[Advaita-l] A study of a chapter of the book `BhAmatI-samAlochanam'.

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Apr 20 09:29:16 CDT 2010

> As I understand from even your own quotation of the Bhashya in the PDF file, the Jiva is NEVER ever i bondage; the very understanding that I am bound is a misapprehension.  That is why the Holenarsipur Swamigal, following the footsteps of the Revered Commentator, holds that this mis-apprehension is a facility assumed for explanation purpose, by Tradition and is what called "Adhyasa" or "Avidya" or "Ajnana" or "Jnana Abhava" all these terms used by the Revered Commentator himself as synonyms.

I think, at this point, it would make sense to step back a little and answer some
basic points for ourselves. It may help to use standard English philosophical terms
for this purpose.

Does avidyA have an ontological status or only an epistemological one? It seems
to me that for the Holenarsipur Swami and followers, avidyA has no ontological
status whatsoever, whereas for almost every traditional post-Sankaran author in
the tradition, avidyA has both ontological and epistemological aspects.

And because avidyA has an ontological aspect to it, for the sub-commentators
in the tradition, avidyA also has a causal role in the materiality of the universe.
For those who grant avidyA only an epistemological status, it has no connection
whatsoever with materiality. This goes to the crux of the problematic discourse
on jIvanmukti. Everything boils down to the "problem" of the physical, material
body of the jnAnI.

Of course, it is granted by all that a jnAnI does not care for the body and does
not identify with it. However, that does not take away the philosophical problem
of its status post-jnAna. For most of the traditional sub-commentators, since
avidyA has a role in causing material embodiment, it is natural enough to say
"avidyA-leSa" with respect to the continued presence of the material body. For
those who view avidyA as purely an epistemological device, that doesn't make
sense. It is this fundamental disagreement about the SarIra that causes the
major dispute here. Isn't it ironic, in a way, that vedAnta is SArIraka mImAMsA?!!





ps. Epistemology is that branch of philosophy that studies how we know what we
know, whereas ontology is about the nature of being. 
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