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Aprameya In Hinduism

In Hinduism, Aprameya is literally that which does not become an object of knowledge, non-cognizable. An object that can be a subject of valid cognition is prameya, and aprameya means that which is not cognizable. Knowledge received through the five sense-organs and the mind is divided into three kinds, viz., valid, invalid and doubtful. Generally, six means of knowledge viz., perception, inference, verbal testimony, comparison, presumption and non-apprehension, are recognized as means of valid cognition. But the number accepted differs with different schools of thought. For instance, the Carvakas accept perception alone.

The Absolute Brahman is beyond the range of the various means of valid knowledge. Perception fails to give the knowledge of Brahman, as it does not possess any quality. Nor can it be known by inference. For, it too fails, as no vyapti (invariable concomitance) can be formulated. Then shabda (verbal testimony) must be the only source of knowledge, as the other three depend on perception for their validity. But certain conditions are required for shabda to convey its meaning. It should possess at least one of the properties of jati (genus), guna (quality), kriya (action), and sambandha (connection).

Brahman, being the one without a second, does not possess a jati or sambandha. It is devoid of qualities and actions. Thus even the verbal testimony fails to comprehend the Absolute Brahman. Hence it is known as aprameya, beyond the range of the various means of valid knowledge. Intuition is the only means of apprehending Reality, and Vedas embody such intuitive apprehensions.

Aprameya is one of the thousand names of Vishnu in Vishnusahasranama. Shankara Bhashya explains aprameya as the one who is outside the purview of all means of knowledge. Lalitasahasranama also has this word, in the feminine gender, referring to the Goddess as the self-luminous one who is not cognizable and is beyond mind or speech.