[Advaita-l] Is the concept of maya essential to explain advaita?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jan 25 12:15:47 CST 2012

On Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 11:04 PM, Rajaram Venkataramani <
rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:
 But Shri R. Balasubramanian is notsaying that these words do not exist in
the text. I quoted him verbatim atthe start of the thread. And repeat it
here: "Though the *concept* of maya-avidya is important in Advaita, there
is no reference to it in the text. ... The reason for this is that it is
quite possible to explain the central thesis of Advaita without bringing in
the *concept* of maya-avidya... "


I think that from a careful reading of the quote that I provided today from
Shankara's BSB 3.2.5 and also the one I presented earlier from 2.1.14 it
should be clear beyond any doubt that as per the Advaita taught by
Shankara, following His predecessors, it is impossible to teach / explain
the central thesis of Advaita without bringing in the concept of
mAyA-avidyA.  The central thesis 'jivo brahmaiva na paraH' would never be
possible unless the jagat which includes the jiva's body-mind apparatus is
proved to be mithyA.  Holding it to be satya will never bring one to the
Advaitic conclusion on the true nature of the jiva.  Nor is it possible to
conclude that the 'jagat is Brahman alone' by mere rhetoric unless one goes
through the process of mithyAtva nishchayaH of the kArya/drshya.

The two quotes provided by me, I find, in retrospect, to be of vital
importance to this discussion.  It was not intended by me originally but
somehow it has turned out to be so.  We find the very topic of 'where is
the need to admit the mithyAtva of the world in order to arrive at the
Advaitic truth?' has been specifically, explicitly, discussed by Shankara
in that all-important sutra 2.1.14.  The importance of this sutra/bhashya
is emphasized by Shankara by His drawing one's attention to it when He
writes the bhashya for 3.2.5 and that too for the very purpose of proving
the idea of mithyAtva of the world.  The opponent Shankara is addressing
and refuting in 2.1.14, *claiming to be an Advaitin*, exactly puts forth
the kind of argument that we are considering now.  He wants to retain the
satyatva of the jagat (nAnAtva) in bondage but wants to uphold the ekatva
in liberation.  He too admits liberation is through jnana.  Shankara points
out that if the state of bondage is to be held real it would never be
possible to attain the goal of ekatva in liberation, let alone the
possibility of liberation.

If we appreciate this we will have no more room to quote/cite one or the
other scholar who has expressed views that are in complete variance with
what Shankara has so painstakingly taught.  What Shankara has explicitly
proved as an impossibility, the other 'authorities' that are being quoted
are trying hard to push as a possibility.  If Shankara should not be
accepted as the authority on Advaita where else do we go?  After we have
known that Shankara has specifically proved the untenability of what these
'scholars' are claiming, why should we go on pressing for their
ill-conceived notions?

That the concept of mAyA/avidyA/ajnAna/moha etc. is unavoidable even for
non-Advaitic schools to explain their central theme is another matter.


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