[Advaita-l] [advaitin] Re: Paul Hacker on avidyA

Raghav Kumar Dwivedula raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 11 11:53:25 EST 2022

I was surprised to see Paul Hacker being considered a sound resource person
for discussions on avidyA being (yatkincit) bhAvarUpA etc. The reason is
that Hacker completely dismisses GaudapAda and also Shankara's commentaries
on mANDUkya and the rest. He only cherry-picks passages from BSB that suit
his agenda and considers Advaita as Buddhism in disguise. So much for his
extensive study of BSB.

We observe that

1.  there are several passages from shankara bhAShya attesting to the
identity of mAyA and avidyA

2. there are passages distinguishing them.

 Paul Hacker leans towards the second viewpoint even though it is contrary
to the hundreds of texts and acharyas who have expounded AV over the last
thousand years and taught the *reconciliation of passages of type 1 and
type 2 by taking the former to subsume the latter.*

Unless the living tradition of Advaita pedagogy is considered, two people
can just keep going around in circles quoting typing 1 and type 2 passages
over and over again and whoever has the last quote might feel his view has
the upper hand. It becomes an inconclusive wild goose chase.

Paul Hacker arbitrarily chooses to privilege the second type over the first
and so he has to do something illogical viz., he has to ignore GaudapAda
and Sri Shankara's other works which clearly assert that avidyA has an
ontological aspect too. To do this Hacker has to say that GaudapAda is
irrelevant or wrong and that the entire vedanta tradition after Shankara
has diverged from ShAnkara vedAnta. By thus "digesting" and dismissing the
entire later tradition of teaching Advaita, then Shankara alone can be
"dealt with" to show the ultimate superiority of Hacker's passionate
adherence to Christian theology in his thinking.

For those who may be interested in this background/context, viz., that Paul
Hacker's main drive was the pursuit of orientalist, racial and evangelical

"On page 36 of the book 'Philology and Confrontation' Paul Hacker openly
says that Gaudapāda pays obeisance to Buddha in the Kārikā 4.1 and that
Shankara "covers up the fact" (*that is Paul Hacker's attitude towards Sri
Shankara*) by struggling to interpret the verse to somehow mean an
obeisance to Narayana. There cannot be a greater example of Paul Hacker
being a candidate... for Shankara's chastisement: asampradāyavit mūrkhavat
upekṣaṇīyaḥ. Elsewhere also he subscribes to the view that Advaita is only
Buddhism in disguise. There cannot be a greater insult to the Advaita
Acharyas." From earlier post by Subbu ji. Italics mine.

Also an interesting article regarding this...

"Among the many German scholars -missionaries, Romantics, and Sanskritists
fascinated by India the German Indologist Paul remains one of the most
elusive (and controversial) figures. Internationally, though
problematically acknowledged as an expert on Vedānta, Hacker is
paradigmatic of the many problems with German Indology. A vociferous critic
of India, a country he visited between 1954 and 1955, Hacker nonetheless
obsessed about Indian thought, especially Hinduism. For this volume,
examining the history of the cultural encounter between India and Germany,
we have chosen to focus on this controversial figure as a way of
understanding some of the more problematic aspects of this encounter. In
particular, we seek to understand how German Indologists, under the
pretense of undertaking a "scientific" analysis of Indian thought, were in
fact pursuing Orientalist, racial, and evangelical agendas."

Hacker has figured earlier too in some discussions on Advaita l.



On Wed, 7 Dec, 2022, 10:47 pm V Subrahmanian via Advaita-l, <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> On Wed, Dec 7, 2022 at 10:16 PM jai1971 <jai1971 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Namaste,
> >
> > Hacker may be a scholar but he seems to be wrong in his assertions. Some
> > of these scholars only base their thesis by reading Br Su Bhashya alone.
> He
> > says Shankara does not use anAdi for avidyA but let me give a few
> examples -
> >
> > अनाद्यविद्याप्रसुप्ताः उत्तिष्ठत हे जन्तवः .. जाग्रत अज्ञाननिद्राया
> > घोररूपायाः सर्वानर्थबीजभूतायाः क्षयं कुरुत । Kata Up 1.3.14 Bh
> > You beings, who are sleeping in ignorance that has no beginning, arise
> > ...awake— put an end to the sleep of ignorance which is terrible by
> nature
> > and is the seed of all undesirables.
> >
> > योऽयं संसारी जीवः, सः उभयलक्षणेन तत्त्वाप्रतिबोधरूपेण बीजात्मना,
> > अन्यथाग्रहणलक्षणेन चानादिकालप्रवृत्तेन *मायाल*क्षणेन स्वापेन  mAndUkya
> > kArikA 1.16 Bh
> > This samsArI jIva who is characterised by both, non-cognition of the
> > reality which is of the nature of a seed and by the cognition of reality
> > differently and by the beginingless activity of sleep characterised as
> mAyA
> > (avidyA)
> >
> The very same examples for the erroneous thinking mentioned by Shankara in
> the above Karika bhashya -
> *चानादिकालप्रवृत्तेन मायालक्षणेन* स्वापेन, ममायं पिता पुत्रोऽयं नप्ता
> क्षेत्रं गृहं पशवः, अहमेषां स्वामी सुखी दुःखी
>  is stated by him in the Mundaka bhashya below: In the Karika bhashya he
> called it anaadi maayaa, in the below bhashya he calls it avidya:
> मुण्डकोपनिषद्भाष्यम्तृतीयं मुण्डकम्प्रथमः खण्डःमन्त्र २ - भाष्यम्
> ………शरीरे पुरुषः भोक्ता जीवो*ऽविद्या*कामकर्मफलरागादिगुरुभाराक्रान्तोऽलाबुरिव
> सामुद्रे जले निमग्नः निश्चयेन देहात्मभावमापन्नोऽयमेवाहममुष्य पुत्रोऽस्य
> नप्ता कृशः स्थूलो गुणवान्निर्गुणः सुखी दुःखीत्येवंप्रत्ययो
> नास्त्यन्योऽस्मादिति जायते म्रियते संयुज्यते………
> regards
> subbu
> >
> > As I have already mentioned in my note Shankara does not accept any
> abhAva
> > (prAg, pradhvamsa etc.) at all. So avidyA cannot be an abhAva and so it
> has
> > to be asat like this world appearance as it is the bIja / kAraNa of the
> > dvaita samsAra. Shankara also states in more than one places avidyA is
> > vidyA-virodhi. Further Shankara explicitly states in Br Su Bh 3.2.9 and
> > Mand Karika 1.2 Bh that this avidyA bIja has to be there in sleep and
> > pralaya for jIvas to reemerge and without the bIja being present, the
> > Knowledge will become useless as it will not have anything to burn and if
> > bIja is not accepted then mukta purushas may be reborn.
> >
> > There cannot be a more emphatic statement of the nature of avidyA than
> the
> > above.
> >
> > with love and prayers,
> > Jaishankar
> >
> >
> >
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