[Advaita-l] Locus of avidyA: N.S. Anantakrishna Sastri's summary
murali_m_k at msn.com
Thu Nov 2 12:50:53 CST 2006
Dear List Members,
Mahamahopadhyaya N.S. Anantakrishna Sastri has written a book called
where he considers the numerous criticisms leveled against advaita by
specifically by Sri Vedanta Desika . In his introduction to the work, he
objections and advaitas answers to those.
I have copied the portions of this introduction that deals with the locus
of avidyA issue in this post.
I have retained the original spellings in the post, and have not
tranliterated the sanskrit words.
I also apologize for this long post; also please bear in mind that the
introduction itself is
very technical in nature, and so may be difficult reading. For those
interested, this book is
published by Amar publications of Varanasi.
Introduction: Section II: Logical and Chronological Development of advaita:
========= Begin Quote ============
[ Note: Some Background Information from the text]
Except Ramanuja and Sankara, the other theorists look upon Brahman as only
or nimitta karana and not as upadana karana. Ramanuja and Sankara consider
both upadana karana and nimitta karana. But to Ramanuja, Brahman is upadana
the secondary sense by reason of the parinami maya being associated with it
as its body.
To Sankara on the other hand, Brahman is upadana karana in the primary
parinami as maya, but as vivartopadana only( vide Vivarana).
The several topics in the Brahmasutras(I and II Chapter) which declare that
upadana karana are better understood in the primary sense of Sankara than in
secondary meaning attributed to them by Ramanuja. If Ramanujas
interpretation is right,
the objections raised by Sankhya relating to the upadana karana of Brahman
Sutrakaras reply thereto will become purposeless. The same will apply to
criticisms of Yoga, Patanjala, Dvaita, Pasupata, Vaiseshika and Nayyayika
effect, Vijnanabikshus theory and Ramanujas theory will become identical.
sutras have to be explained only on the basis of the avarana sakti of
[ Note: The locus of avidya issue]
Ramanuja criticizes this theory of avidya by advancing seven fallacies
against it, namely,
relating to the locus of avidya, whether it is Brahman or jiva, its nature,
concealment, its destruction, the means of destruction and its
justification. The fallacies
relating to the locus of avidya (whether it is jiva or Brahman), the
tirodhana and the
nivartaka of avidya turn on the theory of knowledge whether avidya is
opposed to jnana,
in its twofold aspect of Brahmarupajnana and jivarupajnana. Ramanuja
dismisses this question saying that Brahman and jiva are of the nature of
jnana and so are
opposed to avidya, If they are opposed they cannot be the locus of avidya;
if they are not
opposed, jnana cannot be the nivartaka of agnana.
The main objection raised by Vedanta Desika to the advaitic concept of
round the problem whether jnana is the antithesis of ajnana, and whether
jiva are pure consciousness or not. Both Ramanuja and Sankara agree that
jiva are of the nature of jnana. If jnana is opposed to ajnana, then Brahman
cannot be the locus of ajnana. If not opposed, jnana cannot destroy ajnana.
Based on this
dilemma, the following criticisms are advanced:
1. asrayanupapatti, 2. tirodhananupapatti,
3. jiva ajnanavada, 4. vivartakanupapatti.
To solve this problem, it is necessary to consider the various theories of
Nayyayika holds that ajnana is achetana and that jnana is an attribute. The
divides jnana into two kinds 1, dharmajnana or pure consciousness(atman)
dharmijnana by which the atma gets knowledge. He holds that dharmajnana is
transformation of the atma i.e dharmajnana is svarupajnana. The
that dharmajnana is not atmaparinama, but is eternal and inseparably related
atma(aprthaksiddha) like the flame and the light. The atma knows objects
only with the
aid of dharmabhutajnana. This knowledge is not created or destroyed, but it
contraction or expansion, sankocha or vikasa making for loss or gain of
knowledge by the
The Samkhya holds that dharmajnana is antahkarna parinama, transformation of
Though it is only a dharma of antahkarana, it becomes associated with the
account of the close relationship between the two. This theory is adopted by
too. They hold that dharmabhutajnana is opposed to ajnana, but not
svarupajnana of jiva
or Brahman. What is opposed to ajnana is dharmabhutajnana only and not
or pure chidrupa(pure conciousness). Hence, there is no incompatibility in
the view that
jiva or Brahman in the form of pure consciousness is the locus of ajnana.
Ajnana can be
destroyed by dharmabhutajnana.
Avidya is bhava rupa. It is not bhava rupa as such. It is neither bhava nor
abhava. It is
anirvachinya rupam. It is of a tertiary kind(tritiya prakaram) i.e
Vide Brahma Siddhi, Ishta Siddhi, and Advaita Siddhi etc. It is of the
nature of the
fourth prakara. It is not correct to say as Vedanta Desika contends that
avidya is of the
nature of antecedent negation of jnana(jnana pragabhava rupam). This is not
theory. Visishtadvaitins cannot consistently speak of jnana pragabhava. For
them, jnanam is either svarupa jnanam or dharmabhuta jnanam. Both these
kinds of jnana
being eternal (nitya), there cannot be an antecedent negation for them.
Visishtadvaitins must be either svarupajnanam or anyathajnanam ot
pragabhava of jnanam.
Sankaras Nirguna Vada is bound up with the falseness of the world whereas
Saguna Vada is based on its reality. The difference arises from the way in
which the text
sarvam khalvidam brahma which refers to the identity of the world and
interpreted. This identity is derived from Samanadhikarana between sarvam
Brahman includes chit and achit according to Ramanuja while to Sankara it
since Brahman is suddha chaitanya in which there is no conciousness of the
particularized jiva or prakriti. The difference between Ramanuja and Sankara
stated as follows: According to the former. In mukti the ego *of* the jiva
for the later the ego *as* jiva vanishes. Brahman is chidachidvisishta
Ramanuja; but for Sankara it is nirvisesha.
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