[Advaita-l] Ontological status of avidyA

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Thu Nov 24 11:06:22 CST 2016

Namaste Praveenji,


On bhAshyakAra equating avidyA with mAya, and whose locus is the Atma (two
birds in one stone), a very clear example is in mANDUkya kArika bhAshya
3.10. There in explaining the word आत्ममायाविसर्जिताः, he says
देहादिसङ्घाताः आत्ममायाविसर्जिताः = आत्मनो माया अविद्या = तया
प्रत्युपस्थापिताः. He takes  आत्ममाया as षष्ठी तत्पुरुष, आत्मन:माया, and
explains  माया as अविद्या.  Typically Shankaracharya when referring to mAya
and avidyA together resorts to  adjectival usage (avidyAkrita,
avidyAlakshaNa, avidyArUpa, etc.), whereas here, its a straight identity.

Holding माया and अविद्या as different is therefore not justified in my
view, and if माया is not held to be abhAva rUpa, why should अविद्या?


On Thu, Nov 24, 2016 at 3:39 PM, Praveen R. Bhat <bhatpraveen at gmail.com>

> Namaste Venkatraghavanji,
> I agree with your analysis countering Prof. Ingall's paper. I think
> Advaita Vedanta's calling avidyA mithyA and defining mithyA as sadasadbhyAm
> anirvachanIyA is just brilliant. The definition of sat as trikAlAbAdhita
> puts everything that is cognizable into the category of mithyA.
> Further, I also agree with you that the question of avidyA being the cause
> of adhyAsa is moot to counter the objection raised so: "if we say that
> avidyA is adhyasta on Atma, how can we then say that the avidyA, an
> adhyasta vastu, is adhyAsa kAraNa?
> In the example given,
> //quote
> For example, the mithyA snake is superimposed on a satya rope. If the rope
> itself is mithyA, how can it lead to snake adhyAsa?"
> //unquote
> If one takes the avidyA as bhAvarUpa and virodhArthe, it is very clear
> that wrong understanding of the rope gave rise to the snake, opposing the
> right knowledge of the rope, not no understanding of the rope. No
> understanding of the rope has no business of projecting a snake. I don't
> know the rope, that is it. I am done.
> As you said, Bhashyakara equates avidyA with mAyA, which is shaktyAtmikA.
> Not only does Bhashyakara do so, but he also gives quite a few adjectives
> to avidyA at many places. abhAvarUpa avidyA needs no adjectives. Unless
> Prof. Ingall means that Bhashyakara did not say avidyA is atyantAsat, I
> don't think anyone in the sampradAya agrees with him.
> Kind rgds,
> --Praveen R. Bhat
> /* Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known!
> [Br.Up. 4.5.15] */

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