avidya in Pali literature

Dan Lusthaus dlusthau at mailer.fsu.edu
Thu Apr 3 23:55:54 UTC 1997

>> In sutra II.5 of Patanjali's Yogasutra, avidya is defined as follows:
>> anityaashuciduHkhaanaatmasu nityashucisukhaatmakhyaatiravidyaa |
>> "Avidya is the taking of the non-eternal, the impure, the painful and
>> non-self to be the eternal, the pure, the pleasurable and the self."
>> I'm almost certain that there exists, somewhere in early Buddhist
>> literature, a passage on avidya which uses very-similar wording.

These are the four viparyaasas, usually translated as "perversions" but
meaning conceptual reversals. I'm not sure, off-hand, if these are listed
in early Pali texts (I can't remember them there), but they do appear in
early Prajnaparamita literature and other Mahayana texts. Check in
Edgerton's Buddhist-hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary under viparyaasa for
references (I don't have one in my office or I would have checked for you).

Dan Lusthaus
Flordia State University

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