top of page

Yoga Sutra

Samadhi Pada

Sutra 1.7
प्रत्यक्षानुमानाअगमाः प्रमाणानि 
pratyakṣa-anumāna-āgamāḥ pramāṇāni

right knowledge are cognised by direct perception, logical reasoning and scriptures

pratyaksa = direct perception
anumaana = logical reasoning, inference
aagamah = scriptures
pramaanaani = right knowledge

The right knowledge is of three types: Facts by direct perception, facts by logical reasoning and facts through scriptures.


Pratyaksa pramaana is the fact obtained by direct perception. You know the fact that the Sun rises in the east. It is the fact that you are the witness of.


Some facts cannot be observed directly and can only be assumed through reasoning. For example,  you come outside early in the morning and find that it rained overnight. You have not seen that it was raining. You have not directly observed. Yet you infer that it rained. It is anumaana pramaana which is also a fact. 


Scriptures give some facts which you are not aware of either by direct perception or by logical reasoning. For example, scriptures speak about Atman, Brahman, reincarnation and the like. You did not yet observe them directly or perceived them by logical reasoning. Still, they are the facts, the facts through agama pramaana. In the days of Patanjali, scriptures are the only testimony available. Presently it can be taken as testimony by authoritative persons.

Commentary by Sage Vyasha

Perception, inference and testimony are the right notions

The internal organ being affected by an external object through the organs of senses, there arises the functions. The ascertainment of the attribute of that external object is of specific as well as of generic. This function constitutes the right notion called perception. The effect of the right notion is the cognition of the function of internal organ. This cognition belongs to Purusa who is the joint-cogniser with internal organ and it will be explained later.

There is certain relationships which is common to all homogeneous objects as against heterogeneous objects. The function by the ascertainment of the generic relationship among those objects is the Inference. For example, the planets have motion because they approach to different regions like the constellation of Chitra and the like. Whereas Vindhya mountain has no such approaches and hence the inference is no motion.

An abject being perceived or inferred by an authoritative person (speaker) , is verbally expressed by that person to other person (listener) for the sake of the cognition by the listener. This function expressed in words is the testimony to the listener. If the speaker is an untrustworthy who does not perceive or infer and who has a biased perception or inference, the testimony fails. If true perception or inference is there, the testimony is infallible.

Commentary by Swami Vivekananda

Direct perception, inference, and competent evidence, are proofs.

When two of our perceptions do not contradict each other we call it proof. I hear something, and, if it contradicts something already perceived, I begin to fight it out, and do not believe it.There are also three kinds of proof. Direct perception, Pratyaksham, whatever we see and feel, is proof, if there has been nothing to delude the senses. I see the world; that is sufficient proof that it exists. Secondly, Anumana, inference; you see a sign, and from the sign you come to the thing signified. Thirdly, Aptavakyam, the direct perception of the Yogi, of those who have seen the truth. We are all of us struggling towards knowledge, but you and I have to struggle hard, and come to knowledge through a long tedious process of reasoning, but the Yogi, the pure one, has gone beyond all this. Before his mind, the past, the present, and the future, are alike one book for him to read; he does not require to go through all this tedious process, and his words are proofs, because he sees knowledge in himself; he is the Omniscient One. These, for instance, are the authors of the Sacred Scriptures; therefore the Scriptures are proof, and, if any such persons are living now, their words will be proof. Other philosophers go into long discussions about this Apta, and they say, what is the proof that this is truth? The proof is because they see it; because whatever I see is proof, and whatever you see is proof, if it does not contradict any past knowledge. There is knowledge beyond the senses, and whenever it does not contradict reason and past human experience, that knowledge is proof. Any madman may come into this room and say that he sees angels around him, that
would not be proof. In the first place it must be true knowledge, and, secondly, it must not contradict knowledge of the past, and thirdly, it must depend upon the character of the man. I hear it said that the character of the man is not of so much importance as what he may say; we must first hear what he says. This may be true in other things; a man may be wicked, and yet make an astronomical discovery, but in religion it is different, because no impure man will ever have the power to reach the truths of religion. Therefore, we have first of all to see that the man who declares himself to be an Apta is a perfectly unselfish and holy person; secondly that he has reached beyond the senses, and thirdly that what he says does not contradict the past knowledge of humanity. Any new discovery of truth does not contradict the past truth, but fits into it. And, fourthly, that truth must have a possibility of verification. If a man says “I have seen a vision,” and tells me that I have no right to see it, I believe him not. Everyone must have the power to see it for himself. No one who sells his knowledge is an Apta. All these conditions must be fulfilled; you must first see that the man is pure, and that he has no selfish motive; that he has no thirst for gain or fame. Secondly, he must show that he is super-conscious. Thirdly, he must have given us something that we cannot get from our senses, and which is for benefit of the world. And we must see that it does not contradict other truths; if it contradicts other scientific truths reject it at once. Fourthly, the man should never be singular; he should only represent what all men can attain. The three sorts of proof, are, then, direct sense perception, inference, and the words of an Apta. I cannot translate this word into English. It is not the word inspired, because that comes from outside, while this comes from himself. The literal meaning is “attained.”


Commentary by Sri Osho


Pratyaksha, direct cognition, is the first source of right knowledge. Direct cognition means a face to face encounter without any mediator, without any medium, without an agent. When you know directly something, the knower faces the known immediately There is no one to relate it, no bridge. Then it is right knowledge. But then many problems arise.


Ordinarily, pratyaksha, direct cognition, has been translated, interpreted, commented, in a very wrong way. The very word pratyaksha means before the eyes, in front of the eyes. But eyes themselves are a mediation, the knower is hidden behind. Eyes are the mediums. You are hearing me, but this is not direct; this is not immediate. You are hearing me through the senses, through the ears. You are seeing me through the eyes.

Your eyes can wrongly report to you; your ears can wrongly report. No one should be believed; no mediator should be believed because you cannot rely on the mediator. If your eyes are ill, they will report differently; if your eyes are drugged, they will report differently; if your eyes are filled with memory, they will report differently.

If you are in love, then you see something else. If you are not in love then you can never see that. An ordinary woman can become the most beautiful person in the world if you see through love. When your eyes are filled with love, then they report something else. And the same person can appear the ugliest if your eyes are filled with hate. They are not reliable.
You hear through the ears. Ears are just instruments, they can function wrongly; they can hear something which has not been said; they can miss something which was being said. Senses cannot be reliable; senses are just mechanical devices.

Then what is pratyaksha? Then what is direct cognition? Direct cognition can only be when there is no mediator, not even senses. Patanjali says then it is right knowledge. This is the first basic source of right knowledge: when you know something and you need not depend on anybody else. Only in deep meditation you transcend senses. Then direct cognition becomes possible. When Buddha comes to know his innermost being, that innermost being is pratyaksha; that is direct cognition. No senses are involved; nobody has reported it; there is no one like an agent. The knower and known are face to face. There is nothing in between. This is immediacy, and immediacy can only be true.

So the first right knowledge can only be that of the inner self. You may know the whole world, but if you have not known the innermost core of your being your whole knowledge is absurd it is not really the knowledge; it cannot be true, because the first, basic right knowledge has not happened to you. Your whole edifice is false. You may know many things. If you have not known yourself, all your knowledge is based on reports, reports given by the senses. But how can you be certain that senses are reporting rightly?

In the night you dream. While dreaming you start believing in the dream, that it is true. Your senses are reporting the dream – your eyes are seeing it, your ears are hearing it, you may be touching it. Your senses are reporting to you; that’s why you fall under the illusion that it is real. Here you are; it may be just a dream. How can you be certain that I am speaking to you in reality? It is possible it may be just a dream, you are dreaming me. Every dream is true while you dream.
Chuang Tzu once saw a dream that he has become a butterfly. And in the morning he was sad.

And his disciples asked, ”Why are you so sad?” Chuang Tzu said, ”I am in trouble. In such a trouble I have never been before. This puzzle seems to be impossible; it cannot be solved. Last night I saw a dream that I have become a butterfly!” The disciples laughed. They said, ”What is there? This is not a riddle. A dream is just a dream.” Chuang Tzu says, ”But listen. I am troubled. If Chuang Tzu can dream that he has become a butterfly, a butterfly may be dreaming now that she has become Chuang Tzu. So how to decide whether I am now facing reality or again a dream? And if Chuang Tzu can become a butterfly, why can’t a butterfly dream that she has become a Chuang Tzu?”

There is no impossibility; the reverse can occur. You cannot rely on the senses. In the dream they deceive you. If you take a drug, LSD or something, your senses start deceiving you; you start seeing things which are not there. They can deceive you to such an extent that you can start believing things so absolutely, that you may be in danger.

One girl jumped in New York from sixtieth floor because under LSD she thought now she can fly. Chuang Tzu was not wrong: the girl really flew out of the window. Of course, she died. But she will never be able to know that she has been deceived by her senses under the influence of the drug. 

Even without drugs we have illusions. You are passing through a dark street, and suddenly you get scared – a snake is there. You start running, and later on you come to know that there was no snake, just a rope was Lying there. But when you felt that there was a snake, there was a snake. Your eyes were reporting that the snake is there and you behaved accordingly-you escaped from the place.

Senses cannot be believed. Then what is direct cognition? Direct cognition is something which is known without senses. So the first right knowledge can only be of the inner self because only there senses will not be needed. Everywhere else senses will be needed. If you want to see me you will have to see through the eyes, but if you want to see yourself, eyes are not needed. Even a blind man can see himself. If you want to see me light will be needed, but if you want to see yourself darkness is okay, light is not needed.

Even in the darkest cave you can know yourself. No medium – light, eyes, anything – is needed. The inner experience is immediate, and that immediate experience is the basis of all right knowledge. Once you are rooted in that inner experience then many things will start happening to you. It will not be possible to understand them right now. One is rooted in his center, in his inner being, one has come to feel it as a direct experience, then senses cannot deceive him. He is awakened. Then eyes cannot deceive, then his ears cannot deceive, then nothing can deceive. Deception has dropped. 

You can be deceived because you are living in delusion; you cannot be deceived once you have come to be a right knower. You cannot be deceived! Then everything by and by takes the shape of right knowledge. Once you know yourself, then whatsoever you know will fall automatically to be right because you are right now. This is the distinction to be remembered: if you are right, then everything becomes right; if you are wrong, then everything goes wrong. So it is not a question of doing something outside, it is a question of doing something inside.

You cannot deceive a Buddha – it is impossible. How can you deceive a Buddha? He is rooted in himself. You are transparent to him; you cannot deceive. Before you know, he knows you. Even a glimmer of thought in you is clearly seen by him. He penetrates you to your very being. Your penetration goes to the same extent in others as it goes into yourself. If you can penetrate into yourself, to the same extent you can penetrate into everything. Deeper you move within, deeper you can move without. And you have not moved within even a single inch, so whatsoever you do outside is just like a dream.

Patanjali says the first source of right knowledge is immediate, direct cognition pratyaksha. He is not concerned with charvakas, old materialists, who said that pratyaksha, that which is before the eyes, is only true.

Because of this word pratyaksha, direct cognition, much misunderstanding has happened. The Indian school of materialists is charvaka. The source of Indian materialism was Brihaspati, a very penetrating thinker, but a thinker; a very profound philosopher, but a philosopher – not a realized soul. He says only pratyaksha is true, and by pratyaksha he means whatsoever you know is true – through the senses. And he says there is no way of knowing anything without the senses, so only sense knowledge is real for charvakas.

Hence, he denies there can be any God because no one has ever seen him. And that which can be seen can only be real; that which cannot be seen cannot be real. God is not because you cannot see; the soul is not because you cannot see. And he says, ”If there is God, bring him before me so I can see. If I see then he is, because only seeing is the truth.”

He also uses the word pratyaksha, direct cognition, but his meaning is totally different. When Patanjali uses the word pratyaksha, his meaning is on an altogether different level. He says knowledge not derived from any instrument, not derived from any medium, immediate, is true. And once this knowledge happens, you have become true. And now nothing false can happen to you. 

When you are true, authentically rooted in truth, then illusions become impossible. That’s why it is said Buddhas never dream; one who is awakened never dreams. Because even a dream cannot happen to him; he cannot be deceived. He sleeps, but not like you. He sleeps in a totally different way the quality is different. Only his body sleeps, relaxes. His being remains alert.

And that alertness won’t allow any dream to happen. You can dream only when alertness is lost. When you are not aware, when you are deeply hypnotized, then you start dreaming. The dream can happen only when you are completely unaware. More unawareness, more dreams will be there.

More awareness, fewer dreams. Fully aware, no dream. Even dreaming becomes impossible for one who is rooted in himself, who has come to know the inner being immediately.

This is the first source of right knowledge. The second source is inference. That is secondary, but that too is worth consideration because, as you are right now, you don’t know whether there is a self within or not. You have no direct knowledge of your inner being. What to do? There are two possibilities. You can simply deny that there is no inner core of your being, there is no soul, like charvakas do or in the West, Epicurus, Marx Engels and others have done.

But Patanjali says that if you know, there is no need for inference, but if you don’t know then too it will be helpful to infer. For example, Descartes, one of the greatest thinkers of the West, started his philosophical quest through doubt. He took the standpoint from the very beginning that he will not believe in anything which is not indubitable. That which can be doubted, he will doubt. And he will try to find out a point which can not be doubted, and only on that point, he will create the whole edifice of his thinking. A beautiful quest – honest, arduous, dangerous.


So he denied God because you can doubt. Many have doubted, and no one has been able to answer their doubts. He went on denying. Whatsoever could be doubted, conceived to be dubitable, he denied. For years continuously he was in inner turmoil. Then he fell upon the point which was indubitable: he couldn’t deny himself; that was impossible. You cannot say, ”I am not.” If you say it, your very saying proves that you are. So this was the basic rock – that ”I cannot deny myself; I cannot say I am not. Who will say it? Even to doubt, I am needed.”

This is inference. This is not direct cognition. This is through logic and argument, but it gives a shadow, it gives a glimpse, it gives you a possibility, an opening. And then Descartes had the rock, and on this rock, a great temple can be built. One indubitable fact, and you can reach to the absolute truth. If you start with a doubtful thing, you will never reach anywhere. In the very base, doubt remains.

Patanjali says inference is the second source of right knowledge. Right logic, right doubting, the right argument can give you something which can help towards real knowledge. That he calls inference, anuman. Directly you have not seen, but everything proves it; it must be so. Situational proofs are there that it must be so.

For example, you look around the vast universe. You may not be able to conceive there is a God, but you cannot deny – even through simple inference you cannot deny – that the whole world is a system, a coherent whole, a design. That cannot be denied. The design is so apparent, even science cannot deny. Rather, on the contrary, science goes on finding more and more designs, more and more laws.

If the world is just an accident, then science is impossible. But the world doesn’t seem to be an accident, it seems to be planned, and it is running according to certain laws, and those laws are never broken.

Patanjali will say that design in the universe cannot be denied and if once you feel there is a design, the designer has entered. But that is an inference; you have not known him directly – but the design of the universe, the planning, the laws, the order. And the order is so superb! It is so minute, so superb, so infinite! The order is there; everything is humming with an order, a musical harmony of the whole universe. Someone seems to be hidden behind, but that’s an inference.

Patanjali says inference also can be a help towards right knowledge, but it has to be the right inference. Logic is dangerous; it is double-edged. You can use logic wrongly; then too you will reach conclusions. 

For example, I told you that the plan is there, the design is there; the world has an order, a beautiful order, perfect. Right inference will be that there seems to be somebody’s hand behind it. We may not be directly aware, we may not be in direct touch with that hand but a hand seems to be there, hidden. This is the right inference.

But from the same premises, you can infer wrongly also. There have been thinkers who have said... iderot has said that ”Because of order I cannot believe there is God. In the world, there seems to be perfect order. Because of this order, I cannot believe in God.” What is his logic? He says if there is a person behind, then there cannot be so much order. If a person is behind it, then he must commit sometimes mistakes. Sometimes whimsical he must go, crazy, sometimes he must change.

Laws cannot be so perfect if someone is behind. Laws can be perfect if there is no one behind and they are simply mechanical. That too has an appeal. If everything goes perfectly, it looks mechanical because about the man, it is said, to err is human. If some person is there, then he must err sometimes – he will get bored with so much perfection. And sometimes he must like to change.

The water boils at hundred degrees. It has been boiling at a hundred degrees for millennia, always and always. God must get bored if someone is behind, Diderot says. So just for a change, one day he will say, ”Now, from onwards the water will boil at ninety degrees.” But it has never happened, so there seems to be no person.

Both arguments look perfect. But Patanjali says right inference is that which gives you possibilities of growth. It is not a question whether the logic is perfect or not. The question is your conclusion should become an opening. If there is no God, it becomes a closing. Then you cannot grow. If you conclude there is some hidden hand, the world becomes a mystery. And then you are not here just by accident. Then your life becomes meaningful. Then you are part of a great scheme. Then something is possible; you can do something you can rise in awareness.

A right inference means one which can give you growth, that which can give you growth; a wrong inference is that, howsoever perfect looking, which closes your growth. Inference can also be a source of right knowledge. Even logic can be used to be a source of right knowledge, but you have to be very aware of what you are doing. If you are just logical, you may commit suicide through it.

Logic can become a suicide. It becomes for many.


A logical mind can be closed, and so logically, that he will never feel that he has closed his own doors of all possibilities for all growth. So inference, anuman, means thinking in such a way that growth is helped. Then it can become a source of right knowledge.

And the third is most beautiful. And nowhere else it has been made a source of right knowledge – words of the awakened ones, AGAMA. There has been a long controversy about this third source. Patanjali says you can know directly, then it is okay. You can infer rightly, then too you are on the right path and you will reach the source.

But there are few things you cannot infer even, and you have not known. But you are not the first on this earth, you are not the first seeker. Millions have been seeking for millions of ages – and not only on this planet but on other planets also. The search is eternal and many have arrived. They have reached the goal, they have entered the temple. Their words are also a source of right knowledge.

Agama means the words of those who have known. Buddha says something or Jesus says something... We don’t know what he is saying. We have not experienced that, so we have no way of judging it.’We don’t know what or how to infer rightly through his words. And the words are contradictory, so you can infer anything you like.


So Patanjali says a third source. You don’t know. If you know directly, then there is no question, then there is no need of any other source. If you have direct cognition, then there is no need for inference or for the words of the enlightened ones, you yourself have become enlightened. Then you can drop the two other sources. But if this has not happened, then inference, but inference will be yours. If you are mad, then your inference will be mad. Then the third source is worth trying – the words of the enlightened ones.

You cannot prove them, you cannot disprove them. You can only have a trust, and that trust is hypothetical; it is very scientific. In science also you cannot proceed without a hypothesis. But hypothesis is not belief. It is just a working arrangement. A hypothesis is just a direction; you will have to experiment. And if the experiment proves right, then the hypothesis becomes a theory. If the experiment goes wrong, then the hypothesis is discarded. The words of the enlightened ones are to be taken on trust, as a hypothesis. Then work them out in your life. If they prove true, then the hypothesis has become a faith; if they prove false, then the hypothesis has to be discarded.


You go to a Buddha. He will say, ’Wait! Be patient, meditate, and for two years don’t ask any question.” This you have to take on trust; there is no other way.

You can think, ”This man may be just deceiving me. Then my two years life is wasted. If after two years it is proved that this man was just hocus-pocus, just a deceiver, or self-deceived – in an illusion that he has become enlightened – then my two years are wasted.” But there is no other way.

You have to take the risk. And if without trusting Buddha you remain there, these two years will be useless – because unless you trust you cannot work. And the work is so intense that if you have trust only can you move wholly into it, totally into it. If you don’t have trust, then you go on withholding something. And that withholding will not allow you to experience what Buddha is indicating Risk is there, but life itself is the risk. For higher life, higher risks will be there. You move on a dangerous path. But remember, there is only one error in life, and that is not moving at all; that is just afraid, sitting, just afraid if you move something may go wrong, so it is better to wait and sit. This is the only error. You will not be in danger, but no growth will be possible.

Patanjali says there are things which you do not know, there are things which your logic cannot infer. You have to take on trust. Because of this third source, the guru, the Master, becomes a necessity, someone who knows. And you have to take the risk, and I say it is a risk because there is no guarantee. The whole thing may prove just a wastage, but it is better to take the risk because even if it is proved a wastage, you have learned much. Now no other person will be able to deceive you so easily. At least you have learned this much.

And if you move with trust, if you move totally follow a Buddha, like a shadow, things may start happening, because they have happened the person: to this Gautam Buddha, to Jesus, to Mahavira. They have happened, and they know the path; they have travelled. If you argue with them, you will be the loser. They cannot be the losers. They will simply leave you aside.


Patanjali is a Master, and this third source he knows very well through his own experience with thousands and thousands of disciples. He must have worked with many, many disciples and seekers, only then it is possible to write such a treatise as YOGA SUTRAS. It is not by a thinker. It is by one who has experimented with many types of minds and who have penetrated with many many layers of minds, every type of person who has worked. This he makes the third source: the words of the awakened ones.

bottom of page