mithyAjnAna - in Relation to BSB

K. Sadananda sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Thu Sep 28 10:46:02 CDT 2000

Thanks Anand for clarification.  I do need some further clarification of
adviatic understanding of the ignorence and the role it plays.  I do
understand Shree Anandagiri's definition of mithyAjnAna as that which is
negatable by real knowledge.

I do have some problem in uderstanding Upadaana aspect for adhyaasa.
Please bare with me, unless the concept is clear it will be bugging me,
although in the final analysis we need to inquire about Brahman and not the
ignorance.  I will jump to the paragraph where you discussed Shree
Anandagiri's statement.

> 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.

That is clear.  What is not clear to me is  that one is putting cart before
the horse in the description of upaadana kaaraNa or one is using a circular
definition.   Not knowing X is just ignorance and knowledge of X will
remove that ignorance.  That part is no problem.  That is pure
non-apprehension and that is what we have in deep sleep state since there
is no misapprehension of myself or the world.  Yes,  no false knowledge is
involved but pure ignorance is involved which can be displaced by knowledge
when I know X.  Hence that ignorance is unreal.  Here ignorance is not a
positive quantity but just the absence of knowledge.  Suppose if one knows
that 'I donot know X' - does that make now any differnce - I may still not
know X as Y, but just have the lack of knowledge of X.   Thus there is no
false knowledge upto this point but just the absence of the knowlege of X.
It is like my not knowing 'Chemistry'.  I donot have to mistake Chemistry
is nothing but  'Physics'. Is there adhyaasa in that? Does not seem to be
since there is no mixing up of unreal part as the definition calls for.

But after not knowing X ,  knowing X as simething other than X,  say as Y,
is misapprehension.  Now we have already have misapprehension or
mithyAjnAna or false knowledge.  False knowledge is an error or adhyaasa
since it involves satya asatya mithuniikaranam- knowledge of the existent
object and mixing of non-existent object, Y, on top of the existent object,
X.  Now statement that mithyaajnaana is the upadana for adhyaasa is like
saying adhyaasa is upadaana for adhyaasa - That seems to be a circular
definition unless I am missing something here.

One can perhaps say it is an instrumental cause, karaNa kaaraNam,  rather
than upaadana kaaraNam or material cause.  Since ignorance forms a basis
for the misapprehension since if I do not have the ignorence there is  no
reason for adhyaasa.  If it is a cause but what kind of cause it is.  May
be upaadana is used by Shree Anandagiri in a general sense of the word
rather than material cause.

That also raises some important issues particularly in view of the
criticisms by Shree Madhava and Shree Jayathiirtha on the adviatic
interpretation for the cause of the world.  How does the ignorance be the
basis for creation - this is besides its locus aspect.  Is ignorance
considered as positive or just negative that is absence knowledge? How a
negitive 'quantity' can be cause for apparently postive universe? - If it
is so, I should see the world in my deep sleep state too. Some how the mind
is coming into picture here for projecting the world, for apprehending Y
where there is X. That mind is not there in deep sleep state to do the
projection.  Hence in my understanding 'waking and dreem sleep' states come
under mis-apprehensions or projections or creations.  In deep sleep state,
just the absence or non-apprehension and hence there is a real question of
"who really slept"?

What is the correct interpretation of the advaitic masters on these? Or are
there several views - Clarification of these would help to understand the
concept clearly.

By the by there is also a question related to this by Shree Stig Lundgren -
I am not sure if that has been addressed.

Hari Om!

>>> 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.

K. Sadananda
Code 6323
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
Voice (202)767-2117

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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