classes ::: Isha_Upanishad, Sri_Aurobindo, chapter,
children :::
branches :::
see also :::

Instances, Classes, See Also, Object in Names
Definitions, . Quotes . - . Chapters .

object: - Knowledge and Ignorance
book class:Isha Upanishad
author class:Sri Aurobindo
--- Knowledge and Ignorance
Verses 9 - 11*

All manifestation proceeds by the two terms, Vidya and Avidya,
the consciousness of Unity and the consciousness of Multiplicity. They are the two aspects of the Maya, the formative
self-conception of the Eternal.
Unity is the eternal and fundamental fact, without which
all multiplicity would be unreal and an impossible illusion. The
consciousness of Unity is therefore called Vidya, the Knowledge.
Multiplicity is the play or varied self-expansion of the One,
shifting in its terms, divisible in its view of itself, by force of
which the One occupies many centres of consciousness, inhabits
many formations of energy in the universal Movement. Multiplicity is implicit or explicit in unity. Without it the Unity would
be either a void of non-existence or a powerless, sterile limitation
to the state of indiscriminate self-absorption or of blank repose.
But the consciousness of multiplicity separated from the true
knowledge in the many of their own essential oneness, - the
* 9. Into a blind darkness they enter who follow after the Ignorance, they as if into a
greater darkness who devote themselves to the Knowledge alone.
10. Other, verily, it is said, is that which comes by the Knowledge, other that which
comes by the Ignorance; this is the lore we have received from the wise who revealed
That to our understanding.
11. He who knows That as both in one, the Knowledge and the Ignorance, by
the Ignorance crosses beyond death and by the Knowledge enjoys Immortality.
view-point of the separate ego identifying itself with the divided
form and the limited action, - is a state of error and delusion. In
man this is the form taken by the consciousness of multiplicity.
Therefore it is given the name of Avidya, the Ignorance.
Brahman, the Lord, is one and all-blissful, but free from
limitation by His unity; all-powerful, He is able to conceive
Himself from multiple centres in multiple forms from which
and upon which flow multiple currents of energy, seen by us
as actions or play of forces. When He is thus multiple, He is
not bound by His multiplicity, but amid all variations dwells
eternally in His own oneness. He is Lord of Vidya and Avidya.
They are the two sides of His self-conception (Maya), the twin
powers of His Energy (Chit-Shakti).
Brahman, exceeding as well as dwelling in the play of His
Maya, is Ish, lord of it and free. Man, dwelling in the play,
is Anish, not lord, not free, subject to Avidya. But this subjection is itself a play of the Ignorance, unreal in essential fact
(paramartha), real only in practical relation (vyavahara), in the
working out of the actions of the divine Energy, the Chit-Shakti.
To get back to the essential fact of his freedom he must recover
the sense of Oneness, the consciousness of Brahman, of the Lord,
realise his oneness in Brahman and with the Lord. Recovering his
freedom, realising his oneness with all existences as becomings
of the One Being who is always himself (so'ham asmi, He am
I), he is able to carry out divine actions in the world, no longer
subject to the Ignorance, because free in the Knowledge.
The perfection of man, therefore, is the full manifestation of
the Divine in the individual through the supreme accord between
Vidya and Avidya. Multiplicity must become conscious of its
oneness, Oneness embrace its multiplicity.

The purpose of the Lord in the world cannot be fulfilled by
following Vidya alone or Avidya alone.
Those who are devoted entirely to the principle of multiplicity and division and take their orientation away from oneness enter into a blind darkness of Ignorance. For this tendency is one of increasing contraction and limitation, disaggregation of the gains of knowledge and greater and greater subjection to the mechanical necessities of Prakriti and finally to her separative and self-destructive forces. To turn away from the progression towards Oneness is to turn away from existence and from light.

Those who are devoted entirely to the principle of indiscriminate Unity and seek to put away from them the integrality of the Brahman, also put away from them knowledge and completeness and enter as if into a greater darkness. They enter into some special state and accept it for the whole, mistaking exclusion in consciousness for transcendence in consciousness.

They ignore by choice of knowledge, as the others are ignorant
by compulsion of error. Knowing all to transcend all is the right
path of Vidya.
Although a higher state than the other, this supreme Night
is termed a greater darkness, because the lower is one of chaos
from which reconstitution is always possible, the higher is a
conception of Void or Asat, an attachment to non-existence of
Self from which it is more difficult to return to fulfilment of Self.

Pursued with a less entire attachment the paths of Vidya and
Avidya have each their legitimate gains for the human soul, but
neither of these are the full and perfect thing undertaken by the
individual in the manifestation.
By Vidya one may attain to the state of the silent Brahman
or the Akshara Purusha regarding the universe without actively
participating in it or to His self-absorbed state of Chit in Sat
from which the universe proceeds and towards which it returns.
Both these states are conditions of serenity, plenitude, freedom
from the confusions and sufferings of the world.
But the highest goal of man is neither fulfilment in the movement as a separate individual nor in the Silence separated from
the movement, but in the Uttama Purusha, the Lord, He who
went abroad and upholds in Himself both the Kshara and the
Akshara as modes of His being. The self of man, the Jivatman,
is here in order to realise in the individual and for the universe
that one highest Self of all. The ego created by Avidya is a
necessary mechanism for affirming individuality in the universal
as a starting-point for this supreme achievement.
By Avidya one may attain to a sort of fullness of power,
joy, world-knowledge, largeness of being, which is that of the
Titans or of the Gods, of Indra, of Prajapati. This is gained
in the path of self-enlargement by an ample acceptance of the
multiplicity in all its possibilities and a constant enrichment of
the individual by all the materials that the universe can pour
into him. But this also is not the goal of man; for though it
brings transcendence of the ordinary human limits, it does not
bring the divine transcendence of the universe in the Lord of
the universe. One transcends confusion of Ignorance, but not
limitation of Knowledge, - transcends death of the body, but
not limitation of being, - transcends subjection to sorrow, but
not subjection to joy, - transcends the lower Prakriti, but not
the higher. To gain the real freedom and the perfect Immortality
one would have to descend again to all that had been rejected
and make the right use of death, sorrow and ignorance.
The real knowledge is that which perceives Brahman in His
integrality and does not follow eagerly after one consciousness rather than another, is no more attached to Vidya than
to Avidya. This was the knowledge of the ancient sages who
were dhra, steadfast in the gaze of their thought, not drawn
away from the completeness of knowledge by one light or by
another and whose perception of Brahman was consequently
entire and comprehensive and their teaching founded on that
perception equally entire and comprehensive (vicacaks.ire). It is
the knowledge handed down from these Ancients that is being
set forth in the Upanishad.

Brahman embraces in His manifestation both Vidya and Avidya
and if they are both present in the manifestation, it is because
they are both necessary to its existence and its accomplishment.
Avidya subsists because Vidya supports and embraces it; Vidya
depends upon Avidya for the preparation and the advance of
the soul towards the great Unity. Neither could exist without
the other; for if either were abolished, they would both pass
away into something which would be neither the one nor the
other, something inconceivable and ineffable beyond all manifestation.
In the worst Ignorance there is some point of the knowledge
which constitutes that form of Ignorance and some support of
Unity which prevents it in its most extreme division, limitation,
obscurity from ceasing to exist by dissolving into nothingness.
The destiny of the Ignorance is not that it should be dissolved
out of existence, but that its elements should be enlightened,
united, that which they strive to express delivered, fulfilled and
in the fulfilment transmuted and transfigured.
In the uttermost unity of which knowledge is capable the
contents of the Multiplicity are inherent and implicit and can
any moment be released into activity. The office of Vidya is
not to destroy Avidya as a thing that ought never to have been
manifested but to draw it continually towards itself, supporting
it the while and helping it to deliver itself progressively from that
character of Ignorance, of the oblivion of its essential Oneness,
which gives it its name.
Avidya fulfilled by turning more and more to Vidya enables
the individual and the universal to become what the Lord is
in Himself, conscious of His manifestation, conscious of His
non-manifestation, free in birth, free in non-birth.
Man represents the point at which the multiplicity in the universe becomes consciously capable of this turning and fulfilment.
His own natural fulfilment comes by following the complete
path of Avidya surrendering itself to Vidya, the Multiplicity to
the Unity, the Ego to the One in all and beyond all, and of Vidya
accepting Avidya into itself, the Unity fulfilling the Multiplicity,
the One manifesting Himself unveiled in the individual and in
the universe.

By Avidya fulfilled man passes beyond death, by Vidya accepting
Avidya into itself he enjoys immortality.
By death is meant the state of mortality which is a subjection
to the process of constant birth and dying as a limited ego bound
to the dualities of joy and sorrow, good and evil, truth and error,
love and hatred, pleasure and suffering.
This state comes by limitation and self-division from the
One who is all and in all and beyond all and by attachment of
the idea of self to a single formation in Time and Space of body,
life and mind, by which the Self excludes from its view all that
it verily is with the exception of a mass of experiences flowing
out from and in upon a particular centre and limited by the
capacities of a particular mental, vital and bodily frame. This
mass of experiences it organises around the ego-centre in the
mind and linking them together in Time by a double action of
memory, passive in state, active in work, says continually, "This
is I."
The result is that the soul attributes to itself a certain portion
only of the play of Prakriti or Chit-Shakti and consequently a
certain limited capacity of force of consciousness which has to
bear all the impact of what the soul does not regard as itself but
as a rush of alien forces; against them it defends its separate formation of individuality from dissolution into Nature or mastery
by Nature. It seeks to assert in the individual form and by its
means its innate character of Ish or Lord and so to possess and
enjoy its world.
But by the very definition of the ego its capacity is limited. It
accepts as itself a form made of the movement of Nature which
cannot endure in the general flux of things. It has to form it by
the process of the movement and this is birth, it dissolves it by
the process of the movement and this is death.
It can master by the understanding only so much of its
experiences as assimilate with its own view-point and in a way
which must always be imperfect and subject to error because it
is not the view of all or the view-point of the All. Its knowledge
is partly error and all the rest it ignores.
It can only accept and harmonise itself with a certain number
of its experiences, precisely because these are the only ones it can
understand sufficiently to assimilate. This is its joy; the rest is
sorrow or indifference.
It is only capable of harmonising with the force in its body,
nerves and mind a certain number of impacts of alien forces. In
these it takes pleasure. The rest it receives with insensibility or
Death therefore is the constant denial by the All of the ego's
false self-limitation in the individual frame of mind, life and
Error is the constant denial by the All of the ego's false
sufficiency in a limited knowledge.
Suffering of mind and body is the constant denial by the
All of the ego's attempt to confine the universal Ananda to
a false and self-regarding formation of limited and exclusive
It is only by accepting the oneness of the All that the individual can escape from this constant and necessary denial and attain
beyond. Then All-being, All-force, All-consciousness, All-truth,
All-delight take possession of the individual soul. It changes
mortality for immortality.

But the way of attaining to immortality is not by the selfdissolution of the individual formation into the flux of Prakriti,
neither is it by prematurely dissolving it into the All-soul which
Prakriti expresses. Man moves towards something which fulfils
the universe by transcending it. He has to prepare his individual
soul for the transcendence and for the fulfilment.
If Avidya is the cause of mortality, it is also the path out of
mortality. The limitation has been created precisely in order that
the individual may affirm himself against the flux of Prakriti in

order eventually to transcend, possess and transform it.
The first necessity is therefore for man continually to enlarge
himself in being, knowledge, joy, power in the limits of the ego
so that he may arrive at the conception of something which
progressively manifests itself in him in these terms and becomes
more and more powerful to deal with the oppositions of Prakriti
and to change, individually, more and more the terms of ignorance, suffering and weakness into the terms of knowledge, joy
and power and even death into a means of wider life.
This self-enlargement has then to awaken to the perception
of something exceeding itself, exceeding the personal manifestation. Man has so to enlarge his conception of self as to see all in
himself and himself in all (verse 6). He has to see that this "I"
which contains all and is contained in all, is the One, is universal
and not his personal ego. To That he has to subject his ego, That
he has to reproduce in his nature and become, That is what he
has to possess and enjoy with an equal soul in all its forms and
He has to see that this universal One is something entirely
transcendent, the sole Being, and that the universe and all its
forms, actions, egos are only becomings of that Being (verse 7).
World is a becoming which seeks always to express in motion
of Time and Space, by progression in mind, life and body what
is beyond all becoming, beyond Time and Space, beyond mind,
life and body.
Thus Avidya becomes one with Vidya. By Avidya man passes
beyond that death, suffering, ignorance, weakness which were
the first terms he had to deal with, the first assertions of the One
in the birth affirming Himself amid the limitations and divisions
of the Multiplicity. By Vidya he enjoys even in the birth the Immortality.

Immortality does not mean survival of the self or the ego after dissolution of the body. The Self always survives the dissolution of the body, because it always pre-existed before the birth of the body. The Self is unborn and undying. The survival of the ego is only the first condition by which the individual soul is able to continue and link together its experiences in Avidya so as to pursue with an increasing self-possession and mastery that process of self-enlargement which culminates in Vidya.

By immortality is meant the consciousness which is beyond birth and death, beyond the chain of cause and effect, beyond all bondage and limitation, free, blissful, self-existent in consciousbeing, the consciousness of the Lord, of the supreme Purusha, of Sachchidananda.

On this realisation man can base his free activity in the universe.
But having so far attained, what further utility has the soul
for birth or for works? None for itself, everything for God and
the universe.
Immortality beyond the universe is not the object of manifestation in the universe, for that the Self always possessed. Man
exists in order that through him the Self may enjoy Immortality
in the birth as well as in the non-becoming.
Nor is individual salvation the end; for that would only be
the sublime of the ego, not its self-realisation through the Lord
in all.
Having realised his own immortality, the individual has yet
to fulfil God's work in the universe. He has to help the life,
the mind and the body in all beings to express progressively
Immortality and not mortality.
This he may do by the becoming in the material body which
we ordinarily call birth, or from some status in another world
or even, it is possible, from beyond world. But birth in the body
is the most close, divine and effective form of help which the
liberated can give to those who are themselves still bound to the
progression of birth in the lowest world of the Ignorance.

questions, comments, suggestions/feedback, take-down requests, contribute, etc
contact me @ or via the comments below
or join the integral discord server (chatrooms)
if the page you visited was empty, it may be noted and I will try to fill it out. cheers





--- SIMILAR TITLES [0] - Knowledge and Ignorance
select ::: Being, God, injunctions, media, place, powers, subjects,
favorite ::: cwsa, everyday, grade, mcw, memcards (table), project, project 0001, Savitri, the Temple of Sages, three js, whiteboard,
temp ::: consecration, experiments, knowledge, meditation, psychometrics, remember, responsibility, temp, the Bad, the God object, the Good, the most important, the Ring, the source of inspirations, the Stack, the Tarot, the Word, top priority, whiteboard,

--- DICTIONARIES (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)

--- QUOTES [0 / 0 - 0 / 0] (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)

KEYS (10k)


*** NEWFULLDB 2.4M ***

--- IN CHAPTERS (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)

1, #Isha Upanishad, #Sri Aurobindo, #Integral Yoga
  object: - Knowledge and Ignorance
  author class:Sri Aurobindo

change font "color":
change "background-color":
change "font-family":
change "padding": 45074 site hits