[Advaita-l] ***UNCHECKED*** Brahman and Avidya - mutually exclusive?

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Tue Jun 23 04:40:32 CDT 2015

Dear Sri Aurobind,

Given that the topic has moved significantly from Sri Venkatesh Murthy's
initial query regarding AkhandAkAra vritti, I thought it would be better to
move this to a separate thread.

Going to the heart of your queries, I believe the biggest issue that needs
addressing is the question whether Avidya and Brahman are mutually
exclusive or not - the other issues such as the gyAni / agyAni status of
the sleeper, or the nature of ananda being  bimbAnandA or pratibimbAnandA
in sushupti are side topics. Important ones, but unless its clearly
determined whether avidya and Brahman are paraspara virodhI  or not (i.e.
the presence of one necessarily implies the absence of the other), the
other issues cannot even be broached. Therefore I will use this email to
only address this point.

There are 3 concepts that need to be clarified here:
1) Atma has a swarUpa of Consciousness, which is different from knowledge.
The gyAnam in "satyam gyAnam anantam brahma" of the Taittariya Ananda Valli
refers to consciousness and not knowledge. Knowledge necessarily has to be
linked to an object. For example: knowledge of a pot, knowledge of physics
etc. Consciousness doesn't  require an object, it simply "is". This is what
AchArya SadAji refers to by "consciousness" and "knowledge *of*". The "of"
in his statement is crucial and cannot be glossed over.
2) Only knowledge (gyAnam) is the virodhI of ignorance (agyAnam),
consciousness (chit) is not the virodhI of ignorance (agyAnam).
3) agyAnam can have locus only in brahman.

If 1) and 2) are accepted, it becomes clear that the presence of brahman is
not antithetical to the apparent existence of avidyA.

Your argument is that this cannot be correct because "if you accept Brahman
and Avidya co-exist it is like both darkness and light on the same object."

The response to this would be that this is not a correct example because of
the following:
a) Even if we accept that darkness and light are paraspara virodhI (i.e you
ignore the state of manda adhakAra, or partial darkness, of say, twilight),
the example is not applicable in the case of Brahman and avidyA. Knowledge
and ignorance have opposite attributes, and therefore the presence of
complete knowledge necessarily requires the complete lack of ignorance.
However, Brahman is of the nature of consciousness, which is aviruddhA of
ignorance - that is by the brahman's chit svarUpam (i.e by consciouness),
knowledge of all objects can be obtained, or tasya bhAsA sarvamidam vibhAti.
b) Secondly, for adhyAsa (or erroneous superimposition) to exist, there has
to be a condition of partial knowledge and partial ignorance. For a snake
to be perceived on a rope, there has to be parital darkness - it cannot
happen in bright light or total darkness. If you believe that jagat is
mithyA, Brahman has to be obfuscated by avidyA. If avidyA could never exist
in the presence of Brahman, what is the cause of adhyAsA? What is the cause
of the appearance of this jagat? And to extend the argument, what is the
cause of the antahkaraNam?

This leads me to the second point in your email. Your contention is that
avidyA is not located in Brahman but in antahkaraNa:

"Maya or MoolAvidya or what ever we call it is not in Swaroopa or Brahman,
both being the same, but in the Anthakarana thru which the Jeeva bhava is
assumed. "

This has been extensively dealt with by Sri SureshvarachArya, but to
summarise the opposing argument:

1) All adhyAsa requires a satya vastu as an adhishthAnam.
2) Ignorance of the satya adhishthAnam leads to the projection of adhyAsa

If antahkaraNa was the adhishthAnam of avidyA, what is the adhishthAnam of
antahkaraNam? By point 1), antahkaraNam either needs to be a satya vastu
for it to be a adhisthAnam, or it needs to be an adhyAsa too. If
antahkaraNam is a satya vastu, it means that you have two satya vastus -
brahman and antahkaraNam, which is not acceptable. If antahkaraNam is an
adhyAsa too, then the question is asked, what is the adhishthAnam of
antahkaraNam? If you say it is another avidyA, then what is the adhisthAnam
of *that* avidya? This argument leads to infinite regress, and therefore
the statement that "avidyA has antahkaraNam as its adhisthAnam" cannot be

The only satya vastu is brahman. Therefore avidyA has to have a locus in
brahman - this avidyA is the mAyA or mUlAvidyA.

By the above, two things have been established: Brahman is not the virodhI
of avidyA, and in fact, brahman provides the AshrayA for avidyA.

Kind regards,

On Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 6:12 AM, Aurobind Padiyath via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Hari Om!!!
> Sri Venkatraghavanji and Sri Sadaji,
> Just to clear my views on your replies:
> Venkatraghavanji replied:
> If you are saying that avidyA and brahman (or swaroopa in your terminology)
> cannot exist simultaneously, that is not correct. Avidya doesn't require
> the antah karaNa for its existence.  Avidya rests and exists (apparently)
> only because of brahman, and not antah karaNa - that is the moolAvidyA or
> mAyA or kAraNa sharirA.
> Me: Swaprakashe kuto Avidya? In the Light of knowledge no ignorance can
> stand. So if you accept Brahman and Avidya co-exist it is like both
> darkness and light on the same object. Maya or MoolAvidya or what ever we
> call it is not in Swaroopa or Brahman, both being the same, but in the
> Anthakarana thru which the Jeeva bhava is assumed. The Jeeeva bhava is a
> reflected knowledge of That Brahman. Reflection being thru the Anthakarana
> the impurity of the Anthakarana can affect the quality of Pure knowledge
> but never affect That source.
> Venkatraghavanji replied:
> The absence of knowledge in deep sleep is due to the absence of any
> vishaya, but that doesn't mean that the folded mind becomes an aparoksha
> brahma gyAni then. Your statement that "ignorance cannot stand in the
> presence of swaroopa unless assisted by antahkaraNa" cannot be true,
> because otherwise in deep sleep the moolavidyA would be destroyed because
> of its proximity to Brahman and absence of antahkaraNam.
> Me: You misunderstood me here. I did not say in deep sleep one becomes
> Aporoksha Brahma Jnani. All I said was there is Vishesha vijnana abhava and
> hence no ignorance caused by non-apprehension and mis-apprehension. There
> is the light knowledge shining as it is and not reflected, in deep sleep.
> And no one will ever "become" a Jnani in deep sleep because you do not have
> the cause and effect of ignorance there. Both these cause and effect
> causing the ignorance is in other than deep sleep. One can treat illness
> only on who it is shown. The 'sleeper' doesn't know or show Ajnana and
> hence no Vidya can be given to that state.
> Venkatraghavanji replied:
> The ananda that is experienced in deep sleep is because the kAraNa sharira
> simply reflects brahman and no other thing, and as the vritti in deep sleep
> is a pure antar-mukha vritti without any bahir vishaya disturbances, the
> reflection of ananda swaroopam of brahman  on the folded mind causes the
> "experience of ananda" more than one would typically face in the jAgrat
> avasthA - the exception being yogic samAdhi, when there is a similar chitta
> vritti nirodhA.
> Me: I do not agree with you that there is "The Ananda" experienced
> as reflected in Kaarana Shareera. While I agree the absence of Vishaya
> Vigjnana, The Ananda one feels here is the stillness of vritti (in other
> words mind) caused due to the absence of Variying Vishaya Vigjnana. The
> Ananda of Bhuma even if reflected is unfathomable. Yetra na Anya pashyati,
> Anya Shrunoti etc...
> Sadaji replied:
> Sakshii swaruupam is jnaanam as pure consciousness not jnaanam of -
> including the jnaanam of self. It is unqualified homogenous
> undifferentiated consciousness or pure Knowledge without any qualification.
> Saakshi does not even know or need not know its saaskhitvam too  as from
> its point there is no saakshyam also. Some of these are discussed in the
> Advaita Makaranda by Lakshmidhara kavi.
> Me: This is exactly what I also said. IT, the Sakshi, alone is there is
> deep sleep. The Anthakarana abhava in deep sleep is not ignorance or
> avidya. One cannot prove that the anthakarana is the one who is sleeping
> because one should know that the anthakarana is identified by the vritties.
> In the absence of it does not mean it is present and sleeping. Just as the
> Jagrat vishaya vigjnana is only to Jagrat , It's absence is deep sleep. The
> Avidya we talk is present and experienced only in Jagrat (includes both
> waking and dream). We do not know the Sakshi in deep sleep because the
> anthakarana is not there to know or reflect.
> Now to summarize:
> Vritties, immaterial if we call it Anthakarana, is the Avidaya. And just as
> no snake can exist without a real rope these vritties are intertwined with
> the Truth and hence difficult to separate just as difficult as the snake to
> be separated from the rope, unless the knowledge arises in the same place
> where the snake knowledge exists and at the same time and space too. So
> only in waking there is Avidya and it can be removed only in waking. The
> Akhandakara Vritti (not a Vritti as in normal terms) is the waking state of
> that Jnanai who sees everything as Sat Chit Ananda. Or as Chandogya Ch. 7
> says. Yetra na anya pashyati, any shrunoti, anya vijanati. Either
> everything as Bhodaroopam or Total Oneness where there is nothing other
> than Pure Existance.
> Aurobind
> On 23 June 2015 at 09:12, kuntimaddi sadananda <kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com>
> wrote:
> > Aurobindji:
> >
> > I agree with you on the other points mentioned in your mail except the
> > following
> >
> > "For ajnaani, when he goes to deep sleep state he sleeps as ajnaani only
> -
> > no ajnaani gets up from deep sleep state as jnaani."
> >
> > Ajnana is only for the antahkarana not for swaroopa. Jnana will be needed
> > where ever Ajnana is present. In your explanation of deep sleep if Ajnana
> > is there,  Guru and upadesha will be needed there also in deep sleep.
> > -----------------------------
> >
> > Sada:
> >
> > Let us look a simpler problem. Two cases: 1. ajnaani of Chemistry 2.
> > Jnaani of Chemistry. - For both jnaanm or ajnanaam is at the intellect
> > level. When ajnaani of Chemistry sleeps, his intellect that has ajnaanam
> > also folded as such. Hence in his deep sleep - the mind that does not
> > Chemistry sleeps as such. On the other hand the jnaani of Chemistry the
> > jnaanam is also in the intellect and when it is folded, he sleeps as such
> > as folded jnaanam of chemistry.
> >
> > We are not talking of the Saaskhi which never sleeps. It is illumining
> the
> > sleeping folded minds of both jnaani and ajnaani . From its point it is
> > unaffected by what it illumines or to say more correctly what gets
> > illumined in its presence.  - just as Sun is unaffected by what is
> getting
> > illumined.
> >
> > Sakshii swaruupam is jnaanam as pure consciousness not jnaanam of -
> > including the jnaanam of self. It is unqualified homogenous
> > undifferentiated consciousness or pure Knowledge without any
> qualification.
> > Saakshi does not even know or need not know its saaskhitvam too  as from
> > its point there is no saakshyam also. Some of these are discussed in the
> > Advaita Makaranda by Lakshmidhara kavi.
> >
> > The self-knowledge is also at the Mind level only or you can say at
> > anthakaraNa. - Shankara discusses this exhaustively in relation to the
> > sloka -kshetrajnam ca api maam viddhi sarva kshetreshu bhaarata.
> >
> > The jnaani and ajnaani is only at vyaavahaara state - that is the
> notions
> > in the mind (illumined by chidaabhasa) that consciousness that I am is
> the
> > all pervading consciousness the original light that is getting illumined.
> > It is the mind that has to know. Hence Vedanta is for the mind - and it
> is
> > the mind that needs a teacher.
> >
> > In deep sleep state, the knowledge cannot occurs since the mind that
> needs
> > to know is not available to learn. To see the original light of
> > consciousnesses (which cannot be seen) but can be seen only cognitively,
> I
> > need to prepare the mind - Viveka is required and is available only in
> the
> > waking state. Hence any self-realization by the mind can only take place
> in
> > the waking state. It requires subtle discrimination to differentiate the
> > real from apparently real. It is like looking at the full moon, I want to
> > see the sunlight that is illumining the moon while seeing only the
> > reflected sunlight from the moon. I cannot see the original sunlight.
> This
> > is example where sun is a source. The pure sat chit ananda that is
> > all-pervading light of consciousness there is no localizes source.
> Saakshi
> > is term we use only for that (part - word used to convey only) that is
> > illumining the local mind - which cannot be recognized other than
> > cognitively using the reflected
> >  light - chidabhaasa - reflection by the subtle body. This is what we
> mean
> > by self-realization is also mithyaa only since it is at the mind level.
> > -------------------------------------------
> > Arabindji:
> >
> >  Ajnana being only experienced during waking, because the Antahkarana
> > becomes active on waking with the budhi, part of Anthakarana, reflecting
> > the Chit. That's why when the Ajnani wakes as Ajnani and Jnani as Jnani.
> > Like the tiger and mosquito as respective animals. A blue flower will
> > reflect only blue just as red as red. So all reflections in a Ajnana
> > Anthakarana can only reflect ignorance. And Ajnana is only in waking
> > because of which the need to eradicate that in waking. Deep sleep is
> "Easha
> > Swabhavah" as told in Mandukya. Even waking and dream is the same,
> that's
> > why we see Jnanis like any others having waking deep sleep and dream. But
> > they have the Jnanam which do not delude them like others.
> >
> > Sada: Yes. This is true for Janni also. Jnaanam is only at the
> antahkarana
> > stage only. From the point of pure saakshii it is one without a second-
> No
> > saakshyam even.
> >
> > The Mandukya discusses in each state two aspect one from the micro and
> the
> > other from macro. In mantra 5 it states from the micro aspect - na
> kanacana
> > kaamam kamayata et. in the Mantra 6 from the samashiti point as Iswara.
> >
> > We are discussing at the vyashTi level since from samashTi level we call
> > Iswara as sarvajna. Hence it is only vyashTi ajnaani that need to be
> > eliminated and for that Viveka which is available only in the waking
> state
> > is needed.
> >
> > Hari Om!
> > Sadananda
> >
> >
> >
> --
> Aurobind Padiyath
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