[Advaita-l] avidyA, according to Satchidanandendra Saraswati Swamiji

savithri devaraj savithri_devaraj at yahoo.com
Wed May 23 12:59:26 CDT 2007

--- Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy
<annapureddy at gmail.com> wrote:

> I understand that my argument goes against SSS (if
> he did hold the
> position you ascribe to him). But I have also noted
> that for a person
> who lived almost 90 years (?), engaging a number of
> scholars in
> debate, it is surprising that he did not have a
> position on this third
> ontological category (which makes me feel he never
> intended a third
> ontological category in the first place). Or maybe
> he did have a
> position on this third ontological category, in
> which case I would be
> interested in knowing more about it.
> > That is then another point against SSS: why did he
> say at one point
> > that the mind does the superimposition of the Self
> and not-Self, and
> > at another say that the mind itself is part of the
> not-Self?
> >

Namaste Sri Reddy,

Yes, you are right that Sri Satchidanandendra
Saraswati Swamiji has never said or implied that there
are 3 entities, the self, not-self and the mind that
does the superimposition. To even doubt that Swamiji
didn't realize he was making this mistake is total
delusion, and wishful thinking. It is a valid question
to ask - Who is under the influence of ignorance, who
is confused, and who is the one to realize his true
nature? It is he who is doing the superimposition.
Isn't it? This alludes to the question - whence
adhyAsa, which is an invalid question, and has already
been discussed in the list. It is naisargika,
anirvacanIya,... When one's true nature is
ascertained, hasn't it been said mind becomes no-mind?

What has been nit-picked on and quoted out-of-context
here is at best an unfortunate mis-understanding by
the reader, or at worst, an anecdotal reference to a
phrase describing vyavahara twisted to suit one's own
pet theory, when there are literally thousands of
sentences talking about adhyasa being the
superimposition of the self and the not-self. And if
it is the later, it is the most brazen allegation

The below is a free translation from Swamiji's Kannada
book - Shankara siddhAnta, pages 22-24.

As you may know, Shankara has written adhyAsa bhAsya
only to discuss the nature of avidya. The gist of this
is that there is a mix up between the self and the
not-self. Atma is subject, sentient, and always true.
Anatma is the object, insentient and false (anR^ita).
Those in ignorance confuse one for the other, and see
the properties of one as that of the other. This is
adhyAsa, wrong knowledge; and this adhyAsa is avidya.
The gist of this can be known by remembering 3 quotes
from Shankara.
1. "tametamevam lakshaNam adhyAsam paNDitA avidyeti
manyante" Su.Bh (adhyAsa bhAsya 4)
The above described adhyAsa is called avidya by
2. "adhyAsonAmAtasminstubudhirityavocama" (Su Bh
(AdhyAsa Bh 10) We say adhyAsa means to know what is
not as what is.
3. "tAmaso hi pratyayaH AvaraNAtmakatvAdavidyA
viparItagrAhakaH, samshayopasthApako vA, agrahaNAtmako
vA. vivekaprakAshabhAve tadabhAvAt. tAmase
timirAdidoshe satyagrahaNa adi
avidyAtrayasyopalabdheH" Su Bh, Gita Bh 13-2
Since avidya has this veiling nature, it is a negative
(tAmasic) connotation, it gives wrong knowledge, it
produces doubt, it hinders right understanding (all
three forms). when the light of knowledge shines, this
avidya is no more. The gist of this statement is that
avidya, similar to the cataract in the eye, produces
the three forms of mis-comprehension, and is destroyed
by knowledge.

By the three statements above the nature of avidya,
and adhyAsa are completely described, and Shankara
refers to the three forms of mis-comprehension as
avidya in his writings. There is no other form of
avidya to be found in his writings.

And all of Swamiji's writings I have access to are
very faithful to the above. He maintains 100% fidelity
to adhyAsa bhAshya in all his talks/writings. He
quotes them again and again, ad-nauseum. If anything
is seen contrary to this, it is an unfortunate
mis-understanding of the reader. 

Hope this helps,


____________________________________________________________________________________Take the Internet to Go: Yahoo!Go puts the Internet in your pocket: mail, news, photos & more. 

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list