Yoga Sutra 1.49 the scripture that deals only with universals

Sūtra I.49

This knowledge is of a particular thing, unlike knowledge from authority or from inference

Authority means the scripture, and that deals only with universals – scripture cannot point to individual things. Why not? Because an individual does not have the conventional association with a word. Inference too has only universals for its object. The example of inference has been given, that where there is getting to another place, there is motion, and where there is no such getting to another place, there is no motion. And the conclusion is reached by inference by means of a universal. So the object of authority or inference is never a particular thing.

Ordinary perception gives no knowledge at all of some subtle or remote or hidden thing, but we cannot assert that the latter is not demonstrable and has no existence. A particular relating to subtle elements or to Puruṣa is perceptible by samādhi-knowledge alone.

The object of the Truth-bearing knowledge is a particular, and not any universal conceived by man, as the sūtra says. Its object is a particular; there is an infinity of particular objects, and there cannot be a separate word for each one, so the conventional association with a word is only for a universal. Even where there is a word for a particular (e.g. an individual name), that word cannot identify or communicate that particular to one who does not already know it.

Inference too has only universals for its objects. As said before (comm. to I.7), it is mainly concerned with determining universals. The example of inference has been given, that where there is getting to another place, there is motion, and where there is no such getting to another place, there is no motion. And the conclusion is reached by inference by means of a universal. and that is all that inference can give. So the object of authority or inference is never a particular.

(Opponent) But this particular, relating to subtle elements or to Puruṣa, cannot be known by ordinary perception either, and apart from the three accepted means of right knowledge there is no other means by which we could know it.

(Answer) Ordinary perception gives no knowledge of some subtle or remote or hidden thing, but we cannot assert that the latter is not demonstrable and has no existence. For what is proved by experience does exist – it rides on the king’s highway, as it were. A particular relating to subtle elements or to Puruṣa is perceptible by samādhi-knowledge alone.

(Opponent) You claim that these particulars relating to subtle things are known by direct perception (only in samādhi). But everything is made known by the Lord (in scripture). You may say that as they are facts, they must be known (or they could not be spoken of); then they are known from scripture and inference, but only in the sense that we can say ‘they exist’. There is no rule that all particulars must be knowable by direct perception. Not all the particulars are known even of something held out on the hand.

(Answer) Not so, because we infer that particulars related to anything at all are in principle knowable by direct perception. How so? The idea is this: a particular is something which is an effect, and as such the particulars, even those relating to subtle elements, must be directly perceptible to someone, like the particulars of what is held on one’s own hand. Therefore this knowledge has an object other than the knowledge deriving from authority or from inference, because its object is a particular.

When the yogin has attained samādhi-knowledge, a fresh saṃskāra made by the knowledge is produced.

 

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