THIS 4TH PART IS CURRENTLY UNDER REVISION AND WILL BE REPLACED BECAUSE BEING REPETITIVE IN PARTS WITH RESPECT OF PREVIOUS 3RD PART. FINAL PARTS ALSO TO BE REVISED
To stay a little longer in this logical dilemma (which of the two is prior – avidya or adhyasa), can one not say that it doesn’t matter, since both imply, or entail, each other? That is, there is no adhyasa without avidya, and no avidya (in its technical, special sense) without adhyasa.
Some could object that the use of words (and their meanings) does not allow for this, but I am here considering a “primeval”, or primordial (mythological) origin of these terms, whereby avidya implies, and is implied by, adhyasa; a sort of tandem (or bifid) concept. Should this give rise to any difficulties? If logically meaningful, actually helping in the clarification and simplification of the meaning of these two concepts and their mutual relationship, would that not be useful? I may be very wrong, and the problem here may not be exactly the same as the one concerning the ‘locus of avidya’ (though they must be intimately related), which, as Shankara wrote, is “a wild-goose chase”. I think, however, that there is a hint, or confirmation of what I am saying in this paragraph in the references given in (part 3, above) to Shankara and Suresvara.
With respect of ‘meaning’, a possible objection is that ‘ignorance’ is a general concept, whereas ‘superimposition’ is a restricted and specific concept. I kept this in mind when I was considering (or postulating, if you wish) ‘avidya’ as a technical term with a specific meaning, a secondary, derived meaning and usage. This may not be illegitimate if one considers that this term thus restricted, together with adhyasa, have a central position in the whole of Advaita philosophy, both terms being foundational. Now, let us accept that ignorance (avidya), being a wider, inclusive, concept subsumes under itself adhyasa (also called, with a secondary meaning, ‘illusion’); both concepts are universal, the latter referring, primarily, to a specific type of ignorance: that generated by mutual superimposition of self and non-self. In any case, I think this (putting it this way) is superfluous, from all that has been explicated heretofore. Shankara himself gave a precise meaning of adhyasa in the famous Introduction to the Brahma-Sutras:
‘Superimposition (adhyasa) is the apparent presentation to consciousness, by way of remembrance, of something previously observed in some other thing’.
This pair (avidya-adhyasa), whether by feat or by fiat, is the cause or origin of a whole order of deception, ignorance: mistaking the self for the non-self (body-mind), and vice-versa, all in one move – a ‘discovery’ or invention… a veritable tour de force by a Demiurge seemingly benevolent towards mankind. That is, a pervading, universal ‘ignorance’ (it is that, at its root) which accounts for ‘the world of multiplicity’, the world of appearances – the empirical world of human interaction as well as interaction with nature which allow for science and technology* (this point was made in part 1 of this Review). All empirical, scientific knowledge, is categorial [sic], relative knowledge – and this can be extended to religion and philosophy as well – whereby ach one of them (each religion, etc.) consists of a particular framework integrated by a set of concepts, presuppositions, categories, definitions, axioms, postulates, a system of logic, and criteria for judging truth or falsity of knowledge claims; only empirical science can be said to have the distinction of being truly universal, though, of course, limited, cumulative and provisional (cf. R. Puligandla, mentioned in part 2, above).
Thus, this pair or double concept is a paradox (a knowledge that is ignorant, or an ignorance that is, or turns into, (a type of) knowledge. It is, thus, the root of all types of ignorance, in that it mistakes reality for unreality, and vice-versa. If we can say that ignorance, either in this particular, specific sense or in general is indefinable, while adhyasa is definable (though, like avidya, anirvachaniya, inexplicable, ineffable), then the latter would be the motor, or modus operandi, of the former, a perfect integration or ‘symbiosis’.
* “Everything is produced by ignorance, and dissolves in the wake of Knowledge.” – Aparokshanubhuti