1.8 The Great Houdini
Updated: Jul 30, 2021
YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI | CHAPTER 1 - SAMADHI PADA | VERSE 8 | COMMENTARY
Viparyayo mithya gyanam atadrupa pratishtham.
विपर्ययो मिथ्याज्ञानमतद्रूपप्रतिष्ठम् ॥१.८॥
Viparyayo mithya̅jña̅namatadru̅papratiṣṭham ||1.8||
Misconceptions (Viparyaya) are false knowledge based on wrong perception.
Viparyaya is the second modulation of the mind which our mind spends a lot of time in. Viparyaya is erroneous concepts that are formed in our head due to variable factors – bias, prejudice, moodiness, or simply limited awareness. Here the correct form (the concept) is not grasped by the perceiver and that which is not there is perceived – hence it is called atadrupapratishtham.
In the modern age it has become very common to live in Viparyaya due to extensive use of virtual modes of communication. Instagram photos give the idea that the other person is living a very care-free life sans responsibilities and workload. Many people post edited photos using exotic locations and luxurious resorts – these people suffer through the misconception that envy of others shall be fulfilling or maybe delude themselves into becoming happy with the adulation rather than working hard on transforming the fantasy into truth. The people following such content become unsatisfied with their life, and start believing that the lifestyle they see is the only means and will surely bring everlasting bliss.
New channels are one of the main reasons most of the people build concepts that have nothing to do with reality. The structure of such channels is such that one starts believing that everyone is out to do evil things only for personal gain and there is no room for kindness and compassion in this world. WhatsApp messages and Facebook posts are famous for spreading false news about acts of selfishness and violence. We start teaching their children not to be cautious but to be suspicious and distrustful of everyone they meet. We start doubting our own family and friends who have been life-long pillars and have nourished us selflessly. The idea of romanticising a tragedy has also become another pandemic that is causing a lot of imagined distress. Children start believing they are unloved by their parents because it is tragic story to tell to your friends. Slight argument in friendship is turned into a heart wrenching break-up because it is easy to build an identity around misery. Emotions and imagination take hold of the mind and it starts believing in concepts that have no connection of what really is.
It is possible you are not one of those people who falls under the illusion of social media, and has learned that romanticising small events in life is a fool’s task. But we all have experienced some particular events when we dropped all logic and rationalism in frustration and rolled with momentary emotions. Someone said “No” to you when you asked them for their help after you had had a very exhausting day, and your frustrated mind made you believe that they are out to pull you down; it is most likely that they had already a full calendar. Someone may have always operated under self-doubt and low self-esteem and they will find that the person in front of them is not giving them enough attention and think of the other person as self-centered and arrogant – the deep-rooted insecurities are not allowing them to see that the person in front of them is acting just like a normal person and even if they are not, a value of any individual does not depend on the attention and validation they receive.
I grew up in India and had grown up listening to TV Anchors and newspaper editors drilling the idea that all Pakistani people hate India and are terrorists. Fortunately a good education and a healthy environment helped me dismiss these news stories, but even then there was a slight tension regarding Pakistanis. Spending 6 weeks in Egypt with a Pakistani roommate and meeting another during travels uprooted the slight prejudice that had started germinating. I today have a great friend from Pakistan and he is one of the kindest persons I have ever known in my life.
When wrong knowledge gets established, no proof or logic stands. At that time, the vritti of Pramana (discussed in the previous sutra) is desirable and shall act as a tool to dissipate the clouds of Viparyaya. Most of the time, we impose our own emotions, likes and dislike, what should be and should not be, concepts of black and white and right and wrong upon situations and people, thus, disallowing ourselves to be open to receive what really is. Somewhere deep down, the rational part of the mind tries to bring clarity, but if one is under the control of the emotions, it is buried and slowly, the rational mind starts to die. If a cup is already full of mud, even if crystal clear water is poured into it, it will turn muddy and most of it will overflow. We need to keep the cup empty so that what we receive can express its true form and nature.