Skip to main content
Select Source:

Avidyā

Avidyā (Skt.) or avijja (Pāli), Literally ‘non-knowledge’ or ignorance. A term in Indian religions which, in its broadest connotation, means that which keeps a person bound on the wheel of transmigration (saṃsāra) due to his/her action (karma) and so is a condition of suffering (duḥkha).1. Avidyā in Hinduism.

In the Vedas avidyā means ignorance of ritual and moral obligations and so implies absence of knowledge rather than an ontological condition of bondage. In the Upaniṣads it comes to mean spiritual delusion and the non-knowledge of Brahman. In Sāṃkhya-yoga ignorance, which is the cause of bondage and suffering, is regarded as the non-discrimination of the individual self (puruṣa) from matter (prakṛti) in which it appears to be entangled. For Advaita Vedānta bondage is similarly due to beginningless ignorance which, in contrast to Sāṃkhya, is the creation of distinctions where none exist; in reality there being only Brahman. For Rāmānuja's Viśiṣtādvaita, ignorance is the absence of knowing that the self (jīva) is distinct from, yet also merged into, Brahman, while for the Dvaita school of Madhva, avidyā is ignorance of the self's eternal distinction from God.2. In Buddhism, avijja/avidyā is ignorance of the true nature of reality, the non-emancipated state of mind; it is specifically expressed in Buddhist writings as lack of experiential knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. Avijja refers to moral and spiritual ignorance, not ignorance of a factual and scientific kind, and is only finally extinguished with the attainment of nirvāna.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Avidyā." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Avidyā." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/avidya

"Avidyā." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/avidya

Avidya

Avidya

A Hindu religious term also used in Theosophy to denote the ignorance of mind which causes those commencing the spiritual pathway to expend vain effort and pursue vain courses. It is the antithesis of Vidya, or true knowledge.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Avidya." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Avidya." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/avidya

"Avidya." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/avidya