[Advaita-l] A matter for Adjudication

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Apr 9 02:03:51 CDT 2010


In the recent few days the List has witnessed a wave of posts on the topic
of 'Avidya'.  Several dimensions of the subject came up for discussion and
study.  A number of source material was also presented in support of the
different aspects of 'Avidya'.

Also is being witnessed a reaction to these posts from Shri Bhaskar ji, a
very long standing, enthusiastic and above all, a very learned member.  His
knowledge of the ShAnkara bhAshyam is so vast that he is able to reel off
the Acharya's original statements just off hand. He knows what passage is
where in the vast prasthAna traya bhashyam literature. His reaction is
expressed as outbursts to the traditional viewpoint on the topic of Avidya.
Pained by his struggle to portray in wrong light the method and view of the
tradition, I am making an effort to present before the members here some
points that, when considered judiciously, should bring to the fore the
unassailability of the traditional stand and the emptiness in the protest
against it.

The case of 'Avidya lesha' is taken up for this short exercise.  We have
seen that the protagonists of the concept have made their viewpoint very

   - Avidya lesha is not a part of avidya
   - It is not a defect or lacuna in a Jnani
   - It is a fact that cannot be wished away
   - It has the solid support of the Scripture
   - The concept is explicitly endorsed by Shankaracharya

The posts that have appeared originally on this topic can be viewed by
members who need clarifications on the above points.  The PUrvAchAryas
SarvajnAtman, Chitsukhacharya and Madhusudana Saraswati have made the points
very clear leaving no room for ambiguity.

Yet, we find that those who oppose the concept base their resentment on
these points:

   - Avidya lesha is a concept that is derogatory to the Jnani
   - It is untenable in a realized person
   - It takes away the 'completeness' of the Jnana that is gained
   - It is a kind of 'suffering' for the Jnani
   - Above all, it does not have the sanction of the scripture
   - Bhagavatpada has not approved it

By studying the posts that have carried the very words of the PUvaachAryas
on the subject and their complete reliance of the Bhashya of the Acharya,
quotes and references thereof provided, one can  arrive at the conclusion
that the points on which Avidya lesha is being opposed do not stand
scrutiny; they are completely baseless.  What is more appalling is SSS 's
translation of the BSB 4.1.15 carrying a footnote from him that 'this
passage of the Bhashya is not representative of Avidya lesha'.  It is
appalling because, the Acharyas who have spelt out the concept have
particularly cited this very passage in their works either verbatim or by
purport.  This raises a question about whether SSS has indeed grasped the
concept as presented by those very Acharyas.

The 'clincher' in all this is this:  SSS makes an explicit foot note for the
Bhashya passage: बाधितमपि मिथ्याज्ञानं द्विचन्द्रज्ञानवत् संस्कारवशात्
कञ्चित्कालं अनुवर्तते एव । [Even though sublated, the erroneous perception,
owing to impressions, continues indeed (एव) for some time just like the
vision of double-moon (owing to an eye-defect).]  by reiterating that such a
thing is possible.  And having said this, SSS makes that contentious
statement that 'this is not what avidya lesha is'.

Now, if sublated mithyA jnAnam can continue for some time in a Jnani
according to Bhagavatpada, what is wrong in 'avidya lesha' continuing for
some time in a Jnani?  What is the difference between 'baadhita
mithyAjnanam' of the bhashyam and 'avidya lesha' of SarvajnAtman, etc.?  How
does the former term become completely acceptable to SSS and the latter term
become abominable to him?

Someone who has studied the posts on Avidya lesha and the Bhashya statement
in question can very easily conclude that they are not in conflict; the two
terms denote the same phenomenon.

Based on the foregoing points and the facts available in the posts on the
topic and the Bhashya passages, the members are requested to decide on
whether there is any justification in Shri Bhaskar ji's vociferous protests.
One can easily show that the Bhashya passages he is quoting are out of place
and wrongly connected to the topic. That is another matter.

I request all the interested members and the Moderators to give a serious
thought to this, especially in view of the posts from Shri Bhaskar ji.  An
adjudication based on the facts that are clearly available to us at this
point of time will go a long way in preventing students of Advaita, both
members who are present here and those who might view these discussions in
the archives in the future,  from arriving at (1) wrong conclusions and / or
(2) resting with the feeling that 'this is a point of contention, not
decidable for eternity'.

If this post from me is considered uncivil in this forum in any respect, I
seek your pardon; the Moderators may prevent it from remaining in the

With warm regards,

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