Correct understanding, false understanding, imagination, sleep, and memory are the five categories of modifications of the mind. Download 1.6 Audio RecitationAudio Recitation by D.C. Rao, PhD
pramāṇa = pra + māṇapra precisely, specifically māṇa that which can be validated; that which can be supported by evidence
Thus pramāṇa refers to the thought constructs that can logically be supported by sensory, inferential, or scriptural evidence.
viparyaya = vi + paryayavi contrary, perversive paryaya complete knowledge; information; cognition
Thus viparyaya refers to thought constructs that contain completely false information or knowledge.
vikalpa fiction nidrā sleep smṛtayaḥ plural form of smṛti, memory
The mind's modifications
The entire range of the modifications of the mind falls within five categories: correct understanding, false understanding, imagination, sleep, and memory.
Patanjali reduces the mind's modifications to just five categories. Then he succinctly classifies the three sources of valid knowledge.
The entire range of the modifications of the mind falls within five categories: correct understanding, false understanding, imagination, sleep, and memory. Due to its roaming tendency the mind continually creates modifications and then keeps revolving around these self-created modifications.
To provide complete rest to our mind, we must first transform it so that it can overcome its tendency to constantly produce modifications. This internal process is the essence of yoga sādhanā.
Mental modification accompanied by correct understanding is threefold: perception, inference, and scriptural. Download 1.7 Audio RecitationAudio Recitation by D.C. Rao, Phd
pratyakṣha = prati + akṣaprati toward, associated wtih, belonging to akṣha sense, sense organ
Pratyakṣha is that which is associated with one or more of the senses; sensory perception—that information which is received through seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, and hearing.
anumna = anu + mnaanu that which follows māna valid information, valid knowledge
Anumāna is that information or knowledge which is derived from, or dependent on, valid sensory perception.
āgamāh = ā + gamā plural of āgama ā previous, before, in every respect, from every direction gamā that which comes; that which is known; that which is confirmed
These two words together refer to information that is regarded as valid knowledge, knowledge that requires no further evidence; information documented in the scriptures; revealed knowledge.
pramāṇāni = pra + māṇa plural of pramāṇa pra precisely, specifically māṇa that which can be validated; that which can be supported by evidence
Thus pramāṇāni is information that can be validated—supported precisely by valid evidence.
According to yoga philosophy, the mind uses the senses as vehicles for going into the external world, gathering information, and presenting it to ego (ahaṇkāra) and intellect (buddhi). Ego and intellect together interpret the information they receive and come to a decision as to whether or not it is sound and correct. An undisciplined, unstable mind, however, has a tendency to brood over this information, and wastes its inner resources in the process.
The mind is also capable of putting together two different but correct perceptions and arriving at a correct conclusion by using the method of comparison and contrast. This is known as inference. For instance: You have seen through your direct perception that where there is smoke, there is fire. Repeated experience has convinced you that there is a concomitant relationship between smoke and fire. Thus when you see smoke in the distance, your previous experience enables you to infer the existence of fire without actually seeing or hearing the flames.
Sages in the past have gathered knowledge—either through perception or inference—and documented it in scriptures and other texts. Today we can study those documents and acquire information without going through the trouble of direct perception and inference. This information is as valid as our own perceptual and inferential knowledge.
A purified, one-pointed, disciplined, and meditative mind can use these three sources of correct knowledge to help us live successfully in this world. However, to a confused mind, these correct sources of knowledge are as useless as false or fictitious information.