Monday, 2 April 2018

Upamana: The Gavaya and the Screw Mitre Shoot




We’ve been here before. Has the fog lifted? Can the general lie of the land be discerned? Do we stumble through the forest looking for the fabled ‘gavaya’ (bos gaurus) with the assurance that we will know it when we see it for ‘it is like to your cow itself, without dewlap’. In all the accounts of upamana the gavaya ruminates and how wearying it must be for the correction of papers on the topic to meet it again and again. As I remarked previously the feeling is there that no one quite understands what the force of this pramana is and the security blanket of the canonical story is clung too. Not all schools accept it as a free-standing means of valid knowledge some holding it to be a matter of inference, others a perception. Let me for the sake of this short note simply take the advaitin view as valid which accounts it one of their six pramanas.

Comparison implies contrast and both these intellectual powers are common. We navigate through the strange waters of this world using the knowledge that we have garnered already. We meet a near instance of what we know from previous experience. That previous experience is not present to us as a perception but is referred to by the present perception. It is ‘in’ the present perception, Venn diagram like. The contrasting elements are in the outer non-lapping sections.

Is it simply a matter of memory? Not in a retrieval sense I think. All our conceptual apparatus is present to us as our mind. New stuff finds a fit or fails to find such. I’m at this minute looking at a tool which I bought second hand from a dealer. He called it a clamp. Yes it has a wooden screw that moves a block and it is a holding device. It is a screw mitre shoot so therefore a very specialised sort of clamp. That was the overlap.

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