[Advaita-l] on avidyA being anirvachanIya etc

subhanu saxena subhanu at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 5 19:31:06 CDT 2011

Krishnamuty wrote:

However, it must still be distinguished from pure j~nAna
abhAva or absence of knowledge


Namaste Ramesh, and thank you for making my point so eloquently in your
email, which essentially follows closely the argument in Iṣṭa-siddhi
page 65-66 and other places in commentaries post Shankara and Suresvara.  3 points I would like to make:


1)      In the Iṣṭa-siddhi passage where we see your
argument, Sri Vimuktāatman directly refutes Suresvara (eg TUBV II.176) at the very
beginning of this passage saying “ajnānam na jānāmīti chet maivam vochah” “If you say
ignorance is just of the nature I do not know then we say it is not so”. We find
places in writings after Suresvara that directly contradict Suresvara so please
read Suresvara himself and then the later works to inform your introspection,
not just the later works. I note the various quotes cited in response to the
points made tend to come from works after Suresvara and not from Suresvara’s
works themselves. The reason I recommend Suresvara so much is that there is a
precision in his works to clarify Shankara’s teachings which eliminate
confusion and doubt as to the true meaning intended. A statement such as N.S
III.7 intro ajnānam hi nāma jnānābhāvaḥ is pretty clear and explicit. 

2)      In your post you use logic and pramāṇa to establish that which is beyond
logic and pramāṇa , as we
all already have the common experience of “I do not know”. It has been quoted
before but N.S 3.66 is helpful in this regard:

seyam bhrāntir nirālambā sarva-nyāya-virodhinī ।

sahate na vichāram sā tamo yadvat divākaram ॥ [N.S.3.6]

This ignorance, a confusion, is without
a foundation and is not accessible to any forms of logic. It no more brooks
enquiry as does searching for darkness with the light of the sun. 

 If you accept that all notions such as
whether ignorance is absence of knowledge or indeterminable are makeshift for
the purpose of the teaching (remember upadeshād ayam vādaḥ from the kārikā) then we can
agree to disagree on the finer points of dialectic and get back to the sādhanā of removing
the ignorance itself. 

The fundamental question is whether illusory phenomena
like shell-silver are only mental imaginations and whether our ignorance is merely
imagined, or is it something else. If it is something else it cannot be removed
by knowledge unless the notion is clearly understood to be provisional.
Otherwise it violates the axiom of the advaita tradition that only knowledge can
eliminate ignorance. If there is no disagreement with this point, then any
differences are again in the realm of dialectic.  I have not heard any convincing argument why
simply taking our ignorance as merely imagined through our not knowing the
atman, within the common experience of us all, to be cancelled as an error
through right knowledge from the Sruti alone when we have prepared ourselves
for such knowledge, should impede my sādhanā. You will find no other view in all of Suresvara’s




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