By Swami Harshananda
Avaccheda-vāda literally means ‘theory of limitation’.
In Advaita Vedanta
According to the Advaita Vedānta Brahman, the Absolute is one, without a second. The jīvas or the individual souls, though apparently limited are Brahman itself, in the ultimate analysis. How can One become or appear as the many is metaphysically indefinable. But it can be described figuratively or analogically. The two well-known theories that have successfully attempted this are :
- Bimba-pratibimba-vāda or Pratibimba-vāda (‘theory of reflection’)
- Avacchedavāda (‘theory of limitation’)
According to the former theory, māyā and avidyā act like reflecting media. When Brahman is reflected in māyā, it becomes īśvara; when reflected in avidyā, it becomes the jīvas. The reflected images (called ‘pratibimba’) are affected by the media. When a reflected image is affected by the changes in the particular medium, other reflections are not affected very much. This explains the different conditions of the different jīvas though all the jivas are reflections of the same Brahman.
Theory of Vivaraṇa School
When the reflecting media are done away with, the reflections too disappear, leaving only the original intact. This view was propounded mainly by Padmapāda (A. D. 820) and his successors. It is one of the characteristic features of the Vivaraṇa School.
In of Bhāmatī School
In the the Bhāmatī School, when Brahman the Absolute, appears to be limited by māyā, it becomes īśvara; when limited by avidyā, it becomes the jīvas. A classic example for this limitation theory is the sky or space (ākāśa) and containers like a pot. Though space is unlimited, it appears to be limited by a pot or a room or a house. On the destruction of these limiting adjuncts, space ‘regains’ its original status.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore