[Advaita-l] Advaita Vedanta and Ignorance

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Mar 29 10:19:16 CST 2005

Sorry I'm still catching up with the last weeks messages.

On Tue, 22 Mar 2005, Krunal Makwana wrote:

> A few days ago i was talking to a few Satsangis about Advaita and Vashishta
> Advaita (I myself a follower of Advaita) and during the conversation an
> interesting conversation started about the cognition of this exterior world
> and what is seemed to be real, is it or isn't it. Ramanujacharya's view on
> the world is that the world is real and so is Ishwara, but Adi Sankaracharya
> says that only Brahm is real and the world is false,

What opponents often fail to grasp is that Advaita Vedanta posits a
twofold view of reality.

Vyavaharic: Brahman is satya, Jagat is mithya
Paramarthic: Brahman is satya, _there_is_nothing_else_

> But gradually as the conversation progressed some interesting views were
> made that  began to interest me in what were the views of Advaita Vedanta.
> Firstly the discussion that started off this stimulating conversation was
> that, if Adi Sankaracharya's philosophy was flawless then why can't it
> describe how the cognition of this world started,

Because the cognition of the world never did start or stop.  The
perception of time is also Maya.

> one of the answers given
> by myself was that it is because of ignorance, but then the question is, if
> Brahman is pure and all knowing then how can ignorance even come into the
> equation. If Paramatma is pure then how can this world (or creation) be a
> part of ignorance, as only ignorance can arise from not knowing, saying this
> if Paramatma was all knowing ignorance would have no leg to stand on, or if
> ignorance is the cause then Brahma is flawed.

There is a category error here.  When I say I know e.g. programming, that
knowledge has an object (viz. programming)  But we are not saying Brahman
knows creation, we are saying it is pure knowledge.  So there is no primal
avidya which can be a property of Brahman, only individual cases of
superimposition and veiling (avarana-vikshepa.)  Thus Brahman _is_ pure.
Perhaps Maya is just lila, the inevitable byproduct of existence.  A
Vaishnava ought to be able to appreciate that. But recognizing that is
only possible from within Maya.  Thus from a logical point of view avidya
is neither existent nor non-existent.  anirvachaniya (logically
undefined.)  This is one of the axioms Aditya was talking about and I
suppose you have to take it on faith.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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