1. Perception (Pratyakṣa) | Śrī Vaishnavism

The Light of Rāmānuja’s School

1 - Perception (Pratyakṣa).

Invocatory Verses.

1. Śrī-Veṅkaṭeśam Kari-śaila-nātham
Śrī-Devarājam Ghaṭik-ādri-siṁham
Kṛṣnena sākam Yatirājam iḍe
Svapne ca dṛṣṭān mama Deśik-endrān.

2.  Yatīśvaram praṇamyā ’ham
Vedānt-āryam Mahā-gurum
Karomi bāla-bodhārtham

The Blessed Lord (Śrīman Nārāyaṇa)’ alone is the Truth (tattva), whose qualities are a soul and non-soul, and secondless.

By Love (Bhakti) and Resignation (Prapatti,) propitiated, He alone is the Means; and He alone is the Goal, whose quality is the Spiritual Universe.

Thus, by means of the texts (or passages) of the Vedanta, do they establish - viz.,

Vyāsa, Bodhāyana, Guhadeva, Bhāruci, Brahmānandi, Dramidācārya, Śrī Parāṅkuśa, Nātha, Yāmunamuni, Yatīśvara and others;

According to their School, I proclaim, by the grace of Mahā Ācārya (my Guru or Spiritual Preceptor), the Śarīraka- Paribhāṣā, named Yatīndra-Mata- Dīpikā (or the Light of Rāmānuja’s School), - which follows the Vedānta - for the instruction of students.

All the sum of things are divisible into two Divisions,

(1) Pramāṇa, Authority, or Measurer or Means (of knowledge), and
(2) Prameya or the Measured or Object (or Objective) (of knowledge).

The Means (of knowledge) is only threefold.

The Object (of knowledge) is twofold:

(1) Dravya or the Thing (or Substance), and
(2) A-dravya or the Non-Thing (or Non-Substance).

Dravya or Substance is of two kinds,

(1) Jaḍa or the Non-sentient and
(2) A-jaḍa or the Sentient.

Jaḍa or the Non-sentient is twofold, viz.,

(1) Prakṛti or Matter and
(1) Kāla or Time.

Prakṛti or Matter is composed of 24 (sub-) principles (tattva).

Kāla or Time is, by reason of limitation or condition (upādhi), threefold.

A-jaḍa or the Sentient is twofold:

(1) Parāk or outward (objective) and
(2) Pratyak or Inward (subjective).

Parāk or Outward is also twofold:

(1) the Nitya- vibhūti or Eternal Estate, and
(2) the Dharma- bhūta-jñāna or attributive (or adjectival) consciousness or cognition.

Pratyak or Inward is also twofold:

(1) Jīva or the Individual Soul and
(2) Īśvara or Ruling (Universal) Soul (God).

Jīva or Individual Soul is threefold:

(1) Baddha or the Bound,
(2) Mukta or the Freed, and
(3) Nitya or the Eternal (or Free).

The Baddha or bound soul is also twofold:

(1) Bubhukṣu or Pleasure-desirer, and  
(2) Mumukṣu or Freedom-desirer.

The Bubhukṣu or Pleasure-desirer is twofold:

(1) the addicted to Artha or wealth, and Kāma or gratifications;
(2) and the devoted to Dharma or Duties.

The devoted to Dharma or duties are twofold:

(1) the devoted to Devas, and
(2) the devoted to Bhagavān (God).

The Mumukshu or Freedom-desirer is twofold:

(1) the addicted to Kaivalya or Isolation, and
(2) the devoted to Moksha or Salvation.

The Moksha or Salvation-seeker is twofold:

(1) the Bhakta or God-lover, and
(2) the Prapanna or God-resigned.

The Prapanna or God-resigned is twofold:

(1) the Ekāṅtī or the One-pointed, and
(2) the Paramāikāṅtī or the One-only-pointed.

The Paramāikāṅtī is twofold:

(1) the Dṛpta or The Postulant-Patient, and
(1) the Ārta or The Postulant-Impatient.

Īśvara or God Supreme is (hypostatically) existent in 5 modes, viz.,

(1) Para or the Transcendent,
(2) Vyūha or the Grouped,
(3) Vibhava or the Incarnational
(4) Antaryāmī or the In-Ruler, and
(5) Arcā or the Worshippable.

Para or the Transcendent is Uniform (or the Immutable Spirit-Unit).

Vyūha or the Grouped is fourfold:

(1) Vāsudeva,
(2) Sankarṣaṇa,
(3) Pradyumna, and
(4) Aniruddha.

Keśava and others ate derivative (Local) groups.

The Matsya or the Fish and other Incarnations are innumerable.

Antaryāmī or the In-Ruler dwells in every body.

Arcā or the Worshippable are those unique Images presented to the eyes of all men in such Holy Shrines as Śrīraṅgam.

An examination will now be conducted in order of this specification (or enunciation) above made (of the categories).

Of those, Pramāṇa or Means of knowledge is the producer (or maker or giver) of Pramā or knowledge.

Means’ is what is to be defined; the definition of it is that ‘it is the producer of Pramā, knowledge’.

Pramā is jñāna or ‘knowledge consonant with experience in its exactitude ’.

Pramā or knowledge is the thing to be defined. The definition is ‘that which has the quality of knowledge consonant with experience in its exactitude’.

Supposing the definition of Pramā was simply ‘knowledge’, the knowledge which sees silver in a pearl-oyster would be a definition overlapping its bounds (ati-vyāpti), (or over-pervading its legitimate limits.

Hence the definition of Pramā takes the form: 'knowledge consonant with experience’.

Even then the fault of over-pervasion (ati-vyāpti) remains, inasmuch as one in a moment of illusion (or delusion) may mistake the pearl-oyster for silver.

Hence (the further) qualificatory clause to the definition: ‘in its exactitude (yathāvasthita) ’.

By this expression, saṁśaya, anyathā-jñāna and viparīta-jñāna are avoided (which would) otherwise vitiate the definition.

Saṁśaya or Doubt is the apperception of mutually contradicting attributes in a thing (dharmī) to be apprehended.

For example, the doubt whether a long-looking or erect object is post or person.

Anyathā-jñāna or Wrong Apprehension is the mistaken apperception of one attribute for another:

For example: the proposition which ascribes the agency in the real agent, soul, as due to illusion. (This is dharma-viparyāsa).

Viparīta-jñāna or Reversed Apprehension is the mistaken apperception of one thing itself for another:

For example: the mistaking of the post itself for the person. (This is dharmī- viparyāsa).

A definition (or sign of a thing) has three faults:

(1) a-vyāpti,
(2) ati-vyāpti and
(3) a-sambhava.

A-vyāpti or non-pervasion is the non-existence of the sign (or definition) in the thing signified (or to be defined).

Ati-vyāpti or over-pervasion is the existence of the sign (or definition) in things other than the things to be signified.

A-sambhava is the non-existence of the sign (or definition) anywhere:

For example the statement (or assertion) that Jīva or the Individual Soul is an object of perception by the eye.

As therefore these faults are absent in the definition given of Pramāṇa or Means of knowledge, that definition is well established.

(Now in the proposition, Pramā-karaṇa = Pramāṇa, i.e., the producer of knowledge, is the Means of knowledge, what is meant by Karaṇa, producer, maker or effecter?).

Karaṇa or producer is that which is the best instrument (by which, knowledge is obtained). The best instrument is the instrument of which there is none better.

Hence it is evident that Pramāṇa or the Means of Knowledge is that instrument of which there is none better by which to obtain (that) knowledge.

There is a definition of Pramāṇa as that which makes known what is unknown. But those who propose this definition have themselves refuted it. Hence it is not acceptable.

The Pramāṇas or the Means of knowledge are three: -

(1) Pratyakṣa or Perception,
(2) Anumāna or Inference, and
(3) Śabda or Word.

Of these, Perception is the Means which renders knowledge actually sensible (or made manifest to the senses).

Manifest to the senses’ is (a necessary clause) to show its variety from Inference.

Pramā or knowledge is to show its character different from what it would be to the vitiated (unsound, defective or diseased) sense.

This Perception is twofold:

(1) Savikalpaka or collective, and
(2) Nirvikalpaka or general.

Nirvikalpaka or general, is superficial Knowledge of a thing consisting in its attributes, form etc., obtained at first sight.

Savikalpaka, general or particular, is thorough Knowledge of a thing consisting in its attributes, form etc., obtained on deep reflexion (or meditation).

In both cases, attributes, form etc., are ancillary necessity; for if these ancillaries (or auxiliaries) were absent, the knowledge (of a thing) is neither present nor known.

The process of perception is thus:

(1) the soul’s " contact with the mind,
(2) the mind with the sense, and
(3) the sense with the object.

The invariable function of the senses is to illuminate the object to be perceived.

For example:

the contiguity of the sense, eye etc., with the object, pot etc., causes the ocular knowledge: “This is the pot”. Thus also are the tactual and other perceptions.

In the perception of a thing, contact is the connexion. In the perception of the form etc., of a thing, (the relation or connection called) Samavāya or inherence is inadmissible, for the connection is one of dependence on the thing depended upon.

The perceptions Nirvikalpaka (or general) and Savikalpaka (particular) are twofold:

(1) Arvācīna or memorial (lit. recent) and
(2) An-arvācīna or non-memorial ( - ancient or primal lit. remote).

The Memorial again is twofold:

(1) sense-helped and
(2) sense-unhelped.

The sense-unhelped is twofold:

(1) Svayam-siddha or self-ascertained, and
(2) Divya or divine.

Self-ascertained is what is engendered by Yoga or deep meditation.

Divine is what is caused by Bhagavān’s (God’s) Grace.

The non-memorial is sense-unhelped, or the knowledge possessed by the Nityās or the Eternals and the Muktas or the Emancipated.

This non-memorial (perception) is passingly referred to.

Thus Pratyakṣa or Sense-Perception is that which generates Sākṣātkāra, or knowledge, sense-evident.

But an objection may be put forward thus:

-  Pramā or knowledge has been defined to be knowledge as is actually consonant (or consistent) with experience.

This condition is also found present in Smṛti or memory; hence memory or recollection must also be counted as a Means of knowledge. How then are such Means (pramāṇas) stated to be only Three?

To this objection it is said:

Even if memory be admitted as a Means, it is dependent on Saṁskāra, or residua left of previous experiences, and these residua are dependent on (sense-) perception.

Hence memory is included (or involved) in perception, and there is no need to constitute it into a distinct Means or Authority.

Hence the Means (or Authorities or Instruments of knowledge) become determined as Three (only.)

Memory or Recollection is Knowledge derived from the residua or impressions left of a previous (or past) experience. The excitants (that rouse the dormant residua into remembrance) are as per verse:

Smṛti-bījasya bādhakāḥ

Sometimes the excitant is the sight of something similar (previously sensed);
sometimes an unseen (or unexpected) fate (adṛṣṭa);
sometimes deep musing.

Similarity is thus (exemplified):

(1) If two (individuals) Devadatta and Yajñadatta had once been seen together, the sight of Devadatta excites the remembrance of Yajñadatta.

(2) The second is the unexpected (i. e., unconscious cerebration) leaping into memory, of what has previously been experienced (sensed), such as the Holy Place Śrīraṅgam.

(3) The Third is the calling into memory (conscious cerebration) such as the bewitching divine Image of Veṅkaṭeśa (before sensed).

What is well experienced engenders constant remembrance.

Forgetfulness is caused by much time elapsing (after the prior experience) or by sickness etc., which weaken the residua (Saṁskāras).

As remembrance (Smṛti) is (thus) included in Perception or Sense-evidence, recollection (Pratyabhijñā) also is included therein such as: ‘this Devadatta is that ’.

Abhāva or non-existence is also in our School included in Perception inasmuch as nonexistence (of a thing) implies (its) existence (at some other place or time), (thus illustrated):

-  The non-existence of the pot implies clay - (its, i.e. pot’s) pre-existence. The destruction of the pot implies potsherds.

Ūhā or Conjecture is the probability: that a certain person, a certain thing, might happeb to be.

Saṁśaya or Doubt is the uncertainty: as to what sign (name) (e.g.) a tree, seen, is known by.

These also (Ūhā and Saṁśaya) are included in Perception.

Also genius (or extraordinary illumination or inspiration) discovered in blessed or holy, persons (such as sages, seers, saints, and prophets) can be classed under Perception.

(But there may be erroneous etc., perception, Bhrama?).

Even Erroneous Perception is of the real, for: -

'The School of the Vedāṅtins holds all knowledge (or all cognition) to be of the real’.

For, to the rejection of A-khyāti or Non-cognition, Ātma-khyāti or ‘self-cognition, Anirvacanīya-khyāti or inexplicable cognition, Anyathā-khyāti or reversed (or perverted) cognition, Schools, the School of Sat-khyāti or right cognition is accepted.

Sat-khyāti or right cognition is the reality of the object of perception (or object of consciousness).

What then is to be erroneous or illusory (in the Perception)?

Illusoriness (Bhrama) is the absence (Bādha) or hindrance to any action arising on a correct apprehension of a thing.

We shall discuss it. Thus: -

By virtue of the quintuplicatory combination (or process) of the elements (Bhūtas), all the elements are present in all the (compounds), such as Earth, etc.

Hence silver must be present in the pearl-oyster, causing realness (or reality) of the cognition thereof.

But when a pearl-oyster is apprehended as such, it is so because the silver-portion is very minute (and eludes notice). In this consists the illusoriness (Bhrama) of the cognition. The illusion disappears because of the major portion (of the oyster) being shell.

The dream-cognition (or consciousness) is also real:

For from the Śruti, we learn (or know) that the Supreme Lord (Parama-Purusha) creates carriages etc., of temporary duration, proportioned to the (merits of the) several persons who have to experience (the same in dreams).

When a (white) conch-shell is seen as yellow and so forth, (the explanation is that) the bilious rays proceeding from the eye unite with the conch shell etc., and the yellow of the bile (in the eye) overpowering the white of the shell, is not cognized.

Hence a yellow shell is visualised like a shell gold-plated (or gold-gilt). The yellowness, because it is subtle and issues from the eye, is perceivable by that eye (alone).

The crystal-stone placed in juxtaposition to a China-rose is perceived as red. This perception is also of the real.

As observed already, by reason of the quintuplication of elements, the cognition of water in the mirage is also valid.

The process, (known as) the elemental quintuplication (Pañcī-Karaṇa) will be described further on.

Mistaking the direction (Dig-bhrama) is also of the same character, for one direction (or point of the compass) is involved in another; for all such distinctions of direction cannot be except by division; else no such thing as direction (Dik) is admissible.

In the circle described by a fire-brand etc., the cognition (as circle instead of point) arises from the rapidity of the revolution which sets the point at every part of the circle. That is also of the-real.

The reflexion of one's face in the mirror etc. is also of a fact; for the eye-rays are intercepted by the mirror, and the eye sees along with the mirror etc., its own face etc.,

Even in this case the process is so rapid as to prevent the perception of all that may intervene between (the eye and the mirror).

In such cases as the cognition of a double moon (instead of one) it is caused through the pressure of the finger (on the eye), or owing to eye-affections (timira) eta, when the visual rays stream in different directions.

The apparatus being thus duplicated, independent of each other, causes the double-moon vision. The duplication of the apparatus being a fact, the double-moon cognition takes place.

Hence all cognitions are of the real, and their contents (are provided by) concrete (i.e. attributive) objects; for an attribute-less (or quality-less) object is never cognizable.

Perception then as enunciated (above) apprehends difference alone. When difference (Bheda) is posited, it (always) implies a counter-entity, but never (when viewed) as in itself.

Hence the two faults are absent, viz., An-avasthā or infinite regress, and Anyonyāśraya or mutual dependence. An-avasthā is the (fault of) demanding further and further.” Anyonyāśraya is (the fault of) mutual dependence.

It may be asked why: ‘thou art the tenth’, should not also be classed under Perception?

We say ‘no’, for though ‘Thou’ is certainly a sensuous fact (Pratyakṣa), ‘the tenth thou art’ is a cognition which has arisen from (an uttered) sentence.

But if it be contended that: 'thou art the tenth’ ought to fall under Sensuous Perception, then (by parity of reasoning): ‘thou art good’ must also become (or be treated) as a case of Perception.

But if that be insisted (or admitted), then it becomes an ‘unwarrantable stretch of a principle’ (Ati-prasaṅga).

Hence cognition (or knowledge) derived from such passages as: “That Thou art”, is not Perceptive.

From all this the position created by (or predications fancied by) mistaken men (ku- dṛṣṭayaḥ), viz.,

“Pramāṇa or Means is that which engenders perception (Pratyakṣa) or knowledge;

- knowledge so meant is none other than Intelligence;

- Intelligence (Chaitanya) is threefold:

(1) Antahkaraṇa -avacchinna or that which is conditioned by the Inner Instrument,

(2) Vṛtti- avacchinna or that which is conditioned by Act (or state),

(3) Viṣaya-avacchinna or that which is conditioned by object;

- When all the three combine into one, that is actual realisation (Sākṣātkāra) (i. e., pratyakṣa or real knowledge);

- and that realisation is of the objectless (or a thing devoid of attributes), and of the non-dual (or non-difference) is refuted.

The School of the Naiyāyikas also, viz.,

Nir-vikalpaka or general (unqualified) knowledge is cognition which but apprehends the mere thing as dissociated from all such (attributes) as Jāti or class (or genus) etc.,

- is also refuted.

But it may be asked how such a School as that of Gautama is so lightly refutable when there exist such (authoritative) texts as: -

Kaṇāda and Pāṇinīya are helpful to all sciences (Śāstra)’?

To this it is replied:

No School is in toto refuted. Whatever stands to reason is accepted, like water in a reservoir constructed by others, but surely never the mire in it.

Hence we do not accept such postulations as:

- The Causation by atoms,

- The Human origin of the Vedas (Revelations),

- The Inferential Proof for God-hood (Īśvara),

-  The Infiniteness of Soul (-essence) (Jīva),

 -  The adoption as categories (Padārtha): -

(1) Samānya or universality (what constitutes a genus),
(2) Viśeṣa or Particularity (what constitutes a species or the Individual),
(3) Samavāya or Inhesion (or Inherence), -

- The constituting Upamāna or comparison into a (distinct) Means (of knowledge - Pramāṇa),

-  The treatment as attributes (or qualities):

(1) Number (Saṅkhyā),
(2) Extension or Quantity or (Parimāṇa),
(3) Severalty (Pṛthaktva),
(4) Priority or Anteriority (Paratva),
(5) Posteriority (Aparatva),
(6) Solidity (Gurutva),
(7) Viscidity or Fluidity (Dravatva), etc., -

The assumption that direction (Dik) is a Substance (dravya), - and so forth.

That we accept what is not opposed to reason is (hence) not objectionable.

Thus ends Chapter I,
The Treatment of Perception (Pratyakṣa) in the
“Light of the School of Rāmānuja.”