ज्ञानेन तु तदज्ञानं येषां नाशितमात्मनः ।
तेषामादित्यवज्ज्ञानं प्रकाशयति तत्परम् ॥ १६ ॥ (5.16)
For them whose ignorance has been destroyed by knowledge, that very knowledge, like the sun, illumines the supreme Reality.
येषां, in the case of those who are endued with the disciplines of श्रवण (hearing), मनन (thinking), निदिध्यासन (meditation) etc., who have been favored by the Lord, who craves for Liberation–of whom; तत् अज्ञानं, that ignorance, which possesses the powers of covering and distorting, which is beginningless, indefineable and unreal, which is the root of the multitude of evils, which has the Self as its substratum and object, and which is referred to by such words as अविद्या, माया etc नाशितम्, is destroyed, sublated; which ignorance being verily in all the three times, becomes known as unreal, and which is resolved into the mere Consciousness that is its substratum–just as silver is reduced into the nacre by the knowledge of nacre–ज्ञानेन, by the Knowledge; आत्मन:, of the Self, which arises from the great Upanishadic sayings taught by the teacher, which is in the form of modification of the mind that has been purified through the maturity of श्रवण, मनन, and निदिध्यासन; destroyed by the indeterminate निर्विकल्प realization (that does not recognize the distinction between the knower and the known) having for its content only the partless, homogenous Substance, viz. सत्यम्-ज्ञानं-अनन्तं (Existence-Knowledge-Bliss) which is the same as the identity of the imports of the words ‘That’ and ‘thou’ when they have been freed from their adventitious characteristics; तत्, that; ज्ञानं, Knowledge; येषां, of theirs; is the agent, आदित्यवत्, like the sun.
As the sun by its mere rising itself dispels darkness entirely, but it does not depend on some auxiliary, similarly the Knowledge of Brahman as well, which is of the form of pervasive light on account of of being the fruit of pure सत्त्व, while eradicating ignorance, together with its effects, by its mere emergence itself and without depending on another auxiliary, प्रकाशयति, reveals; परम्, the Supreme, the Reality that is Self and is the same as सत्-चित-आनन्द (Truth-Knowledge-Infinite Bliss), and is One, indeed, without a second (अद्वैतं ); reveals only by merely catching Its reflection, without objectifying It.
Here, by saying–through the phrases, ‘covered by ignorance’ and ‘destroyed by Knowledge’ –that ignorance is a means of covering and that it is destroyed by Knowledge, it is ruled out that ignorance is a mere absence of knowledge. For a nonentity does not cover anything; nor is ‘absence of knowledge’ eradicated by knowledge, because the fromer is by its very nature a form of eradication! Therefore the view of the Lord is that, ignorance is a very positive principle that stands established in such experience of the witness as, ‘I am ignorant; I do not know myself and any other’. The elaboration of this is to be found in अद्वैत सिद्दि .
By the plural number in the word येषां, it is shown that there is no restrictive rule as to who will realize the Supreme and when.
The Sruti says: तस्मात्तत्सर्वमभवत्तद्यो यो देवानां प्रत्यबुध्यत स एव तदभवत्तथर्षीणां तथा मनुष्याणां तद्धैतत्पश्यनृषिर्वामदेवः प्रतिपेदेऽहं मनुरभवं सूर्यश्चेति । तदिदमप्येतर्हि य एवं वेदाहं ब्रह्मास्मीति स इदं सर्वं भवति तस्य ह न देवाश्चनाभूत्या ईशते । (Br.U. 1.4.10)
And whoever among the gods knew It also became That; and the same with sages and men. The sage Vamadeva, while realizing this self as That, knew, ‘I was Manu, and the Sun.’ And to this day whoever in like manner knows It as, ‘I am Brahman,’ becomes all this universe.
It shows the rule arrived at through the logic that the ignorance which relates to some subject and subsists on some substratum becomes negated by the valid knowledge about that subject and that substratum.
As to that, the covering inherent in ignorance is of two kinds–one is that which makes even the true appear as untrue;
but the other is that which makes unmanifest even what is manifest! It may be right in front of your eyes but you cant see!
Of these the first is negated by mere knowledge, be it direct or indirect.
For, such mistakes as, ‘there is no fire on the hill’, is not seen to persist even when fire etc are merely inferred to be there.
Similarly, even when an indirect conviction arises from the sentence, ‘Brahman which is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss exists’, the mistake that Brahman does not exist becomes surely dispelled.
The second covering in the form of non-manifestation, which gives rise to the mistake, ‘Brahman surely does exist but it is not manifest to me’, is removed only by direct realization.
And that direct realization, which is indeterminate (nirvikalpa), arises only from Vedantic teaching.