Vedantic Wednesday: The Twin Powers of Ignorance

During my study of Vedanta this week, I came across some notes on ignorance that opened up a lot of thoughts in the way we400px-Kopfloser_Böhringer_ perceive the world through the tools of body, mind and intellect, impacted and influenced by the ignorance that we hold within. Most of the time my reading and references have been around what knowledge is and how it dispels ignorance. This note on ignorance made me realize what kind of opponent knowledge is trying to combat. And the reason for Vedanta constantly urging us to gain knowledge systematically.

The power of ignorance as per Vedanta acts in two ways – it could cause the ‘non-perception’ of an object (‘Avarana-Sakti’) and it could cause the ‘mis-apprehension’ or projection of illusory object (‘Viksepa-Sakti’) in place of the real object.  While the former veils the very presence of an object from us, the latter creates a projection to fill the non-perception.

For example, in the night you may stumble upon a rope, and fear it for snake.  It is the ‘Avarana-Sakti’  of  ignorance (‘Ajnana’) that prevents us from seeing a rope and it is the ‘Viksepa-Sakti’ of ignorance that makes us see the snake.

Apart from just being a good theoretical exposition – this dual working of ignorance if understood can be seen at work in our day to day living in so many ways. It makes us overlook the obvious. At the same time it makes us imagine and believe in the imaginary. In every situation of life and business, these two workings of ignorance, systematically goads us into avoiding the biting reality and leads us to adopt a convenient outlook. This then is our one way ticket to self-destruction. Next time when we sit down to analyze a situation and arrive at conclusions, it may be worthwhile for us to check our thought processes to see if these two powers of ignorance are at play.

 

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