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

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Mon May 23 16:02:48 EDT 2022

Resending after deleting history as the original message was too large.

Namaste Michael,

One can call it vyAvahArika if we don't want to call it vyAvahArika sat, it
makes no difference. However, since the issue was raised, vyAvahArika sat
means mithyA only. This is not something that I have come up with
independently either - it is a nomenclature from the Upanishads themselves.
See the taittirIya upaniShad - satyam ca anRtam ca satyam abhavat. The
first satyam in that sentence is vyavahArika satyam.

This again is not my interpretation, see the taittirIya bhAShya - सत्यं च
व्यवहारविषयम् , अधिकारात् ; न परमार्थसत्यम् ; एकमेव हि परमार्थसत्यं ब्रह्म
। इह पुनः व्यवहारविषयमापेक्षिकं सत्यम् , मृगतृष्णिकाद्यनृतापेक्षया उदकादि
सत्यमुच्यते । अनृतं च तद्विपरीतम् । किं पुनः ? एतत्सर्वमभवत् , सत्यं
परमार्थसत्यम् ;किं पुनस्तत् ? ब्रह्म, ‘सत्यं ज्ञानमनन्तं ब्रह्म’ इति
प्रकृतत्वात् ।

As the bhAShyakAra says - when we call it satyam, it means it is the object
of vyavahAra, it does not mean paramArtha satyam. It is called satyam only
vis a vis prAtibhAsika objects like mirage-water.

Coming back to the main question that the person arguing for ignorance as
the absence of knowledge must answer - how can the absence of knowledge
give rise to wrong knowledge? It is as absurd as saying being arises from

If it is argued that one need not postulate the absence of knowledge as the
cause for wrong knowledge, and that wrong knowledge arises simply because
right knowledge is not present, then why does no wrong knowledge arise in
deep sleep when right knowledge is not present?

Anyway, I must get back to my work now, this has drawn me out more than I
wished to at the beginning of the discussion. Thank you for the
conversation and good luck in your search!


On Mon, May 23, 2022 at 6:33 PM Michael Chandra Cohen <
michaelchandra108 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear Venkatraghavan, Namaste.
> My response can refer to your comment, "These essentially correspond to
> paramArtha sat and vyAvahArika sat respectively."  Terminology is
> questionable, i,e,. vyAvahArika 'sat'. The implication of bhavarupa leads
> to the consequence of taking vyAvahAra as some kind of 'sat' which enables
> categories of 'absence' and 'presence'. My earlier comment questions the
> status of vyAvahAra as 'sat' rather than asat or adhyasa.
> The same reasoning applies to the earlier topic of efficient and material
> causation. I provided the link to section 131 to highlight SSS's
> clarification,
> "And again, the strict Advaitin accepts (according to the opponent) that
> absence of knowledge is the root-Ignorance causing wrong knowledge, and
> that wrong knowledge arises from it. In this \vay he accepts that the
> existent arises from the non-existent, which contrad~cts received canons of
> knowledge. Nor can he claim that he does not teach the rise of being from
> non-being by saying that superimposition is a modification of the mind, and
> has the mind for its material cause. For the mind itself presupposes a
> material cause, and the demand for a first cause cannot on this basis be
> satisfied. So, because the strict Advaitin cannot account either for an
> efficient or for a material cause of Ignorance, his whole system is faulty.
> But all this argument only arises from 'ignorance'. We do not admit that
> Ignorance is either the efficient or the material cause of the world, since
> it has no real existence at all." Heart of Sri Samkara p135
> The passage continues to declare Maya as the apparency of the world as per
> Gaudapada, 'The real can undergo production through illusion, but not in
> truth. He who holds that such production is real affirms (absurdly) that
> that which has already been produced undergoes production' (G.K. 3.27) '

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