Author Topic: What is adhyaasa and what is its importance?  (Read 530 times)

Dr. Sadananda

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What is adhyaasa and what is its importance?
« on: March 01, 2015, 02:22:00 AM »
What is adhyaasa and what is its importance?

      Before entering into the discussion of Brahmasutra, Shankara provides an introduction, describing the adhyaasa aspect of Advaita Vedanta. adhyaasa means an error or a mistake. In this bhaashhyam Shankaracharya establishes the central cause for sa.nsaara or human suffering, and it is due to adhyaasa or a mistake or an error. Once Shankara proves that sa.nsaara is due to an error or adhyaasa, then removal of sa.nsaara should be related to the removal of the error or adhyaasa nivR^itti. When the error is gone, then the error-caused problems also disappear. If it is proved that sa.nsaara is due to an error, naturally the question arises why there is an error or how did the error arise? Errors can arise because of different reasons. For example, when I do not know and I still act, I commit a mistake or an error. Even if I do not know that I do not know, I still commit a mistake. For example, lack of knowledge of the required language skills can be the cause of some of the errors in these notes. Here the lack of knowledge or ignorance is the cause. Sometimes even if I know, I still can make mistakes as in the typographical errors in these notes. Here too, if one analyzes carefully, the error is due to non-awareness or ignorance as the basic problem, since I am not conscious of what I am typing in relation to what I want to type. Errors can also arise if the instruments of knowledge are defective, like if I am, say, color blind or if there is insufficient illumination. In all these cases I am still ignorant of the truth and more importantly I take the false as real. Sometimes there is a double jeopardy since I not only take false as real but also real as false.

      In all these commissions, there is always a price I have to pay for committing an error. Thus there is always some suffering associated with it. If the error is not there, the associated suffering will also be not there. Thus fundamentally the root cause for all errors is lack of appropriate knowledge. Hence any error arises because of ignorance or aGYaanam. Therefore aGYaanam causes adhyaasa, error, and adhyaasa causes sa.nsaara, suffering. For sa.nsaara to go, adhyaasa should go, for adhyaasa to go aGYaanam should go, and for aGYaanam to go knowledge should come.

      Hence Shankara says in Vivekachudamani,

      na yogena na saa~Nkhyena karmaNaa no na vidyayaa |
      bramhaatmaaikatva bodhena mokshasiddhyati naanyathaa ||
      One can do anything or follow anything - yoga, sankhya, karma, bhakti, direct path, straight path, curvilinear path etc. Through these process one cannot gain Moksha. They may be useful in gaining the saadhanaa chatushhTayam, the four-fold qualifications, which help to gain the requisite knowledge. But to gain Moksha, the knowledge of the identity of Brahman and aatmaaa alone is required. Otherwise even if all others are present, there is no liberation. Because the bondage is an error-based or due to adhyaasa, and adhyaasa can only be removed when ignorance goes, and ignorance goes only when the knowledge comes. In support of this we have declarations: 'na anyaaH panthaaH ayanaaya vidyate', 'gataasuuna gataasuu.nscha na anushochanti paNDitaaH' - those who have gained the knowledge do not grieve for those who have gone and for those in the process of going'. And therefore 'athaato brahma jiGYyaasaa' - to gain that knowledge only, this inquiry into the nature of Brahman. This is the essence of the adhyaasa bhaashhyam. Now the details follow.