Advaita : Some Basic Explanations - 8

hbdave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Thu Feb 28 02:15:28 CST 2002

Dear List Members,

Here is posting no. 8.

As I am posting this, riots are going on in major cities of Gujarat
like Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat, even in my own town (which generally
keeps out of trouble) Nadiad. These are due to burning of more than
55 inocent people - majority of them women and children trapped
in Sabarmati Express yesterday morning. You might have read/heard
about it.

Only fault of those burned down was that they were returning after
a Darshan of Rama Mandir at Ayodhya.

What can one do in such situation? Where is humanity going?
What is the use of Religion if it does not teach us to live like
brothers and sisters, all children  of the One and only Father/Mother?

I simply put down a shloka as a Shantipath :

vande "sriimadraama.m  sadgurumati"saantisiitayaa .a.a "sli.s.tam |
kaamaadiraak.sasaari.m bhavajaladhau tatvabodhasetukaram ||

I pray  to Shri Rama, co-joined with Sita who is nothing but extreme
Shanti (in Nirvikalpa Samadhi), enemy of Raksasas like Kama, Krodha,
etc., builder of a bridge in form of Tatvabodha in the ocean of Samsara,

who is decorated by the beauty of Brahmavidya.

-- Himanshu

-------------- next part --------------
Advaita : Some Basic Explanations - 8 (Maya, Avidya)
                                                -- Himanshu
Doubt : you have said something like  : {\skt anirvacaniiya} is
different from both {\skt sat} and {\skt asat}. This seems to be
wrong, because what is not Sat must be Asat and vice versa.

Reply : A thing whose baadha (suspension) can not be done in past,
present or future, is called {\skt sat}. A thing whose baadha can
take place is different from {\skt sat}.
Similarly, for a thing which can not exist even as an idea is called
{\skt asat}, e.g. "son of a barren woman", "horn of a hare". There is
a logical fallacy in description of such a thing.

Now, if a thing exists, i.e it is not {\skt asat}, but can be suspended
under certain circumstances, i.e. its baadha does take place, is not
{\skt sat} also. It is a third type called {\skt anirvacaniiya} -
phenomenal, e.g. a rainbow.

We introduce here another technical word {\skt avidyaa} - nescience,
error or short-fall in knowledge. It is a kind of obstruction to proper

Let us take an example from possibly more familiar field : the universal
constant  pi has a value
        pi = 3.141592653589793
to 15 decimal places. I have seen a book entitled
"The value of pi to 3 million digits"
and even those 3 million digits do not give the correct value of pi, only
an approximate. Suppose I write
        pi = 3.14159
I have an error :
        pi = 3.14159 ... ... ... ...  ---> to unending number of digits
                     \_________ error or avidyaa _____________________/
We can talk about pi as an abstract number, use it in expressions, but
as soon as we try to actualize it, the Avidya, which is inherent in all
such numbers, will come into play.
This Avidya gives rise to different values of pi (like 22/7, 355/113)
all derived from, but only an approximation to, the real pi.

We are concerned with obstruction to Realization of the Ultimate. In order
to explain the idea of Avidya, we use another technical word {\skt prak.rti}
(source of creation, primordial substance, creatrix). It is considered the
original cause. It is not a product of brahman, nor a separate entity apart
from brahman, nor is it an attribute of brahman.
As Gaudapada says in his Ma.ndukya Karika :
        devasya svabhaava.h ... ... ...
{it is the very nature of brahman}

It is brahman itself desiring to create. It is Being or Being-becoming,
apparently differentiating itself into the three, constituents in
apparent process of materialization.

The three are - {\skt sattva}, {\skt rajas}  and {\skt tamas}.
These three words are used in many different ways and purposes, but here
we shall interprete them as :

{\skt tamas} - materialization in form of "concrete" materials, what we
        normally call "matter" and "energy" (which is result of motion);

{\skt rajas} - materialization in form of "information", states of and
        relationships between matter and energy resulting from Tamas;

{\skt sattva} - materialization as consciousness - chetana.

{Some people interprete Rajas as "motion", but that is wrong. Matter,
motion and energy are at same level, Tamas, manifestations.}

These characterize the apparent manifestation of reality.

When the prak.rti manifests as a pure Sattva, then it is called
Maya {\skt maayaa}.

When the prak.rti manifests in impure form, as Sattva, mixed up
with Rajas and Tamas, then it is called Avidya {\skt avidyaa}.

Brahman reflected or apparently materialized as Maya, is called
the omniscient Ishvara (God). Ishvara also "controls" Maya,
because Maya is part of Ishvara.

Thus Ishvara is that consciousness which is in process of Creation,
Becoming. It is not other than Maya.

Brahman reflected in (or apparently manifested as) Avidya, is called
jiiva and is subject to Avidya (i.e. Avidya controls it.)

Because of "impurity" in form of Rajas and Tamas gu,na, jiiva has a
class different from Ishvara.

Avidya is the "causal body", "sarira, and is perishable.

Jiiva is called {\skt praaj~na}. Its "sarira is Avidya and is under
control of Avidya.

The superimposition, Adhyasa, due to which jiiva can not discriminate
(Aviveka) is known as "promary nescience {\skt muulaa avidyaa}.

This Avidya has two functions - Avarana {\skt} (power to conceal)
and Vikshepa {\skt vik.sepa} (power to project}.

Avarana produces ideas such as "Kutastha does not exist."

Note well that Avidya does not prevent one from obtaining ordinary,
day-to-day, knowledge. In fact it is the cause of that knowledge.
This ordinary knowldge is an aid and not a hindrance, if used properly,
to gain final Knowledge. For example, .rshi Dirghatamas say in RigVeda
[I-164-43] :
"sakamaya.m dhuumamaaraadapa"sya.m ... ... ...
{I see the nearby smoke of cowdung and from that conclude about the
distant cause (fire) ... ... ...}

The word "Self" denotes Kutastha and vice-versa, we have already seen this.

Doubt : Self excludes idea of another thing.

Reply : This exclusion of others is the meaning of Self or Kutastha.

Doubt : Does it not mean that when I say Self, I am excluding you ?

Reply : No. "Others" means chidaabhaasa, manas,  etc. i.e., ideas which
arise out of Avidya. It excludes "you" as a separate entity.

Doubt : Expressions such as "the pot itself does not know." are sometimes
used. Here the word Self is applied to an inanimate object - a pot.

Reply : Atman is the basis of inanimate objects also. Difference between
animate (live) and inanimate is not due to Kutastha or Atman. It is due
to jiiva - reflection of Kutastha on intellect.

Shall we stop here?

Best wishes to all.
-- Himanshu

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list