An Appraisal of SSS’ views (2 of 3)
From the above study, we conclude that when the Acharya says that the jIva is freed of avidya, ignorance, in deep sleep, it is only the adhyAsarUpa–avidya of the waking that is meant and not the basic ignorance that the jIva, samsari, is subject to throughout his samsaric state until he gets Self Knowledge and gets liberated. That such is the case is demonstrated in the following set of bhAshyams, from the mANDUkya kArika-s (2.12, 16, 17) .
कल्पयत्यात्मनात्मानं आत्मा देव: स्वमायया ।
स एव बुध्यते भेदानिति वेदान्तनिश्चय: ॥ २.१२॥
स्वयं स्वमायया स्वमात्मानमात्मा देव आत्मन्येव वक्ष्यमाणं भेदाकारं कल्पयति रज्ज्वादाविव सर्पादीन् ।
In the following mANDUkya kArikaa ((II.17) see also (II.16)) and the bhAshya, we find a graphic description of the evidence for the teaching of the existence and effects of mUlAvidyA or j~nAna abhAva:
अनिश्चिता यथा रज्जुरन्धकारे विकल्पिता ।
सर्पधारादिभिर्भावैस्तद्वदात्मा विकल्पित: ॥ २.१७ ॥
तत्र जीवकल्पना सर्वकल्पनामूलमित्युक्तं सैव जीवकल्पना किंनिमित्तेति दृष्टान्तेन प्रतिपादयति _ यथा लोके स्वेन रूपेण अनिश्चिता अनवधारिता एवमेवेति रज्जु: मन्दान्धकारे, किं सर्प उदकधारा दण्ड इति वा अनेकधा विकल्पिता भवति पूर्वं स्वरूपानिश्चयनिमित्तम् । यदि हि पूर्वमेव रज्जु: स्वरूपेण निश्चिता स्यात्, न सर्पादिविकल्पोऽभविष्यत् । …तद्वद्धेतुफलादिसंसारधर्मानर्थविलक्षणतया स्वेन विशुद्धविज्नप्तिमात्रसत्ताद्वयरूपेणानिश्चितत्वात् जीवप्राणाद्यनन्तभावभेदैरात्मा विकल्पित इत्येष सर्वोपनिषदां सिद्धान्त: ॥
As a rope whose nature has not been well ascertained is imagined in the dark to be various things like a snake, a line of water, etc. so also is the Self imagined variously.
The bhAshyam: // As it happens in common experience, that a rope, that is not well ascertained, in its true reality as ‘This is so indeed’, is imagined variously, in hazy darkness, as a snake, a line of water, or a stick, just because its real nature has not been determined earlier – for if the rope had been ascertained earlier in its own essence, there would not have been such imagination…similarly, the Self is imagined to be such countless diverse objects as an individual creature or the vital force, etc., just because It has not been ascertained in Its true nature (this is what is called avidya 1 or mUlavidyA or j~nAna abhAva of SSS) to be pure intelligence, existence, and non-duality, and different from such evils as cause and effect that are the characteristics of the world. (This is what is called adhyAsa, avidya 2.)
This is the conclusion of all the upaniShad-s.
The next kArika says:
निश्चितायां यथा रज्ज्वां विकल्पो विनिवर्तते ।
रज्जुरेवेति चाद्वैतं तद्वदात्मविनिश्चय: ॥ २.१८ ॥
रज्जुरेवेति निश्चये सर्वविकल्पनिवृत्तौ रज्जुरेवेति चाद्वैतं यथा, तथा ‘नेति नेति‘ इति सर्वसंसारधर्मशून्यप्रतिपादकशास्त्रजनितविज्नानसूर्यालोककृतात्मविनिश्चय: ‘आत्मैवेदं सर्वम्‘ अपूर्वोऽनपरोऽनन्तरोऽबाह्य:’ …इति ।
//bhAshyam: As on the ascertainment that it is nothing but a rope, all the imaginations disappear and there remains the rope alone without anything else, so also from the scriptural text, ‘Not this, not this’ (Br.Up. (4.4.22)), establishing the Self as devoid of all worldly attributes, there dawns, as a result of the light of the sun of realization, this firm conviction about the Self, viz ‘the Self indeed is all this’ (Ch.Up. (7.25.2))….//
From the above kArikAs and bhAshyam we conclude that:
The upaniShad-s, Gaudapada and Shakara admit of a causal avidya, called mUlavidyA सर्वकल्पनामूलम्, or j~nAna abhava of SSS.
This state is characterized by non-cognition of the Truth as-It-is. The use of the word अनवधारिता in the bhAshyam is so apt and tallies, in apposition, with the word ‘वस्तुस्वरूपावधारणं विद्या‘ of the adhyAsa bhAshya soon after the Acharya gives the general definition of adhyAsa/avidya.
The upaniShad-s and the purva Acharyas admit that this mUlavidyA or j~nAna abhava of SSS is bhAvarUpa in as much as it is there for experiencing, through its effect: adhyAsa.
That such mUlavidyA or j~nAna abhAva is annihilated by right knowledge, j~nAna nAshyA. The above bhAshyam demonstrates that when the right knowledge arises, it dispels all imagination that followed the wrong-cognition. The arising of the right knowledge implies the initial annihilation of the non-cognition, mUlAvidyA or j~nAna abhAva or tattva agrahaNa (avidya 1) and the subsequent annihilation of the adhyAsa or anyathAgrahaNa (avidya 2).
What is right knowledge is also stated. It is advaya. So, the right knowledge is One only without the second namely avidyA persisting. This shows that the mUlavidyA or j~nAna abhAva of SSS will not be there after knowledge arises. Even when it is admitted, till one gets the Realization of the Truth, it does not ‘shatter brahman to pieces’.
The Acharya has in the adhyAsa bhAshya said that the superimposed, unreal, entity cannot in any way affect the Real substratum by its merits or demerits. Even when a person remains in samsara for ages, with innumerable objects, all this is only superimposition, unreal, and will not affect the Real substratum.
Let us consider another statement from the Acharya’s bhAshyam, on the mANDUkya upaniShad kArika:
Now, in the bRRihadAraNyaka bhAshya quotes we saw earlier, to recall, ignorance was said to be absent in the jIva during deep sleep. Now, in the sequel, we shall see some quotes from the bhAshyam where the Acharya talks about the presence of ignorance in the deep sleep state. The context is the mANDUkya kArika:
कार्यकारणबद्धौ तौ इष्येते विश्वतैजसौ ।
प्राज्न: कारणबद्धस्तु द्वौ तौ तुर्ये न सिद्ध्यत: ॥ १.११ ॥
[The waking and dream states are held to be conditioned by cause and effect. The sleep state is conditioned by cause alone. But both these do not exist in the Supreme.]
avidyA type 1, the cause, is present in sleep state. This is the causal avidya. avidyA type 2, the adhyAsa, is present in the waking and dream states only and not in sleep state. Also, type 1 continues in these two states. In short, type 1 ignorance, the mUlaavidya, j~nAna abhava, the cause, continues in all three states. This is where GaudapAda and shaMkara in the bhAshya talk about mUlavidyA; the two types of ignorance. shaMkara uses the terms: tattva agrahaNa (j~nAna abhava of SSS and mUlAvidyA of traditional advaitins) to indicate the seed-ignorance persisting in the deep sleep state AND in the other two states. The other avidya, type 2, is named anyathAgrahaNam by shaMkara in this bhAshyam. He stresses: तत्त्वाप्रतिबोधमात्रमेव हि बीजं प्राज्नत्वे निमित्तम् . (Non cognition of the Truth, (j~nAna abhAva of SSS) alone is the characteristic of the sleeping individual. This is where, as in many other kArika–s, shaMkara and Gaudapada explicitly speak of the persistence of ignorance in deep sleep.
In the bhAshyam for the next kArikA, shaMkara even more clearly stresses the persistence of ignorance in deep sleep:
कथं पुनः कारणबद्धत्वं प्राज्ञनस्य?….यस्मात् आत्मविलक्षणं अविद्यावीजप्रसूतं द्वैतं प्राज्ञो न किञ्चन संवेत्ति यथा विश्वतैजसौ, ततश्च असौ तत्त्वाग्रहणेन तमसा अन्यथाग्रहणबीजभूतेन बद्धो भवति ।
[How again is the sleeper conditioned by the causal ignorance? Since unlike the waker and dreamer, the sleeper does not apprehend, anything, any external duality that is different from the Self and is born of the seed of ignorance, therefore the sleeper is conditioned by the darkness of non-perception of Reality, which is the seed of false perception.]
That gives one the incontrovertible proof of:
Gaudapada and shaMkara admitting avidyA 1 in deep sleep. This avidya 1 (mUlaavidyaa or j~nAna abhAva of SSS) is the cause of the wrong-cognition, adhyAsa, avidya type 2. That avidya 1 and 2 persist in the waking and dream states. That the bRRihadAraNyaka bhAshya we saw earlier speaks of the absence of only avidya 2 (adhyAsa, wrong-cognition (duality, samsara). This does not imply that avidya 1 (j~nAna abhava of SSS or mUlaavidyaa or non-cognition of Truth) is also absent in deep sleep. To conclude, the Brihad.Up. bhAshya says only adhyAsa (avidya type 2) is not there in sleep. The mANDUkya karika bhAshya we just saw above explicitly states that the avidya type 1 is present in deep sleep. That removes the confusion on ‘shaMkara not admitting persistence of ignorance in sleep state.’
Now, why does shaMkara speak in two voices, as it were, when it comes to the persistence of avidya in deep sleep? We have to answer this question in order to remove all doubts in the mind of the seeker.
In the bRRihadAraNyaka upaniShad, in the section (4.3.21), Sage Yajnavalkya, in reply to a question of King Janaka, is taking up the deep sleep state as an illustration to the state of liberation. We all know that the deep sleep state is the most sought after state for rest and peace. We are freed, in sleep, of the samsaric duality and the pain caused by transacting in the waking. The state of liberation, too is such that there is absence of duality, saMsAra, the doer-doing-result duality, the pain born of transacting, etc. Also there is a positive peace, bliss too. To show this simile the upaniShad talks about the bliss that is there in the sleep state by taking up an illustration: when a man is in the tight embrace of his beloved, he knows not the outside or inside; the only experience is that of bliss. Such is the situation, says this mantra, of the jIva in sleep. He does not know the inside or outside (non-cognition of duality of the waking/dream) and the experience of great peace/bliss.
It is in this context that shaMkara, while commenting, says that the jIva is freed of ignorance in this state. His words are unmistakable and matchless and apt to the core of the context: अन्यत्वप्रत्युपस्थापकहेतोरविद्याया अभावात् , (the individual experiences freedom from misery because) there, for him, the avidya that sets up the perception of ‘another’ is absent. Just compare this expression with the expression shaMkara uses to convey the type of avidya present in the sleep state in the context of the mANDUkya kArika:
In the bhAshyam for the kArika (1.13) He says:
सैव (निद्रा) च विशेषप्रतिबोधप्रसवस्य बीजम् , सा बीजनिद्रा । (That (sleep) alone is the seed for the birth of the cognition of varieties, and prAjna, sleeper, is endued by this seed.)
Thus, in the context of the Br.Up mantra, the bhAshyakAra sees no need to explicitly state that there is the seed ignorance, mUlavidyA or j~nAna abhava of SSS, present. The context does not warrant it. What, however, it demands is the explicit mention of the absence of the avidya type 2, adhyAsa, wrong-cognition. This alone would be conducive for the jIva‘s experiencing great bliss/peace in sleep.
It may also be noted, as an aside point, that the presence of avidya 1 in deep sleep will not come in the way of experiencing the bliss of sleep. This avidya 1 is ‘harmless’ as it were, in that state. Why is this so? It is because the mind-sense organs apparatus is now in a latent state. It is only when this apparatus is available in the waking/dream that the avidya 1 will become active by producing avidya 2 and its effects. Thus, we are in a position to appreciate the stand of shaMkara regarding the presence (type1) as well as the absence (type 2) of avidya in the state of sleep. We have seen enough evidence for this in the foregoing. The reader is referred to some more kArika-s of the mANDUkya (1. 12, and so on) to get an even more broader picture of the two types of avidya: non-cognition and wrong cognition.