12). Ishavasya Upanishad – Going beyond vidya and avidya

He who simultaneously knows both Vidya and Avidya gets over Death by Avidya and attains immortality by Vidya.

Q12-1) How to overcome the darkness caused by following path of vidya and avidya ? 

   Avidya stands for ignorance. All activities secular or religious performed with a desire for happiness in this world or hereafter fall under the category of avidya.  In other words avidya stands for selfish actions and rituals blindly followed in pursuit of happiness.  This is also called kamya karma.

     If it karma is Avidya, why Vedas have prescribed duties in karmakanda ?  In order to help jiva to move from inertia (tamas) to activity (rajas) duties are prescribed. Also vedas indicate result of  performance of rituals in this life and here after. This is done to help a person with predominant rajo guna to gain success and understand limitation of success and gradually rise to satva guna preparing oneself for SELF knowledge.

    Avidya can be over come by performing  unselfish acts (nishkama karma).  Same action social or religious performed as an offering to the Lord (Isha) with a sole intention of purification of impressions  purifies the person. Satva guna develops in him. While rajo guna and tamo guna bind a person  in action and ignorance, satva guna helps him to move towards SELF knowledge ( para vidya). . Such a person develops qualities required called sadhana chatustaya essential qualification for pursuit of jnana. He understands that SELF realization can only give eternal peace and happiness. Hence  it is said that he overcomes death by going beyond Avidya.

On the other hand vidya stands for pursuit of knowledge or upasana. Knowledge is of two types para vidya – knowledge of SELF and apara  vidya – secular knowledge. Upasana or meditation practices also can be done for SELF realization or pursuit of material goals in the current life or life hereafter.  By pursuing SELF knowledge, one can realize immortal SELF. By recognizing that he is not the limited body-mind-intellect,  he becomes free from all bondages and attains immortality.   He realizes his SELF supreme and attains peace.

This is the teaching of Rishis.




विद्यां चाविद्यां च यस्तद्वेदोभयं सह ।
अविद्यया मृत्युं तीर्त्वा विद्ययामृतमश्नुते ॥ ११ ॥
vidyāṃ cāvidyāṃ ca yastadvedobhayaṃ saha |
avidyayā mṛtyuṃ tīrtvā vidyayāmṛtamaśnute || 11 ||

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