[Advaita-l] Who has Ajnana/Maya?

Sriram Sankaranarayanan ssriram1992 at icloud.com
Thu Mar 16 20:59:07 EDT 2017

My humble namaskarams to everybody.

Thank you all for your detailed answers.

Kind regards,

Hamsah Soham

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 6:27 PM, Venkatraghavan S <agnimile at gmail.com>

> Namaste Sri Sriram,
>>    1. Who has Ajnana? If Jeeva has ajnana, that is inconsistent since the
>>    existence of Jeeva's identity is Ajnana and we cannot call Jeeva "has"
>>    ajnana any longer. But if paramatma has ajnana, that is a blemish on
>>    paramatma.
> Shankaracharya considers this question 3 times - In Bhagavad Gita bhAshya
> 13.2, Brahma sUtra bhAShya 4.1.3 and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad bhAshya
> 4.1.6. In the bhagavad gIta and brihadAraNyaka upaniShad, the focus of the
> argument is to say that avidyA cannot be located in the self and it has to
> be an attribute of the non-self, as it is experienced. In the Brahma sUtra,
> Shankaracharya refuses to answer the question and simply says that the
> person asking the question has the avidyA. When the questioner objects
> saying that the scriptures claim that he, the questioner in fact is god,
> and god cannot have avidyA, Shankara rebuffs him saying that if he is
> enlightened enough to know that, he should also know that avidyA is
> nobody's.
> These positions are considered further by sureshvarAchArya who was of the
> view that Brahman is the locus of avidyA. vAcaspati mishrA, on the other
> hand, takes the jIva to be the locus of avidyA. Both positions can be
> justified, so take your pick.
> On the specific issues identified with each position - If jIva is taken as
> the locus of avidyA, the issue of circularity does not arise, because both
> jIva and avidyA are beginningless, so it is not logically correct to assert
> that jIva is a product of avidyA, because neither jIva nor avidyA are
> products. This is the argument advanced by madhusUdana sarasvati.
> If Brahman is taken as the locus of avidyA, there is no issue with that
> position either - because avidyA's ontological status is lower than
> Brahman's - that being so, it is no more capable of affecting Brahman, than
> mirage water is capable of wetting the sand on which it appears. Secondly,
> there are two kinds of Ashraya - adhishThAna rUpa Ashraya and abhimAni rUpa
> Ashraya - so while Brahman is adhishThAna rUpa Ashraya for avidyA (ie
> Brahman is the substratum on which avidyA is located), it cannot be
> considered to be abhimAni rUpa Ashraya (ie "I am ignorant"), thus the issue
> of blemish does not really exist.
>>    2. If Maya is an attribute of Ishwara, then doesn't Mayatva contradict
>>    the nirgunatva aspect that Advaitins claim?
> Again, Brahman and mAya have different ontological statuses - so mAya is
> not a guNa of Brahman from the standpoint of ultimate reality. It is
> acceptable for Ishvara to have mAyA as an attribute within advaita
> sampradAya. In advaita, Ishvara is considered to be saguNa Brahman and
> there is a separate entity called nirguNa Brahman. Thus, it is possible for
> one to say that mAyA is the attribute of Ishvara, while maintaining that
> mAyA is not an attribute of nirguNa Brahman.
> Regards,
> Venkatraghavan

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