[Advaita-l] Imagined Nature of Ignorance in Vivaranam

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Aug 19 12:10:25 CDT 2012

On Sun, Aug 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM, Shyam <shyam_md at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Pranams to all participants of this thread.
> The topic had previously been discussed on the advaitin list and I am
> reproducing here my perspective.
> The body-mind-intellect [that the jivatman is habitually acquainted with]
> is a construct (sanghAtA).
> That the construct conceals is a given.
> When you examine deep sleep the construct is dormant, while the concealing
> constant
> -  an effect thus engendered exacts an agency.
> This is what Sankara refers to, when he talks about an effect without a
> cause
> - na hi aakasmiki kasyachid utpattih sambhavati atiprasangat - in his
> Sutrabhashya
> - both in the context of sushupti as well as Cosmic pralaya, in strikingly
> similar language.
> 1.3.30
> This world when being dissolved (in a mahapralaya) is dissolved to that
> extent ONLY
> that the Shakti (causal potentiality) of the world remains
> Shaktyavashesham Eva
> - and (when it is produced again) it is produced from the root of that
> Shakti alone
> - shakti MOOLAM EVA cha prabhavati ;
> otherwise we should have to admit an effect
> without a cause itaratha aakasmikatva prasangatvat.
> Here we find Shankara defining for us Shakti as that Primordia Cause
> unto which this entire manifest Srshti dissolves unto and
> from which alone spurts forth another cycle of this manifold Nature.
> The term the Acharya uses in this context is mula Shakti.
> Compare this with another instance elsewhere in the Sutrabhashya
> where-in is described our "everyday" pralaya - aka sushupti.
> 2.3.30-31.
> "But, an objection is raised, in the states of deep sleep and pralaya
> no contact of the Self with the buddhi can be acknowledged,
> since scripture declares that 'then he becomes united with the True,
> he is gone to his own' (Ch. Up. VI, 8, 1),
> and as then all modifications have avowedly passed away.
> How then can it be said that the contact with the buddhi exists as long as
> the Self?
> --To this objection the following Sûtra replies.
> On account of the appropriateness of the manifestation of that (contact)
> which exists (potentially); like virile power.
>  As in ordinary life virile power and so on, existing potentially only in
> young children,
> and being then looked upon as non-existing, become manifest at the time of
> puberty
> and do not originate at that time from previous non-existence,
> because in that case they might originate in eunuchs also;
> So the connection of the soul with the intellect exists potentially merely
> during deep sleep and pralaya,
> and again becomes manifest at the time of waking and the time of creation.
> Because nothing can be assumed to spring up unless from something else
> na hi aakasmiki kasyachid utpattih sambhavati atiprasangat;
> Otherwise we should have to suppose that effects spring up without causes.
> That the rising from deep sleep is due to the existence of SEED avidya
> - avidyatmakabeeja sadbhavakaaritam - scripture also declares,
> 'Having become merged in the True they know not that they are merged in
> the True.
> Whatever these creatures are here, whether a lion or a wolf,' (Ch. Up. VI,
> 9, 2; 3)."
> If we extend this example of a lion and a wolf to our "rope-snake" – we
> have a rope having an innate
> sense of identity as a snake,. and every night this rope goes to deep
> sleep where its "snake-"ity is fully resolved unto itself.
> And only svarupa aka rope is, plus a blank "absence" - jnana abhava –
> absence [of rope-svarupa-knowledge] on the part of a [snake] intellect
> that is itself fully resolved -
> in other words rope plus a barren void.
> How does a "snake-intellect" now re-emerge from this vacuous void and
> then, rather audaciously,
> disengage from the embrace of svarupA rope is a question that requires an
> agency or cause.
> In characterizing and defining such a anirvachaneeya mula avidyA or beeja
> shakti alone does Sankara clarify in the Sutrabhashya
> "For that causal potentiality is of the nature of Avidya - avidyatmika hi
> sa beejashakti;
> it is rightly denoted by the term 'undeveloped; avyakta shabda nirdeshya'
> it has the Supreme Lord for its substratum Parameshwara ashraya;
> it is of the nature of an illusion Maya - mayi; it is a universal sleep
> Mahasushupti
> in which are lying the transmigrating souls sansarino jeeva
> destitute for the time of the consciousness of their individual character
> svarupapratibodha rahita.
> Sometimes, again, it is denoted by the term Akshara, the Imperishable; so,
> for instance (Mu. Up. II, 1, 2),
> 'Higher, than the high Imperishable.'
> Sometimes it is spoken of as Maya - mayeti suchitam - so, for instance
> (Sve. Up. IV, 10),
> 'Know then Prakriti is Maya, and the Supreme Lord is the Master of Maya'
> For Maya is properly called
> undeveloped - Avyakta hi sa Maya - since it cannot be defined either as
> that which is or that which is not
> tattvanyatvanirupanamya-ashakyatvat.
> The statement of the Katha Up that 'the Avyakta is beyond the Mahat' is
> based on the fact of the Mahat originating from the Avyakta, if the Mahat
> be the intellect of
> Hiranyagarbha. If, on the other hand, we understand by the Mahat the
> individual soul, the statement is
> founded on the fact of the existence of the individual soul depending on
> the Undeveloped
> avyaktaadheenatva jeevabhavasya, i.e. Avidya. Avidya hi avyaktam. And it
> is because of the possession
> of ignorance by the individual that all kinds of emprical behavior
> continue forever jivasya sarvahsanvyavahara.
> How painstakingly does the Acharya apply the same coat of hue in brush
> after brush! Here-in we find such a
> vivid all-encompassing presentation from the benevolence of our beloved
> Acharya.
> That Primordial Power is Beeja Shakti.
> That beeja Shakti is Avidya.
> This avidya, this Shakti is termed Avyakta.
> This Avyakta is alone Maya.
> This Maya is also called Akshara, the Imperishable.
> Maya is also called Prakrti.
> Avyakta is Avidya alone
> And this Shakti/Maya/Avidya/Prakrti/Avyakta can neither be characterized
> as Real nor Unreal, and it has
> for its substratum the Supreme Lord Parabrahman.


And by going the reverse way, in Parabrahman is superimposed the
Shakti/Maya/Avidya/Prakrti/Avyakta which is anAdi anirvAchyA.  And this
potentially becomes the nAma-rUpaatmakam jagat/samsara.  A few days ago I
had presented in this forum two instances of 'anAditva' of both avidyA and
mAyA coming from the Acharya's words.  The former is from the Kathopanishad
mantra 'utthiShThata jAgrata' where the opening words of the bhAshyam are
'anAdyavidyAprasuptAh..'.  And the anAditva of mAyA is from the Mandukya
kArikA 'anAdimAyayA suptaH. '     We can see the correspondence in the
description of both mAyA and avidyA: it is a suptiH.  A sleep where the
undercurrent is mAyA/avidyA.  Thus both are tamas. In Advaita this
shakti/avidyA is admitted purely for the sake of explaining
creation/samsara.  Shankara has explicitly said in another BSB that
'without this shakti Brahman will be unable to engage in creation.'  So, it
is a shAstrakRta adhyAropa in Brahman.  And since Brahman alone appears as
the jiva, it is again the shAstrakRta adhyAropa of avidyA in Brahman to
explain jiva's samsara.  This point is made clear in the Br.Up.1.4.10
bhashya (aham brahma asmi context).  So, it is settled beyond doubt that
both mAyA and avidyA are a shakti superimposed in Brahman to explain
creation/samsara.  The apavAda of this shakti comes about in the aparoksha
jnanam (bhUtaprakRtimoksham...Bh.G.13th last verse).  Thus the contingency
of advaita hAni will never arise since the shakti is admitted ONLY as an


> Hari OM
> Shri Gurubhyo namah
> Shyam

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