[Advaita-l] Jiiva is not the locus of avidya - Part II

kuntimaddi sadananda via Advaita-l advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Fri Oct 17 10:42:01 CDT 2014

Continuation from part I.

Shankara reiterates that the ignorance belong to not to the self (jiiva) but to the antaHkaranam. He gives an example that if my eyesight (sense) bad due to cataract, the doctor treats the eye and not the self that enlivens the eye. That is it is the pramaana or means of gaining the knowledge (here sense of sight) which can go wrong but not the pramaata the knower, the self. Hence all the doshas or shortcomings belong to anthaH karaNa and not to the self. Therefore avidya does not belong to jiiva.

Hence the study of the scriptures is also for the antaH kaaraNa only and not for the self. The mind that has wrong notions or the prakriyas has to gain the knowledge which eliminates the shortcomings of the mind in not recognizing that self is pure and immaculate and ever free. This forms the first argument to refute the objection that jiiva, the self, does not have avidya and avidya belongs to the anaatma and not to aatma. 

Shankara now presents the second, perhaps more powerful arguments to say that jiiva does not have avidya and therefore equation that kshetrajna jiiva is the same as paramaatma, the knower of all kshetras or fields. 

II. This argument is based on the fact that objectifiable entities alone can be experienced via its attributive content.  Hence any experienced attribute belongs to the experienced object and not to the subject that is experiencing. 

Applying this to avidya or ignorance, we find first that ignorance is known or object of knowledge. Every seeker – aatma vidya or any vidya – knows that he is ignorant of that particular knowledge and therefore seeks that knowledge. This is true for self-knowledge also. That there are Vedantic students and Vedantic teacher proves that they ignorance that they want to get rid of is known. Hence ignorance is known both by its presence and its absence; in the students by its presence and in the teachers by its absence. It is always ignorance of the self or any other object. Since ignorance is experienced it is attributive. Attribute requires a locus. Hence it is located in the antaHkaraNa which requires appropriate preparation or pre-requisites to get rid of that ignorance (applies to objective knowledge or scriptural knowledge).  Therefore jiiva is free from ignorance while antaH karana or the mind is either ignorant or has gained its opposite, the
 knowledge. Hence mahaavaakya is valid.

Now the third argument.

Shankara says avidya does not belong to aatma or the self which is expressed as kshetrajna here. If it belongs to the aatma then it becomes its intrinsic nature and therefore one cannot get rid it by any means like the heat in the fire which is its intrinsic attribute. This means that there is no moksha for jiivaatma since avidya is his or its intrinsic nature.

Fourth argument. 

Atma is described as akhandam, without any parts. Hence it is asangham or unattached, aakaashavat – like space. Therefore it cannot be associated with anything, much less with avidya or ignorance. sadaa, sarvagataH, samyoga viyoga rahitaH – nitya Buddha mukta swaruupaH – It is eternal, all pervading, free from any additions and subtractions. Anaaditvaat and nirgunatvaat – that which is beginningless and free from any attributes. 

Therefore avidya does not belong to jiiva or kshetrajna and equation that kshetrajna is same of paramaatma – the mahaavaakya implied in the sloka is valid.   

Question- does this statement that avidya belong to the antaHkaraNa contradict the other statement such as by Sureswara in Naiskarmya siddhi that says that locus of avidya is Brahman or aatma (assuming identity). It does not contradict since avidya is also mithyaa. Since there cannot be anything other than Brahman, all appearances can exist without affecting the absolute nature of Brahman. Hence either statement that Brahman is locas or jiiva is locus is only from the point of mithyaa or from the point of transactional reality and not from the point of absolute reality. The point that is emphasized here is that it is the mind that is ignorant and one takes himself to be the mind takes the ignorance of the mind also as his. These notions are dropped with the mind loses that ignorance with right prakriyas or using the right pramaana, by Vedantic shravana manana nidhidhyaasana. Jnaani is the one who recognizes that he was never ignorant – nitya mukta
 swaruupaH – I was free from ignorance all the time. Hence he recognizes the identity stated in the sloka – kshetrajnam chaapi maam viddhi sarva kshetreshu bhaarata. 

Hari Om!

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