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Yoga Psychology | Learning Through Epiphany II

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Manana -The 2nd Level

an artistic representation of Manana, which is the second level of learning

The next step in the Four Step process of Yogic learning, following the first Smarana, is Manana. The word Manana comes from the root Man in Sanskrit, meaning thought, and Manana is- to think. So, to think about what we have cognized through Smarana, is Manana. This is the second of the 4 Step Yogic Learning process.

According to Yoga, there are 5 ways of thinking, out of which 4 lead to error, and one leads to the right conclusions:

  1. Right Knowledge/ Pramana

  2. Cognitive Dissonance/ Non-discernment/ Viparyaya

  3. Affective delusion/Language based delusion/ Vikalpa

  4. Memory/Mental and psychodynamic Conditioning based delusion/ Smriti

  5. Non-Learning/ Unconsciousness/ Non-cognising /Nidra


Manana or Thinking is supposed to happen at the intellectual level of the Buddhi, and therefore only Pramana, the 1st way of thinking mentioned above, is accepted as the right method for achieving an intellectually considered conclusion, concerning anything at all.


The 2nd delusionary way of knowing something through thought is Viparyaya. The reality being of one kind, but being termed or categorized differently, with the imagined term/ category having a completely different meaning from the reality, is Viparyaya. Viparyaya results in mental trauma and cognitive dissonance, when the delusionary term/ category is brought face to face, with the truth behind the term.

Viparyaya is an active-waking state cognitive delusion and arises from the Buddhi or intellectual mind.

A true short story will illustrate the method behind this type of delusion- one nation state, called Vespucci and its citizenry wishes to see human rights being granted to all people around the world. There is another rich state, Aram, far, far away from Vespucci where there rules a king Mr. Alawi. Vespucci and its people say Mr. Alawi must also give the human rights to his people that the Vespuccians themselves enjoy. Mr. Alawi, much incensed at this unseemly insult of his sovereign demagogy, very correctly asks the Vespuccians to take a walk, a long one.

Whereupon the Vespuccians, possessed of the world’s most advanced military complex, proceed to bomb the hell out of Aram, in order to oust Mr. Alawi and bring light and human rights to the people of Aram.

In this above short story, the people of Vespucci agree to commit their armies to genocidal actions in Aram, in order to bring human rights to the surviving, and by now impoverished Aramites.

This is War, conducted under the auspices of Human Rights. Herein arises the delusion of wrong terminology. So, in this case, the Vespuccians who think they are trying to help the Aramites attain human rights, fall into delusion due to their faith in delusionary terminology. This is Viparyaya. When the deluded Vespuccians are confronted by the truth, the resulting instant feelings of guilt and betrayal, too traumatic to tolerate, cause cognitive dissonance as a defensive mechanism.

Those Vespuccians who discard the Human Rights terminology and see behind it, the truth of War, see the situation correctly. Having seen the situation correctly, their next enquiry will be as to the reason for War, and by such enquiry, they will arrive at the situational truth. These Vespuccians are practitioners of Pramana and are not deluded by Viparyaya. This does not mean that such Pramana practising Vespuccians are right in what they do, it just means they are not deluded.


The 3rd delusionary way of thinking, Vikalpa is delusion based on imagination driven by instinctive desires and fears.

For example, the modern idea of Islamic terror being such a catastrophic problem because of one single tragic incident in New York is Vikalpa and when the citizens are under the exaggerated fear arising from this Vikalpa or imagined fear/ enemy, then they will agree to launching wars and giving up of their own hard-won rights, in exchange for ‘security’ from the imagined terror.

Vikalpa is a passive, dreaming-state delusion based on the emotional mind, Manas in its instinctive nature.


The 4th way of delusionary thinking is Smriti, or that which is dependent on memory. The most erudite of those who have belonged to this line of delusional thinkers have given us that immortal aphorism-‘history repeats itself’. For the fact is, it never does. Each event is composed of innumerable factors, and to consider two events equal or the same is a conclusion that only a deluded mind can arrive at.

Memory is composed of two mutually exclusive sections-one formed from true experience and correct inference, the Pramana, and the other composed of past delusions, such delusions being formed from the 4 incorrect ways of thinking. The two sections together form the reference frame, through which we relate to the world. This reference frame gives us identity and meaning to life and it happens to be 4/5th delusional.


The 5th way of delusionary thinking is Nidra or nescience. Non-awareness of something is ignorance of that thing. So, for example, if we are not aware of somebody’s depth of love or animosity towards us, and therefore do not respond to the same, we are in a state of emotional nescience, Bhava Nidra. To give another example, if we are not aware of the intention behind an advertisement, knowing that it is a commercial, and we simply see the advertisement for what it advertises, then again we are in ignorance as to the nature and effect of the advertisement on ourselves. This is cognitive nescience, Manasic Nidra.

In the next section on Yogic Learning, we navigate beyond the treacherous waters of the reefs of intellectual Manana as, sailing our unsinkable vessel of Pramana, we reach the calm, reflective waters of intuitive Dhyana.

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