The Story of Avidya (ignorance)
by Swami Sivananda
by Swami Sivananda
Avidya has 4 daughters, Ahamkara (Egoism), Raga (like, attraction), Dvesha (dislike, aversion) and Abhinivesa (clinging to earthly life). The root cause of human suffering is Avidya. Avidya means ignorance. On account of Avidya you identify yourself with the body, wife, children, house, property, etc. From Avidya came Ahamkara (Egoism), the self-asserting principle.
In Patanjali Yoga Darsana, Ahamkara is called Asmita. On account of Avidya and Ahamkara you have forgotten your essential nature, your original Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahmic nature. This Avidya is beginningless, superimposition. It is beginningless but has an end as soon as Brahmajnana (Direct knowledge or realization of Brahman) dawns. Brahman, the source (Yoni) for this world, Vedas and everything is Anadi, Anantam (beginningless and unlimted). This Avidya is a mere superimposition on Brahman. It has no independent existence. It depends upon Brahman for its phenomenal existence. The world is an effect of Avidya.
Modifications of Avidya
Ahamkara, Raga-Dvesha, Abhinivesa (clinging to life), attachment, desire, Kamana (longing), hope, anticipation, Trishna (craving), Vasana (subtle desire), Chapalata, Vanchana, body, mind, Buddhi, Chitta, Indriyas, are all modifications of Avidya.
Ahamkara manifests, Raga, Dvesha
As soon as Ahamkara manifests, Raga, Dvesha (like and dislike, love and hatred, attraction and repulsion) immediately come in. Wherever there is Ahamkara, there are Raga, Dvesha, side by side.
The function of Ahamkara is identification (Abhimana). Dehadhyasa (identification with body), Shastrabhimana (identification with scriptures), Desabhimana (identification with country) are all varieties of Abhimana.
When you identify yourself with the body, Dehadhyasa comes in. Dehadhyasa is mistaking the body for the Self or pure Atman. It is attachment to the body. This is removed by starting the anti-current Aham-Brahma-Asmi-"I am Brahman" Bhavana, constantly.
Ahamkara also is of two kinds, viz., Suddha (pure) Ahamkara and Asuddha (impure) Ahamkara.
Suddha Ahamkara is pure egoism which identifies itself with Brahman (pure Sat-Chit-Ananda)
existence. This will not bind a man. This will lead to Moksha. This is termed Moksha-ahamkara.
Asuddha (impure) Ahamkara identifies itself with physical body. Wherever there is Ahamkara, there are Vasanas also side by side. Vasanas are subtle desires, that are hidden inside the mind and causal body. Vasanas are Sukshma (subtle). Desires are gross (Sthula). That is the difference between a Vasana and a desire.
Vasana strengthens the egoism. Vasana is the enemy of peace. Vasana is the seed for birth and death. Vasana lies at the bottom of all miseries, tribulations and sufferings. Even if you are the Emperor of a vast dominion you cannot have peace of mind (Shanti). Peace of mind comes from eradication of Vasanas (Vasanatyaga).
Tyaga (renunciation) does not consist in the abandoning of physical objects. It consists in the renunciation of Vasanas inside the mind. Then comes peace (Santi, Sama).
Worldlings search outside in illusory objects for their peace like the deers, which search for water in the mirage. Eradication of Vasanas brings about annihilation of the mind (Manonasa). Then dawns Tattva Jnana (Self-knowledge, realization of Atman).
Degrees of desire
Trishna is intense intense craving. Suppose you have 10 thousand dollars in hand, you want to increase it to 20 thousand dollars. This is Trishna.
Kashaya and Vasana are synonymous terms. Iccha is desire. Kamana also means the same. Suppose you have no sweater in winter. Then an Iccha arises to get a sweater. You cannot call this Trishna.
Chapalata is a variety of Iccha. The most common Chapalatas are Jihva Chapalata (Chapalata of the tongue) and Upastha Chapalata (Chapalata of the reproductive organ). In some persons the tongue wants every now and then to eat some thing or other. This is Jihva Chapalata. In Upastha Chapalata, the reproductive organ wants to repeat again and again coition for Sparsa enjoyment.
When attachment (Aasakti) for orange goes away, longing (Kamana) dies by itself. But Raga or preference will remain. Whenever somebody offers various kinds of fruits you will show preference for orange. You must remove preference also. It takes a long time.
Raga comes because you like the object, the object is favourable to you. Dvesha comes because you dislike the object, the object is unfavourable. You want to possess and enjoy those objects which are favourable and to throw away those things which are unfavourable.
Iccha, longing, attachment, Chapalata, Vancha are all hidden in Raga. These are all attendants of Raga. They are all expansions of Raga. They are all modifications of Raga. The cause of Raga (or its root) is Vasana.
In Yoga Vasishtha it is described that fear is an old-standing associate of Raga and that it is hidden in Raga. Some say that it is an associate of hatred. If Ahamkara goes away, Raga-Dvesha will disappear.
In a Jnani (Liberarated, Enlightened) all Vasanas are fried up. So he has no Raga for any object.