[Advaita-l] Avidya

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Apr 14 06:31:52 CDT 2010

On Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 3:37 PM, Bhaskar YR <bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com> wrote:

> Before passing the judgement on the definition of avidyA,  one has to
> realize that it is our paramAchArya, bhAshyakAra himself who without any
> ambiguity saying that one of the natures of avidyA is jnAnAbhAva. Those
> who boldly announce that  jnAnAbhAva is an erroneous interpretation of
> avidyA are severely lacking the indepth study of bhAshya & exposing their
> poor fund of knowledge of advaita vedAnta as taught by shankara.

Where does the BhAshyakAra say 'that one of the natures of avidyA is
jnAnAbhAva '?

I draw your kind attention to this analysis done in the post on 'BhAvarUpa
Avidya Part I'  based on साधर्म्य-वैधर्म्य विचारः between the terms 'avidya'
and 'ajnAna' used by Shankara Bhagavatpada:

*At the outset let us take the definitions shown under 1 and 3 above and
*>* look at the common features and see what is uncommon between them:
*>* 1.      तामसो हि प्रत्यय आवरणात्मकत्वादविद्या विपरीतग्राहकः, संशयोपस्थापको
*>* वा, अग्रहणात्मको वा (१३.२)
*>* 2.      यदि ज्ञानाभावः, यदि संशयज्ञानं, यदि विपरीतज्ञानं वा उच्यते,
*>* अज्ञानमिति सर्वम् (BruhadAraNyaka Bhashya)
*>* In the first sentence three features of avidya are given out: 1.
*>* agrahaNaatmaka – non-perception of the truth, 2. viparItagraahaka –
*>* wrong-perception of the truth and 3. samshayopasthApakaH – doubtful
*>* perception of the truth.  All these features are shown to be of
*‘avidyA’*which itself is of the nature of /transformation of tamas.
*>* In the second sentence too we have these features shown:  1. jnAnAbhAvaH,
*>* ignorance/non-perception of the Truth, 2. samshayajnAnam, doubtful
*>* knowledge/perception and 3. viparIta jnAnam, erroneous knowledge/perception.
*>* Shankaracharya groups these three under ONE *’ajnAnam’*.
*>* Thus the common factors in the two sentences are:
*>* In both the sentences we find the features: ignorance/non-perception, doubt
*>* and error/wrong/mis-perception.  That shows that the two sentences are
*>* defining one thing.  And that one thing is: ‘avidya’ as per the first
*>* sentence and ‘ajnAnam’ as per the second sentence.  That proves that
*>* according to Shankara avidyA is the same as ajnAnam.
*>* Shankara Himself calls ‘avidya’ as a ‘taamasa pratyaya’ in the first
*>* sentence.  We have in the Gita 14th chapter that ‘ajnAnam’ is the effect
*>* of ‘tamas’.  Thus, once again, it is proved beyond doubt that Shankara’s
*>* usage of ‘avidyA’ and ‘ajnAnam’ is synonymous.
*>* What is uncommon between the sentences is that the first sentence uses the
*>* *term* ‘avidyaa’ and the second one, the *term* ‘ajnAna’.  Now, from the
*>* above analysis we can easily conclude that:
*>* ·        ‘avidayA’ and ‘ajnAna’ are not different from each other; they
*>* are only synonyms.
*>* ·        As avidya has been shown as a transformation of ‘tamas’, tamoguNa
*>* of prakRti, it is but fitting to conclude that ajnAna too is a taamasa
*>* pratyaya.
*>* Now that we have concluded that avidya and ajnana are not different
*>* concepts but two names to denote one concept, we are able to further say
*>* that avidya/ajnana is a power that brings forth certain effects.  That it
*>* is a power basically is indicative of its being a ‘vastu’ an entity.  For,
*>* we cannot have something that is non-existent and yet have the potency to
*>* bring out effects.  So, this power avidya/ajnana has to be a bhAvarUpa
*>* vastu.

The above analysis is sufficient to prove that jnAnAbhAvaH of the
Brih.Up bhashya is ONLY a synonym
of 'agrahaNa / tattva-agrahaNa / apratibodhaH / tattva-apratibodhaH
(all synonyms used by Him
in various places) to denote that BhAvarUpa mUlAvidya that CAUSES
vipratipattiH / vipareeta grahaNa /
anyathA grahaNa / vipareeta jnAnam / atasmin tad buddhiH / adhyAsaH
(all synonyms used by Him in
various places) to denote the kArya samsAra.

> Let these modern day revolutionery vedAntins be aside...Coming back to the
> topic, avidyA as jnAnAbhAva...one simple  example is morethan enough why
> avidyA is jnAnAbhava.  To the question :  why I donot know 4x3=12, the
> answer is as simple as the question : your lack of knowledge in maths: in
> dAshtrAntika if an ajnAni asks the question :  why I am  suffering from
> avidyA??  the answer is simple : it is because of the absence of
> AtmajnAna..Since we donot know that we are THAT, we are wrongly cognizing
> (vipareeta grahaNa) ourselves  or cognizing IT in a doubtful manner
> (saMshaya)...So, due to this jnAnAbhAva (absence or lack of jnAna)  jeeva
> suffers from ahaMkAra & mamakAra etc.

Your example itself has turned out to be detrimental to the theory you are
trying to float:

You use the words 'because' and 'since'.  These denote the existence of a
cause that
produces the effect.  A kArya-kAraNa sambandha is inevitably admitted by you
the ignorance and the mistake in the form of wrongly cognizing, etc.  Your
example only helps
confirm, demonstrate, beyond doubt the bhAvarUpa kAraNa and kArya.

> If one does not understand the above  simple definition and writing pages
> & pages of theories in an attempt to propagate some alien theory like
> mulAvidyA (which is other than normally accepted & explained by shankara)
> he/she is doing so against the basic tenets of shankarAdvaita as enshrined
> in prasthAna trayi bhAshya.

The analysis done in the manner mentioned above is enough to disprove the
theory of
jnAnAbhava as an abhAvarUpa kAraNa, a contradiction in terms, floated in
total discordance
with the Bhashya and yukti.

Om Tat Sat

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