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By Swami Harshananda

Āvaraṇa-śakti literally means ‘veiling power’.

According to the Advaita Vedānta propounded by Śaṅkara (A. D. 788-820) the ultimate Reality is one only. It is the one without a second,

Ekam eva advitiyam brahma

Śankara attributes this to māyā or avidyā or ajñāna (illusion or nescience or ignorance). This māyā/ avidyā covers this Truth or Brahman and makes it appear as something else which really is not, viz., the world. For instance, the semidarkness of twilight covers up the real nature of a rope and projects it as a snake. The power of māyā/avidyā to veil the truth is called ‘āvaraṇaśakti’ and its power to project it as something else, is called ‘vikṣepaśakti.’

Just as the bright light destroys the illusory perception of the snake in the rope, even jñāna, knowledge or direct experience of the Truth (Brahman/Ātman) will destroy this māyā/avidyā.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore