One of the most fascinating and useful aspects of the Vedic Literature are the Brahma Sutras. For anyone interested in living Brahman Consciousness, the Brahma Sutras are very important.
The Brahma Sutras were composed by Badarayana, also known as Ved Vyasa, the author of the Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata. Badarayana is an avatar of Vishnu and one of the eight Chiranjivin (immortals). He is the son of Parashara and Satyavati, born on an island in the river Yamuna. Badarayana became an adult immediately upon birth, and adopted the lifestyle of an ascetic.
The Brahma Sutras are composed of four Adhyaya (Chapters):
- Samanvaya - Samanvaya means "reconcilation" or "establishing harmony"
- Avirodha - Avirodha means "non-conflict"
- Sadhana - Sadhana is "means"
- Phala - the "fruit" or "bliss"
There is a commentary on the Brahma Sutras by Adi Sankara which provides great intellectual insights and into each Sutra. His commentary or Bhasya is the crest jewel of of his writtings. Those who are in Brahman Consciousness will find this commentary very blissful. The common mistake today is to assume one can achieve Brahman Consciousnes by studying the commentary. The Brahma Sutra Bhasya are of value to those not in Brahman Consciousness, but the study of Brahma Sutra Bhasya will not cause Brahman Consciousness to dawn.
The Brahma Sutras do not have to be translated and commentaries do not have to be studied in order to attain Brahman Consciousness. The Brahma Sutras are pointers to the transcendental field of the Gap between the Absolute and the relative where the colossal dream of this Universe arises in the Mind of Lord Brahma. This is a field that is well beyond the individual conscious thinking mind. If we attempt to understand the Brahma Sutras on the surface level of the meaning of words, then the mind will become caught up in the words and we will miss Brahman. Brahman is not a thing to be known. Brahman is for Being. Brahman is the essence of Being, the silence of Being.
The Brahma Sutras are to be known in silence and are revealed in silence. The true knowledge of Brahman is in the gap between the sutras. Think a sutra then transcend. Perform samyama on the sutra - drop the sutra into pure consciousness, then be in the silence. The manifestation of the sutra will spring forth with the fullness of Brahman. Each sutra has this power, this mission and this glory.
Even though the experience of Brahman Consciousness can only arise well beyond the literal meaning of the words, it is good to satisfy the ego with an understanding of the meaning of first few sutras, which are the seeds for the entire Brahma Sutras.
The first sutra points the way to the dawn of Brahman Consciousness - the desire for knowledge of Brahman:
Now, therefore, the enquiry into Brahman.
Atha: now, then, afterwards; Atah: therefore; Brahmajijnasa: a desire for the knowledge of Brahman (the enquiry into the real nature of Brahman).
In the second sutra we are given the pointer to the origin of the world:
(Brahman is that) from which the origin etc., (i.e. the origin, sustenance and dissolution) of this (world proceeds).
Janmadi: origin etc.; Asya: of this (world); Yatah: from which.
The third sutra is about the importance of Sastra. Sastra is sometimes translated as scriptures or holy texts. What makes the Sastras holy texts is their ability to reveal Brahman. Sastras may be in the form of sutras, as in the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, or the Brahma Sutras. Sastras may be in the form of prose, such as the Bhagavat Gita, or the Srimad Bhagavatum. In all cases, Sastras are writings that have as their sole purport the knowledge of Brahman.
The ultimate author of all Sastras is Lord Brahma, the creator of our Universe. In the Yoga Vasishta we learn that our Universe is a dream in the Mind of Lord Brahma and we are His dream creatures. When those who are awake to this reality record the thoughts of Lord Brahma, Sastras are the result.
The basis of the thoughts of Lord Brahma are the Divine Karmic Traces that arise when Lord Brahma performs samyama on the entire 432,000 syllables of the Rig Veda. These Divine Karmic Traces are the first sproutings of the manifestation of samyama on the Rig Veda.
The scripture being the source of right knowledge.
Sastra: the scripture; Yonitvat: being the source of or the means of the right knowledge.
The Omniscience of Brahman follows from His being the source of scripture.
The fifth sutra reminds us that thinking about Brahman is not realization of Brahman:
Thinking about (Brahman) is not (Brahman because thinking) is not subtle (enough for the realization of Brahman).
Ikshateh: on account of seeing (thinking); Na: is not; Asabdam: not subtle.
It is interesting to realize that this Universe is a dream in the MInd of the Creator and we are His dream creatures. Think of the parallel situation in a lucid dream in which you are the dreamer and the universe you create is your dream, complete with dream creatures. When the dream is semi-lucid, you know you are dreaming and all around are dream creatures but you do not engage in the dream as the creator. Instead you simply watch the dream as if watching a movie. There is only one dreamer in your dream, you. Like this, there is only one Dreamer in this Universe, and that is the Creator of this Universe. Following this logic further, this leads us to the conclusion that you are the Creator of thie Universe, as am I. There is only one real being in this Universe - the Creator. All other beings are His dream creatures.
Brahman Consciousness is this realization: I am the Creator of this Universe. I am also a dream creature in my Universe. This is my perspective. Your perspective, when you have realized Brahman Consciousness, is you are the Creator of this Universe and you are also a dream creature in your Universe. Your Universe and my Universe are the same Universe. You and I are different only on the level of our respective dream creatures. But when we follow back to our source we find we are all the same Being.
In our wonderful dream of our Universe, we have included Lord Vishnu to keep this dream going long enough to allow some of our dream creatures to realize their Truth of being the Dreamer. These fortunate dream creatures are liberated from playing the role of dream creatures and now just watch our Dream as it continues to unfold for the benefit of those dream creatures who remain lost in the Dream. During this process, our vast collection of dream creatures, in particular the human being population, has free will and are constantly exercising their free will, usually in opposition to what we have created. They oppose our Divine Karmic Traces and in so doing they create individual karmic traces. Eventually the weight of this collective consciousness that is burdened with karmic traces reaches a tipping point and must be balanced. It is sort of like the Dreamer must awaken from the Dream because the dream has become so crazy and cannot be sustained any longer. Even Lord Vishnu cannot create enough balance in the dream to allow it to continue. This is called, in the Vedic Literature, the Pralaya. A time of complete destruction of the Universe, or we could say the Dreamer wakes up and the dream dissolves into only a memory in His Mind. From the perspective of the dream creatures there is horrible destruction in their lives, everyone dies and the whole world is destroyed! But what really happened? The Dreamer wakes up for a while, then starts a new Dream with a newly created batch of dream creatures in a newly created Universe.