[Advaita-l] AvidyA is jnAna-virOdhi not jnAna-abhAva

Jaishankar Narayanan jai1971 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 6 10:25:41 EST 2022


I have written a short note on why AvidyA is jnAna-virOdhi and not
jnAna-abhAva. I have tried to give relevant references from shankara
bhAshyas to support the points being made. The learned members of this
group may add to these as appropriate. I hope this will help the
mumukshus in ascertaining what is traditional teaching as taught by
sampradayavits including my own Guru Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji, in
contrast to recent distortions which lead to anirmoksha-prasanga.

I have not been active online for many years now. So these points may have
already been discussed in the past but I hope punarukti is not a dosha in

I am giving below the summary from the note. The entire note can be
downloaded from

1. avidyA is vidyAvirodhi and not vidyA-abhAva. I give supporting
statements from the bhAshya.

2. avidyA is mentioned as a covering in multiple places in both Gita and
bhAshyas. bhAshyakAra himself argues that covering implies a covered by and
covered entities and a covering cannot be abhAva. so avidyA cannot be an

3. bhAshyakAra does not accept any abhAva at all. He says abhAva is just
bhAva-pratiyogi (opposed to existence) and cannot have any vishesha
(qualities and activities etc.). As soon as you associate it with any
quality or activity it is to be taken as bhAva only. So jnAna-abhAva also
is only bhAvarupa as per bhAshyakAra. Also jnAna-abhAva proponents actually
use avidyA-kalpita, avidyA-adhyaropita etc. associating their abhAva with
activities making it a bhAvarupa only.

4. avidyA is spoken of as bIja (seed), kAraNa / hetu (cause) in multiple
places. A kAraNa can never be an abhAva according to bhAshyakara and even
common sense, as something cannot be even perceived if the locus is not
bhAvarupa, let alone something being created / projected from nothing.

5. bhAshyakAra in Mandukya kArikA bhAshya and Br Su bhAshya 3.2.9
explicitly states that if avidyA bIja (causal state) is not accepted in
sleep and pralaya then individual jIvas cannot re-emerge from sleep /
pralaya and mukta-purushas can have rebirth and if this seed is absent then
jnAna will not have anything to burn and become useless. jnAna-abhAva
proponents have gone against this and made this bIja as abhAva.

6. bhAshyakAra in Br Up 3.8.12 bhAshya, in Br Su Bh 3.2.9 and BG 14.3
bhAshya refers to avidyA as an upAdhi. This upAdhi can never be an abhAva
as it is accepted as asat / mithyA.

7. Finally bhAshyakAra says avidyA / ignorance is experienced and has to be
included amongst names and forms and so it cannot be abhAva.

with love and prayers,


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