[Advaita-l] A note on ‘Avidya lesha’ 'अविद्यालेशः’ (Part 3) Concluded

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Mar 30 06:49:27 CDT 2010

Continued from Part 2

A possible objection on the concept of ‘avidyA lesha’:

One might mistake the word ‘avidya’ in the compound word ‘avidya- lesha’ to
mean ‘mUlAvidyA’ and conclude thus: Since ‘aparoksha jnAnam’ is directed at
dispelling mUlAvidyA, how can a ‘tinge/semblance/lesha’ of mUlAvidyaa be
admitted in an aparokSha jnAnin? Hence, this concept of ‘avidyA-lesha’ is
opposed to the BhAShyam.

Reply to this objection/erroneous conclusion:

1.     There is no such defect in the concept of ‘avidyA-lesha’.  It is to
be noticed that Shankaracharya has Himself categorically stated ‘तामसो हि
प्रत्यय आवरणात्मकत्वा*दविद्या* विपरीतग्राहकः, संशयोपस्थापको वा, अग्रहणात्मको
वा (Gita bhashya 13.2)

In this definition three features of avidya are given out: 1. agrahaNaatmaka
– non-perception of the truth, 2. viparItagraahaka – wrong-perception of the
truth and 3. samshayopasthApakaH – doubtful perception of the truth.  All
these features are shown to be of *‘avidyA’* which itself is of the nature
of /transformation of tamas.

In the manner described by ChitsukhAchArya, the third ‘AkAra’ corresponds to
the ‘viparItagraahaka – wrong-perception of the  truth’ stated by
Shankaracharya. This is also called ‘vikShepa shakti’ of avidya which means:
the projecting of duality.  AgrahaNam of the BhAshyam is the aavaraNa

It is the vipareeta-grahaNam aspect that is again re-stated by
Shankaracharya in the bhashyam for Brahma sutra 4.1.15 as ‘mithyA jnAnam
even though has been sublated, continues owing to samskAra for some time….’.
So, even in ChitsukhAcharya’s scheme what is termed ‘avidyA lesha’ is only
this mithyAjnAna (vapreeta grahaNa) that Shankaracharya has stated and
nothing different.  And to say that this element is a ‘lesha’ of mUlAvidyA
is perfectly in order, non-contradictory to the Bhashyam and therefore not
at all defective.

The concept of ‘avidyA lesha’ is not alien to Scripture and the Bhashya of
Shankaracharya.  It has the full authority of Scripture and the support of
the Bhashya.  We have shown in the foregoing:

   - What means ‘avidyA lesha’
   - How it is different from the other two ‘forms’ of avidya.  None can
   object to someone listing ‘forms’ of avidyA; Shankaracharya has amply done
   this kind of classifying avidya into its several manifestations (Gita and
   Br.Up. and Mandukya kArikA bhAshya-s)
   - The manner in which ‘avidya lesha’ is perfectly in accordance with the
   Scripture and Shankaracharya’s bhaShya and His own experience.

In the light of the above, any objection to the scriptural concept of
‘avidyaa lesha’ will have to be seen as either a misconception of the
concept or sheer prejudice.  The pUrvAchaaryas of the Advaita sampradAya
have honoured it recognizing its complete conformity with the Scripture and
Bhagavatpada’s Bhashya.


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