[Advaita-l] Meet on Advaita Vedanta 1.

subhanu saxena subhanu at hotmail.com
Tue May 28 12:52:37 CDT 2013

Further details on the 5 areas of
contention. As you know, my push has always been to look to Suresvara for
precision on the various topics raised. I provide below Surevara’s position on some
of the key topics discussed. For those interested, I am in Bangalore this
weekend if anybody would like to meet up there:


Given that mūlāvidyā  is an imagined superimposed notion, then is
the prior assumption of  a non-cognition
of Brahman a logical precondition  for
the purpose of the teaching or an actual state in space and time?

Argument For: Even though it can
be minute there is always an infinitesimal time gap between a non-cognition and
its effect; The view is sanctioned by Sruti such as nasadiya suktam; time
though superimposed is avidyā-chit-samyogah
and as such time is anādi
and can delineate a sequence of events. 
Ch U 6.2.3 and BUB 1.4.10 cited as references

Suresvara clearly states that a prior non cognition is only
a logical precondition for the purpose of teaching and no prior state is meant in
the shastra: Prior non cognition is purely a logical presupposition : ātmānātma-vibhāgo’pi  BUBV 1.4.724, upāyamatra-bhedo’tra 
BUBV 4.5.15 . Such a notion is simply because atman has not been known:
Ajnātātmaika samsiddha bijavāstham idam jagat BUBV 1.4.191.
Also, Shankara tells us in BSB 4.3.14 such notions of prior causality are
because we falsely imagine the lower Brahman of name and form as the higher
Brahman. No prior state is really meant to be taught as Brahman has always been
Brahman. We simply falsely imagine the creation of the world as something else.
Only once duality is provisionally accepted can the nature of something, or a
sequence of events be contemplated na hi bhedānanāshritya
BUBV 4.3.804. 

Also, the statement avidyā-chit-samyogah when analysed really says nothing as
chit can never be “touched” by anything  .


If mūlāvidyā  is an imagined superimposed notion can it
really be the cause of superimposition and can it transcend superimposition
itself and be viewed outside of it as something both subjective and objective?

For: superimposition narrowly means mixing of 2 opposites as
anyathāgrahaṇam, so it is fair to state that Avidyā is superimposition
“amongst other things”. Shankara’s adhyāsa
bhāshyam is not the
only standard to define avidyā
as adhyāsa. It is a
weak argument to stand on ceremony that avidyā causing adhyāsa
is not strictly logical

Suresvara: ignorance is superimposition: mithyādhyāsaicha tatkāryair
aprameyam pramīyate
BUBV 2.3.10. We have other multiple references that avidyā is adhyāsa : Upadesha Sahasri,
avidya nama anyasmin anyadharmādhyaropaṇā
US II.50,  tvam param atmānam santam… US II.51;
paro’viveko bhutanam atmavidyeti kathyate BUBV 1.4.381.  We 

There also the more ancient authority of Vishnu Purāṇam
6.7.10: shruyatām chāpyavidyāyāh svarāpam
kulanandana; anātmanyātmabuddhir ya chāsve svam iti yā matih: Now listen as to
what is the true nature of avidya: the false notion of mixing the atman and the
anatman, and assuming “this” is “mine”.

The idea that avidyā
is amongst other things superimposition because superimposition just means the
mixing of opposites is refuted in the vartika and the bhashya texts. The entire
field of empirical transactions is ever bound within superimposition. 

The difference of opinion stems from a basic definitional
point: the tradition that places avidyā
outside of adhyāsa
restricts the meaning of adhyāsa
to anyathāgrahaṇam that doubt and opposite knowledge are somehow outside
of this. The problem is the following: to say “I do not know” or “I doubt” , a
basic mixing of attributes must first occur which is why it is non-sensical to
separate avidyā from
adhyāsa. The only
cause admitted by Suresvara is the unknown ātman na hi vedānta-siddhānte
hyajñātātmatirekatah BUBV 4.4.179. He explicitly tells to not enquire into any
further into cause of our confusion NS3.65 nānvesyam chātra kāraṇam
 3)      Is the breakdown of mūlāvidyā  as mithyā+ajñānam
both necessary and justified in Shankara’s tradition and is ignorance’s  provisional causality upādāna or nimitta in nature?
For: Vivaranam states that every effect must have a cause,
and that an inert force is required to explain how the world is created.
Panchapadika talks of this upādāna kāraṇam
“binding “ itself to the world as a substance.
Against: Suresvara exclusively uses mithyājnānam as mithya+jnanam. He uses many synonyms that remove
all doubt on this issue: Ajñānam
eva mithyādhih prameyānabhisangateh (ignorance
is a false notion not connected with the object) 1.4.1217; mithyādhīmātrahetutvāt 1.4.1810; na vedmi;mriṣābudhih
1.3.61,dosha dhīh,

Shankara in Upadesha Sahasri describes the causality of
avidya as “avidya nimittam”, not avidya “upādāna”.
 Also BSB 1.1.4 tasmāt mithāpratyaya-nimittatvāt . There is one reference
in Naishkarmya Siddhi where Suresvara appears to term the causality of avidyā as upādāna, but in his vartikas he emphatically states that
the only upādāna kāraṇam
is Brahman himself through the medium of ignorance upādānam
hi buddhyādeh.. BUBV
4.3.338; asya dvaita jālasya
yadupādāna- kāraṇam  BUBV 1.4.371. Suresvara only talks of
materiality once ignorance has assumed a form of the non conscious unmanifest
principle. Suresvara also uses the phrase mūlājñānam twice at least at SV
124, BUBV 5.1.21. However he uses the phrase very differently from the vivaraṇam tradition. For him ignorance always takes the form “I
do not know”. To then say that having unknown atman the effect is confusion can
be ascribed to Suresvara though the statement “I do not know” is already one of
superimposition (TUBV II.176) 		 	   		  

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