[Advaita-l] Sringeri AchAryas on the vivaraNa - the cause of adhyAsa (3)
anandhudli at hotmail.com
Tue Apr 3 07:44:49 CDT 2007
PadmapAdAchArya says that the avidyA shakti, the power of avidyA, must
necessarily be accepted. This leads us to the concept of bhAva-rUpa-ajnAna,
the ajnAna that is not merely an absence of jnAna or knowledge, but
something that is positive in nature (bhAva-rUpa).
The support for this bhAva-rupa-ajnAna comes from the shruti itself. But
before we hear what the shruti has to say, we need a definition for this
ChitsukhAchArya, in his famous tattvapradipikA (chitsukhI), defines this
anAditve sati bhAvarUpaM vijnAnanirasyam-ajnAnamiti lakShaNamiha
vivakShitam.h | na tAvadihAvyAptiH |
sarveShAmapyajnAnAnAm-uktarUpatrayAnugamAt.h| nApyativyAptiH |
anAderbhAvasyAtmano nivartyatva-abhAvena jnAnanivartyatvasyApi abhAvAt.h
While 1) having no beginning (anAdi), that which is of a 2) positive
nature,bhAvarUpa, (not merely absence of something else) and which is 3)
dispelled by knowledge (vijnAnanirasya) is called ajnAna. This is the
intended definition. This definition is not too narrow since all ajnAna's
(ignorances) have the three properties (mentioned in the definition). The
definition is not too wide either. (The definition does not apply to) the
eternally existing Atman because It is never dispelled by anything, not even
Does this mean that ajnAna is an existent entity?
ajnAna is different from both existence and nonexistence. However, it is
customarily called bhAvarUpa to indicate (emphasize) that it is different
from nonexistence (absence). (Yet) one cannot infer that it is beginningless
*and* non-sublatable like the Atman.
chitsukha shows that the ajnAna defined thus has a basis in shruti:
tama AsIt.h, mAyAM tu prakR^itiM vidyAdityAdyAgamopi tatra pramANam.h | na
cha tamaH shabdena jnAnAbhAvaH kathyate | nAsadAsItyabhAvaM vyAvartya tama
AsIditi pratipAdanAt.h |
The shruti statements, "Darkness was" (Rig Veda nAsadIya sUkta), and "mAyA
is understood to be prakR^iti (nature)" (shvetAshvatara upaniShad), also
affirm that ajnAna (as bhAvarUpa). By the word "darkness", an absence of
knowledge is not stated because (the shruti) excludes (such an) absence by
declaring "Non-existence (asat) was not there" and "Darkness was."
The nAsadIya sUkta occurring as the 129th sUkta of the tenth maNDala of the
R^ig Veda, deals with Creation. It is one of the deeply philosophical sUktas
in the Vedas and as such its meaning can be understood only by means of a
bhAShya (commentary). The bhAShya of sAyaNAchArya is widely accepted as
authoritative among Vedic scholars.
The R^iShi of the sUkta is prajApati parameShThI, the devatA is
bhAvavr^itta, and the meter is triShTup.
The sUkta begins by saying that neither existence nor non-existence
(asbence) were there in the beginning. There was not even Death
norImmortality. Then, what was there? Darkness. "tama AsIt.h" says the third
Let us now hear what sAyaNAchArya has to say on the topic of
bhAva-rUpa-ajnAna in his commentary on the third R^ik of the nAsadIya sUkta.
AtmatattvasyAvarakatvAt.h mAyAparasaMjnaM bhAvarUpAjnAnamatra tama
ityuchyate| tena tamasA nigUDhaM saMvR^itaM kAraNabhUtena tenAchchhAditaM
bhavati| AchchhAdakAt.h tasmAttamaso nAmarUpAbhyAM yadAvirbhavanaM tadeva
tasya janmetyuchyate | etena kAraNAvasthAyAM
asadeva kAryamutpadyate ityasadvAdino .asatkAryavAdino ye manyante te
The bhAvarUpa-ajnAna, ignorance which is (not merely an absence but) of a
positive nature, called mAyA, due to its covering the reality of the Self,is
said to be tamaH, Darkness. The (Self) is enveloped and hidden by that
Darkness which is the Cause. What is combined with nAma-rUpa, names and
forms, and is manifested from the covering of the Darkness, that is said to
be the birth (of the World). By this, the theory accepted by the asadvAdins
and asatkAryavAdins that the effect (World) arises from non-existence in the
Causal state is refuted.
The asadvAda holds that the world arose from nonexistence. By showing that a
bhAvarUpa-ajnAna or tamas (Darkness) gave rise to the world, this theory is
refuted. According to asatkAryavAda, an effect does not pre-exist in its
cause. Variants of this theory are accepted not only by Buddhist schools but
also by realistic schools such as nyAya-vaisheShika. This stands refuted
because the world. which is a combination of names and forms, existed in its
causal state, bhAvarUpa ajnAna, before creation. The world of names and
forms is a product of this bhAvarUpa-ajnAna, and not different from it.
Next, we will see how the bhAvarUpa-ajnAna is also established through
perception and inference.
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