What happens with the one who blindly pursues avidya?
A verse in the Kathopanishada portrays a vivid picture of such a person
अविदयायामन्तरे वर्तमान :
स्वयम धीरा : पंडितमन्यमाना :
दन्द्रम्यमाणा : परियंति मुढा
अंधेनैव नियमाना यथांधा :
The meaning of the first two lines is clear- they mean something to the effect that those who always live in avidya consider themselves to be very intelligent and erudite. What the Upanishads have told here thousands of years ago is applicable even to the modern age- even today whenever a person gets highly qualified, he gets vain about it. He does not miss a single chance of flaunting his intelligence and education. He often looks down upon those who are less educated than him. In complete contrast with him, the person who has attained vidya will never flaunt his Atma dhyana. He will never even claim that he has attained Atma Dnyana – that has been guessed from his personality and behavior. He will never look down upon anyone for being less talented and knowledgeable than him.
The next two lines say that such a mudha, a mad person often pariyanti, wanders aimlessly like a blind person being led by another blind person. In what sense does he wander aimlessly? In what sense is he blind? He is blind in the sense that he is blind to the Ultimate Reality of the world, which is the Divine. He wanders aimlessly in the sense that he is not sure about the ultimate goal of life, which is trying to know the Divine. He considers making material progress to be the sole aim of life and keeps blindly pursuing that aim. He misleads others into considering material progress to be the only aim of life and blindly pursuing that aim- this is what the Upanishads mean by a blind leading a blind. Such a person is दन्द्रम्यमाण: the word which has been interpreted by Adi Shankaracharya as the one who desires कुटीलामनेकरूपाम गतिम, many crooked states. As Dr. P. V. Vartak observes in the Marathi book ‘Upanishadanche Vidnyannistha Nirupan’, the word दन्द्र म्य मा ण: actually means the one who wants to remain calm and run at the same time. Remaining calm and running at the same time is a crooked state and the blind seeker of avidya is after such crooked states. In what sense does he want to run and remain calm at the same time? He wants to run means he wants to run after material pleasures and he wants to remain calm means he wants to get mental peace from that pursuit. However, it is only the pursuit of vidya that can bring permanent mental peace to one, the blind pursuit of avidya can not. So such a person is always mentally restless, he can never get the mental rest that he desires.
So this is what happens with the blind pursuer of avidya. It will be wise of us to pursue both vidya and avidya at the same time, lest we should end up as the kind of person the present verse in the Kathopanishada portrays.