[Advaita-l] [advaitin] Maya is NOT Avidya in Advaita Vedanta

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Dec 2 02:28:27 EST 2022


I shall take up just this one cited by Bhaskar ji:

indrO mAyAbhiH pururUpa eeyate     This occurs in the
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:

इन्द्रो मायाभिः पुरुरूप ईयते युक्ता ह्यस्य हरयः शता दशेति ।   2.5.19

The word maayaa has another meaning: knowledge.

Shankara is commenting there that Parameshwara has, owing to wrong
identifications due to Avidya, has become many:

इन्द्रः परमेश्वरः मायाभिः = प्रज्ञाभिः नामरूपभूतकृ*तमिथ्याभिमानैर्वा न तु
परमार्थतः*, पुरुरूपः बहुरूपः, ईयते गम्यते…… एकरूप एव प्रज्ञानघनः सन्
*अविद्याप्रज्ञाभिः* ।

Brahman has become many, not really, but only seemingly.  This confirms
that the creation is mithya and not real. In fact the usage of the term
Paramartha/Paramarthika countless times across the Prasthana traya
Bhashya confirms that it is relative to the vyavaharika. It would be
illogical to use that word Paramarthika/paramartha unless the implied
vyavaharika is meant.

Here again Shankaracharya uses the words mithyabhimaana and Avidya, in the
same place, together, to explain the word maya in the Upanishad. Surely
everyone will agree that mithyabhimaana and Avidya are associated with jiva
alone. But here evidently the context is Brahman becoming many with a view
to help the jivas in Samsara to know Brahman and become released.

In another Bhashya Shankaracharya reiterates the above interpretation:


नेह नानेति चाम्नायादिन्द्रो *मायाभिरित्यपि* ।
अजायमानो बहुधा जायते *मायया* तु सः ॥ २४ ॥   3.24


 ‘इन्द्रो मायाभिः’ (बृ. उ. २ । ५ । १९)
मायाशब्देन व्यपदेशात् । ननु प्रज्ञावचनो मायाशब्दः ; सत्यम् , *इन्द्रियप्रज्ञाया
अविद्यामयत्वेन मायात्वाभ्युपगमाददोषः* । *मायाभिः*
* इन्द्रियप्रज्ञाभिरविद्यारूपाभिरित्यर्थः *। ‘अजायमानो बहुधा विजायते’ (तै.
आ. ३ । १३) इति श्रुतेः । तस्मात् जायते मायया तु सः ; तु —शब्दोऽवधारणार्थः
माययैवेति । न ह्यजायमानत्वं बहुधाजन्म च एकत्र सम्भवति, अग्नाविव
शैत्यमौष्ण्यं च ।

After citing this Upanishad Shankaracharya after giving the same meaning he
had given in the Upanishad bhashya, here he raises a question: Does not
maya mean 'prajna'? And replies: yes, by the *avidya perceptions* arising
out of sense/motor organs, indriyas, the wrong perceptions, Parameshwara
became many.

Here Shankara uses the words Maya along with Avidya multiple times to
confirm that Maya and Aditya are one and the same, as he has done in many
other places that have already been cited.

Surely  indriya perceptions and avidya can happen only to the Jiva but here
the context is Bramhan becoming many.  In fact the Brihadaranyaka Shruti is
cited by Gaudapada himself. He says the one without birth, ajaayamaanah,
becoming or being born as many, bahudhaa vijaayate, is due to maayaa.
Shankara comments: due to avidya.

Thus the concept of avidya being used synonymously with maya by Shankara
cannot be set aside. There are too many instances to assert the sameness.


On Fri, Dec 2, 2022 at 11:36 AM 'Bhaskar YR' via advaitin <
advaitin at googlegroups.com> wrote:

> praNAms
> Hare Krishna
> This is just to show there will always be two sides of the same story 😊
> I had written about the difference between mAyA and avidyA in either
> advaitain or Advaita-L list but could not trace that mail.  Anyway, here is
> Sri SSS & others perspective on this issue.
> First Sri SSS in one of his works says following :
> //quote//
> First of all, we should dismiss the idea of the Post-shankaras who have
> stumbled into the mistake of identifying mAyA with avidyA misled by the
> collocation of thos two words in stray passages of shankara bhAshya, such
> as the following : eka eva parameshwaraH kUtasthanityO vijnAnadhAtuH
> avidyayA mAyayA mAyAvivat anekadhA vibhAvyate, nAnyO vijnAnadhAturasti
> (su.bh.-1-3-19).
> This passage simply means that there is only one principle essentially of
> the nature of changeless consciousness, and that is brahman or the supreme
> lord, and that he is regarded to be many through avidyA, just as a magician
> on account of mAyA is looked upon to be many, while there is really no
> sentient entity other than brahman or the lord.  It has nothing to do with
> the identity of difference of the vedAntic concepts of avidyA and mAyA.
> // unquote//

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