[Advaita-l] avidya vs maayaa - What is the difference?

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Mon Nov 28 08:25:21 CST 2016

PraNams In the veryfirst post - Effects of avidya (maayaa) -Shree Venkatraghavanji has pointed outthe two-fold effects of avidya- 1. aavaraNa and 2. vikshepa. 

Here, Iwould like to distinguish between avidya and maaya - although they have beenused interchangeably by many advaitins. Shree Subbuji has been providing lot ofreferences to that effect.  

In my recentseries of talks on Self Realization for Advaita Academy (https://livestream.com/AcharyaSadaji/selfrealisation),I have raised series of questions in my very first talk, starting from who hasavidya or ignorance and who needs to realize or who realizes- Essentially thelocus of avidya , and effort to remove avidya.  Is God realization same as Self-realization?etc, etc. At this stage, we do not question who has maaya and how to get rid ofmaaya.  Here, Iwould like to differentiate aavarana and vikshepa aspects. Aavarana involvescovering of the truth or fact. Since knowledge involves dis-covering orremoving the ignorance that is covering via a pramaana, it is appropriate toassociate avidya or ignorance only with aavarana aspect since it covers thetruth. That one does not know the truth is sufficient proof that ignorance iscovering. This applies to ignorance of the rope or ignorance of Chemistry or ignoranceof myself. The locus of the ignorance of course has to be a conscious entity sincedis-covering can only be done by a conscious being. The conscious being mayknow that he has ignorance- that is ignorance is an object of knowledge, just as I know that I do not know gaagaabuubu –viditam vaa aviditam vaa – says Kena. Up.  Vikshepainvolves projection. Projection also requires a conscious entity. Ignorance ofa rope, can contribute to projection of a snake or strip of water or whateverthat has – saadRisyam – or attributes that are common to object that is notknown and the projected object in its place. 

Ignorance has the power ofprojection does not really make sense since ignorance is inert since it is removed.Since projection requires a conscious being, I would like to say that vikshepacomes from the maaya aspect (rather than avidya) since using maayaa shakti, I,the conscious entity or Iswara who is also a conscious entity can project thesomething other than what it is. It can be jeeva sRishTi or Iswara sRishTi.Hence we are reserving the projecting power separate from just ignorance oravidya. Praatibhaasika projections are done by the jeeva while vyaavahaarikaprojections are done by Iswara. In addition,vikshepa comes into effect only when ignorance is partial and not complete. Ihave projection of snake where the rope is since I see that there is an objectwith some attributes but those attributes that the senses perceive are not sufficientto distinguish whether it is a rope or a snake. That attributive knowledge canoccur only when the mind activated by chidaabhaasa exists. Similarly I know Iam existing and conscious entity but I do not know that I am infinite. Thuspartial knowledge/ignorance becomes the cause for the mind to project – Viskepacomes from the mind with chidaabhaasa. In the deep sleep state, there is only ignoranceand no viskhepa since mind is folded.  Furthermore,avidya as well as the countering Jnaanam is locussed at the local mind, where ignorancerests. Hence when Yagnadatta realizes, Devadatta does not. Devadatta has tomake his own efforts to know- Chemistry or about his-self using appropriatepramaana.  In this explanation,we are sparing Iswara from ignorance since Mundaka Up. Mantra 9 of Ch. 1describes Iswara using two words- a) sarvajna and b) sarvavit – even thoughboth mean the same. However, in the context of the Upanishad where the teacheris describing two aspects of knowledge a) para and b) apara, by the use of twowords, Upanishad glorifying Iswara with both para and apara vidya. Hence Iswaradoes not have avidya yet has the power to project - using his maayaa Shakti.Hence Krishna says – daiveem eshaa guna mayi mama maayaa duratyam. Gland thatHe does not say mama avidya.  Jeeva’smaaya or projection involves taking himself to be = this – where 'this' is anobject and inert. This- starts with intellect, then mind and then the body –BMI complex or kshetram that Krishna uses in 13th Ch.  His projection power also manifests in theprojection of the dream world.  Jannam canonly eliminate avidya or ignorance –and the jeeva sRiShTi – that involves I amthis, and this is mine, or ahankaara and mamakaara and also associatedprojection of individual values on top of Iswara sRiShTi – I like this and I donot like this, etc. Jnaanam cannot eliminate the vishekpa of Iswara or IswarasRishTi and this aspect Sree Vidyaranaya discusses in the Panchadashi, in the 4thCh.  Locus ofavidya primarily rests with the jeeva only – it is jeeva that does not knowthat he is Brahman. However jeeva himself rests on Brahman since Brahman beinginfinite there cannot anything away from Brahman. Hence we can also say Brahmanis locus for both jnaanam as well as avidya, but ontologically from Brahmanpoint there is no avidya or its opposite – no para vidya or apara vidya –since it is ekam eva adviteeyam.  In this scenario,we are sparing Iswara from avidya and even Brahman from avidya. As Krishna says– mayaa tatami dam sarvam jagat avyakta muurthina, mastaani sarva bhuutani – I pervadethis entire universe in un-manifested form – all beings are in Me. Yet, I amuntouched by their stupidity – na ca aham teshu avasthitaH.  Hence, in the very next sloka, He says – na chamastaani bhuutani – There are no beings in Me. Thus, He clearly describing theontological status Brahman and the jeevas with avidya.  Hari Om!Sadananda

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