentaries have been written on this text, the earliest extant one being the one by Ādi Śankara Bhagavatpāda. His commentary set forth the non-dualistic (Advaita) interpretation of the Vedānta, and was commented upon by Vācaspati and Padmapāda. These sub-commentaries, in turn, inspired other derivative texts in the Advaita school.
Ramanujacharya also wrote a commentary on Brahma sutra, called, Sri Bhasya, which lays foundations to the Visishtadvaita tradition. In this, he firmly refutes the Advaita view as proposed by Adi Shankara in his commentary.
Other commentators on the Brahma Sūtras, belonging to other schools of Vedānta, include Bhāskara, Yādavaprakāśa, Keśava, Nīlakaņţha, Madhva, Vallabha, Vijnanabhiksu, Nimbarka, and Baladeva Vidyābhūshaņa.
- Brahma Sutra by IIT Kanpur
- Read Badrayana’s Brahma Sutra, the authoritative text that systematically expounds Vedanta philosophy. Also read Adi Sankara’s monumental commentary on this work. These Sanskrit texts can be viewed on this website in any of 11 Indian language scripts, including Roman.
- The Brahma Sutras by Swami Sivananda
- Complete E-Book. The text of the Brahma Sutras has been included herein to enable the readers to do Svadhyaya and get them by heart for purposes of meditation.
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