From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Mulāvidya literally means ‘universal or primeval ignorance or nescience’.

Some of the schools of Advaita Vedānta categorize avidyā or nescience into two types:

  1. Mula-avidyā - universal or primeval nescience. It is the material cause of the world.
  2. Tula-avidyā - individual nescience. It is the avidyā that covers consciousness circumscribed by particular objects, like the body.

Whether mulāvidyā is located in Brahman or in the jīva has been a moot point. The Vivaraṇa school of Pañcapādikā holds the former view whereas the Bhāmatī school sticks to the latter.


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