[Advaita-l] AvidyA is mithyA

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Apr 24 12:50:10 CDT 2012

In the Kathopanishad bhashya for the mantra 2.2.11 'sUryo yathA
sarvalokashya chakShuH.....' Shankara says:

// loko hi avidyayA svAtmani adhyastayA kaamakarmodbhavam duHkham
anubhavati.  na tu sA paramArthataH svAtmani. //

// the embodied jiva, owing to avidyA that is superimposed in the Self,
experiences misery engendered by desire and action.  This avidyA, however,
is not present in the Self in truth.//  And Shankara goes on to give the
example of rope/nacre/desert sand/space where snake/silver/water/dirt are
not the defects inhering in the rope, etc. Owing to the superimposition of
the wrong ideas in these do these appear to be tinged by these defects.

What is noteworthy here is the close correspondence to Shankara's use of
the term 'mithyAjnAnanimittaH' in the adhyAsa bhAShya.  From the
Kathopanishat bhashyam quoted above we can conclusively say that the
adhyAsabhAshya usage decidedly means - mithyA cha tadajnAnam...- where the
ajnAna/avidyA is mithyA, that is superimposed, adhyasta.  It is this mithyA
ajnAna or adhyasta avidyA that is destroyed by samyagjnAna, right
knowledge.  In other words, for Shankara ajnAna/avidyA is mithyA /
adhyasta. And it follows that all that is brought about by this mithyA
ajnAna is also mithyA. This is graphically brought out by the Kathopanishat
mantra and bhashya: The Sun (in the example) and the Self are not touched
by the effects  of commingling (in the case of Sun) and avidyA (in the case
of the Self).


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