[Advaita-l] BrahmAshritA avidya in Bhagavadgita

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Sep 29 13:10:39 EDT 2023

In the 7th chapter, Bhagavan says:

नाहं प्रकाशः सर्वस्य योगमायासमावृतः ।
मूढोऽयं नाभिजानाति लोको मामजमव्ययम् ॥ २५ ॥ 7.25

Being enveloped by yoga-maya, I do not become manifest to all. This deluded
world does not know Me who am birthless and undecaying.

Here, the Bhashya is:
न अहं प्रकाशः सर्वस्य लोकस्य, केषाञ्चिदेव मद्भक्तानां प्रकाशः
अहमित्यभिप्रायः । योगमायासमावृतः योगः गुणानां युक्तिः घटनं सैव माया योगमाया
, तया योगमायया समावृतः, सञ्छन्नः इत्यर्थः । अत एव मूढो लोकः अयं न अभिजानाति
माम् अजम् अव्ययम् ॥
The Yogamaayaa, the power in the hands of Bhagavan, is enveloping Bhagavan.
The idea is: the jiva-s are unable to realize the nature of Brahman owing
to this ignorance that is enveloping Brahman. Of course, Bhagavan is not
affected by that ignorance that is enveloping Him. Shankara makes this
The analogy is: The Sun is truly not obstructed by the cloud but the sight
of the one who wants to envision the Sun is obstructed by the cloud.
This verse is a fine instance for the concept of BrahmAshritA avidya in
Bhagavadgita. But is the jiva not the locus of this ignorance? Of course,
yes, and that is also brought out by the Bhagavan himself in this very
त्रिभिर्गुणमयैर्भावैरेभिः सर्वमिदं जगत् ।
मोहितं नाभिजानाति मामेभ्यः परमव्ययम् ॥ १३ ॥ 7.13
All this world, deluded as it is by these three things made of the gunas
(qualities), does not know Me who am transcendental to these and undecaying.
Here, the jiva is endowed with ajnana.
Thus, Maya envelops Brahman in the sense that it does not let the jiva have
the vision/realization of Brahman. The one who craves to realize Brahman
alone to the exclusion of everything else, gets the vision.
Thus BrahmAshritA avidya is itself jivAshritA avidyA.
 'samkShepashArIraka':  This concept is closely related to the other famous
verse giving out the Advaitic tenet:

आश्रयत्वविषयत्वभागिनी  निर्विभागचितिरेव केवला ।
पूर्वसिद्धतमसो हि पश्चिमो नाश्रयो भवति नापि गोचरः ॥ (संक्षेपशारीरकम्)

[The locus and object of ignorance is indeed the impartite
Brahman-Consciousness.  The entities that appear later, as products of the
fundamental ignorance, cannot be the locus and object of ignorance.
The two Gita verses accomplish the task of making Avidya located in Brahman
in the sense it envelops it and making the jiva too the locus in the sense
that it envelops his vision of his true Self which is none but Brahman.

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