[Advaita-l] On the nature of muula avidya

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Oct 27 13:43:06 CDT 2011

On Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 9:45 PM, Raghav Kumar <raghavkumar00 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Namaste
> Darkness is bhAvarUpa (a positive entity) , is the view of the tradition.
> The bRhadAraNyaka upaniShad antaryAmi brAhmaNa (3.7.4-14) also lists
> various entities such as Apa (water), agni (fire), tejas (light), and
> in the same vein lists tamas (darkness) too, indicating its positive
> existent nature as an entity.

This is a nice reference.  Incidentally,  I had cited this in an earlier
article on 'bhAvarUpa avidyA'.

> The idea of tamas (darkness) being an existent entity is quite
> important since it is connected with the nature of avidya
> (self-ignorance.) Even there the word "ignorance" conjures up the
> wrong idea that it is merely the absence of knowledge.Once again, the
> corrrect idea that avidya is a positive something that obstructs
> knowledge which should have otherwise been there,

tamastu ajnAnajam viddhi....[Bh.Gi.14.8]

The Acharya's commentary:

तमः तृतीयः गुणः अज्ञानजम् अज्ञानात् जातम् अज्ञानजं विद्धि मोहनं मोहकरम्
अविवेककरं सर्वदेहिनां सर्वेषां देहवताम्। प्रमादालस्यनिद्राभिः प्रमादश्च
आलस्यं च निद्रा च प्रमादालस्यनिद्राः ताभिः प्रमादालस्यनिद्राभिः तत् तमः
निबध्नाति भारत। ।।14.8।।

Translation of the commentary:
14.8 Viddhi, know; tamas, the third qualitty; mohanam, which deludes, which
is a cause of indiscrimination; sarva-dehinam, of all embodied beings; to be
ajnanajam, born of ignorance. O scion of the Bharata dynasty, tat, that
tamas; nibadhnati, binds; pramada-alasya-nidrabhih, through inadvertence,
laziness and sleep.

Then, there is also: ajnAnam tamasaH phalam 14.16.  From the bhashya(s) we
can conclude that 'ajnAnam as kAraNam of tamas' means that the a priori
ignorance results in tamas called non-discrimination, etc.  And 'tamas as
the kAraNam of ajnAnam' means that indulging in tAmasic activity results in
the losing of one's discriminative ability with regard to dharma/adharma,
jnAnam/ajnAnam, bhaya/abhaya and the like.

In all the above cases we see either as the cause of something or as an
effect of something, tamas and ajnAnam are positive entities, bhAvarUpa.


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