Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Patañjali's yogasūtra 1:8 - Viparyayaḥ


विपर्ययो मिथ्याज्ञानमतद्रूपप्रतिष्ठम् 

viparyayo mithyājñānamatadrūpapratiṣṭhitam

[An] erroneous impression is based on false knowledge [in which our mind has] a conception not of its [the object's] own form

विपर्ययः= मिथ्या+ज्ञानं अतत्+रूपं प्रतिष्ठम्

विपर्ययः - contrariety, reverse, mistake; masc., noun. (Hindi speakers will recognise this as arising from the same root as विपरीत [वि+पृ 3P]) 
मिथ्या - false, untrue, incorrect; indeclinable, cognate with the Eng. myth
ज्ञानम् - knowledge, knowing; neuter noun from jñā 9P
अतत् - not of that 
रूपम् - form, appearance, figure; neuter noun from rūp 10P
प्रतिष्ठम् - centre, base; neuter noun from pratisthā 1P

This vritti is often explained by commentators using Śankarācārya’s famous 'seeing rope, thinking snake' example. Basically, there is contact with an external object but the image/data received by the mind conjures a response which is not the real form of the object. Another example of this would be the story from the Rāmāyaa in which Daśaratha mistakes the gurgling of a water pot for an elephant.

Important to note, viparyaya only applies when there is a lack of correspondence between our mental image and the actual object. It is not concerned with erroneous images that correspond to the actual object. For instance, in a fog or the dark, you might see a blurred image of someone you know, or a building - but if it is in fact that person/building, that is not a case of viparyaya.   

1 comment:

Mendicant said...

It is the connectivity of the mind with reality that is imp in this.Good.