The Six Means of Knowledge in Advaita Vedanta

  • By Swami Alokananda
  • September 2017

Ever lasting happiness is a universal desire. It is for happiness—both mundane and other-worldly—that humans perform various actions. But there is no end to desire. Desires keep cropping up, one after the other. On meeting mundane fulfilment, desires only increase in intensity, just like …fire fed with ghee. And the pleasures of heaven end in the continuation of the cycle of birth and death: ‘K‚i“e pu“ye martya-lokam visanti; they enter the mortal world on the exhaustion of their merit.’ Thus, the chain of repeated births and deaths goes on: ‘Punarapi jananam punarapi mara“am; there is birth again, there is death again.’ Only if all our desires could be fulfilled would we possibly be satisfied. But it is not possible to attain this state of the apta-kama without Self-realization.

The six means are Perception, Inference, Comparison, Presumption, Verbal Testimony and Non-apprehension.

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This article was first published in the January 2010 issue of the Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To subscribe online

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