I.8 विपर्ययो मिथ्याज्ञानमतद्रूपप्रतिष्ठम्

viparyayo mithyā-jñānam atad-rūpa-pratiṣṭham
“Wrong perception is false knowledge, based on a form that is not.”

Patañjali uses the term viparyayaḥ for mistaken perception. Formed from the root i, “to go or flow,” it literally means “to go away and around.” A viparyayaḥ thus misses or mistakes the object of perception. It is not based on a true form of what is.

“The consequence of misperception is that mental impressions (vṛtti) that do not correspond to actual facts become stored and treated as true knowledge.” –Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras, p. 30

“Not always negative, error can lead us to question ourselves once more and to progress. Truth is often a succession of corrected mistakes.” –Bernard Bouanchaud, The Essence of Yoga, p. 13

Questions:
• What states of mind take you away from direct perception? Observe instances of denial, dissociation, or distraction.
• Reflect on what misperceptions you have “stored and treated as true knowledge.” Have some of these served a useful purpose for you? Have some caused you additional suffering?
• Is it possible to be too afraid of error? For example, do you admit the mistakes you make?

 

viparyayaḥ

masculine noun , 1st case singular

wrong perception, error, misapprehension (vi-, “away,” + pari-, “around,” + i, “to go”)

mithyā-

indeclinable adverb, here used as an adjective

wrong, false (from mith, “to contradict, wrangle with”)

jñānam

neuter noun, 1st case singular

knowledge (from jña, “to know”)

a-tad

pronoun in compound

not that

rūpa-

neuter noun in compound

form, appearance

pratiṣṭham

neuter adjective, 1st case singular

standing, founded on (from sthā, “to stand”)

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