The Process to Attain Validated Knowledge

Question: According to Sankhya Karika by Ishwara Krishna, mahat is the first manifestation from pradhana. Ahankara comes from mahat which means buddhi comes first. Individualism takes place by ahankara which is manifested later. How does universal buddhi become individualized?

Answer: Ahankara claims buddhi as its own. Appearance of something and it being claimed as personal are two different things. 

Q: In the Gita, it says that knowledge is generated by sattva guna which is confirmed in the Sankhya Karika by saying that the rise in the sattva brings or is knowledge. However, in the Sankhya Karika, mahat is addressed as buddhi – which is the faculty for knowledge. From this mahat, ahankara is manifested. In other words, ahankara is an effect and manifests at a later stage which makes everyone feels individual. Why then does everyone’s knowledge that precedes ahankara differ?

A: Because everyone does not have the same amount of sattva.  Sattva is always mixed with rajas and tamas, which varies from person to person.

Q: There are three main process to get validated knowledge. Direct perception, inference and sabda. The first two have inherent defects to get correct knowledge, whereas sabda is dependent upon aptajana [a person who is free from material defects and can be absolutely trusted], but aptajana varies based on the various disciplic successions or sampradaya. For example we, Gaudiya Vaisnavas take Sri Rupa, Jiva etc. as aptajana but others don’t accept them. That means that their jnana from sabda [revealed sound or word] will considerably vary with ours. Does it mean that sabda pramana [scriptural testimony] is also defective?

A: This variation is only in relation to certain points. Not everything that Rupa Gosvami says is unacceptable to others. That is so because there are different levels of realizations of the sabda. It is not only true for sabda but also of pratyaksha [direct perception]. The same object seen by different people appears differently depending upon the angle and the distance they see it from.