In the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagvatam, Lord Krishna tells his friend and disciple Uddhava about the true nature of bondage and liberation. He tells that there is one Self alone and it’s because of difference among various mental tendencies –we observe so many beings. There exists neither bondage nor liberation. The imagination of bondage as well as liberation is because of Maya(Kundalini). Avidya(illusory potency) and Vidya(liberating potency) are both forms of Kundalini or Shakti.
Until there’s lack of ripeness the Self considers itself to be a limited being. The force which ensures this sleep is called Avidya. The prefix ‘A’ before Vidya suggests that the word is exactly opposite of Vidya. Vidya is the knowledge or force which liberates one from suffering, hence Avidya is the false knowledge which keeps one in bondage.
The humor lies in realizing that both Vidya and Avidya are AVIDYA because they’re parts of the dream. After awakening there is neither bondage nor liberation. They’re like dreams seen last night. It doesn’t matter whether you were running after materialistic pursuits or after some very peaceful heavenly state in your dream. Once dream is over you know that it never was reality. All the attempts to wake-up were in the dream therefore they were also as illusory as the things which kept you sleeping. It might seem paradoxical–because we think our attempts to wake up were really necessary to wake up. Actually we are always awakened–completely enlightened. The belief that we are not is what leads us towards spiritual pursuits and austerity. The tapas merely burns away the notion that we are bound. How dramatic that Vidya which is also AVIDYA has to first come in to make you believe that you are in bondage. Before Vidya comes into play you firmly believe that you need various forms to be at peace. You don’t even imagine that unity exists. But once Vidya starts functioning you start imagining a state which is free from duality and struggle of running after pleasure. Then it makes you so sensitive that you shun all material pleasures as false. Vidya burns away the notion of any separation from peace. Only after realization you firmly get established into the eternal state. It’s your ever present peace behind all movements. Vidya turns extraverted mind inwards. As it becomes introverted and one pointed the stillness increases and gradually becomes firmly established.
Only at the point before total falling away of duality a Jeevanmukta is seen. Jeevanmukta is a sage who is aware of duality and Self at the same time. He is the only point where Self really enjoys the dream in a sense of play or Leela! Self undergoes no modifications of any kind because all modifications exist in time but the Self exists beyond time and causation. Therefore, the liberation exists only for someone under the influence of Vidya. Avidya also exists only for those who believe that Vidya as well as Liberation exist. Those under the influence of Avidya assume that there is no Self and they firmly believe that embodied existence alone is. These people are bound to come under the sway of Vidya later on. Those who are liberated don’t admit existence of Vidya or Avidya for them, though they admit that both of these are imaginary potencies acting as agencies for sleep and dreaming of waking up from sleep. In a sense both sleeping people and awakened people deny existence of Vidya and its opposite. First class does so because they are under Avidya. Second class is the only reality and denies the reality of any bondage, causation, liberation, time or universe separate from Self.
Avidya might be understood by a Mumukshu(seeker) to be energy acting at lower chakras in various beings. When Kundalini starts acting at heart Chakra it might be considered to be Vidya. Under sway of Avidya you can’t wake-up. Time is not yet ripe therefore alarm clock hasn’t yet started playing. When you see any loop-holes in the dream world you don’t doubt it because all shocks are absorbed by Kundalini. Even in the face of most grave situations when you feel like quitting(for a while!) you are brought back to sleep by this power. But when the time is ripe- even smallest of roughness will make you horrified of existence and since Vidya has started operating a ray of light will come through a hole into your dark nether world.
Then you put in earnest attempts to wake up. Not only have you seen horrors of sleeping but also see bliss of liberation at a distance. You’re always Self and bliss is of nature of peace but since it’s imagined to be away it seems like an infinite amount of sensation. The truth is sensation can be felt only in the dream world and it’s always limited in intensity and duration. Beyond world of sensations exists the calm peace. The shocker Kundalini will not rest until it has destroyed traces of Avidya. When you wake up there remains neither Avidya nor Vidya and attempts to wake-up which existed for a Mumukshu who has now become Jeevanmukta are seen as mere final nightmare in the dream world. When completely awake the duality ceases to be and even when the world or objects are seen only Self shines forth. For Bhagavan the Vidya and Avidya are both AVIDYA(non-existent) and AVIDYA is a force imagined by Maya which is playful aspect of consciousness. Shiva is consciousness and Shakti is Maya. When awakening is complete Shiva and Shakti become one. The Kundalini becomes Self. It was Self all along. The illusory separation disappears.