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

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Thu May 19 01:43:21 EDT 2022

Namaste Praveen ji,

Thanks for the interesting parallel with the vyAkaraNa sUtra and the
reference from Ratnaprabha. There are many interpretations indeed of the
tametam evamlakshaNam sentence - none of which consider mUlAvidyA to be
synonymous with adhyAsa.

Re the contention that bhAvarUpatva of avidyA is a post Shankara construct,
there is a very interesting passage in the bRhadAraNyaka bhAShya to the
mantra 4.3.20 where the bhAvrUpatva of avidyA is indicated:

तथा अविद्यायामप्युत्कृष्यमाणायाम् , तिरोधीयमानायां च विद्यायाम् ,
अविद्यायाः फलं प्रत्यक्षत एवोपलभ्यते — ‘अथ यत्रैनं घ्नन्तीव जिनन्तीव’ इति ।
When ignorance increases and knowledge is suppressed, the results of
ignorance are directly perceived i.e. - "now, if he feels like he was as
though being killed, or as though being overpowered".

Talk of the increase or decrease of something can only apply if the thing
increasing or decreasing is of the nature of being transactionally
existent. If it is transactionally non-existent, no degrees of increase or
decrease are tenable. It is binary - if knowledge is present, ignorance, of
the nature of the abence of knowledge, is absent and vice versa.

Later on, adhyAsa as a product of avidyA  is being talked about:

अत इदम् अविद्यायाः सतत्त्वमुक्तं भवति — सर्वात्मानं सन्तम् असर्वात्मत्वेन
ग्राहयति, आत्मनः अन्यत् वस्त्वन्तरम् अविद्यमानं प्रत्युपस्थापयति, आत्मानम्
असर्वमापादयति ; ततस्तद्विषयः कामो भवति ; यतो भिद्यते कामतः,
क्रियामुपादत्ते, ततः फलम् — तदेतदुक्तम् । वक्ष्यमाणं च ‘यत्र हि द्वैतमिव
भवति तदितर इतरं पश्यति’ (बृ. उ. २ । ४ । १४), (बृ. उ. ४ । ५ । १५) इत्यादि ।
इदम् अविद्यायाः सतत्त्वं सह कार्येण प्रदर्शितम् ; विद्यायाश्च कार्यं
सर्वात्मभावः प्रदर्शितः अविद्याया विपर्ययेण ।

In discussing the nature of avidyA, Shankaracharya says that it is that
which causes the self which is the all, to appear limited (असर्वात्मत्वेन
*ग्राहयति*), causes things other than the self, which are not really
present, to appear (अन्यत् वस्त्वन्तरम् अविद्यमानं *प्रत्युपस्थापयति*),
superimposed finitude upon the self (आत्मानम् *असर्वमापादयति*). The
causative verbs used in connection with avidyA is indicative of it being
bhAvarUpa - for, how can the absence of things lead to a positive outcome?

That such an adhyAsa is the product of avidyA is also mentioned above इदम्
अविद्यायाः सतत्त्वं *सह कार्येण *प्रदर्शितम् ;


On Wed, 18 May 2022, 15:12 Praveen R. Bhat via Advaita-l, <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> 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
> bhAvarUpa.
> gurupAdukAbhyAm,
> --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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