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AdvaitaA Contemporary Critique$
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Srinivasa Rao

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780198079811

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198079811.001.0001

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Rope-Snake Illusion

Rope-Snake Illusion

(p.70) Chapter 4 Rope-Snake Illusion

Srinivasa Rao

Oxford University Press

Advaitins of post-Śankara period hold a strange thesis that when ropes are mistaken for snakes, there are indeed snakes there, but only illusory ones. They believe so on metaphysical grounds, disregarding the obvious facts that after realizing that it was an illusion, it is believed (1) by none that there was a snake (of any kind), and (2) that it was just the rope itself that was seen as a snake. Further, they hold that at the moment of illusion, the ignorance in the perceiver instantly creates that illusory snake. Upon dispelling of illusion, that illusory snake is sublated by correct knowledge of rope. Our experience of the world is also regarded an illusion created by cosmic ignorance (māyā) present in Brahman. This chapter is a detailed, novel refutation of this ontology of illusion, a prelude to an ensuing rejection of cosmic ontology.

Keywords:   Śankara, illusion, snake, rope, māyā, Brahman, ontology, ignorance

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