AVIDYA (Sanskrit: ignorance)—ignorance of the way of salvation.

Avidya makes beings burdened with effects of their own deeds (karma), after they exhaust the results of morally good deeds that assured that they would reach better “worlds”, fall into misery and problems; the concept of avidya occurs already in one of the early Upanishads. According to Patanjal, avidya forces man to consider as permanent and pure that which is not so, and also to see atman where it does not exist. Avidya is the cause of the existence of karma. According to Shankara, avidya elicits the belief in a great magnitude, which is basis of maya. According to Ramanuji, avidya as a material product came into existence during the creation of the world. It surrounded the soul like a veil and made it impossible for the soul to know God. In Buddhism, avidya enters into the composition of the renowned twelve-part formula about dependent coming-into-existence as the ultimate cause of a life full of suffering. Avidya is evoked by previously accumulated karma.

J. Gonda, Die Religionen Indiens, I–II, St 1960–1963; A. Bareau, Die Religionen Indiens III. Der indische Buddhismus, St 1964; L. Cyboran, Klasyczna joga indyjska [Classical Indian yoga], Wwa 1986; Mały słownik klasycznej myśli indyjskiej, Wwa 1992.

Eugeniusz Słuszkiewicz

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