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

Michael Chandra Cohen michaelchandra108 at gmail.com
Fri May 27 10:38:15 EDT 2022

Sri Vinodh, Yes indeed - neither mAyA nor avidyA exists outside perception
- no different than dream, perception only. Conventional Vedanta however
posits eshwara's mAyA that survives the fall of avidyA.

On Fri, May 27, 2022 at 12:50 AM Vinodh <vinodh.iitm at gmail.com> wrote:

> Sri Michael,
> Fully in agreement with the SSS quote.
> When clay appears in a particular form (roopa) it gets the name (naama)
> “pot”. But the pot is not an entity separate from the clay at all. That one
> thinks it to be so is the ignorance.
> When gold appears in a particular form it gets the name “ornament”. But
> the ornament is not separate from the gold at all. That one thinks it to be
> so is the ignorance.
> Brahman appears in various forms and it gets various names accordingly.
> But all the naama-roopa are not entities separate the Brahman at all. That
> one thinks it to be so is the ignorance.
> Therefore all names and forma are not separate from Brahman. Brahman is
> sat (existence) and chit-svaroopam (nature of consciousness/cognition).
> Therefore all names and forms are also sat and they are perceived in that
> same chit-svaroopa. The maya is that they appear to be separate entities
> from Brahman.
> There arises no question of asat here because asat is of the nature of
> that which cannot be grasped (cognized), that which is non-existent. Asat
> cannot lead to something that can be cognized (sat) either. Therefore,
> nothing is asat, including avidya, maya, and the jagat which is perceived,
> nor are they caused by asat.
> On Tue 24. May 2022 at 15:50, Michael Chandra Cohen <
> michaelchandra108 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Dear Vinodh, namaste
>> Yes, SSS demands subtlety of argument. One scholar reads SSS as teaching
>> "extraordinary tarka" as method. Comment below:
>> > 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.
>> Vyavaharika sat is also sat only and completely non-separate from Brahman.
>> Is the pot separate  from the clay? Is an ornament separate from gold? Or
>> is the snake separate from the rope? Not at all. That we see the pot, the
>> ornament, and the snake as something separate from the underlying
>> substratum is the maya. There that we see vyavaharika sat as a separate
>> entity from the paramarthika Atma is the illusion. This is also sat, that
>> is also sat. Sat comes out of sat. Asat never comes into existence
>> fundamentally or through maya, just like the son of a barren woman —
>> Gaudapada says this in the very next karika after the one you have quoted
>> (3.28).
>> The issue is asat, not sat. One of the key distinctions between bhasya
>> Sankara and post Sankara Vedanta is the usage oi namarupa as the material
>> creation compared with maya shakti, sadasat vilakshana anirvacaniya, jada
>> bija, mithya ajnana. The latter are positive bhavarupa entities. The
>> former, epistemological entities only - non-existent as they appear, real
>> as they are truly. Here's a nice quote on the same:
>> "Objection: Then, is this world not Sat now? It is qualified (as Sat) in
>> the beginning!
>> Answer: Not so. Then why the qualification (in the beginning)? What is
>> meant is that even now it is Sat but it is accompanied by differentiation
>> of name and form, and is understood (from the śabda-buddhi) by the term
>> 'this' (idam - in the verse idamagra). Before birth, in the beginning,
>> however, it was understood only through the śabda-buddhi of the term Sat.
>> Hence, it is emphasised please check red underscores that 'in the beginning
>> this was Sat only’. Is there any doubt that an entity can be apprehended
>> before it is said to have such and such name and form? This is exactly as
>> during the time of deep-sleep (suṣupti kāla; description follows). What is
>> meant is that immediately upon waking from deep sleep, one determines the
>> is-ness as - ‘Sat was the only entity (vastu) during deep sleep’ -
>> similarly, (one should apprehend that) it was, in the beginning or before
>> the birth of the universe. It is similar to how all this (jagat) is usually
>> spoken of. Chbh6.2.1"
>> > 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
>> This is a very subtle argument that SSS renders against the opposing view
>> who accuses Advaita as proposing the existent (wrong knowledge) to come
>> out
>> of something non-existent (absence of knowledge). He does so by first
>> pointing out that this very view of the opponent arises from ‘ignorance’.
>> In this way, he points out to the apparent locus of ignorance, which is
>> centered on the view of opponent. He continues then by declaring the
>> pararamathika view that nothing other than Brahman, including ignorance,
>> has any real existence. The existence of everything else is out of maya.
>> It
>> is in this cocntext that he quotes Gaudapada karika 3.27.
>> In essence, from a vyavaharika standpoint, ignorance “appears” exist and
>> cause adhyasa etc. However, to whom is does vyavaharika view make sense?
>> Only to the one who ignorant. For one who sees nothing other than the
>> non-dual Brahman, where is the world or its cause? As an analogy, it is
>> only to the one who sees the snake in the rope or the silver in the shell
>> that an explanation about ignorance of the underlying substratum and a
>> superimposed entity make sense. Because it is he who is ignorant of the
>> truth and asks questions about vyavahara (illusions that he perceives).
>> For
>> the one who sees nothing but the truth all such doubts hve disappeared
>> because he no longer sees any illusions.

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