Definition - S. N. Sastri
The word 'j~nAnam', which means 'knowledge'
is used in two different senses in Vedantic works.
In taittirIya upaniShad 2.1.1 brahman is defined
as 'satyam j~nAnam anantam'. Here the word 'j~nAnam'
means consciousness which is the very nature
of brahman and is therefore eternal, having no
beginning or end. The word 'j~nAnam' is also
used in the sense of 'a particular cognition',
in which case it is an action which has a beginning
and an end. Taking this second meaning of the
word 'j~nAnam' an objection could be raised that
if j~nAnam is the nature of brahman it would
also be transient. Such an objection has been
considered in the bhAShya on this Upanishadic
statement and it has been pointed out that, while
the nature of brahman is eternal consciousness,
particular cognitions arise because of this consciousness
illumining the mental modification (vRRitti)
in the form of the object. Shri Shankara refers
to these particular cognitions as 'semblances
of consciousness' and says that they can also
be referred to as j~nAnam'.
In bRRihadAraNyaka upaniShad, 3.4.2, the word
'dRRiShTi' which means 'sight' is used as a synonym
of 'j~nAnam'. Shri Shankara points out in his
bhAShya that this sight is of two kinds. He says:--
This sight is of two kinds, empirical and real.
The empirical sight is a function of the mind
as connected with the eye; it is an act, and
as such it has a beginning and end. But the vision
of the Self is like the heat and light of fire;
being the very nature of the witnessing Consciousness
it has neither beginning nor end. This eternal
consciousness is the very nature of the jIva
also, as stated in brahma sutra 2.3.18, since
the jIva is none other than brahman.
he particular cognitions, which are transient,
are brought about by the pramANa-s [means of knowledge]
such as pratyakSha [perception]. The eternal Consciousness
is realized as the jIva's own nature through the
mahAvAkya-s such as 'Tat tvam asi'. This realization
is known as 'aparokSha anubhUti' [immediate knowledge
gained through the pramANa-s]. It is called aparokSha
because it is not parokSha or mediate. Though it
is also direct knowledge, it is not called 'pratyakSha'
in order to distinguish it from all worldly knowledge
attained through pratyakSha pramANa. To point out
that it does not fall under the categories generally
understood by the terms pratyakSha and parokSha
it is called aparokSha.
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