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Isha Upanishad - Shloka 10
|by Dr. R. K. Lahri|
The two notions –Vidya and Avidya
Vidya and Avidya; Knowledge and not knowledge or ignorance both are but concepts. We are required to drop off these two on the path of spiritual journey to Eternity. The real, unreal and the admixture of the two are all but notions and naught else. The notions or concepts are neither real nor unreal.
To the Avidya wedded person life seems to be real, the world of senses is real. On the other hand to a person wedded to the pursuit of Vidya, the world of spirit is the real world. Each one calls the other as a dreamer but a synthesis of both is essential for a harmony in life of this world of action and karma.
Avidya stands for nescience. Generally the concept is related to physical world of beings and their activities of life existence. When consciousness is identified with mind and thus with brain, and does not remain as spiritual cosmic principle apart from mind, it is Avidya in the extreme. Avidya is something related to non-spiritual and physical world of action. It is connected with our daily life and human welfare. Vidya may be related to the truth of the metaphysical world just as chemistry and the other natural sciences deal with the truth of physical world.
An illustration for the common peoples understanding is suggested. The whole universe seems like a picture on screen. The poster of the picture may be useful and alluring but it has no sense unless the picture is shown on the screen, The screen itself is without any use unless it shows the picture on it. So neither the picture nor the screen is of any worth even though they serve some purpose.
Vidya and Avidya are both stations on the road map and serve some guiding purpose but the train to Eternity has to leave these stations on its journey to the supreme destination. Some people have interpreted Vidya as Devata jnana as it leads to the abode of Devata whichever one propitiates. Avidya is the performance of ritual with a motive. Avidya is Karma and it leads to certain goal of life. Some saints believe that it is by good karmas, one reaches Pitraloka. From there after enjoying results of good fruits, one is reborn in the world. The saints think that by meditation and upasana, one reaches Pitraloka (manes )and from there proceeds either to world or to the Supreme. Anyway it seems to be an orthodox opinion, no more valid this day.
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