Monday, November 14, 2005

Gyan or Knowledge acquisition

Today, i am gonna draw a parallel between the Ancient and Modern methods of knowledge acquisitions.

In the Vedic disciplines, the knowledge is acquired through this quadruplet : Praman, Pramey, Sadhan, Fal. Praman is the basis of the process, Pramey is the object of knowledge, Sadhan is the means of acquiring the knowledge and Fal is the result of following the process.
First the Pramey is decided i.e. the subject about which the knowledge is to be acquired. It could be anything from the world, the soul, the God etc.
Then the Praman is to be agreed upon i.e. the references w.r.t. which the process of knowledge acuisition is followed. They could be anything like Pratyaksh (observables), Anumaan (inference), Tark (logic), Shabda (scriptural words) etc.
Then Sadhan is the procedure or means of acquiring the knowledge. Depending upon the Pramey and Praman, there is to be devised a procedure to reach the objective of acquiring the knowledge. It could be sacrifices, yoga, tap, listening, recitation, worship, servitude, dedication etc.
Finally the Fal is the result of following the process. Upon successfully practising the Sadhan as verified by Praman, achieving the Pramey is the Fal. Depending upon the degree of success, one may realize Pramey to that extent.

Now, in the modern science, we follow this quadruplet : Hypothesis, Experiment, Observation, Conclusion.
Hypothesis is our prior thinking about certain phenomenon to follow certain (mathematical) model. It is the starting point of delving into the phenomenon and understanding it.
Experiment is a set up to put to test the hypothesis. It requires instruments which can embody the process of hypothesis on the real phenomenon.
Once the experimental set up is ready, we record a set of observations regarding important output of models. Examples can be velocity, density, time, smell, colour, dimensions, amplitude, frequency, probability, errors, quality etc.
Based on the set of observations, we can draw a conclusion about the experiment to decide how far the phenomenon is modeled by the hypothesis. Generally this quadruplet cycle is repeated to refine the hypothesis model and experiment and the knowledge about the phenomenon.

There is a similarity between these two approaches of knowledge acquisitions. The Pramey is the phenomenon, the Praman is the observation metrics, Sadhan is the experimental procedure and the Fal is the conclusion and acquired knowledge. Despite of the similarities, there is also difference. The Vedic quadruplet encompasses the modern scientific quadruptlet, but not the other way round. For material knowledge acquisition, which moder science is mostly all about, the Vedic approach already provides Pratyaksh (observables), Anumaan (inferential) and Tark (logical) Pramans (metrics). But for spiritual or divine knowledge, the Vedic approach recommends using only Shabda (scriptural words) Praman, because the spirit is oblivious to matter in general and so cannot be studied with material metrics. The Shabda Praman is the exhalations of God and revealations to saintly persons about divinity. Just like a modern scientist puts trust into the modern scriptures ('revealations' (observations) to other 'saintly' (learned) modern scientists' works), a divine scientist would put trust into the divine scriptures. So trust or faith is an integral part of knowledge acquisition in either approach.