[Advaita-l] What is avidyA vR^itti as against antaHkaraNa vR^itti?

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 26 12:40:24 CDT 2015

An attempt to answer some questions.
The difference between objective knowledge and subjective knowledge lies in
the capability of the former type of knowledge to be *directly*
(aparokSheNa) conveyed or used in dealings (vyavahAra) with people other
than the person who has this knowledge. For example, if you see a pot, you
may point it out to others, "this is a pot", and they too will have the
same direct perception of the pot. On the other hand, if you feel happy,
you cannot *directly* convey this feeling to me. There is no way for me to
*directly* feel what you are feeling. You may express your feeling with
some act, words, etc. that allows me to understand your feeling, but this
only gives me an *indirect* knowledge. Coming to illusions such as a
silver-nacre, the advaitasiddhi holds that two cognitions are involved
here. In the (erroneous) cognition, "this is silver", the "this" (idam)
part is objective, but the "silver" (rajatam) part is subjective. Why? When
a person seeing illusory silver says, "this is silver", another person in
the vicinity will certainly see some object as the first person did, but
he/she may not see the object as silver. It is possible the second person
is not affected by the illusion, and may, in fact, see the nacre, not
silver. So the agreement between the first person and the second person is
that there is "something" out there. The knowledge of "something" is
objective and is common to both persons. However, the knowledge of "silver"
is restricted to the first person who is affected by the illusion. The
second person may have the knowledge of nacre, not silver. This is why it
is said avidyAvRtti can be prAtibhAsika or vyAvahArika.
If we look "under the hood" and try to understand what is anataHkaraNa
vRtti and what is avidyAvRtti, it is important to note that objective
knowledge, called "pramA", is gained through a pramANa (means of knowledge,
such as perception, inference, scriptures, etc), while subjective
knowledge, including the prAtibhAsika type, is not so obtained. In the case
of subjective knowledge, the witness-consciousness (sAkShicaitanya)
cognizes it without the need for antaHkaraNavRtti.  In contrast, objective
knowledge gained through a pramANa results in the modification of the
antaHkaraNa (mind), called antaHkaraNavRtti. MahamahopAdhyAya Abhyankar has
remarked in his commentary on the siddhAntabindu (dashashlokI):
apramAjnAnaM na manovRttirUpaM kiMtu avidyAvRttirUpaM sAkShyAshrayam.


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