Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 2-1-7

Topic 7 - Refutation of the objection that if Brahman were the cause of the world, then It and the Jīva being really one, Brahman would be responsible for creating evil

Sutra 2,1.21

इतरव्यपदेशाद्धिताकरणादिदोषप्रसक्तिः ॥ २१ ॥

itaravyapadeśāddhitākaraṇādidoṣaprasaktiḥ || 21 ||

itara-vyapadeśāt—On account of the other being stated (as non different from Brahman); dhita-akaraṇādi-doṣa-prasaktiḥ—defects of not doing what is beneficial and the like would arise.

21. On account of the other (the individual soul) being stated (as non-different from Brahman) there would arise (in Brahman) the defects of not doing what is beneficial and the like.

In the previous topic the oneness of the world with its cause, Brahman, has been established.

But the Sutra also states the identity of the individual soul and Brahman, and if Brahman at the same time were the cause of the world, It would be open to the charge of not doing what is good for Itself.

Being omniscient, It would not have ordained anything which would do the individual soul harm, or abstained from doing that which would be beneficial to it; for nobody is seen to do so with respect to oneself.

Rather It would have created a world where everything would have been pleasant for the individual soul, without the least trace of misery.

Since that is not a fact, Brahman is not the cause of the world, as Vedānta holds.

Sutra 2,1.22

अधिकं तु, भेदनिर्देशात् ॥ २२ ॥

adhikaṃ tu, bhedanirdeśāt || 22 ||

adhikaṃ—Something more; tu—but; bheda-nirdeśāt—on account of the statement of difference.

22. But on account of the statement (in the Śrutis) of difference (between the individual soul and Brahman) (Brahman the Creator is) something more (than the individual soul).

But’ refutes the objection of the last Sutra.

The Creator of the world is omniscient and omnipotent.

As such He knows the unreality of the Jīvahood and the world, and also His own non-attachment to them, being a mere witness. He has neither good nor evil. So his creating a world of good and evil is not objectionable.

For the individual soul, however, there is good and evil so long as it is in ignorance.

The Śrutis clearly point out the difference between the individual soul and the Creator in texts like “The Ātman is to be realized” etc. (Brih. 2. 4. 5).

As these differences, however, are based on imaginary distinctions due to ignorance.

It is only when Knowledge dawns that the individual soul, realizes its identity with Brahman. Then all plurality vanishes, and there is neither the individual soul nor the Creator.

Thus the individual soul not being the creator of the world, the objection raised does not hold good.

Sutra 2,1.23

अश्मादिवच्च तदनुपपत्तिः ॥ २३ ॥

aśmādivacca tadanupapattiḥ || 23 ||

aśmādivat—Like stones etc.; ca—and; tadanupapattiḥ—its untenability.

23. And because the case is similar to that of stones (produced from the same earth) etc., the objection is untenable.

An objection may be raised that Brahman, which is Knowledge, Bliss, and unchangeable, cannot be the cause of a world of diversity, of good and evil.

This Sutra refutes that.

The objection is untenable, for we see that from the same material, earth, stones of different values like the precious jewels as also useless stones are produced. So also from Brahman, which is Bliss, a world of good and evil can be created.