Our ancient philosophers have given us four yardsticks to understand and establish truth. They are called means of knowledge (pramāna). They are the five sense organs – eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin.
The most important amongst the five is eye. Eye is a direct means to know anything (pratyakṣa pramāna). This is the first yardstick. But there are many situations where our own eye deceives us. To an infant, the moon appears very small. We cannot agree with him. But we tell children that the moon is very big and that is at a far distance and hence it appears small. This means that along with the direct means of knowledge, we also take help of another means which is imagination. It is named as ‘anumāna pramāna’ (obtaining knowledge by means of imagination). This is the second yardstick.
When we listen to few incidents, we feel that they are impossible to happen but we have to agree to such matters when we are shown the examples of similar incidents having occurred somewhere else. We agree only because there is some proof. Hence, an example also can be considered as a means of obtaining knowledge. It is called ‘upamāna pramāna’ (obtaining knowledge by means of an example). This is the third yardstick.
We don’t understand few things without asking anybody. For instance, we do not know our fathers and forefathers. We have to believe somebody who tells us their details. This is the ‘shabda pramāna’ which is the fourth yardstick.
So, the four standards are:
1) Pratyakṣa pramāna
2) Anumāna pramāna
3) Upamāna pramāna
4) Shabda pramāna
To decide the truth of anything, we need all these four yardsticks. But, God is a feeling. How can we measure him? He is beyond the senses and any other standards. In this world that is filled with such feelings, each and every individual is a witness for himself. He himself is the ultimate means of knowledge. This is greater than the four yardsticks that we have mentioned above. We have different experiences. We must analyze all of them and decide which experience is the real one. The science of analyzing the experiences and providing the solutions is known as ‘Tattva shāstra’ (philosophy). The basis of this science is the swayam sākshi (considering the self as the witness). Hence, those who wish to see God must try to put in effort to see God through their own experiences. That is the one and only one way to experience God. Let us all follow that way and cultivate it as the method of practice. Realizing God implies happiness. There is no impurity in that happiness. It does not mean that God comes down to us. Achievement of that live experience is known as satya sākshi (witnessing the truth). We must put in our efforts to experience that happiness. You must read ‘Datta Darshanam’ to understand much about this.