Brahma Sutras – According to Shankara 2-3-15

Topic 15 - The soul is an agent only so long as it is connected with the Upādhis

Sutra 2,3.40

यथा च तक्षोभयथा ॥ ४० ॥

yathā ca takṣobhayathā || 40 ||

yathā—Even as; ca—and; takṣa— carpenter; ubhayathā—is both;

40. And even as a carpenter is both.

In the last Sutra the topic about the soul’s being an agent is established.

Now the question is raised whether this agency is its real nature or only a superimposition. The Nyāya school holds that it is its very nature.

This Sutra refutes it and says that it is superimposed on the soul and not real. For the Śruti declares, “This Ātman is non-attached” (Brih. 4. 3. 15).

Just as a carpenter suffers when he is busy working with his tools and is happy when he leaves off work, so does the Ātman suffer when, through its connection with the Buddhi etc., it is active, as in the waking and dream states, and is blissful when it ceases to be an agent, as in deep sleep.

All scriptural injunctions are with reference to the conditioned state of the Self. By nature it is inactive, and it becomes active only through a connection with its Upādhis (adjuncts), the mind etc.

The objection that if the soul is not an agent by nature, the Śruti injunctions will be meaningless, does not stand, for these scriptures do not aim at establishing it, but merely refer to an agency already existing is a result of ignorance.