[Advaita-l] Paul Hacker on Avidya in Brahma Sutras

Vinodh vinodh.iitm at gmail.com
Sat May 28 01:24:01 EDT 2022

Sri Michael,

I did not quite follow the last statement. What does it mean for Ishwara’s
maya to survive the fall of avidya?

My understanding is that ignorance (avidya) leads to maya (illusion). Not
knowing the truth results in seeing something other than the truth. Like
snake instead of rope, silver in conch shell, water in desert, etc. Once
the ignorance is gone and the truth is realized the maya doesn’t exist
anymore. Therefore when avidya falls maya should also cease to be
perceived. The only delay that is mentioned in the sruti (Chandyogya Up) is
that with respect to the prarabdha karma because of which this body and
mind has taken this birth (taavad eva chiram yaavad na vimokshye). Upon
fall of the body and mind, the maya ceases to exist for the jnani.

Since, in the case at hand, we are talking about iss as Ishwara’s maya, the
jnani is ishwara himself. Perhaps, for Ishwara, who is already a jnani (as
he does not have avidya), the delay extends infinitely because his
prarabdha is the sum total of the karmas of all jivas. And this is why the
conventional view holds that his maya persists despite him not having
avidya. Just thinking out loud based on the chandyoga sruti vaakya…

On Fri 27. May 2022 at 20:08, Michael Chandra Cohen <
michaelchandra108 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Sri Vinodh, Yes indeed - neither mAyA nor avidyA exists outside perception
> - no different than dream, perception only. Conventional Vedanta however
> posits eshwara's mAyA that survives the fall of avidyA.
> On Fri, May 27, 2022 at 12:50 AM Vinodh <vinodh.iitm at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Sri Michael,
>> Fully in agreement with the SSS quote.
>> When clay appears in a particular form (roopa) it gets the name (naama)
>> “pot”. But the pot is not an entity separate from the clay at all. That one
>> thinks it to be so is the ignorance.
>> When gold appears in a particular form it gets the name “ornament”. But
>> the ornament is not separate from the gold at all. That one thinks it to be
>> so is the ignorance.
>> Brahman appears in various forms and it gets various names accordingly.
>> But all the naama-roopa are not entities separate the Brahman at all. That
>> one thinks it to be so is the ignorance.
>> Therefore all names and forma are not separate from Brahman. Brahman is
>> sat (existence) and chit-svaroopam (nature of consciousness/cognition).
>> Therefore all names and forms are also sat and they are perceived in that
>> same chit-svaroopa. The maya is that they appear to be separate entities
>> from Brahman.
>> There arises no question of asat here because asat is of the nature of
>> that which cannot be grasped (cognized), that which is non-existent. Asat
>> cannot lead to something that can be cognized (sat) either. Therefore,
>> nothing is asat, including avidya, maya, and the jagat which is perceived,
>> nor are they caused by asat.
>> On Tue 24. May 2022 at 15:50, Michael Chandra Cohen <
>> michaelchandra108 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Dear Vinodh, namaste
>>> Yes, SSS demands subtlety of argument. One scholar reads SSS as teaching
>>> "extraordinary tarka" as method. Comment below:
>>> > My response can refer to your comment, "These essentially correspond to
>>> > paramArtha sat and vyAvahArika sat respectively."  Terminology is
>>> > questionable, i,e,. vyAvahArika 'sat'. The implication of bhavarupa
>>> leads
>>> > to the consequence of taking vyAvahAra as some kind of 'sat' which
>>> enables
>>> > categories of 'absence' and 'presence'. My earlier comment questions
>>> the
>>> > status of vyAvahAra as 'sat' rather than asat or adhyasa.
>>> Vyavaharika sat is also sat only and completely non-separate from
>>> Brahman.
>>> Is the pot separate  from the clay? Is an ornament separate from gold? Or
>>> is the snake separate from the rope? Not at all. That we see the pot, the
>>> ornament, and the snake as something separate from the underlying
>>> substratum is the maya. There that we see vyavaharika sat as a separate
>>> entity from the paramarthika Atma is the illusion. This is also sat, that
>>> is also sat. Sat comes out of sat. Asat never comes into existence
>>> fundamentally or through maya, just like the son of a barren woman —
>>> Gaudapada says this in the very next karika after the one you have quoted
>>> (3.28).
>>> The issue is asat, not sat. One of the key distinctions between bhasya
>>> Sankara and post Sankara Vedanta is the usage oi namarupa as the material
>>> creation compared with maya shakti, sadasat vilakshana anirvacaniya, jada
>>> bija, mithya ajnana. The latter are positive bhavarupa entities. The
>>> former, epistemological entities only - non-existent as they appear, real
>>> as they are truly. Here's a nice quote on the same:
>>> "Objection: Then, is this world not Sat now? It is qualified (as Sat) in
>>> the beginning!
>>> Answer: Not so. Then why the qualification (in the beginning)? What is
>>> meant is that even now it is Sat but it is accompanied by differentiation
>>> of name and form, and is understood (from the śabda-buddhi) by the term
>>> 'this' (idam - in the verse idamagra). Before birth, in the beginning,
>>> however, it was understood only through the śabda-buddhi of the term Sat.
>>> Hence, it is emphasised please check red underscores that 'in the beginning
>>> this was Sat only’. Is there any doubt that an entity can be apprehended
>>> before it is said to have such and such name and form? This is exactly as
>>> during the time of deep-sleep (suṣupti kāla; description follows). What is
>>> meant is that immediately upon waking from deep sleep, one determines the
>>> is-ness as - ‘Sat was the only entity (vastu) during deep sleep’ -
>>> similarly, (one should apprehend that) it was, in the beginning or before
>>> the birth of the universe. It is similar to how all this (jagat) is usually
>>> spoken of. Chbh6.2.1"
>>> > The same reasoning applies to the earlier topic of efficient and
>>> material
>>> > causation. I provided the link to section 131 to highlight SSS's
>>> > clarification,
>>> > "And again, the strict Advaitin accepts (according to the opponent)
>>> that
>>> > absence of knowledge is the root-Ignorance causing wrong knowledge, and
>>> > that wrong knowledge arises from it. In this \vay he accepts that the
>>> > existent arises from the non-existent, which contrad~cts received
>>> canons of
>>> > knowledge. Nor can he claim that he does not teach the rise of being
>>> from
>>> > non-being by saying that superimposition is a modification of the
>>> mind, and
>>> > has the mind for its material cause. For the mind itself presupposes a
>>> > material cause, and the demand for a first cause cannot on this basis
>>> be
>>> > satisfied. So, because the strict Advaitin cannot account either for an
>>> > efficient or for a material cause of Ignorance, his whole system is
>>> faulty.
>>> > But all this argument only arises from 'ignorance'. We do not admit
>>> that
>>> > Ignorance is either the efficient or the material cause of the world,
>>> since
>>> > it has no real existence at all." Heart of Sri Samkara p135
>>> This is a very subtle argument that SSS renders against the opposing view
>>> who accuses Advaita as proposing the existent (wrong knowledge) to come
>>> out
>>> of something non-existent (absence of knowledge). He does so by first
>>> pointing out that this very view of the opponent arises from ‘ignorance’.
>>> In this way, he points out to the apparent locus of ignorance, which is
>>> centered on the view of opponent. He continues then by declaring the
>>> pararamathika view that nothing other than Brahman, including ignorance,
>>> has any real existence. The existence of everything else is out of maya.
>>> It
>>> is in this cocntext that he quotes Gaudapada karika 3.27.
>>> In essence, from a vyavaharika standpoint, ignorance “appears” exist and
>>> cause adhyasa etc. However, to whom is does vyavaharika view make sense?
>>> Only to the one who ignorant. For one who sees nothing other than the
>>> non-dual Brahman, where is the world or its cause? As an analogy, it is
>>> only to the one who sees the snake in the rope or the silver in the shell
>>> that an explanation about ignorance of the underlying substratum and a
>>> superimposed entity make sense. Because it is he who is ignorant of the
>>> truth and asks questions about vyavahara (illusions that he perceives).
>>> For
>>> the one who sees nothing but the truth all such doubts hve disappeared
>>> because he no longer sees any illusions.

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