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Yoga Sutra

Samadhi Pada

Sutra 1.8
विपर्ययो मिथ्याज्ञानमतद्रूप प्रतिष्ठम्
viparyayo mithyā-jñānam-atadrūpa pratiṣṭham

Misconception is the false knowledge that differs from reality.

viparyayo = misconception, indiscrimination
mithya = false
jnanam = knowledge
atadroopa = not in the form of
pratishtham = reality

Viparyaya is the wrong knowledge which is not a reality. Viparyaya is the modification of the mind in which the fact is wrongly conceived. Perceiving a rope as snake is Viparyaya.

Commentary by Sage Vyasha

Misconception is a false notion, abides in a form, which is not that.

This is not a right notion.​ Because it is set aside by the right notion that relates to an object of reality. A right notion always set aside the wrong notion. Wrong perception of double moon is set aside by the sight of the single moon.

Misconception constitutes the five-fold illusion: Ignorance, Egotism, Attachment, Envy and tenacity of the life. They also have the respective names of Tamas (Darkness), Moha (passion), mahamoha (great passion), Timisra and Andhatimisra (blinding darkness) . This will be defined in the explanation of Impurities of internal organ.

Commentary by Swami Vivekananda

Indiscrimination is false knowledge not established in real nature.

The next class of Vrttis that arise is mistaking the one thing for another, as a piece of mother-of-pearl is taken for a piece of silver.

Commentary by Sri Osho


Now some definitions which will be helpful later on The definition of viparyaya – wrong knowledge. Wrong knowledge is a false conception of something not corresponding to the thing as it is. We all have a big burden of wrong knowledge because before we encounter a fact we have already prejudiced. You have a preconception, a prejudiced mind, and this prejudiced mind gives you wrong knowledge.


Nobody encounters things, persons, as they are. You have a prejudice. These prejudices create viparyaya; these prejudices create wrong knowledge. Whatsoever you think, if you have not freshly come upon the fact it is going to be wrong. Don’t bring your past, don’t bring your prejudices. Put aside your mind and encounter the fact. Just see whatsoever there is to be seen. Don’t project.

We go on projecting. Our mind is just completely filled and fixed from the very childhood. Everything has been given to us ready-made, and through that readymade knowledge our whole life becomes an illusion. You never meet a real person, you never see a real flower. Just by hearing ”This is a rose” you say, ”Beautiful!” mechanically. You have not felt the beauty; you have not sensed the beauty; you have not touched this flower. Just ”Rose is beautiful” is in your mind; the moment you hear ”rose”, the mind projects and says, ”It is beautiful!”

And you may believe that you have come to feel that the rose is beautiful; this is not so. This is false. Just look. That’s why children come to things more deeply than grown-up people – because they do not know names. They are not yet prejudiced. If a rose is beautiful, then only it will be beautiful; all roses are not beautiful. Children come nearer to things, their eyes are fresh. They see things as they are because they don’t know how to project anything.

But we are always in a hurry to make them grown-ups, to make them adults. We are filling their mind with knowledge, information. This is one of the recent-most discoveries of psychologists, that when children enter into school they have more intelligence than when they leave the university. Latest findings prove this. In the first grade, when children enter, they have more intelligence. They will have less and less intelligence as they grow in knowledge.

And by the time they become bachelors and masters and doctors, they are finished. When they come back with a doctor’s degree, a Ph.D., they have left their intelligence somewhere in the university. They are dead, filled with knowledge, crammed with knowledge, but this knowledge is just false – a prejudice about everything. Now they cannot feel things directly, they cannot feel live persons directly, they cannot live directly, everything has become verbal, wordy. It is not real now; it has become mental.

Put aside your prejudices, knowledge, conceptions, preformulated information, and look fresh, become a child again. And this has to be done moment-to-moment because every moment you are gathering.

One of the oldest yoga aphorisms is: Die every moment so, you can be reborn every moment. Die every moment to the past, throw all the dust that you have collected, and look afresh. But this has to be done continuously because next moment the dust has gathered again.

Nan-in was in search of a Zen Master when he was a seeker. He lived with his Master for many years, and then the Master said, ”Everything is okay. You have almost achieved.” But he said ”almost”, so Nan-in said, ”What do you mean?” The Master said, ”I will have to send you for a few days to another Master. That will do the last finishing touch.”


Nan-in was very much excited. He said, ”Send me immediately!” A letter was given to him, and he was so excited, he thought he was being sent to someone who was a greater Master than his own.
But when he reached to the man, he was no one, just a keeper of an inn, a doorkeeper of an inn. He felt very much disappointed and he thought, ”This must be some sort of a joke. Is this man going to be my last Master? He is going to give me the finishing touch?” But he had come, so he thought, ”It is better to be here for a few days, at least rest, then I will go back. It was a long journey.” So he said to the inn-keeper, ”My Master has given this letter.”

The innkeeper said, ”But I cannot read, so you can keep your letter; it is not needed. And you can be here.” Nan-in said, ”But I have been sent to learn something from you.”

The innkeeper said, ”I am just an innkeeper, I am not a Master, I am not a teacher. There must have been some misunderstanding. You may have come to a wrong person. I am just an innkeeper. I cannot teach; I don’t know anything. But when you have come, you can just watch me. That may be helpful. You rest and watch.” 

But there was nothing to watch. In the morning he will open the door of the inn. Then guests will come and he will clean their things – the pots, the utensils and everything – and he will serve. And in the night again, when everybody has gone and the guests have gone to sleep to their beds, he will clean things again, pots, utensils, everything. And in the morning, again the same.

By the third day, Nan-in was bored. And he said ”There is nothing to watch. You go on cleaning utensils you go on doing ordinary work, so I must leave.” The doorkeeper laughed but said nothing. 

Nan-in came back, was very angry with his Master and said, ”Why? Why I was sent for such a long journey, tedious it was, and the man was just a doorkeeper? And he didn’t teach me anything, and he simply said, ’Watch,’ and there was nothing to watch.”

But the Master said, ”Still, you were there for three-four days. Even if there was nothing to watch, you must have watched. What you were doing?” So he said, ”I was watching. In the night he will clean the utensils pots, put everything there, and in the morning he was again cleaning.”

The Master said, ”This, this is the teaching! This is for what you were sent! He had cleaned those pots in the night, but in the morning he was again cleaning those clean pots. What does it mean? Because even by the night, when nothing has happened, they have become unclean again, some dust has settled again. So you may be pure: now you are. You may be innocent, but every moment you have to continue cleaning. You may not do anything, still, you become impure just by the passage of time. Moment to moment, just the passage, not doing anything, just sitting under a tree, you become unclean. And that uncleanliness is not because you were doing something bad or something wrong, it happens just through the passage of time. Dust collects. So you go on cleaning, and this is the last touch because I feel you have become proud that you are pure, and now you are not worried of constant effort to clean.”

Moment to moment one has to die and be reborn again. Only then you are freed from wrong knowledge.



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