What is Origin or Cause of Ignorance (Avidya)? – Part 14


Previous part 13, discerned difference between Consciousness (Brahman), and world of matter (jagat) which either has status of sentience (creatures) or insentience (rock).

Follow conversation attempts to resolve where is place for ignorance, if creator (Ishvara) is all-knowledge…

Student curiously inquires, “If the One (Ishvara) is intelligence and knowledge, where is the place for ignorance, which is the cause of much confusion and ignorance of the One? Where did it all begin? It seems to me there are two, ignorance and knowledge!”

” Ignorance has no real existence, nor is it the absence of knowledge.

It is an object of knowledge existing within time and space. It is something we are aware of.

For example we say “I know that I don't know how to fly an airplane“.

Our experience proves ignorance comes with birth.

As we learn, we come to know data facts and information. Then our ignorance vanishes.

So ignorance cannot be real. It is mithya, a dependent-reality or dependent-real, existing within a time frame.

Whereas knowledge is the One's nature. It does not come and go.

We are not talking about relative knowledge of objects.

We are speaking of knowledge in whose presence all mithya object knowledges are illumined.

Meaning it is the kind of knowledge which illumines knowledge of time, space and ignorance.

It is Limitless-Existence-Consciousness (satchitananda).

When reflected through our minds, it lights up both knowledge and ignorance, making us aware that we know or do not know.

As for the beginning of ignorance, tell me… since when do you not know Pali? “

“I have never thought of learning Pali language.”

” Obviously you cannot say when the language ignorance began.

If you wish however, you could learn.

With learning, the ignorance of Pali will definitely vanish.

Although ignorance has no beginning, it does have an ending.

What's more, once it goes, it never returns. “

Conversation continues in part 15 which will resolve contradiction between One and many. If all is One, then why do we see diverse forms?


  1. Very confusing….if ignorance is not real why ru learning shastras? If ignorance does not exist why do u seek jnana? If ur experiencing ajnana will u negate it by saying its not real? So who has this ignorance? Is ignorance different from Brahman or is it Brahma swarupa?

    1. ===
      “if ignorance is not real why ru learning shastras? If ignorance does not exist why do u seek jnana?”

      To remove ignorance.

      When we say “ignorance is not real”, it means “I see this world according to my limited notions about it”.

      To remove the limited notions, we pursue śāstra (jñānam).

      “So who has this ignorance?”

      A mind whose notions are out of alignment with reality.

      These notions are only aligned by study of śāstra, which aligns notions with the Reality.

      Finally, there is ignorance for ajñāni, one who is yet to understand fully “All that is here is One without a second”.

      For jñāni, there is no ignorance. There is only Brahman.

      For example, suppose I see an oasis on a desert, and run joyfully towards it out of my ignorance.

      While you stand calmly, knowing it to be a mirage on a desert. A mere appearance.

      To me, my ignorance is real. It causes me to act towards it and even create a song inspired by my ignorance, called “Water”.

      However owning to your śāstra knowledge, such appearances are known to be mere effects.

    2. Any thing real will have permanent existence. Ignorance is not real in the sense it exists only until the knowledge is obtained. Ignorance can be a range from I do not know anything to I know everything. Where ever you are in the spectrum of ignorance until knowledge you need to get the knowledge. Will the ignorance go away completely? You will be aware of ignorance but with knowledge and know ignorance as ignorance. For e.g. If you mistake rope as snake in semi dark, you are ignorant of rope and the snake knowledge is real to you. In wake of knowledge you will know there is only rope and you will be aware of snake knowledge as unreal and hence the snake knowledge will exist as unreal. Ishwara is aware of world knowledge as unreal (simply ignorant projections) and know his own reality as the only reality. Some body with ignorance ( all the people or Jivas) for them the world is real until the knowledge is obtained. At this point the knowledge of world will exist but as unreal and the self knowledge is the only reality. You know the world knowledge is temporary as it existed because of ignorance and wake of knowledge it became unreal. The absolute knowledge ( of myself) does not change under varying conditions of the world, time space etc.
      Hope this helps to understand.

  2. If ignorance has no beginning but an end, it goes against tenet of Vedanta that whatever has a beginning ends and whatever doesn’t have beginning is forever.

    Maybe supreme being’s Maya and individual soul’s ignorance would help if we dwell further

    1. Hi Amit.

      Right now you/I are ignorant of Spanish. (Meaning we don’t know the language).

      Until when are we ignorant? Until we remove ignorance of Spanish language learning.

      In same way, person remains ignorant until one discovers they are more then just the body/mind.

      Suppose have pen on ear, but looking everywhere. Can’t find. How long does one remain ignorant of pen? Until someone points it out.

      Therefore only principle that can end is ignorance.

      Problem is most end ignorance of worldly issues. How to cook, drive, be great politician, negotiate, etc.

      Vedanta is removing ignorance which is regarding the subject “I”.

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