[Advaita-l] Jnana and ajnana (Bhakti vs. Jnana)

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Sun Jul 3 13:06:05 CDT 2011

A simple way to understand avidyA is as follows:

As per advaita-vedAnta: Reality = non-dual brahman

Then how come there is vyavahAra?

avidyA is a device used to explain vyavahAra.

It is only when avidyA is admitted that we can have the triad of
It is only when avidyA is admitted that we can talk of the existence or
non-existence of an object.

In other words, when we talk of epistemology and ontology, we have already
admitted avidyA.

As an aside, we can now appreciate why avidyA is said to be anAdi. anAdi
here does not mean "beginning-less in time". Rather, it means that avidyA is
logically prior to time, i.e. it is only in the sphere of avidyA that we can
talk about time (and space).

It should also be obvious now that to ask whether avidyA exists (or whether
it can exist) is, strictly speaking, a faulty question (epistemology and
ontology are themselves predicated on avidyA). The very attempt to ask such
a question pre-supposes avidyA.

Now, the AtmA is self-evident and requires no pramANa. I cannot say "I don't
exist" because to say so presumes my existence. The sense "I am" is a
pre-requisite for any cognition. Therefore the viShaya of avidyA (the AtmA)
is never completely unknown. On the contrary, it is most intimately known.
The problem is the tendency to objectify the AtmA, due to which the
limitlessness (or unobjectifiability) of the AtmA is unknown, and this is
what is termed avidyA. avidyA implies the mutual superimposition of AtmA and
anAtmA, and of particular significance here is the superimposition of
pramAtR^itva on the AtmA (and that's how epistemology starts).


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