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Para-Apara – Two Streams Of Knowledge In Hinduism

Para - Apara are the two streams of knowledge in Hinduism. These streams are called para vidya (the higher knowledge) and apara vidya (the lower knowledge). In Mundaka Upanishad (I.1.3), Saunaka asks his guru Angiras about the Ultimate Reality. He asks, O blessed being! Through understanding what, does all this (world) become known? To this Angiras replies (I.1.4) – there are two kinds of knowledge to be acquired, the higher (Para) and the lower (apara).

Para Vidya is the knowledge of the imperishable, immutable essence of the universe, which comprises the truth about oneself as well as the cosmos. Apara vidya is aimed at worldly gains. It comprises the whole gamut of knowledge human society has discovered until now, continues to discover and will discover in the future. The sum total of human ideas, concepts, theories and principles in all the sciences, arts and humanities are under the domain of apara vidya. It consists of four Vedas and the six Vedangas. Vedanga is the auxiliary knowledge for a proper understanding of Vedas.

In this way, apara vidya helps to gain control over our internal nature. Para Vidya enables us to free ourselves from our limitations, free ourselves from the bondage born out of ignorance of our original nature. Apara vidya is an endless pursuit, and at the end of para vidya nothing else remains to be known.