[Advaita-l] Avidya and Adhyasa

Anand N anand.natampalli at gmail.com
Fri May 20 03:59:47 EDT 2022

Namaste Vinodhji,

Thank you for this mail. I was rather overwhelmed with the technicality of
the other discussion.
I too understand it the way you have put it.

As an aside on Bhavarupa Ajnana, Subbuji had many years ago on his blog
posted an article, which I found very useful.
It is something I tend to re-read since this topic is so subtle and I
haven't fully internalised its implications.


I hope Subbuji you are ok with me quoting/citing you :-) 🙏

Om Namo Narayanaya,

On Fri, 20 May 2022 at 04:54, Vinodh via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaskaram,
> The discussion on the topic "Are avidya and adhyasa the same?" in the other
> thread was fascinating.
> Many learned scholars had shared their detailed responses on the topic with
> references to various texts of Acharyas and other scholars.
> Unfortunately, however, for someone like me, who is neither well-versed in
> all these texts nor has a great understanding of Sanskrit, the discussion
> was quite hard to follow.
> So I had been thinking about this topic to reason about their equivalence
> or otherwise and this is what occurred to me thanks to Guru's grace.
> *Avidya and Adhyasa*
> Avidya literally translates to 'not knowing' or ignorance. Ignorance of
> what? In Vedanta, it refers to not knowing the Truth.
> Adhyasa on the other hand translates to superposition (placing one on top
> of another so that the underlying thing appears as something else). In
> Vedanta, it refers to the placing of something other than Truth on top of
> Truth.
> From the above, it appears that Adhyasa and Avidya cannot necessarily be
> one and the same.
> Let us explore further.
> There could be Avidya without Adhyasa.
> How?
> In sushupti (deep sleep), we all are still under Avidya (not knowing the
> Truth), but we do not perceive anything else. Therefore there is no
> adhyasa.
> This is analogous to a rope in complete darkness. Neither a rope (the
> Truth) is seen nor is the superimposed illusion of a snake on the rope.
> However, there cannot be Adhyasa without Avidya.
> Why?
> If there is no avidya, that is, the Truth is clear, then there is no
> possibility of superimposing an illusion on the Truth.
> Once the magician's trick is revealed, it is no longer possible to imagine
> the illusion because the underlying Truth of the illusion is known.
> So Adhyasa requires Avidya, but not the other way round.
> Therefore, Avidya is the cause and Adhyasa is the effect of Avidya.
> I am not sure how the above aligns with the various references discussed in
> the other thread. It seems to me that it should be in alignment with the
> traditional view of the sruti and of the advaita acharyas.
> I would be grateful for any thoughts on the above. 🙏
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