mithyAjnAna - in Relation to BSB

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 15 14:13:20 CDT 2000

On Thu, 14 Sep 2000 08:19:20 -0400, K. Sadananda <sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL>

>Ananda wrote:
>>Thanks to Subhanu Saxena for his lucid article on adhyAsa. One
>>thing that he mentions is the interpretation of mithyAjnAna
>>which is the (material) cause (upAdAna) of adhyAsa.
>>Anandagiri, and GovindAnanda as well, interpret mithyAjnAna
>>as mithyA cha tadajnAnaM cha, meaning that which is an unreal
>>ignorance. Consider a stock example of illusion such as the
>>illusion of the snake on the rope. A person who sees the
>>illusory snake is ignorant of the rope. But is this ignorance
>>of the rope a real ignorance? No. Because, the snake is not
>Thanks Anand for bringing very interesting issues that relate to
>knowledge and false knowledge.  I do have some concerns and that might
>be also in the Shree Subhanu Sexana's interpretation as well. I am sure
>these are traditionally accepted too.  Some of these aspects Shree
>Madhusudana might have clarified in his Adviata Siddhi.
>mithyAjnAna - in terms of mithyA cha and tadajnAnaM cha- Obviously
>there are two aspects involved.  one way to look at it is, mithya
>actually refers to the snake and tad in the ajnanam refers to the rope,
>since there is an ignorance of the rope. Ignorance of the rope may not
>have anything to do yet with the reality or unreality of the snake.
>Hence the reality of the ignorance of the  rope should not be judged
>based on the snake knowledge.  Forgetting the snake completely at this
>point, the ignorance is unreal only on the basis of the fact that that
>ignorance is subsequently ends when the knowledge of the rope occurs.
>Up to this point it is pure non-apprehension of the reality.  And that
>is the state in the deep sleep - there is no world projection but only
>lack of knowledge of everything including myself.  When Shree Ravi
>posed the question about the deep sleep I evaded discussing these with
>the fear it may muddle the issues.

 I am sorry for making a somewhat misleading statement "No. Because
 the snake is not real." What I meant is that the ignorance of the
 rope is precisely unreal because that ignorance is "nivartya",
 meaning it can be sublated. Why? Because instead of a cognition
 of a rope there is a cognition of the snake. If there were to be a
 real snake instead of a rope, then the rope will never be seen.
 For example, imagine the following. Suppose there is a real snake
 in a room, not a rope. A person who walks into the room sees the
 snake and he will never see the rope. It is only when the snake
 is illusory that the ignorance of the rope can be sublated.

 To clarify by another example, suppose a person is seeing an
 illusory snake, instead of a rope. Suppose further that this person
 is joined by a blind person who sees nothing, neither the snake nor
 the rope. What is common between the two persons is that they both
 are ignorant of the rope. But the ignorance of the person with eyesight
 is not the same as the ignorance of the blind person. The ignorance of
 the person with eyesight will be sublated, for sure,  when the snake is
 realized as illusory.  Actually, we cannot even say that the blind
 person is having an illusion.

>Now the next question is that non-apprehension or lack of knowledge of
>the reality or in the example non-apprehension of the rope - tad
>aJNaanaM-  is it upaadana kaaraNa for projecting the rope.   If it is
>so - I do have a problem.  When there is pure non-apprehension, we do
>not see the world as in deep sleep - Hence I conclude from  this that
>pure-non-apprehension aspect or ignorance, which is absence of
>knowledge, is not just sufficient to project the world.
 What Anandagiri says is that mithyAjnAna is upAdAna of the adhyAsa,
 mithyA cha tadajnAnaM cha tannimittam-upAdAnaM yasya so .adhyAsaH.
 So the mithyAjnAna is the material cause of adhyAsa of the world
 on Brahman. To clarify further what mithyAjnana means, let us look at
 what the bhAShya-ratnaprabhA of GovindAnanda says:

 mithyAtve sati sAxAjjnAnanivartyamajnAnasya laxaNaM mithyAjnAna-
 padenoktam.h |

 Being unreal, it is removed by direct jnAna (direct realization).
 This is the characteristic of the ajnAna (under consideration)
 and is meant by the word "mithyAjnAna."

 It is this mithyAjnAna that is the upAdAna of adhyAsa.

Consider this. A person who does not know X at all can be said to
have an ignorance of X. This ignorance can be removed by knowing
X. If the person knows X, not as X, but as Y (ie. adhyAsa of Y on X),
even then there is an ignorance of X. Even this ignorance can be
removed by knowing X as it is. Once X is known, the person feels,
"X was never Y, it is not Y now, and it never will be Y." Another
way of saying this is that the igorance of X here was itself
unreal. This unreal ignorance of X is what is called mithyAjnAna.

>> Perhaps this is why mithyAjnAnaM can also be interpreted as "an
>> ignorance" as Anandagiri and others in Shankara's tradition do.
>I am not sure.  When realization occurs from Advaita point and from
>Brahman reference there is nothing other than Brahman - Hence the whole
>samsaara as well as the process of realization, every thing is like a
>bluff.  One can say 'ignorance I never had, I lost!' - Since Brahman
>alone is real - everything is unreal.

That is correct but this whole business of defining adhyAsa is
only for those who are about to inquire into Brahman (athAto brahma-
jijnAsA). Those who have realized don't have to worry about adhyAsa
at all.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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