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Anadi In Hindu Religion – Whose Beginning Is Not Known

In Hindu religion, the word anadi is used when the beginning of something is not known. However, the term anadi is not actually used by Advaitins in that particular sense as the question of traceability or non-traceability of the beginning does not apply to Brahman (the Supreme Being). The traceability and non-traceability of the beginning of something arises only it is born in a particular time. However, the term anadi is used in the sense of that which has a peculiar existence, having neither birth nor death or end; it is not used for that which is non-existent.

Shankara, the commentator, interprets the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1/2/1) and says that the term asat stands for Hiranyagarbha (cosmic self).

Actually, such a being, having neither a beginning nor an end, having neither a beginning nor an end, having neither birth nor death and yet existent, is not graspable by the human mind and if we have to describe it in relation to time, the word anadi is the most appropriate. The word can be replaced by the term nitya which stands for that which is beyond the division of time (past, present and future) and which is never known to be destroyed or deprived of its existence. It is also the cause of all the divisions of birth, existence, growth, diminution and destruction.

But there is a slight difference in using both the term. When we use the term nitya, we specifically intend to describe the perpetual and transcending aspect of the being. While using the term anadi, we intend to denote its beginninglessness and existence without birth, over and above all existence in time.

In Advaita, such an anadi tattva, beginningless ontological element, is called Brahman. In Sabdadvaita of Bhartrhari, it is Sabda Brahman that is anadi (Vakyapadiya I.1). The term anadi is used for vasana (false knowledge consisting in an entanglement with the worldly objects) in Buddhism, in the sense of involvement with the unreal, non-existent, in this case the worldly entanglement, is beginningless. But when it is used for the real or existent, it means the eternal being; something that is always there; that which is the first cause of all existence and is uncaused. Hence, it is not subordinate to any of the other existing or ‘real’ entities belonging to any part of time.