Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Patañjali's yogasūtra 1:7

So far, sūtras 1:1-6 have informed us that one of the central aims of Yoga is to still the mind, by blocking vrittis, which are  defined as modifications or activity in the mind. Over the next 5 sūtras the vrittis are explained in more detail. 

Today we look at Pramāa.  

{1:7} प्रत्यक्षानुमानागमाः प्रमाणानि 

Correct/right knowledge is based on direct cognition, inference [and] testimony

प्रत्यक्ष अनुमान आगम प्रमाणानि 

प्रत्यक्ष - impression derived from the senses; directly before the eyes neuter noun from prati+akṣ
अनुमान - inference; neuter noun from anu (following)+√man=to perceive, to think
आगम - acquisition of knowledge; handed down and fixed by tradition; masculine noun from ā+gam (lit. what comes)
प्रमाण - means of knowledge, correct notion; plural of neuter noun from pra+man=perceive, understand, comprehend  

प्रत्यक्षानुमानागमाः is a dvandva compound comprising three elements, hence the ending is in the plural.

Pramāṇa roughly translates as knowledge related to facts, that are collected through direct or indirect contact through the senses. I.K Taimini explains: 

You see your car coming up the drive, so you know your car is approaching: direct - pratyaka

You hear it driving up and know its sound so you know that it is approaching: anumāna - as it involves some element of inference

Suppose you neither see nor hear it, but your mother comes and informs you your car has arrived, it is āgama, as you are depending on the testimony of a trusted person.

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