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The Vedanta Sutras, commentary by Sankaracharya (SBE34), tr. by George Thibaut [1890] at

31. If it be said that (Brahman is devoid of powers) on account of the absence of organs; (we reply that) this has been explained (before).

Let this be granted.--Scripture, however, declares the highest divinity to be without (bodily) organs of action 1; so, for instance, in the passage, 'It is without eyes, without ears, without speech, without mind' (Bri. Up. III, 8, 8). Being such, how should it be able to produce effects, although it may be endowed with all powers? For we know (from mantras, arthavâdas, &c.) that the gods and other intelligent beings, though endowed with all powers, are capable of producing certain effects only because they are furnished with bodily instruments of action. And, moreover, how can the divinity, to whom the scriptural passage, 'No, no,' denies all attributes, be endowed with all powers?

The appropriate reply to this question has been already given above. The transcendent highest Brahman can be fathomed by means of Scripture only, not by mere reasoning. Nor are we obliged to assume that the capacity of one being is exactly like that which is observed in another. It has likewise been explained above that although all qualities are denied of Brahman we nevertheless may consider it to be endowed with powers, if we assume in its nature an element of plurality, which is the mere figment of Nescience. Moreover, a scriptural passage ('Grasping without hands, hastening without feet, he sees without eyes, he hears without ears' Sve. Up. III, 19) declares that Brahman

p. 356

although devoid of bodily organs, possesses all possible capacities.


355:1 The Sûtra is concerned with the body only as far as it is an instrument; the case of extraneous instruments having already been disposed of in Sûtra 24.

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