[Advaita-l] BhAvarUpa ajnAna/avidya Part 3

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Mar 18 20:06:00 CDT 2010

Anubhava pramANa:  Shankaracharya initiates an interesting discussion in the
Bhagavadgita BhAshya 13.2:

//Objection: The very fact that Kshetrajna is possessed of avidya makes him
a samsarin, and the effect thereof – happiness and misery and so on – is
directly perceived.

Answer: No; for what is perceived is an attribute of kshetra and kshetrajna
the cognizer cannot be vitiated by the blemish due to it.  ...whatever
blemish, not inhering in kshetrajna, you ascribe to him, *it comes under the
cognized*, and therefore forms a property of kshetra, and not the property
of kshetrajna.  Nor is kshetrajna affected by it, ...//

It is easy to recall the opening sentence of the AdhyAsa Bhashya where the
viShaya – viShayi distinction is stated.  Avidya, in the form of its
effects, like sukha, duhkha, dvesha, etc. are *cognized* by the Saakshi, the
viShayI.  This shows that the cognized entity is not an abhAva vastu; it is
definitely bhAvarUpa, since an abhAva-vastu can never be an object of
cognition.  Also in this very chapter the Lord details what constitutes
prakRti, avidya, maya, ajnana:

महाभूतान्यहङ्कारो बुद्धिरव्यक्तमेव च ।

इन्द्रियाणि दशैकं च पञ्च चेन्द्रियगोचराः ॥ 5

इच्छा द्वेषः सुखं दु:खं सङ्घातश्चेतना धृतिः ।

एतत्क्षेत्रं समासेन सविकारमुदाहृतम् ॥ 6

//The Great elements, egoism, reason, as also the unmanifested, the ten
senses and the mind, and the five objects of the senses, desire,
hatred,  pleasure,
pain, the aggregate, intelligence, courage – the kshetra has been thus
briefly described with its modifications.//

Thus, the above list names the *products* of avidya/ajnana proving that
these are all bhAvarUpa since they are experienced.  Even the mahAbhUta-s,
not experienced by ordinary humans, are essentially bhAvarUpa since they are
taught by the Scripture.  Scripture cannot teach what is abhAvarUpa.

The verses 13.7 to 13.11 are the teaching of the exercise, abhyAsa, an
aspirant has to undertake in order to manage the effects of avidya.  अमानित्वं,
अदम्भित्वं, etc are the counters to tackle their opposites that are clearly
bhAvarUpa.  In His commentary to the verse 24 Shankaracharya gives a graphic
explanation of how the jnAnaabhyAsa is undertaken:

//sAnkhya consists in thinking thus: ‘these, sattva, rajas and tamas, are
guNas, Atman is the witness of their acts, eternal, and distinct from the
guNas.’ //

This is another proof of avidyA/ajnAna being bhAvarUpa.  If they are
abhAvarUpa, how can Shankara teach them as vishaya, dRshya for the Atman?
Remember Shankara had defined avidyA in 13.2 as ‘taamasa pratyaya’ and now
here He says this tamas itself, in the form of its effects, is a dRshya to
Atman, again proving that avidyA is bhAvarUpa.

A discussion on the concept of ‘abhAva’

We have seen in the foregoing that Shankaracharya has used the word
‘jnAnAbhAva’ in giving out the definition of ‘ajnAnam’.  A question arises
as to the purport of the portion ‘abhAvaH’ contained in the compound word
‘jnAnAbhAvaH’.   Is this ‘abhAvaH’ non-existence, of the nature of
‘abhAvarUpa’? No. It cannot be non-existence and abhaavarUpa.  The following
reasons prove this:

·        As we have already seen, ‘jnAnAbhAvaH’ is a substitute for the word
‘tattva-agrahaNam’ in the Bhashya sentence of the Mandukya kArika 1.16 and
the word ‘agrahaNarUpa’ of the sentence of the Gitabhashya 13.2.

·        We have analyzed and concluded in the foregoing that ‘agrahaNa’ is
the very basis, the root, the mUla, for adhyAsa / viparIta grahaNa / atasmin
tad buddhi / anyathA grahaNa and samshaya/doubt.  We have also observed that
anything that causes certain effects cannot itself be a non-existent entity;
it has necessarily to be an existent, bhAvarUpa vastu.  It need not be real,
but it has to be an existent entity, a vyAvaharika satya vastu.

(To be continued in Part 4)

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