[Advaita-l] mAyA and avidyA cannot be synonyms

Bhaskar YR bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com
Wed Apr 28 07:10:17 CDT 2010

Hare Krishna

I had written the below mail in advaitin list when we discussed the same 
topic.  Since here too Sri Subbu prabhuji writing articles on avidyA=mAya, 
I am posting my mail here...Subsequent to this mail, there was a 
discussion...but those mails I cannot post here..I am posting only my 
first mail in this thread.

Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!
// quote //
Hare Krishna 

At the outset, I'd like to clarify that I am no way qualified to debate 
the understanding of Sri Sastri prabhuji with regard to mAyA and avidyA. 
But at the same time, I cannot restrict myself from sharing my 
understanding with the forum.  Hence, I am writing my view points under a 
separate thread.  Prabhuji-s,  kindly bear with my parallel view points on 
the same issue.   

(a) "mama svarupabhUtA madeeya mAyA" says geetaachArya, I was wondering, 
if the avidyA is as same as mAya, then here geetAchArya implying that his 
svarUpa is 'avidyA' !!??  Kindly dont think this is sarcasm...infact this 
is what the first thought appeared in my mind!!   

(b) Normally, we say, jeeva is suffering from avidyA & mAyA is Ishwara 
shakti.  If we say both avidyA & mAya are one and the same, jeeva becomes 
Ishwara & Ishwara becomes jeeva and there is no 'jeeveshwara bedha' and 
there is no value for spiritual path (sAdhana mArga) as described in the 

(c)  As per normal understanding of ours, a self realized one, would not 
have any avidyA & his avidyA beeja is completely burnt (jnAnAgni dagdha) 
and this jnAni will not have any 'punarjanma'.  (muktAnAM punaranutpattihi 
vidyayA tasyA beejashakterdAhAt).  Therefore, an already realized soul 
would burnt away the mAyA beeja OR avidyA beeja permanently, so, strictly 
speaking there should not be any 'jagat' to cognize to anyone if both 
avidyA & prakruti are one and the same...But despite having somany jnAni-s 
in the bygone history, we are 'still' seeing prakruti i.e. jagat!! 

(d)  shankara says in geeta commentary, 'prakruti dvayavatvameva hi 
Ishwarasya IshwaratvaM'...if a jnAni burnt away his avidyA or prakruti 
then there is no Ishwara!!  But, we still have Ishwara!! 

(e)  mAya is the shakti of Ishwara but avidyA is the weakness of jeeva. 

(f)  We dont say, jeeva has the 'mAya' and brahman has avidyA, but we do 
say jeeva has the 'avidyA' and brahman with the mAyA shakti appears as 

(g)  shankara in geeta bhAshya (4.5) clearly says Ishwara has the mAyA 
shankti & jeeva has the avidya, through mAya shakti lord  knows everything 
and jeeva (arjuna) does not know about it due to his avidyA.   

(h) through avyakta beeja shakti (i.e. mAya) we say creation, destruction 
will take place...the same status cannot be attributed to avidyA, atleast 
from the vyAvahArik stand point. 

(i) shankara in geeta bhAshya at somany places contextully clearly 
clarifies :  mAya is Ishwara shakti but nowhere he, even remotely implies, 
avidyA is Ishwara shakti.   

(j) Last one, jokingly, one can name his/her daughter as mAya, like 
mAyAdevi, mAyAvati etc. (as devata vidyAvidya svarUpiNi)...But no one want 
name his daughter as avidyAvati, avidyadevi etc. :-)) 

I once again, would like to clarify that my above observations are not an 
attempt  to refute  Sri Sastri prabhuji's understanding i.e. mAya & avidyA 
are synonyms.   

Hari Hari Hari Bol!! 

// unquote //

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