[Advaita-l] NaiShkarmyasiddhi - 2: Ashraya and viShaya of avidyA

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Tue May 8 05:53:01 CDT 2007

For some reason, this seems to have not reached the list (I think). My
apologies if it's a duplicate.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com>
Date: May 7, 2007 12:32 PM
Subject: NaiShkarmyasiddhi - 2: Ashraya and viShaya of avidyA
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>

A while back, I had promised a series on the NaiSi, which has been
dormant after the introductory post. Now, this mail will briefly
discuss the important topic of Ashraya and viShaya of avidyA which is
tackled head-on by Sureshvara.

Ashraya - locus
viShaya - content

In the sambandhokti to 3.1, Sureshvara launches a discussion on what
the Ashraya and viShaya of avidyA are.

a) First he points out that in the advaita system only two padaarthas
are admitted the self and the not-self; iha ca padAstha-dvayaM
nirddhAritaM - AtmA, anAtmA ca.


1. The reference to padArthas is directly addressing the
nyAya-vaisheShika. A padArtha is in general, a knowable, nameable, or
cognizable thing. The nyAya admits 16 padArthas and the vaishShika
usually admits of 7 padaarthas [1].

2. The mind comes under tha dravya padArtha of the vaisheShika.

3. Since only the self and the not-self are admitted, the mind also
comes under the non-self, dvaya-padArtha scheme of advaita

b) Then Sureshvara points out that ignorance cannot be by and about
itself, it has to be ignorance of something by someone; tat ca
aj~naanaM svaAtma-mAtra-nimittaM na sambhavati iti -  kasyacit,
kasmin-cit, viShaya bhavati, iti abhyupagantavyam.

c) The not-self is a product of ignorance, so it cannot be its own
locus, anAtmanaH ca aj~nAna prasUtatvAt.


1. The mind being in the not-self category, is a *product* of ignorance.

2. Since the mind itself is in the non-self padArtha, adhyAsa, i.e.,
the superimposition of the self and the not-self, cannot be performed
*by* the mind, naturally, unnaturally or super-naturally.

d) The only other possibility for locus and content is the self-itself
since there are only two padArthas; parisheShyAt AtmanaH eva astu

Some general discussion

1. Some scholars such as Sengaku Mayeda hypothesize that sha~Nkara did
not address the locus of avidyA problem, and it was left to his
disciple to take up this discussion. In a future paper, I'll show that
this is false and sha~Nkara has also addressed this problem.

2. Some scholars, like Potter, Mayeda and Alston, hypothesize that
PadamapAda was either not a student of shaN~kara, or was a more
"original" thinker than Sureshvara. A lot of this hinges on
Padmapaada's split of mithyAj~nAna as mithya + aj~nAna, instead of
mithyA + j~nAna. I will show that it is actually the *other way*
around, and that Padmapaada can strongly hypothesized to be a student
of sha~Nkara, and also *less* original than Sureshvara, precisely
because of this of semantic splitting of the compound mithyAj~naana.
The key material to understand this is verses 3.1-3.6 of the NaiSi,
and its connection with statements from sha~Nkara in his own works.

[1] Some writers admit more padArthas and some less.


PS: I'll be posting very little in the next couple of weeks. This is
due to some heavy work-load, and I also want to spend more time
implementing suggestions by Vidyasankar and Prem.

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