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Types of Proofs

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Proofs are something what we rely on in our quest for truth. But what is a proof? What all shall we consider as a proof? Why a proof is to be considered as proof? Answers to these very fundamental questions are some of the foundational elements which constitutes the foundation of science and philosophy.

“That’s an interesting question, why a proof has to be considered as a proof. Because behind any proof there is always a set of axioms, which we believe in”, added Upyog.

Yes. So it is basically boils down to what belief system we want to setup, and then prove according to it. And accordingly, the proofs can be classified as 1) Direct (pratyakṡ), and 2) Indirect (parokṡ).

I guess direct would include what we observe with our sense organs.

Not really. Even that is not direct but indirectly through our sense organs, because the proof is finally for our self – the soul.

But aren’t we – the souls – getting the proof directly through our sense organs?

In day to day language and usage, yes – but not in the real sense, as sense organs are not the real “we”. That’s why the direct proof is further divided into two parts: 1) Ultimate (pārmārthik) Direct, 2) Transactional (sānvyavahārik) Direct. The one which takes the help of sense organs and mind is transactional direct, as it is direct only from our day to day usage / transaction perspective. And it is a four step process.

Isn’t it that as soon as something contacts our senses, it is a proof (of truth) of its existence? Why four steps?

Contacting is not even the first step of the proof. It is the zeroth step. First step is that the something is detected (avgrah) by our sense organs, which could be clear or unclear detection. Second step involves mind to estimate (īhā) that something, as what all could it be. Third step is the final decision after all analysis (avāy), as to what is that something.

Once analyzed & decided, it is proved, right? Why the fourth step?

Till now it is a temporary proof. Fourth step makes it permanent by storing it in the memory (dhāraṅā).

Okay. After this level of detailing, now what is left for the ultimate direct.

Don’t forget that with this transactional direct, we can only perceive the observables, and that also not all of them, only the gross ones. So, the ultimate direct proof deals with the minute observables and the non-observables. It is by virtue of the soul itself, directly knowing them, and that’s why the ultimate direct.

How and when does that happen?

It is attained by clearing off knowledge hindering (jyānāvaraṅiya) karm particles typically using deep meditation & study. Depending on the levels, the ultimate direct ways of knowing and hence proving can be broadly classified into three varieties: 1) Awadhi, 2) Manh Paryav, 3) Kewal.

“O Yes! I remember, we already talked about five types of knowledge in one of our previous sessions“, exclaimed Sharīr.

Yes. And out of the five, the above three types of knowledge comes under the purview of ultimate direct. As discussed earlier, awadhi and manh paryav knowledge are still limited to observables though extended to really minute observables, which may not be observed even by science. Various levels of awadhi knowledge are defined based on the amounts of pudgal (matter & energy) known, and by the bounds of space, time, and properties, in which it is known.

And manh paryav is knowledge of knowing the thought particles – mind reading.

Absolutely correct.

And kewal knowledge is the ultimate infinite knowledge of everything – observable and non-observable, in all forms, of anywhere, of anytime.

Yes. Excellent. And the other two, mati & shrut knowledge are the two (means & hence) classifications of the indirect proofs. Just to refresh, mati knowledge is what one self perceives through sense organs and analyzed by mind. And shrut knowledge is the one which lets us exchange our knowledge with others, again through senses organs and mind. Hence, both are indirect means for the soul.

So, exchanging knowledge through books, discussions, speaking, etc fall under mati or shrut knowledge? I guess shrut.

Yes. Note that mati knowledge is limited to oneself. It can be classified into four varieties of intellect, to understand it better: Intuition (outpattikī), Knowledge due to Studying (vainayikī), Knowledge gained by Practice (kārmikī), and Experience (pariṅāmikī).

What about our knowledge of our past lives?

That is also a form of mati knowledge, though it could be a combination of more than one of the above four.

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Types of Knowledge

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“Today, we’ll talk about the types of knowledge. Before we start, you may ask any doubts from our last two sessions”, stated the professor.

“In the previous session, you mentioned that all souls already have the complete knowledge. Then, what do you really mean by types of knowledge? Is completeness also of different types?”, quizzed Sharīr.

Excellent. That’s correct that every soul’s complete knowledge is just one – there is no categorization of it.

Then, what do we mean by types of knowledge?

Hope you also remember the discussion, that just having knowledge doesn’t mean having the ability to use it.

Yes – the worldly bounds and limitations, restricts the ability of the soul to use its complete knowledge.

Exactly. So these types or rather levels of knowledge are classified based on the ability of the soul to use its knowledge. Accordingly, knowledge is broadly categorized into five types:

  1. Mati (मति)
  2. Shrut (श्रुत)
  3. Awadhi (अवधि)
  4. Manh Paryav (मन:पर्यव)
  5. Kewal (केवल)

Okay, so these are basically levels of exercisable / usable knowledge.

You may say so. Mati knowledge is the most basic form, we perceive through our sense organs and processed / analyzed by our mind. Mind (मन) is not just what one relates to brain, but it actually is spread throughout our sense organs and body.

Is Mati, the common sense, we talk about?

Let’s not get into that, as that’s a very loose term we use. Common for one may not be common for others. Basically, the knowledge of sound, colour & form / shape, smell, taste, touch could be assimilated as Mati knowledge.

“So, does it mean that, living beings only with all 5 working sense organs have Mati knowledge?”, asked Yog.

Not really. Every living being has it in some form or the other. Depending on its sense organs, or rather capability of sense organs, a particular one may be used / exhibited more profoundly than others. In that sense, you may have heard / read about blind people recognizing colours using touch, and similar other cases.

Wow! This foundation that knowledge is within, would possibly answer many such miracles around us.

Yes. In fact, as you dive deeper into the non-observables, the more you’d realize that there is nothing called a miracle, but just connection of some missing dots.

So can we conclude that, what all observable knowledge we currently know, can be called as Mati knowledge?

Don’t be so impatient. Let me first explain the next one – Shrut knowledge. Then, we shall draw some conclusions. Mati is just the basic form of recognition, but it lacks relation. Hence, we may be able to know using Mati, but may not be able to share / exchange / communicate the knowledge with others. The knowledge which enables us to do that is called Shrut knowledge.

“We communicate using languages. So, are they a form of Shrut knowledge?”, asked Upyog.

Yes, one of the forms, or at least a medium for it. And the language could be anything – written, spoken, pictures, or for that matter even sign. However, Shrut is more than just language – it knowledge about relations, e.g. between words and their meanings, which finally conveys the knowledge. For an example, one may know what an elephant is (Mati knowledge), but in absence of the word elephant, or other words describing it, or one’s inability to express it, one may not be able to convey it to others (absence of Shrut knowledge).

“In that case, all our current knowledge is Mati & Shrut knowledge”, said Yog, in a summarizing tone.

If you just consider the knowledge commonly observable through our sense organs & mind, in day to day life, then yes.

Why only day to day? Does knowledge of *all* observables, still not come under these two categories?

Before I answer that, I’d like to elaborate a bit on observables. By observables, we define anything having one or more of sound, colour / shape, smell, taste, touch. However, even within observables, there is a category, which literally cannot be observed using our sense organs, directly or even indirectly, which we would like to call the invisibles.

May not be observable today, but with evolution of science & technology, shouldn’t one day, we would be able to observe at least all the observables?

No. Even science has proved that there are limits of space & time, beyond which we may not be able to observe, even using any level of technology.

So, we cannot know about the so-called invisibles?

No. We just cannot observe using our sense organs and mind, but we can definitely know about them. And it is the knowledge of such observable invisibles, which doesn’t come under the purview of Mati & Shrut knowledge.

“Is that where the Awadhi knowledge comes into play?”, interrupted Upyog.

Exactly. Awadhi is the knowledge of observables, without using sense organs & mind, typically attained by deep meditation. However, it typically is bound by matter, space, time, properties.

“Any examples of invisibles?”, asked Sharīr.

Particles of speech, particles of thoughts, karm particles are all examples of invisibles.

What are these karm particles?

These are the particles restricting the complete knowledge of the soul.

“O! I see. So removing these we would get the complete knowledge and know everything”, spoke the still silent Jāti.


Please tell us how to remove them.

Yes Jāti, we’ll talk about them, but in separate sessions. Let’s complete our discussion on types of knowledge, today.

“What are these particles of speech and thoughts?”, continued Sharīr.

Our speaking and thinking also emits invisible particles. In fact, specialized knowledge of particles of thoughts is called Manh Paryav knowledge. Having this would enable one to know the thoughts of others.

Wooh! Mind reading.

And finally, Kewal knowledge is the complete knowledge of everything – observable and non-observable, in all forms, in all spaces, in all times, of all properties.

“… which the soul already has. Just that these karm particles are the nuisances”, Jāti concluded as reminder.

Yes, let’s talk about them in our next session.

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