Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pramanam – Swami Paramarthananda

Scriptures seems to know what is human struggle. It seems to assist me in that struggle and so they are dependable. So they are useful guide. Any knowledge can be gained only by using a means of knowledge called pramanam. To know the colors I should use the instrument called eyes. To know the sound, I should use the instrument called ears and so on. Without an instrument I cannot gain any knowledge. And there are some people who talk about meditation as means of knowledge, but that also cannot be true because in meditation you must be either thinking or not thinking. If he is thinking he can think around what already he knows and he cannot know anything know. So thinking cannot give him any new knowledge. Not thinking also cannot give any new knowledge. So meditation or silence cannot help. So he should find out a proper instrument of knowledge.

Types of Pramanams

A human being has got different means to gain knowledge. All of them can be divided into two types.

  1. Sense Organs
  2. Sense organs based thinking or analysis like inference etc.


If you understand this much it is enough. Like a doctor who uses sense perception to get some data which is based on study of blood etc. Based on that he arrives at the diagnosis. He does not see the disease but he infers the disease. He gets rock from the moon. Rock is seen by the eyes but the age of the moon is not seen. Age of moon is arrived by inference.


Perception, inference etc are various instruments of knowledge. But all those instruments of knowledge are meant for studying the world. None of them is useful for studying myself. Sense organs are objective in nature. They are extrovert in nature and so they cannot help in the study of subject. Sense organs cannot see the sense organs themselves. Eyes cannot see the eyes themselves. Then what to talk of mind! They can never see the mind. What to talk of my true nature?

Thus we discover that all the regular instruments of knowledge are useful for objective study and they are not useful for the subjective study. And at that time the Scriptures comes and tells that there is only one means by which one can know the self and that is scriptural teachings themselves.

There is a branch of scriptures called the upanishadic words or the philosophical portions which alone reveal the true nature to oneself. They are called sabda pramanam. That is the only subjective instrument. All others are objective instruments. This alone can help in the discovery of one's true nature. Now the person becomes interested in the study of scriptures.

What part of scriptures? Not the ritualistic portion of the Scriptures. They only talk of rituals. I have to see that portion of the sastram which will analyze my true nature and reveal my true nature to me or which will serve as a mirror.

When my eyes cannot see themselves and when I want to see my own eyes I require a mirror. Similarly we require a finer mirror which will show my true nature to myself. That wonderful mirror is sabda pramanam or upanishadic words. It is verbal mirror or word mirror. The sastram promises that they can show the inner nature. You use the mirror and see. I tell you that if you see the mirror you see your face. Unless you use it how will you know it. You use the mirror and you will discover the inner nature. Now the next goal is analysis of the Upanishads. Upanishad vicaarah is the next goal.