(redacted early centuries ce)
An aphoristic (sūtra) text attributed to Bādarāyaṇa, but drawing on earlier material, which attempts to synthesize the Upaniṣadic teachings. The first sūtra reads: ‘Now the enquiry into brahman’ (neut.), subsequently defined as the sole cause and source of everything. The text is divided into four parts (pādas), dealing with brahman, the relationship between brahman and ātman (refuting the Sāṃkhya position, amongst others), the means to realizing brahman, and the way to liberation (mokṣa). For the Vedānta tradition, the Brahmasūtra is one of the three essential texts (prasthāna traya) requiring commentary by anyone wanting to found a new school. The earliest surviving commentary of this nature is Śaṅkara's Brahmasūtrabhāṣya (c.700 ce); this, along with the commentaries of other significant Vedāntins, gave rise to further important (sub-)commentaries, the aphoristic nature of Bādarāyaṇa's text allowing for considerable freedom of interpretation within a basic Vedānta framework.