Shri Datta Swami

Jnana Saraswati – Parabrahma Sutras


12. Unimaginable God differs from all other imaginable 'greatest items'

श्रेष्ठमप्यज्ञेयं भिद्यते परमत एव।१२।
śreṣṭhamapyajñeyaṁ bhidyate paramata eva|12|

God and other worldly items can be called 'greatest'. But the unimaginable God differs from all other imaginable worldly objects. Hence, the word 'param' meaning 'different' is used before the word Brahman.


A worldly item, greatest in its category, is called as Brahman. God, being greater than all these greatest items, is really the greatest and hence, can be called as Brahman. Thus, the ‘greatest’ sense of the word Brahman is common to God and all other greatest worldly items. But God, being unimaginable, differs from all the worldly items, which are imaginable. Hence, there is the common point and also a point of difference between God and other worldly items. The word Brahman is used for God and other worldly items based on this common point. While accepting the common point, the point of difference is added by the prefix ‘param’, which means ‘different’. Thus, a new word is not created. The word Brahman is maintained. But for the sake of differentiation, an extra word, ‘param’, is prefixed. The word param only brings the focus on the point of difference and does not contradict the common point of ‘greatest nature’ (Brahman).


Among all the inert items, the soul is the greatest because the soul has knowledge. It is the greatest among all worldly items. Say you take a category of students. One fellow has won the World Cup in cricket. From the point of view of the game of cricket, that person is the greatest among the category of students. Likewise, from the point of view of possessing knowledge, the soul is the greatest. If you take any general soul, then the soul is the greatest among all worldly items.

What knowledge does the soul have?

Knowledge in the case of a soul means just knowing or the ability to know; that is to say that it is not inert. Any living being like a bird or animal has awareness. Here, knowledge means simply the basic concept of awareness. Divine knowledge is not implied in this context. Among living beings if there is a mathematician, then he is the greatest due to the basic concept of knowledge, plus the extra feature that he knows i.e., mathematics. From the point of view of mathematics, he is the greatest among all the living beings. So, from the point of view of knowledge or awareness, living beings are the greatest among created items. They are greater than inert items due to the presence of life or awareness. Among living beings, the human being is the greatest due to his advanced intellect and ability to know. Similarly, among humans, a scholar is the greatest. Based on monetary value, gold is greater than copper. Among all golden ornaments, the ornament with a wonderful design is the greatest. Thus, depending on the particular context, different items can be called as the greatest.

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