[Advaita-l] Brahman's ignorance - Call it māyā or avidyā
v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Dec 14 01:53:37 CST 2016
In the commentary of Shankaracharya to the Viṣṇu sahasranāma (VSN) the
following verses are cited for explaining the verse पवित्राणां पवित्रं
सर्पवद्रज्जुखण्दस्तु निशायां वेश्ममध्यगः ।
एको हि चन्द्रो द्वौ व्योम्नि तिमिराहतचक्षुषः ॥
आभाति परमात्मा च सर्वोपाधिषु संस्थितः ।
नित्योदितः स्वयंज्योतिः सर्वगः पुरुषः परः ॥
अहंकाराविवेकेन कर्ताहमिति मन्यते ।
Here Brahman is stated to be endowed with ahankāra aviveka.
[Incidentally, the purport of the first two lines above are seen depicted,
of course with a variation, in Shankara's preamble to the Brahma sutra
//तथा च लोकेऽनुभवः — शुक्तिका हि रजतवदवभासते, एकश्चन्द्रः सद्वितीयवदिति ॥//
Shankara cites another verse in the VSN bhāṣya:
स्वमायया स्वमात्मानं मोहयन्द्वैतमायया । गुणाहितं स्वमात्मानं लभते च स्वयं
हरिः ॥ [By his own Māyā, deluding himself with the illusion of dvaita, Hari
Himself comes to see himself endowed with guṇas.]
Here Shankara is clear that Hari, by His own māyā gets deluded and comes to
be endowed with guṇa-s. So, the jiva's avidyā is non-different from the
māyā of Brahman.
Upon searching I could not locate these verses, excepting the second one
which is found in a Telugu translation of the Bhāsya to the VSN. I request
the scholars here to help me in this regard.
Further, in the introductory verses to the advaita siddhi, Madhusudana
Saraswati composes the first verse thus:
सत्यज्ञानसुखात्मकः श्रुतिशिखोत्थाखण्डधीगोचरः ।
मोक्षं प्राप्त इव स्वयं विजयते विष्णुर्विकल्पोज्झितः ॥ इति ।
‘The verse says 'Viṣṇu’ (Brahman) who is innately satyam, jñānam and
sukham, is the abode of the universe consisting of the unreal dvaita of
knower, knowing and known conjured up by māyā, and owing to the
akhaṇḍkāravṛtti-based realization of His native ānanda svarūpa, being freed
from the apparent bondage shines as though liberated, free from all the
Here MS is depicting ‘Viṣṇu’ as the way Brahman is done in Advaita: Brahman
alone, owing to ignorance of its own nature, appears as a bound jīva,
samsārin, and owing to the knowledge of its true nature, is liberated as
though. A vaiṣṇava who is a bigot and a fanatic would never bear to think
of the Lord to be subject to avidyā and therefore a samsārin.
This also, in tune with Shankara, depicts Brahman as the one endowed with
avidyā. And also clearly obliterates any difference between māyā and avidyā.
Of course we also have the names in the Lalitā sahasra nāma: māyā,
viṣṇumāyā, vidyā-avidyā svarupiṇī.
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