Athato Brahm Jigyasa

1.1.1Then, Therefore, inquire into Brahman.

Brahman is derived from the root word- “Brih” which means “great or massive”. (brihattva, from the root ‘brih’).

Bruhyati Brahmyati iti brahma: One who is giant/ great and makes everyone approaching him equally massive/ great is Brahman.

The word ‘then’ denotes immediate sequence.
therefore’denotes antecedent fact i.e. prior activities that leads to enquiry into Brahman.

Enquiry into work must first be taken up. Then the person learns that
1) the results of work are temporary and limited.
2) the knowledge of Brahman leads to eternal and unlimited result i.e. moksham.
After realizing this, desire to know Brahman arises in him.

It is the knowledge of empheral nature of the work that necessiates enquiry into Brahman.

Mundak Upanishad(1.2.12):
परीक्ष्य लोकान्कर्मचितान्ब्राह्मणो निर्वेदमायान्नास्त्यकृतः कृतेन।
तद्विज्ञानार्थं स गुरूमेवाभिगच्छेत्समित्पाणिः श्रोत्रियं ब्रह्मनिष्ठम्।।1.2.12।।
Meaning: After having examined the worlds attained through work, a brahmana should get dis-passionate toward them. The uncaused can’t be attained by the caused. .. … To know that, he must approach a guru, who is learned and dwells entirely in Brahman. To that pupil who has approached him respectfully, whose mind is altogether calm, the wise teacher truly told that knowledge of Brahman through which he knows the imperishable true Person’

तस्मै स विद्वानुपसन्नाय सम्यक् प्रशान्तचित्ताय शमान्विताय। येनाक्षरं पुरूषं वेद सत्यं प्रोवाच तां तत्त्वतो ब्रह्मविद्याम्।।1.2.13।।

Meaning: To that pupil who has approached him respectfully, whose mind is altogether calm, the wise teacher truly told that knowledge of Brahman through which he knows the imperishable true Person’

That the fruit of mere works is transitory, while the result of the knowledge of Brahman is something permanent, the Vedanta-texts declare in many places–

  • ‘And as here the world acquired by work perishes, so there the world acquired by merit perishes’ (Kath. Up. VIII, 1,6);
  • ‘That work of his has an end’ (Bri. Up. III, 8, 10);
  • ‘By non-permanent works the Permanent is not obtained’ (Ka. Up. I, 2, 10);
  • प्लवा ह्येते अदृढा यज्ञरूपा अष्टादशोक्तमवरं येषु कर्म। एतच्छ्रेयो येऽभिनन्दन्ति मूढा जरामृत्युं ते पुनरेवापियन्ति।। (Mu. Up. I, 2, 7);

Meaning: (Since these eighteen constituents of a sacrifice, on whom the inferior karma has been said to rest, are perishable because of their fragility, therefore those ignorant people who get elated with the idea ‘ This is (the cause of) bliss ’, undergo old age and death over again.)

  • ‘Told’ here means ‘he is to tell.’–On the other hand, ‘He who knows Brahman attains the Highest’ (Taitt. Up. II, 1, 1);
  • ‘He who sees this does not see death’ (Kath. Up. VII, 26, 2);
  • ‘He becomes a self-ruler’ (Kath. Up. VII, 25, 2);
  • ‘Knowing him he becomes immortal here’ (Taitt. Âr. III, 12, 7);
  • ‘Having known him he passes over death; there is no other path to go’ (Svet. Up. VI, 15);
  • ‘Having known as separate his Self and the Mover, pleased thereby he goes to immortality’ (Svet. Up. I, 6).


Purvpaksha (Objection)

The mere learning of the Veda with its auxiliary disciplines gives rise to the knowledge that results of karma-kaand is transitory and limited, they why does one need to follow karm-kand? One can directly jump to Uttar-meemasha (Gyaan-kaand).

Siddhant (Reply)

It is not possible. Even as the study of Purva-meemasha doesn’t help one desirous for liberation but it necessiates on his part inquiry into Brahman. Study of Purv-meemasha is necessariy to realize definitly and beyond doubt that knowledge obtained from the work is temporary and limited. Only after such a realization, immediate sequence is inquiry into Brahman. (brahm-jigyaasa).

If one is desirous to skip step 2 and 3 and wanto jump to step 4 directly after step 1; he can be questioned in similar manner. Leave even step 4 i.e. study of vedant and jump to Brahm-upasana.

In case you insist that Step 4 is mandatorily needed, then it may as well be accepted that
Step 2 & 3 are also required.

Purvpaksha (Objection)

There is no need to know brahman. Immortality can be achieved by rituals as declared by texts like, “drinking soma, we have become eternal”.

Siddhant (Reply)

The scriptures declare that “Knowing him alone one transcends death”. (Svetaswar 3.8). “After having examined the worlds attained through work, a brahmana should get dis-passionate toward them. The uncaused can’t be attained by the caused”. (Mundak 1.2.12).

Thus, immortability can only be achieved through knowledge. What is stated by  texts like, “drinking soma, we have become eternal”; should be taken literally, but in a relative sense only. So, brahman should be known.

Purvpaksha (Objection)

The power of words is to signify an action only. Therefore, import of vedas is only Action. Hence, vedant-texts are of no use.

Siddhant (Reply)

There is universally known method of establishing the relation between words and things signified by them. The ruke that words signify only action is not binding. It is possible for words to convey knowledge of self-established existing thing.

ex- Parents points out towards some objects which signify that word but slowly the child is able to find that the word themselves give rise to certain ideas in the mind. Thus, the words are used as denotative power.

For the sake of comprehension and interpretation, Vedas have been divided into two parts- Purv-Meenasha and Uttar-Meemansha. There are 20 chapters in Meemansha darshan out of which 16 chapter lies in Karm-Kand or Purv-Meemansha and 4 lies in Brahm-Kand or Uttar-Meemansha.

Purv-Meemasha (Karm-Kaand): Meemansha means investigation or interpretation of Vedic injunctions. This section has been dealt by JAIMINI. It’s not much about philosophy but details of rituals and yagnas performed to to invoke devtaas or gods.

Uttar-Meemasha (Gyaan-Kaand or Brahm-Kaand): It is also termed as Upanishads or Vedanta. It is dealt by Badraayan/ Ved-Vyaas in his Brahm-Sutra or Vedant-Sutra.

Which is the Object of Worship? ——- Upanishads.

What is worship?—————– Purv-Meemansha.

Both the Meemanshas, totaling 20 chapters form one single unitary Meemansha system. Many sages including Bodhayan and Ramanuj have declared so in no uncertain terms. 

Purvpaksha (Objection) by Advaitin


There is no need of Karm-vichaar. ‘Atha (Then)’ represents four-fold spritual requisites.

Aspects that need to be known by Karma Mimamsa can be known by Vedanta itself. 

The cause of manifoldness is due to Avidya. Avidya covers non-dual and non-differentiated Brahman.wrong knowledge which is the root of all pain, for man, liable to birth, old age, and death, and all the numberless other evils connected with transmigratory existence–evils that spring from the view, due to beginningless Nescience (Avidya).

That which puts an end to Nescience is exclusively the knowledge of Brahman. Knowledge is the only means for liberation. (वाक्यार्थ जनित ज्ञानं).

Knowledge obtained from hearing, reasoning and meditating on texts like:

तत्वमसि : That thou art -(Sama Veda, Chandogya Upanishad – 6.8.7)

Meaning: That (Brahman) is you).


Since, Karma-kand is based on ‘difference’ they are redundant for Moksha-seekers.


Siddhant (Reply)

We admit that release consists only in the cessation of Nescience, and that this cessation results entirely from the knowledge of Brahman. Yet, the nature of this knowledge remains to be explained. Is it merely the knowledge of the sense of sentences which originates from the sentences? or is it knowledge in the form of meditation (upâsana) which has the knowledge just referred to as its antecedent?

Does Avidya get destructed and liberation occur purely by listening to this sentence or
such sentences ?

It can or may be said that the knowledge generated by listening to sentences such as
‘Tat tvam Asi’ lead the disciple to know the the nature of the Brahman leading one to
engage in the ‘Upasana’ of the Brahman?
– Mere knowledge generated by listening to sentences such as ‘Tat tvam Asi’ cannot lead
the disciple _ (further debates etc.) – Therefore ultimately one has to accept that
‘Upasana’ of the Brahma is imperative, mandatory and unavoidable if a person has to
progress in the spiritual path to attain the knowledge of the Brahman.

Mere knowledge generated by listening to sentences such as ‘Tat tvam Asi’ cannot lead
the disciple _ (further debates etc.) – Therefore ultimately one has to accept that
‘Upasana’ of the Brahma is imperative, mandatory and unavoidable if a person has to
progress in the spiritual path to attain the knowledge of the Brahman.

This UPAASANA is also called BHAKTI.


Meditation’ means steady remembrance, i.e. a continuity of steady remembrance, uninterrupted like the flow of oil; in agreement with the scriptural passage which declares steady remembrance to be the means of release, ‘on the attainment of remembrance all the ties are loosened’ (Kh. Up. VII, 26, 2).

Steady remembrance right upto death is the means to moksha.

With this agree scriptural texts such as ‘Having known it, let him practise meditation’ (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 21); ‘He who, having searched out the Self, knows it’ (Kh. Up. VIII, 7, 1); ‘Meditate on the Self as Om’ (Mu. Up. II, 2, 6); ‘Having known that, he is freed from the jaws of death’ (Ka. Up. I, 3, 15); ‘Let a man meditate on the Self only as his world’ (Bri. Up. I, 4, 15); ‘The Self is to be seen, to be heard, to her reflected on, to be meditated on’ (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 6); ‘That we must search out, that we must try to understand’ (Kh. Up. VIII, 7, 1).




Vakyakaar (sage Bodhayan gave steps of Bhakti-Yoga) 


  1. Vivek: Body purification leading to mental purification. 

  2. Vimok: Struggle against (kaam, krodh, mad, moh, lobh, maatsarya)

  3. Kriya (Abhyaas): Constant rememberance of form and presence of Lord

  4. Kalyaan: truthfullness, compassion etc.

  5. Anavasaad: Despair to one’s self-created inability to attain God

  6. Anuddharsh: Freedom from elation


Author: ramanujramprapnna

studying Ramanuj school of Vishishtadvait vedant

4 thoughts on “Athato Brahm Jigyasa”

  1. Very nice article but I have some questions here:

    1. If there is no point in getting liberation out of doing Karma then why would the Vedas contain numerous hymns related to conducting of the Yagnas/Karmas right from attaining wealth and prosperity through by achieving cattle and so on to the getting of the highest of all merits?

    2. If Karma was not the means to liberation then why would Lord Krishna spend time in explaining that doing of karma is necessary even for Bhagwan himself, else the laws of nature will not work.

    3. This question I have had since I started spending sometime and analyzing the Vedic texts, should we only take the “Samhita” portion of the Vedas to be only infallible and authorless and not any others? Because we find that Upanishads seem to be written by the great sages and not exactly they were authorless like Samhitas (where great seers were only “Mantra Drshtas” and not the creators of the mantras). The reason I am of this view is that there are many Upanishads and each talks the concepts in its own way and also there are some Upanishads which seem to sprang up recently, so what is the proof that the earlier Upanishads were of divine origin like the mantras and not of the creation of men (albeit great sages/rishis)?

    My view is that one should be doing necessary Karmas and at the same following the Bhakthi marg would lead one to liberation. It is the best solution because doing Karmas you become an example to the society that one should strive hard and do their own karma and at the same time resorting to Bhakthi you set an example that doing Karma is not an end to it but should be followed up with contemplation on the divine.

    As per my limited understanding, the Vedic texts are too deep for anyone to interpret and comprehend it fully and without fault, and that is why we see so many acharyas giving their own interpretation by taking a subset of texts that conform to their view.

    In my humble view, the essence of the Vedic texts is a combination of Karma, Bhakthi and Gnana. One cannot discard the other and say that one is useless and all. If something was useless why would the divine waste its time and reveal it in the Vedas. As per me, anyone with true intention in their heart follows whichever marg (bhakthi, gnana, karma) with full devotion attains the lotus feet of Sri Maha Vishnu but Bhakthi is easier and more direct to follow and protects the individual in not getting tangled in “ego”.


    1. That’s what I explained as the opinion of Bhagwad Ramanuja. As per Shankara, karma and bhakti are only means to reach Gyaana. As per ramanuja, Karma needs to be done till we are in the samsara. Karma leads to gyaana. Gyaana and karma leads to Vairaagya. Karma with Gyaana and vairaagya leads to bhakti. So, bhakti is never without Karma and gyaana. Karma and gyaana are limbs of bhakti.

      One example is Bhagwatam mahatmya story. Bhakti devi is crying since her kids gyaan and vairaagya are ill. Hearing to Bhagwata Purana awakes Gyaana and vairaagya and bhakti begins to dance in joy. So, Karma leads to gyaana and vairaagya which leads to bhakti. Bhakti is not possible without Karma and Gyaana, vairaagya.


      1. Thanks. Nice, this makes sense to me and is inline with what I have been thinking about. This is why to me Sri Ramanujacharya was outstanding because he lived by his philosophy and not some empty air. Because it is easy to preach others [which anyone can do], but to follow what you preach separates the truly great rishis from mere mortals.


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