Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)
by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words
This page relates ‘What is Prama?’ of the study on the Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam in Light of Swaminarayan Vachanamrut (Vacanamrita). His 18th-century teachings belong to Vedanta philosophy and were compiled as the Vacanamrita, revolving around the five ontological entities of Jiva, Ishvara, Maya, Aksharabrahman, and Parabrahman. Roughly 200 years later, Bhadreshdas composed a commentary (Bhasya) correlating the principles of Vachanamrut.
5.1. What is Pramā?
Pramā, jñāna, or knowledge has a significant part in the study of epistemology. Svāminārāyaṇa highlights its glory:
“The Shrutis state: ‘rute gnanan na mukti’ and ‘tamev viditva’. These Vedic verses broadcast that the jīva attains liberation only when it realizes the true jñāna of Parabrahman. So liberation can only be attained by jñāna.”(Vacanamrut Loyā 7, p. 300)
The Bhāṣyakāra presents the definition of pramā:
jñānaṃ pramātmakaṃ jñeyaṃ yathā'vasthitavastunaḥ |
yathā śuktāviyaṃ śuktī rajate rajataṃ tathā ||
“Of whatever description anything is, when our idea of that thing is of that same description, it is called a right knowledge; as, in the case of silver, the idea of its being silver. That is called pramā (commensurate with its object).”
Moreover, he also provides a general perspective of pramā, which we discussed earlier.
The Bhagavad-Gītā Svāminārāyaṇa Bhāṣya’ s understanding of jñāna is more so directly related to brahmavidyā. By which one can obtain the knowledge of eternal entities, called brahmavidyā. The juxtaposition of jñāna’s association with brahmavidyā is partially attributed to the cognitive nature of both.
The commentary of Gītā 3/3 identifies:
“jñāna as characterized by the knowledge of Parabrahman’s greatness.”
The knowledge of Parabrahman’s greatness here refers to understanding. So ultimately, in the Svāminārāyaṇa School, to know the ultimate realities means to know the brahmavidyā. In the same way, as we know that Parabrahman is divine (divya), the all-doer (kartā), with form (sākāra), higher than all others (sarvoparī), and present (pragaṭa), it is also reflective of Mundaka-upaniṣad 1/2/13’s understanding of brahmavidyā (the knowledge of Brahman), where Brahman is analyzed as a dual number nominal inflection that refers to both Akṣarabrahman and Parabrahman.
While ‘jñāna’ can be identified as brahmavidyā by the previous explications, further, the commentary of Gītā 16/1 expands the content of this knowledge to beyond just Akṣarabrahman and Parabrahman. It explains jñāna as knowledge which is characterized by 1) the knowledge of the five entities: jīva, īśvara, māyā, Brahman, and Parabrahman, as they truly are; and 2) which is characterized by conviction in the form of Parabrahman. According to this exposition, the compound jñāna refers to the knowledge of all five entities in addition to the firm conviction of Parabrahman. In addition to this, the Svāminārāyaṇa Bhāṣyakāra also explores this principle in the context of the following śloka: ‘na hi jñānena sadṛśaṃ pavitramiha vidyate’ “truly, there is no purifier in this world like the true knowledge of the Supreme Being (Brahman and Parabrahman).
One discovers this knowledge in due course of time (when one’s mind is cleansed of the māyic attributes by the firm conviction (yoga) of Parabrahman.
‘jñānaṃ te'haṃ savijñānamidaṃ’
“I shall fully explain to you the brahmavidyā that includes the self-knowledge together with the manifest form of Parabrahman. After knowing that nothing more remains to be known in this world.”
In this manner, the Svāminārāyaṇa School declares pramā as the knowledge of the five ontological eternal entities.
Footnotes and references:
laukikaṃ divyaṃ cobhayaṃ bhavati prameyam | tatpramākaraṇajātaṃ vimarśanīyameva | tathā'pi yadi prameyagrahaṇaprakārasya sphuṭamavagamaśced bhavatu pramāṇā''dhikyam |) svā. si. su., pṛṣṭha-149(akṣarapuruṣottamayornikhilajñānaṃ nityaṃ pramāṇanirapekṣaṃ svataśca pramaiva parabrahmaṇastannityecchayā'kṣarabrahmaṇaścetyubhayoḥ sarvakāraṇatvasarvajñatvaniyāmakatvādeśca | vadati ca śāstramakṣarapuruṣottamayoḥ sarvajñatvam | yathā‘yaḥ sarvajñaḥ sarvavid)’mu. 1/ 1/ 9 (ityadāvakṣarasya |‘vijñātāramare kene vijānīyāt)’bṛ. 2/ 4/ 14 (ityadau puruṣottamasyeti |) svā. si. su., pṛṣṭha-150(pp.1-2).
Bhagavad-Gītā 7/2, pp.156-157