[Advaita-l] The Treatment of Avidya in Advaita - Part 1

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Apr 25 01:05:16 CDT 2010


It would appear that among the three prasthAna-s the nyAya prasthAna is the
'authority' since it analyzes a number of issues, especially the ones where
there is a doubt in deciding the purport of the apparently contradicting
Upanishadic passages.

However, in the case of 'avidya' there is no such conflict.  If any conflict
is imagined it must be the ones 'created' by Shankara Himself, going by the
tenor of your opinion.  In fact in more than one place Shankara, as I have
shown in my article, has given a very clear meaning of what all avidya could
mean.  Those passages of the Gita, Mandukya and Brih.Bhashya-s do not put us
in any confusion as to what all avidya could mean: non-perception of the
Truth, wrong-perception of Truth and doubt.  Among these, Shankara, quite
legitimately, uses the term avidya to describe just only one of its
manifestations: adhyAsa aka vipratipatti, anyathaa-grahaNa,
atasmin-tad-buddhi, etc.  in the adhyAsa bhAshya.  In my considered opinion,
it is a premature, hurried and flawed conclusion on those who have
determined that 'according to Shankara 'avidya' is only adhyAsa'.

Since you spoke about the supremacy of the nyAya prasthana, let me quote one
more popular saying:

mAnDUkyam ekameva alam mumukShUNAm vimuktaye - the Mandukya upanishad alone
is sufficient for liberation.

I think the Muktikopanishat says this.  As per this, one need not go thru
the labyrinths of the three elaborate prasthAnas.  Just this one, the
smallest, Upanishad is enough to give one all that is required for

Best regards,

On Sun, Apr 25, 2010 at 6:28 AM, savithri devaraj <
savithri_devaraj at yahoo.com> wrote:

> This is flawed thinking and ignoring shankara's dictum in my humble
> opinion.
> As is well known, the prasthAnatraya are three journeys - upanishads being
> the sruti prasthAna, gIta being the smruti prasthAna and brahmasUtras being
> the nyAya prasthAna. brahmasUtras were mainly written by vyAsa to bring
> about one voice and unity in the teachings of the upanishads, and to make it
> easier for his disciples to remember the essense of the upanishads in short
> sUtras. This being the case, I would say the sUtra prasthAna has more
> authority on the meaning of avidya/adhyAsa than the possible different
> meanings in the different upanishads from different rishis at different
> times.
> In addition, Acharya shankara found it necessary to write the adhyAsa
> bhAshya in the begining of his brahmasUtra bhAshya specifically to emphasize
> this uniform meaning of adhyAsa/avidya in the upanishads. Don't you think
> this is significant? We have to respect that and study the upanishads from
> this perspective only. He concludes adhyAsa bhAshya thus - "asyAnarthahetoH
> prahANAya atmaikatva vidyA pratipattaye sarve vedAnta Arabhyante| yathA
> cAyamarthaH sarveSAm vedAntAnAm tathA vayamasyAm sArirakamImAmsAyAm
> pradarshayiShAmaH |" This blunder (mutual super imposition of Atma-anAtma)
> is the cause of all world delusion. All upanishads begin to destroy this
> ignorance completely and teach self knowledge. We will proceed to show how
> this is understood to be the central teaching of all upanishads through this
> sArirakamImAmsa. [Translation is mine]
> Enough said. This must be sufficient to conclude adhyAsa = avidya in all
> upanishads?
> Regards,
> Savithri

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