[Advaita-l] Avidya Part 6

Shyam shyam_md at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 23 17:47:16 CDT 2010

I am continuing my series on the treatment of avidya/maya by the revered bhashyakara and we are currently examining the brahmasutra bhashya.
The particular sutra we are going to examine is treated exhaustively by Shankara - a wide array of advaitic tenets are covered. We will scrutinize a portion of relevance to this series.
BSB 2.1.14
Since the believers in a changeless Brahman have a predilection for Absolute Unity, the assertion that the Lord is the cause of the world is contraindicated Ishwarakaranapratignavirodha, since there will be no distinction of a Ruler and the ruled.

Here the interlocutor talks about an absurdity he perceives - in postulating a homogenous Absolute, and the obvious divisions of a jagat with numerous jivas, and a jagatkaranam Ishwara.  


No since that Omniscience sarvajnatvam is contingent on the manifestation of name and form, which are creations of Avidya and which constitute the seeds of the world - avidyatmaka namaroopabeeja. The fundamental tenet which we maintain (in accordance with such scriptural passages as, 'From that Self originated space, Taitt. Up. II, 1) is that the creation, sustenance, and reabsorption of the world jagatjanisthitipralayah proceed from the Lord who is by nature eternal, pure, intelligent and free, omniscient, omnipotent Lord nityashuddhabuddhamukta svarupasarvajnaat sarvashaktishwara, and not from a non-intelligent achetana pradhna or any other principle. That tenet we have stated in I, 1, 4, and here we do not
 teach anything contrary to it.

But how, the question may be asked, can you make this last assertion while all the while you maintain the absolute unity atyantatmanam ekatvam adviteeyam cha and non-duality of the Self?

The purvapakshin, [like many who are opposed to Advaita], still insists that there is an incongruity here - a postulate of Absolute nonduality on one hand and a proposition of Brahman and this vastu - Avidya - which is the seed of the diverse manifold Universe. One plus one makes two - no?

Listen how. Name and form which constitute the seeds of the entire phenomenal existence,sansaraprapancha beejabhute and which are conjured up by Avidya avidyanamakalpite are, as it were, nondifferent from the omniscient God sarvajnaishwaraysa, atmabhute iva - and they are non-determinable either as real or unreal,anirvacchaneeya, and are mentioned in the Shruti and Smrti as the power called Maya of omniscient Lord sarvajna-ishwarasya mayashakti, or as Prakrti. But Omniscient God is different from them, tabhyamanya sarvajnaIshwara as is known from the Upanishadic text - 'That which is Space is the accomplisher of all forms and names; that within which these forms and names are contained is Brahman' (Ch. Up. VIII, 14, 1); 'Let me manifest names and forms' (Ch. Up. VI, 3, 2); 'He, the wise one, who having divided all forms and given all names, sits speaking (with those names)' (Taitt. Ar. III, 12, 7); 'He who makes the one seed manifold' (Sve. Up. VI, l2).

Evam avidyakrtanamarupaupadhyanurodhiIshwarobhavati Thus the Lord conforms (as Lord) to the limiting adjuncts of name and form, the products of Avidya; just as the universal space Vyomeva ghatakaraopadhyanurodhi conforms (as limited space) to the limiting adjuncts in the shape of jars, pots, etc. He (the Lord) standsĀ  within the realm of the phenomenal vyavaharavishaye in the relation of a ruler to the so-called jivAs or cognitional Selfs - vijnanatmanah, which indeed are one with his own Self svatmabhutaneva--just as the portions of ether enclosed in jars and the like are one with the universal ether- but are limited by the assemblage of bodies and senses produced from name and form - namarupakrta karyakaranasanghatanurodhino - and that are conjured up by Avidya avidyapratyupasita. Hence the Lord's "Lord"ship, Ishwarasya Ishwaratvam, his Omniscience, sarvajnatvam his Omnipotence, sarvashaktitvam - are all contingent on the limiting adjuncts conjured up
 by AvidyA avidyatmakopadhiparichhidapekshaeva; while in reality na paramarthato none of these qualities belong to the Self shining in its own nature, by right knowledge, vidyaya, after the removal of all limiting adjuncts. Thus Scripture also says, 'Where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, understands nothing else, that is the Infinite' (Kh. Up. VII, 24, 1); 'But when the Self only has become all this, how should he see another?' (Bri. Up. II, 4, 13.) 

Thus we see here the revered Bhagavatpada explain in clearcut terms the two levels of Reality and their respective ontology. It is also striking to note that while in my previous post the Acharya had made poignant use of pratibimbavada, in talking about the Sun and its many reflections, in here, He is making use of avacchedavada in using the analogy of Universal Space and Pot Space in explaining the two levels of Reality - paramarthika and vyavaharika. As is seen by the perspective He thus provides, these two represent different aspects of one and the same understanding. At the paramarthika level there is but One NonDual Lord. It is only on account of a Shakti, that the vyavaharika phenomenal is rendered possible. This Maya Shakti is nothing other than avidyA, the germinal seed, also called Prakrti. This Maya can be neither characterized as real nor unreal. This Maya non-different from Brahman, in that it is Its intrinsic Power, but at the same time
 Brahman is other than this, as the NonDual Truth - Thus alone do we understand the true import of both immanence and transcendence.

I will continue to examine more illuminating excerpts in the next.
Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyoh namah


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