[Advaita-l] AVIDYA - not Knowledge., IGNORANCE

KAMESWARARAO MULA kamesh_ccmb at yahoo.co.in
Thu Jan 14 02:44:55 CST 2016

 Dear All,                The concept of avidya is one of the most important in Advaita Vedanta.Avidya is a comprehensive term which includes maya, and can also indicateajnana. Avidya is the cause of adhyasa or superimposition of the non-self on theSelf. Avidya or ignorance is generally accepted as a lack of understanding or anegation of knowledge. In fact, ignorance is a combination of a negative and apositive aspect. The negative is that which conceals the reality from us, and thepositive is that which projects the manifest world. This latter positive power(sakti) is called maya. Maya and avidya are generally synonymous, though mayais sometimes said to be the ignorance or adjunct of Isvara, the creator of thisworld, and avidya to be the ignorance or adjunct of the jiva or the individualsoul. Maya is associated with the effect of avidya, namely the world of name andform. It is anindubitable fact of our experience that though we incessantly pursue answersfor our suffering, we never attain a satisfactory and final resolution. We cansay that from the perspective of the ‘cause and effect’ of phenomena, the mostpersistent aspect of maya is that it prevents us from locating the cause of ourdiscontent. Avidya is the failure to discriminate between reality andappearance.Since ignorance is the cause of bondage, the removal of ignorance is themeans for moksha, liberation. The removal is accomplished through the realizationof the Self which is the sole reality. The vicious cycle of life and death isdependent on the law of cause and effect. As long one identifies with causalitywhich is illusory (avidyaka), there is no end to samsara. We can say the cause of birth anddeath is ignorance (avidya). Theultimate truth is causeless; it isnot dependent upon anything for its existence. When one exercises discrimination (viveka) between what is real andillusory, one becomes detached (vairagya) and knowledge (jnana) arises. According to the sages, the thirstfor a ‘cause’ ceases when we attain the Truth or highest knowledge. The oneaim of Vedanta, therefore, is theeradication of maya or avidya. We do not ‘attain’ self-realisation— it isalready available and at all times self-evident. What we are required to do isremove avidya which obscures self-knowledge. The ultimate reality is not thefruit of activity, all that is required is the removal of ignorance throughknowledge. Reality is not dependent on impermanent forms for its existence. What is itwhich transcends time and space? is the DHARMA Wherever we are and whatever the time, theprinciple of reality remains one and the same. It is ‘one without a second’.Bhagavan differed from the conventional emphasis on maya as an independententity or sakti. He referred to it as non-existent. It was not something whichhad the power to create illusion. He said, like Shankara, that maya was mithya, that is, non-existentand this subtle understanding is at the root of his teaching. If, in the firstplace maya was non-existent, where is the question of illusion? If there is no illusion, where is thequestion of moksa? You are already That, Tat twam asi.We leave the final word to Sri Jnanadeva who wrote in his Amritanubhava:“If the ignorance, because of its ownstate of ignorance cannot know itself, how can it testify its own existence? Therefore, were it asserted that ignorance makes itself known by itself,such a conflicting assertion would make the one asserting to observe silence. The only knowing one is the Atman and if he is fooled by ignorance, then whowill take note of that ignorance? If it (ignorance) cannot for its own sake render the knowing one (Atman) notknowing (ignorance) then one ought to feel ashamed of calling such (as)ignorance.Were the sun to be swallowed by theclouds, by whose light the clouds would be visible? (Or)I should say in my words if sleep overpowers the sleeper, who would enjoy the sleep?” Hope everybody understands tatwa jananm
with regardsKameswara

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