[Advaita-l] Holenarsipur Swamiji's remarks and why even Avidya is not necessary for Advaita

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Jan 28 11:37:28 CST 2012

On Sat, Jan 28, 2012 at 8:21 PM, Kalyan K <kalyankc.81 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear Sri Subramanian,
> >I think you will have to go through the recent exchanges consisting of a
> >number of quotes from Shankara's bhashyam to understand the Advaita
> >prakriya.
> I went through all of them, and they show that from a logical standpoint,
> the concept of maya is necessary.

The shruti wants the sAdhaka to use tarka/logic too to arrive at the
realization of the Truth.  That is the role of mananam.  Shankara and
GaudapAda have written a lot to aid the sAdhaka on this indispensable

> But they do not show in the least that a sAdhaka of advaita needs to know
> about mAyA for getting moksha.

The shruti says: shrotavyo mantavyo nididhyAsitavyaH.  This teaching, in
its entirety, is meant for the sAdhaka only and not a debater.  Shankara in
this bhashyam for this shruti reiterates:  It is ONLY when ALL the three
are in place does Atma darshanam takes place and not by adhering to just
one or two of these.

> If knowledge of maya is necessary for moksha, then sruti would have said
> mAyA
> vid Apnoti param.
For a sAdhaka the ideal is the siddha.  This is the foundation of the
sthitaprajna, etc. lakshanas taught in the shruti/smriti.  The BG contains
a very explicit statement as to how (what) the Jnani knows: 2.16 requires
that the jnani's realization is about these two: the Sat AND the asat.
 This is reiterated in the last verse of the 13th chapter.  Both these
crucial verses were cited in the recent discussions.

By saying 'brahmavit Apnoti param' the shruti implies that this
brahmavedanam is not to be had without the knowledge of the a-brahman,
prakRti/mAyA.  That is what is explicitly stated by the BG in the above two

This article, though quite long, may be found to be useful in grasping a
number of ideas of Advaita Vedanta:


> >Put in simple terms: Advaita as taught by Shankara cannot be
> >taught by anyone/practiced by anyone without the concepts of
> >mAyA/avidya/ajnana/moha/mithyatva, etc. in place.
> Let us not put mAyA and moha in the same basket now. They can be used in
> very different senses. Also, let us define our terms properly. mithyatva
> itself is used in multiple contexts. In the first usage, something is
> called mithya because it is anitya. This usage of mithya is more or less
> essential for sAdhaka (which is why you find this mentioned at many times
> in the sruti and smriti) in order to differentiate between the Self and the
> non-Self.

But the other usage of the word mithya is in the context of something being
> sublated by knowledge of brahman, like the knowledge of rope sublating the
> knowledge of the snake. This kind of mithyatva leads to multiple
> definitions of reality

The above cited article covers a number of 'hetus' to determine mithyAtva
in Shankara's words.

> (by the way, multiple realities originally was a
> buddhistic concept, found in mUla-mAdhyamika kArIka of nAgArjuna).

The above misconception which is prevalent among non-advaitins is shown to
have no basis; the shruti itself proves them wrong:

While commenting on the mantra ”satyam cha anRtam cha Satyam abhavat’
(Taittiriya Up. II.6) Sri Shankaracharya says: satyam = vyavaharavishayam
since this is being mentioned in the context of ‘sRishti’ of the world.  He
adds: this is not paramArthasatyam (absolute reality) since Brahman alone
indeed is paramArtha satyam.  This vyavaharavishayam satyam is only
Apekshikam, relative.  He explains: when compared to the water in a mirage,
the water (that we actually use for drinking, etc.) is real.  This is what
is meant by ‘vyavaharika satyam’.  That which is not thus real is anRtam,

The above bhashyam brings to the fore that three types of ‘reality’ are
admitted in the Shruti.  Commonly these are known as: 1.PAramArthika Satyam
which is Brahman alone, 2. vyAvahArika satyam which constitutes the common
world experience of samsara and 3. prAtibhAsika satyam which is a seeming
reality, actually within the samsaaric experience.  This seeming reality of
say, the mirage-water or rope-snake, is corrected in the vyavahara itself
and does not require Brahma jnanam for this.  The vyvahaarika satyam, of
course, gets corrected upon the rise of Brahma jnAnam.  The Shruti vakyams
for this are: Ekameva adviteeyam, neha naanaa asti kinchana, sarvam khalu
idam brahma, etc.

What is worthy of noting in the above bhashyam is the Shruti pramaanam for
the existence of the three types of reality.  The Taittiriya shruti we took
up above is the pramanam for the three types of reality.  It is not the
concoction of the advaitins/Bhagavatpada/later Acharyas. Nor is it fa
'copy' by the Advaitins from the Bauddhas.  The Bhashyam uses the two
specific names and the third is only implied.

This second definition of mithyatva is essential for explaining advaita
> from a
> logical standpoint, but is not essential for a sAdhaka for moksha (which is
> why you hardly find it mentioned *explicitly* in the sruti or smriti).

This point is already covered in my reply to your first observation.  Also,
Gaudapada in the kArika 'नेह नानेति नानेति...3.24 and 25 makes explicit
what is not explicit in the shruti but only implicit by invoking
shrutyarthApatti.  Neither has Shankara said anything that is not essential
for a sAdhaka.  In fact in the beginning of the Brahmasutra bhAshya
Shankara declares that with a view to destroy the 'anartha hetu' called
adhyAsa/avidyA He is commencing the shArIraka mImAmsA.  Surely He has the
sAdhaka in mind.



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