[Advaita-l] The concept of "bhAvarUpa" in shAnkara bhAShyam

subhanu saxena subhanu at hotmail.com
Wed Jun 19 14:02:21 CDT 2013

V Subramanian wrote: This is the meaning of bhAvarUpa upAdAna kAraNam that is  avidyA/samvRti.
Namaste, as already mentioned Suresvara refutes directly this conception of Avidya [jnānābhāvo'thavā sarvam avidyaiveti nischitah BUBV 1.4.1439], with the unknown atman as the only cause required to explain the phenomena of the universe. Shanakra always describes the provisional causality of ignorance as nimitta-naimittika not upādāna-upādeya.
In addition to the points I have already given where Suresvara and vivaraṇam  traditions diverge [paurvāparyatā of a causal state as an actual state vs just a  logical presupposition, avidyā as adhyāsa, "i do not know" as within the realm of superimposition, "hare's horn" analogy as redundant in trying to explain the need for a sadasadvilakshaṇa avidyā and actually used in the diametrically opposed sense to vivaraṇam  , establishing the positive nature of ignorance through pramāṇas vs Suresvara where  ignorance not pramāṇagamyam but anubhavagamyam], there is another important divergence that is worth noting. Followers of the vivaraṇam  tradition often quote texts like GK 1.2 bhāshyam  as a basis for their view that the only way to explain the memory "I did not know anything in deep sleep", is recourse to this bhāva-rūpa avidyā [eg vivaraṇam  p74-76 pratyaksham tāvat "ahamajñah...etc, Citsukha in TP p99 "Further, experience in dreamless sleep attested by the reflection afterwards "I knew nothing", is another proof of positive ignorance"].  However, Suresvara declares clearly that "I do not know" is not a real cognition of a memory but is just a false notion [ na suṣuptigavijñānam nājñāsiṣam iti smritih BUBV 1.4.300].
Further, the word bījam is taken in the vivaraṇam  tradition as a basis for postulating such a bhāva-rūpa avidyā. However the simple false notion of not knowing atman is what is defined as this bījam  in Shankara's tradition as explained by Suresvara [ajñātāmaika-samsiddha bījāvastham idam jagat BUBV 1.4.191], ajñātam brahma khalu sabījam brahmocyate [MRV Sanskrit commentary on GK 1.2, page 72]. We also have the smriti authority of such a view from Shanti Parva Moksha Dharma parva 211.17 [bījānyagnyadagdhāni na rohanti yathā punah].
The fundamental point driving this difference between Suresvara and vivaraṇam  is that, whilst vivaraṇam  understands the imagined superimposed nature of ignorance, it cannot get past the desire to require a cause for an effect of confusion [kāryasya kāraṇāpekshā hi prathamam utpadyate na virodha-samsargābhāvāpekshā, An effect first needs a cause; it is only after it has come into being as an effect preceding from a cause that the absence of relation with anything contradictory could arise at all V 65-67]. This is opposed to Suresvara where not only is avidyā adhyāsa alone, but also, the whole notion of paurvāparyatā occurs within superimposition itself [asīdityapi yah shabdah tanmohādyapekshayā BUBV 1.4.1301-this refutes also the oft quoted recourse to nāsadīya suktam for tamas as a prior causal positive state].
Finally, all passages quoted can without exception be explained by taken the atman as unkown being the only cause as a result of lack of critical reflection without the need for fuurther elaboration of the nature of ignorance. I think Sri Sadananda-ji has said it well though that this bhāva abhāva discussion is time pass. We must never forget that the purpose of shastra is not to describe ignorance but to negate it and reveal brahman


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