Paroksha (परोक्षम्)

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In Indian philosophy, Paroksha refers to mediate knowledge or indirect cognition, mediated by sensory-intellectual apparatus, in which thought systems psychological insights that have evolved in the context of two levels of realities, empirical and transcendental, are gained through both direct cognition and indirect cognition of things that exist in the universe.[1]


This Sanskrit expression made up of two words – Para (beyond) and Aksha (eye), literally means beyond the eye i.e. beyond the range of sight. Therefore, it also means invisible, remote, hidden or mysterious. The Aitareya BrahmanaVII.30 gives its meaning as "mysterious" and "mystery" – "tan nayogrohan santan nyogrodhan ity achakshate parokshena, paroksha-priya iva hi deva" (The nyogodha is called nyogrodha after the mysterious (etymology) for the gods like mystery.) [2]

In Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta

According to the Advaita school Paroksha consists in the intellectual assent to a stated proposition and Aparoksha consists in the actual realization of that proposition.[8] In Paroksha there is the distinction between the subjective concept and the objective reality which that concept represents in consciousness but which distinction is irrelevant in the case of Aparoksha knowledge.[9] A man is said to attain paroksha (indirect) wisdom when he knows (theoretically) that Brahman exists; but he is said to attain sakshatkara (direct cognition) when he knows (or realises) that he is himself Brahman. Then, he becomes Jivanmukta.[10] Vedanta conveys the aparoksha Absolute in a paroksha way which is a valid way because while referring to certain facts about Brahman paroksha does not refer to unrealities. InSrimad-Bhagavatam (XI.xxi.35) it refers to the indirect (proksha) statements of the rishis. The rishis of the Vedas are found to speak variously about Brahman in an indirect manner (proksha-vada) e.g. "The eye, O Emperor, is the Supreme Brahman" or "This being who is in the right eye is named Indha. Though he is Indha , he is indirectly called Indra, for the gods have a fondness, as it were, for indirect names, and hate to be called indirectly".[11] Thus, paroksha is "This", and aparoksha is "That" of the Upanishads. Paroksha wisdom or mediate knowledge, which is right perception, does not liberate a person from Saṃsāra but it is confirmed byAparoksha wisdom. The paroksha-vada (indirect injunctions) of the Vedic rishis indirectly leads one to the path of liberation Srimad-Bhagavatam (XI.iii.44).[12]

In the Bhagavad Gita XIII.12-13, Krishna tells Arjuna about that which is to be known, and also about that by realizing which one attains immortality. This is paroksha wisdom by which the attention of the listener is aroused and the fruit of such knowledge is indicated viz - the knowledge of the knowable beginningless attributeless Brahman gaining which one gains the aparoksha wisdom, the knowledge of the Knower of the field, Brahman who exists but transcends all verbal expressions, who cannot be expressed in terms like existence and non-existence.

Shankara explains that Krishna objectifies the acosmic through the process of superimposition and sublation by designating Brahman as the field-knower by employing the adjunct, field, variously pluralised due to hands, feet, etc.[13] Brahman is to be realised as existing.[14] And, Badarayana (Brahma Sutras III.ii.15) states that like light, the non-dual formless Brahman in connection with Upadhis (limiting adjuncts) appears to have a form.[15]