Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Critical analysis of vedAnta paribhAShA Part LI
Dr. K. Sadananda

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Part LI - Summary of Mechanism of Perceptual Knowledge

In the concluding part of the section on ‘Perception’, VP summarizes the essence of perceptual knowledge:

Firstly, perceptual knowledge is direct and immediate. There are two types of perceptual knowledge: The first is based on the sense input forming the attributive content of the vRRitti. This is illuminated as it forms by the witnessing consciousness. All the objects that are external are perceived via the sense input of their attributive content. The five senses (consisting of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch), provide their input to the mind in the form of vRRitti-s. Each of the five senses, having its specific field of operation, is connected to its respective sense organ. Thus, eyes can only see and ears can only hear etc. The world (‘prapa~ncha’) is seen through these five senses; hence, it is called in Sanskrit pra (in front of) pa~ncha (five).

The second kind of perceptual knowledge that was discussed by VP corresponds to the internal perceptions in the mind. Mind, however, is not a sense organ in the vivaraNa advaitic tradition. Mental imaginations or intuitions may be considered to be a ‘sixth sense’, but they do not come under direct perceptual processes. The internal perceptions include pleasure and pains, emotions of anger, love, jealousy etc, which are also perceived and cognized as direct and immediate, as they arise in the mind.

The attributive content of these emotions or internal perceptions do not come from sense input, although sense input could give rise to these internal perceptions. For example, I may see an object of my love or hate in front of me, by perceptual process. That object may then trigger emotions of love or hate because of my attachments, and these emotions themselves then constitute internal perceptions. The attributive content of the these emotions do not come directly from the sense of vision, but arise because of the emotional attachments that I have. Any vRRitti that is formed with attributive content of emotions is then immediately illumined by witnessing consciousness as it rises in the mind. The perceptuality condition is met when the existence of these emotions is united with the consciousness of the subject.

VP also states here that the senses of smell, taste and touch apprehend their respective objects while remaining where they are. The senses of vision and hearing, on the other hand, have the wider capacity to travel to objects that are distant. We have already pointed out that, as per the current understanding of the science, sound and light do travel by wave propagation and these are then received by the eyes and ears to form the attributive content of the object. Without the loss of generality, we can say that eyes and ears do have a broader scope, where the objects do not have to be in contact with the sense organ as is the case with taste and touch. The objects of smell are somewhat tricky in the sense that we smell the fragrance emitted by the object out there away from the nose, but the ‘fragrant molecules’ from that object have to reach the nose in order for one to be able to perceive the attributive smell of that object. However in all cases, the vRRitti that forms should have the attributive content from the sense input in order for there to be direct perception of the object that is external to the mind. (Here, we are using the mind as the reference for defining what is external and what is internal.)

Proceed to the next essay.

Other Essays in this Section (Perception):
01. Introduction Part 1. 28. Perception at the Individual Level.
02. Introduction Part 2. 29. Perception at the Cosmic Level.
03. Analysis of Time and Space. 30. Summary so far.
04. Knowledge is Continuous. 31. vAchArambhanaNaM.
05. Whatever you perceive is Brahman! 32. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.1.
06. Attributes and Substantive. 33. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.2.
07. Mechanics of Perception. 34. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.3.
08. Some Objections. 35. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.4.
09. Internal Perceptions. 36. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.5.
10. The Criteria for Cognition. 37. Nature of ‘ego’ and Self-realization.
11. Unity of limiting consciousness for perception. 38. Erroneous Perceptions Pt. 1.
12. Internal Perceptions (cont.) 39. Erroneous Perceptions Pt. 2.
13. Some Clarifications Regarding Internal Perception. 40. Analysis of Error - Part 1: khyAti vAda-s.
14. Some Clarifications Regarding Character. 41. Analysis of error - Part 2: vedAnta paribhAshA analysis.
15. Question related to jAti [species]. 42. Analysis of error - Part 3: naiyAyika objection.
16. Relation between an attribute and its substantive. 43. Creation as Transformation.
17. brahman is the changeless substantive. 44. Questions on ‘Creation as Transformation’.
18. Perceptuality of Objects: Definition vindicated (part 1). 45. Ontological Status of 'This'.
19. Perceptuality of Objects: Definition vindicated (part 2). 46. Two Layers of Ignorance.
20. Questions related to Perceptuality (part 1). 47. Conclusion of silver-nacre analysis.
21. Questions related to Perceptuality (part 2). 48. Perception in Dream.
22. Mind as Subject. 49. Negating false perception.
23. Self-realization. 50. Counterpositive.
24. Application to Illusions. 51. Summary of Mechanism of Perceptual Knowledge.
25. Determinate and indeterminate perceptions (part 1). 52. vyAvahArika vs. prAtibhAsika Pt. 1.
26. Determinate and indeterminate perceptions (part 2). 53. vyAvahArika vs. prAtibhAsika Pt. 2.
27. The position of vishiShTAdvaita.  
The next section in this series continues with the pramANa of anumAna (inference).

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