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(Avidyā) A Sanskrit word usually translated as “ignorance,” but perhaps more appropriately termed “unwisdom,” since it is the negative of vidya which is cognate with the German “wissen” and the English word “wisdom.” It is often translated “nescience” (cf. SD I:7). It is sometimes used synonymously with ajñana, more literally translated “ignorance.” Both avidya and ajñana are used, in Indian philosophical systems, in the general sense of ignorance of some specific object or idea, but are also used metaphysically to refer to a more profound, pervasive lack of knowledge of the true nature of ourselves and the universe. In this latter sense, it is identified as the cause of the soul’s bondage to the cycle of rebirth.



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