[Advaita-l] Paul Hacker on Avidya in Brahma Sutras

Praveen R. Bhat bhatpraveen at gmail.com
Wed May 18 10:12:22 EDT 2022

Namaste Venkat ji,

On Mon, May 16, 2022 at 7:13 PM Venkatraghavan S via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> It appears that Hacker's conclusion that avidyA is the same as adhyAsa
> rests on the bhAShya sentence "tametam evamlakshaNam adhyAsam paNDitA
> adhyAseti manyante". He concludes from this that according to Shankara,
> avidyA is the same as adhyAsa, which differentiates him from later
> advaitins.

True. Hacker's taking avidyA as adhyAsa literally seems to be the starting
point for all errors and this very topic has been discussed multiple times
on this list. Looks like it is a never-ending issue. I'd also like to
revisit the same and add a couple of points. A simple way to look at
bhAShya statement tam etam evam lakShaNam adhyAsam paNDitAH avidyA iti
manyante/ तमेतमेवंलक्षणमध्यासं पण्डिता अविद्येति मन्यन्ते is to say that he
is quoting someone that he doesn't completely agree. On the vyAkaraNa
sUtra, lopaH shAkalyasya, it is said that Panini doesn't agree with lopaH
as he states that it is the opinion of Shakalya, but he respects it, making
it an optional lopaH. Similarly here, Panditas consider adhyAsa as avidyA,
but Bhagavan Bhashyakara doesn't necessarily agree. The other answer would
be as seen in the Bhashyaratnaprabha on it which raises a pUrvapakSha so:
tathApi kAraNAvidyAM tyaktvA kAryAvidyA kimiti varNyate tatrAha -- tatreti.
tasmin adhyAse ukta nyAyena, avidyAtmake sati ityarthaH/

तथापि कारणाविद्यां त्यक्त्वा कार्याविद्या किमिति वर्ण्यते तत्राह -

तत्रेति ।

तस्मिन्नध्यासे उक्तन्यायेनाविद्यात्मके सतीत्यर्थः । मूलाविद्यायाः
सषुप्तावनर्थत्वादर्शनात्कार्यात्मना तस्या अनर्थत्वज्ञापनार्थं तद्वर्णनमिति
भावः । The reason that the mUlAvidyA/ kAraNavidyA is not described but the
kAryAvidyA is because its adversities are unknown during deep sleep. Since
the adversities of the resultant avidyA. adhyAsa are easily known, the same
is made known of its causal avidyA.

On a related note, the endless complaints repeating differences of
mithyA +jnAna and mithyA + ajnAna compound split by Hacker and his
followers is laughable. The reason is that both jnAna and ajnAna are mithyA
in the sampradAya. The objection against sub-commentators that they tag
avidyA as bhAvarUpa is flawed too, as by disagreeing to mithyAjnAna as
mithyA+ajnAna, ajnAna would become non-mithyA and thereby bhAvarUpa (their
misunderstanding of whatever bhAvarUpa is) for the opponents themselves!
The same is not a flaw when sampradAya states that ajnAna is mithyA because
bhAvarUpa doesn't mean sadrUpa but means it is not asadrUpa = yat kinchit

--Praveen R. Bhat
/* येनेदं सर्वं विजानाति, तं केन विजानीयात्। Through what should one know
That, owing to which all this is known! [Br.Up. 4.5.15] */

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