avidya (was Re: message to my friends)

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Tue Aug 18 20:30:44 CDT 1998

> Vedanta students, fully equipped with shhaTsampatti and diligently
> following sAdhana chatushhTayam, pursue vidyA (does not waste time
> with avidyA) and out of those vedanta students, the SELF chooses a
> few to reveal Itself and those few students realize the SELF.

Why the paksha-pAtam? The Self reveals itself to itself. There is no
active "choosing" going on here. The Self is not some external object or
entity that chooses some and rejects others. It is your own Self. The
kaTha upanishad reference talks about the rarity of individuals bravely
losing their individuality, which is born of avidyA. See also the verse in
the same upanishad, parAnci khAni etc, which refers to kaScit dhIraH.

> There is some link (that is not and cannot be understood by the
> intellect) between the vyavahArika and paramArthika.

There are no two separate things, or realities. There is only One Reality,
which is paramArtha, when seen through vidyA, and vyavahAra when seen
through avidyA. See the adhyAsa-bhAshya (introduction to
BrahmasUtra-bhAshya), and also BrahmasUtra-bhAshya 1. 1. 11 - evam
sahasraSo vidyA-avidyA-vishaya-bhedena brahmaNo dvirUpatAm darSayanti
vedAnta-vAkyAni - Thousands of Upanishadic statements reveal brahman
(here, brahman simply means "reality") in two ways, the difference
arising from being considered as the object of knowledge or the object of
nescience. This is not to say that vyavahAra *is* paramArtha (note that
this is very unlike the mahAyAna buddhist equation where samvRti *is*
paramArtha). Clearly, vyavahAra is avidyA-vishaya, paramArtha is
vidyA-vishaya. When paramArtha is known, there is no more avidyA, and no
more vyavahAra. Also see taittirIya upanishad 2. 6-7.

There is another place in which SankarAcArya asks the question "Whose is
avidyA?" and provides a masterful reply. Read Bhagavad-gItA-bhAshya, at
verse 13.2. The chapter is on the kshetra-kshetrajna-yoga. The
introductory passage on verse 13.2 covers extensive ground and is long
enough to constitute a separate chapter in itself.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list