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

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Aug 22 13:25:56 CDT 2012

On Wed, Aug 22, 2012 at 5:41 AM, subhanu saxena <subhanu at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Responses
> below to Sri Subramanian’s 2 postings (VS)
> The
> 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',
> what
> would we call the 'state' that preceded creation, when this
> deliberation
> of Brahman was being made?  One might not
> like to call it a
> state
> 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

Dear Shri Subhanu ji,

Thanks for your response.  Let me clarify that what I have cited and said
about creation is with the full knowledge that Advaita holds creation as
only a pratikalpana to remove the deeper ignorance about Brahman/Atman. My
thanks to Shri Anand ji for citing the very kArikA verse/s that I had in
mind on this.  On the same count even the thesis built up by Sri Swamiji is
not justified since there can be no adhyasa at all
from the Absolute standpoint.  In fact in the very first opening sentence
of the adhyasa bhashya Shankara raises a pUrvapaksha against adhyAsa and
says adhyAsa simply cannot be/arise.  And only later He talks about the
naisargika adhyasa based on 'experience', in the field of ignorance.

> VS: How can one insist that 'time itself is a product of adhyAsa and
> therefore nothing can precede adhyAsa' in this scenario
> 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.

No.  The very talk of adhyAsa is out of the question if one is not
recognizing the sphere of ignorance.  In fact there is a serious flaw in
this argument involving 'instantaneous adhyasa'.  On the one hand  Sri
Swamiji is said to accept anAditva and on the other hand there is this
'instantaneous adhyAsa'.  The two are never compatible.  anAditva can never
be divorced of the concept of 'paurvAparyam'.  The question of an
instantaneous adhyAsa is only pointing to the illogicality/impossibility.

> 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.
> Reply:Please see Suresvara above to understand how Srishti is treated.

That is the given.  But on the same grounds there can be no talk about
adhyAsa as being instantaneous by someone who is said to admit anAditva.

> VS: I 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
> state/condition prior to time?  One can see how erroneous this premise is
> andweak 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.

Why? What about the Shruti 'dhAtA yathApUrvam akalpayat' [the Creator
brought forth things 'as they were in the previous kalpa']  And the shruti
' तं *विद्याकर्मणी*  समन्वारभेते पूर्वप्रज्ञा च [बृ.आ.उ. ४.४.२]which
teaches that the jiva takes the next life with the 'stock' carried over
from the previous life.  There are dozens of such passages and the bhashyam
to prove that adhyAsa is anAdi and a continuous process.  There can never
be an instantaneous adhyAsa in Advaita without a pre-existing stock. The
earlier adhyAsa forms the material for the succeeding adhyAsa.  This is how
it is held in Advaita.

> VS: And Swamiji says: Has Shankara compromised Advaita by admitting an
> event prior to creation by saying, in the 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.

AdhyAsa is also only provisionally accepted for the teaching of Brahman the
only reality.  So why make a thesis on adhyasa? Only after the
'abhyupagama' of adhyasa does Shankara proceed in the adhyAsa bhashya.  If
adhyasa is admitted the paurvAparyabhAva is inevitable.  That is the point
the various passages I have cited make.

> VS:
> 1.      Time, though adhyastha, a state prior to creation is admitted.
> Reply:Only within the field of avidya/adhyasa can this be the case, not
> outside.

True.  The anAditva of adhyAsa is inextricably tied up with the time
aspect.  the three gita verses of ch.13 as a set prove this.  That is why
Swamiji, I think, is making a very strange proposition of not admitting a
pUrvAvasthA for adhyAsa.  There can never be a 'first' adhyAsa and such is
the case Sri Swamiji is arguing for.

> 2. Unmanifest state is certainly available at the time of this IkShaNa
> since Brahman cannot deliberate without any material with which It can
> create.
> 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 existent.

True. But not without the substratum of Brahman.  That is why Advaita,
knowing well Brahman is nirvikAra/niShkriya admits creation 'by' brahman
'through' the agency of mAyA. And the strongest thesis of Advaita against
the sAnkhya who desperately proposes the pradhAnam as jagat kARaNam is:
pradhAnam, being achetanam, cannot engage in any activity unless through a
chetana intervention.   The same is true with adhyAsa too.  adhyAsa simply
cannot come by itself.  ONLY to a sentient being there is the experience of
adhyAsa.  That is why the shruti talks about avidyA. So, in a sentient
being, owing to avidyA all the projections take place.  This necessarily is
within the logical 'paurvAparya' scheme.

> It is clear the Swamiji has mistaken and misrepresented the traditional
> position 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.

I have already replied this:  Within the mega superimposition, several
superimpositions can take place.  The glaring example, advaita-friendly,
is: within the vyAvahArika there is the prAtibhAsika.  A distinction is
made between the two. In our experience too there is the case of dream
within dream and rope-snake like experiences within dream .

> 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.

I thank, once again, Shri Anand Hudli ji for the valuable citation from the
Chitsukha on the true purport of the term 'bhAvarUpa.'  Surely this was
available at the time of Sri Swamiji.  Without quoting this verse I have
been giving out the very meaning of this verse in several posts over the
past several years.

> In the Naishkarmyasiddhi 3.15 Sureshwara introduces the verse thus:
> *यस्मादज्ञानोपादानाया* एव बुद्धेर्भेदो नात्मनः, तस्मादेतत्सिद्धम् ।
> 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.

A superimposed 'thing' can be the material cause of something.  For
instance the 'pancha bhUta-s' are adhyasta alone in Advaita.  Yet they are
the material causes of the pAnchabhautika.  The kshetram definition is the
best example from the BG 13th chapter.

> 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.

The entire discourse of the Chandogya 6th chapter is about the upAdAna
kAraNatvam of  brahman and that is how the teaching culminates in
:ऐतदात्म्यमिदं सर्वं तत् सत्यं स आत्मा तत् त्वमसि..In fact even the first
three examples to drive home this point is about the clay, gold and
iron..all as upAdAna (material cause) only and not of the nimitta
naimittika type.  I am really shocked by the above observation of yours.

I agree that we always end up agreeing to disagree :-)


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