[Advaita-l] Imagined Nature of Root Ignorance in Vivaranam

subhanu saxena subhanu at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 21 19:11:35 CDT 2012

below to Sri Subramanian’s 2 postings (VS)


VS: Now,
we have in the shruti Brahman engaging in creation.  


Reply: All
talk of creation is merely to establish brahman as the only reality, and the
notion of cause and effect is ultimately rescinded. See BUBV 1.2.146 “vidyotpatti-pradhAnatvAt
sriStir vA na vivakshyate” and BUBV 1.2.127 “evam bhUtAtmasiddhyartham kArAdi


In what
sense brahman becomes the cause as a result of ignorance we see in BUBV 1.2.130


akAryam sat  kAryakAraNatAm agAt

tatah shAstram taduchhittau pravartate


existent which is neither cause and effect has attained the apparent nature of
such as a result of ignorance (note moha confirms a mental notion for
ignorance-see later) Therefore shastra proceeds to eliminate this confusion.


VS: Now,
if we would say 'time is an entity that comes ONLY AFTER creation',

would we call the 'state' that preceded creation, when this

of Brahman was being made?  One might not
like to call it a

but that is what the shruti is teaching. 


Reply: Not
at all. See above. Your thesis can only operate in the realm of ignorance as no
creation is really taught



VS: In
July of this hear I was in a chintana goShThI at Sagar where a number of scholars
had assembled.  Vidwan Mani Dravid
SastrigaL was expounding the

bhAshya part of the BhAmati.  When an
appropriate context arose I

questioned:  It is objected that 'time itself is a product
of adhyAsa and

how can
one talk of a 'state'/an 'avasthA' preceding adhyAsa?  To this the

reply I
got was:  'kAlaH' (time) is defined in
Advaita as: avidyA-chit

samyogaH.  This translates to: the conjunction of avidyA

Consciousness.  Since sRiShThi/sthiti/laya is admitted as
anAdi in advaita

stated samyogaH is also admitted to be anAdi. 
Therefore kAla too is



Reply: I
am aware of this point by the learned Mani Dravid for whom I have utmost
respect. It does not answer the basic point that ignorance time and
superimposition simultaneously co-exist when the mind is presumed to exist. No
temporal or “state” relation is needed for that which is our common experience of
mixing one thing for the other. If you struggle in time you will never get out
of time. This is the sense of anAdi when applied to adhyAsa.


VS: How
can one insist that 'time itself

is a
product of adhyAsa and therefore nothing can precede adhyAsa' in this

which cannot be brushed aside?


Reply: You
can knock yourself out and postulate as much cause and effect in the sphere of
ignorance/adhyAsa as you like . There is no problem here. It doesn’t address
the point as to the relationship between avidyA and adhyAsa which can be instantaneous.


VS: Now,
I am citing a line from the Chandogya bhashya 6.2.3:


Here we
can see Shankara is explaining the state just prior to sRShTi. 


see Suresvara above to understand how Srishti is treated 


think the Swamiji has attempted something even Shankara did not dare to. From
Swamiji's writing and his followers' defence we hear this often: time itself is
a product of adhyAsa and therefore how can there be a

prior to time?  One can see how erroneous
this premise is

weak the defence is. 


Reply: I
think you miss the point here. You mention yourself that time is within the
realm of superimposition. It is therefore no mystery to state that it is
meaningless to speak of a temporal relationship between a mUlAvidyA and
adhyAsa. This is not meant to be a direct analogy but even quantum physics
postulates instantaneous action at a distance for quantum entanglement. Why the
desperate desire to establish a temporal causation and separation between
avidya and adhyasa when our experience is enough to establish it? Nowhere in
the bhashya and vartika will you find such a relation explicitly given between
avidyA and adhyAsa.You will in fact find them cotempus. See BUBV 2.1.384 nAsato
janmanA yogaH etc. That which is non existent is not connected with any
origination or causation etc. Also NS 3.58 showing the concomitant presence of
ignorance , the mind and superimposition.



VS: And
Swamiji says:



Advaita by admitting an event prior to creation by saying, in

Mandukya kArikA bhashya 1.2, for instance:


Reply: Here
the key word is abhyupagamAt, this is all provisionally accepted for the
teaching that Brahman is the only reality.




1.       Time,
though adhyastha, a state prior to creation is admitted.  


within the field of avidya/adhyasa can this be the case, not outside


Unmanifest state is certainly available at the time of this IkShaNa

Brahman cannot deliberate without any material with which It can


Reply: I am not sure you really mean Brahman “deliberates” or “creates”
. Brahman does not act and cause to act or create. See BUBV 2.3.456, avidyAyAh
svabhAvo’yam yadasat kAraNam mriSA. Ignorance falsely creates that which is non



to Shri Subhanu ji (in continuation of my earlier response No.1):


It is
clear the Swamiji has mistaken and misrepresented the traditional

that they have accorded to mUlAvidyA a reality that of Brahman.


Reply: Not
quite: he has said either mUlAvidyA is outside the fold of adhyAsa or it is
within. If it is within then the distinction between avidyA and adhyasa becomes
unnecessary. If it is without then it acquires a status second to Brahman which
is not advaita. He points out the inconsistency of a superimposed notion really
being the “cause” of anything as implied in panchapAdikA. If this is for the purpose
of teaching as an imagined notion of the nature “I do not know”, then there is
no quarrel. However as I have mentioned before at the time of Swamiji and even
now there are those of the tradition who assign an ontological status to
mUlAvidyA far more secure than intended even by vivaranam, and as so clearly
explained by Sri Subramanian. I repeat what I have said before. Those from the
list such as Sri Subramanian can do a yeoman’s service to the tradition by
clarifying that even mUlAvidyA is a superimposed notion within the realm of
adhyAsa that is imagined for the purpose of teaching and that ultimately has no
reality whatsoever, and is not a real Shakti, or force. When I have asked Swamis
of the tradition to make such an unequivocal statement I am surprised at their
reticence. Do not underestimate the confusion that presides amongst those who
do believe that an inscrutable force really is the primal stuff from which the
universe is created. It may be obvious to some on the list and that those who
oppose are idiots, but not to all out there (at least this is the sense I get
from Kartik’s email-Kartik I don’t think I have seen so many exclamations and
capitals in one posting. It is certainly impassioned, but you are shooting at a
target with which there is no contention: of course the notion of causality has
a place in the tradition. I will try and respond separately when I have time).
You can see a flavour of the confusion within the tradition in Vedantins Meet
as an example.  



eva karanatvam, see

>  Klesapaharini, Nai.Si.3.7)”



अज्ञातसदपि क्व निष्ठम् ? चेतनपुरुषे खलु? न हि स्वतन्त्रमेव अज्ञातसत् किमपि

कर्तुं क्षमते । ’नाहं जानामि सत्’ इत्याकारकाज्ञानमेव तद्भवितुमर्हति । तेन

अज्ञानमेव कारणमिति आयाति । इदमेव तत्त्वाग्रहणरूपाज्ञानमिति उक्तम् ।


It is
good to hear that Swamiji admits that time is adhyasta. And that

itself is anAdi. But what I think he has missed to grasp is that

time is
'anAditvena adhyasta/kalpita', as I have stated from the venerable



comments already made above. Sri Swamiji deals with this point in the first
half of MVN.


In the
Naishkarmyasiddhi 3.15 Sureshwara introduces the verse thus:


*यस्मादज्ञानोपादानाया* एव बुद्धेर्भेदो नात्मनः, तस्मादेतत्सिद्धम् ।


the above mentioned distinction arises for the intellect alone which

is a
product of ignorance, and not for the Self, this is established. ]

Sureshwara terms ajnAnam as the upAdAnam (material cause) of buddhi,



Reply: The context here is a little different. I am travelling so will dig out the kleshapaharini reference when I am back. Also, I am not sure you really want to use the
translation of upadAnam as material given its superimposed nature. Another
point of confusion within the tradition, some using material and some using
constituent for upAdAnam.

In any case in the vartikas suresvara is always
clear that upAdAna-kAraNatva for the sake of teaching is Brahman and Brahman
alone (vide the vartika asya dvaita-jAlasya misquoted to establish
upAdAna-kAraNatva of avidya actually establishes it for brahman). When Shankara
discusses causality it is always as nimitta-naimittika bhAva not upAdAna upAdeya
bhava. Explicitly in Upadesha Sahasri the phrase avidyA-nimittam, and in NS
III.1 avidyA-mAtra-nimittatvA. There are more details on the difference between
nimitta-naimittika bhAva and upAdAna-upadeya bhAva in Sugama

I suspect we have reached the agree to disagree
point again. I do applaud Sri Subramanian’s efforts to clarify the tradition’s
view. He is the first to explain with such unambiguous clarity the imagined
superimposed nature of mUlAvidyA as explained in vivaraNam, in the face of
those within the tradition who still contend that mUlAvidyA sits outside the
realm of adhyAsa, because it causes the mind. My own personal view (without any
justification) is that vivaraNAchArya recognised the possible confusion that
could be caused by panchapAdikA’s unqualified statement anirvachanIyA-jaDAtmikA-avidyA-shaktiH
as imputing an ontological status beyond intented, and that it could be read as
avidyA as a Shakti vs the Shakti of avidyA in a provisional sense. Sri Mani Dravid
Shastrigal’s point is the key one here on whether or not it is acceptable to
accept a temporal relationship between 3 concepts all operating within the
field of superimposition. List members can judge for themselves. 

The contention of Sri Swamiji is that the literal
statements of Shankara and Suresvara to take our confusion as established in
experience because we have not known Atman is sufficient for the teaching,
since the purpose of the teaching is to remove this ignorance and show it was never
there in the first place. I am always conscious when we get into such
discussions that we are getting too deep and entangled in the nature of that
which requires no clarification , and as Suresvara says, whose nature an
ignorant person can never ascertain. Such discussions should only be directed
to help our Atma-vichara and no more, to not distract us from following a life
of Sadhana to reveal our true self as it is, has been, and always will be




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