What is Sixth Sense? (The Six “Pramanas”)

We have a question from Sunil kumar Ramesh

I have heard that animals have the capacity to predict upcoming natural calamities like earthquake, when we human beings claim ourselves as superior to them why we fail in that ? What is actually the sixth sense, are we really using it ?

Before I get into the details of your question, let me share a real life incident. This incident has happened in my own family and my own father has been a close witness.

A Real Story Illustrating the Existence of Intuition

My father and his elder brother grew up in Ranaghat – a suburbial town in West Bengal, while the family stayed in a village far away (“Rampurhat”). My uncle was very close to his grandparents and he was the beloved child among rest of the siblings.

So one night while my father was sleeping, he heard someone crying. He wakes up and finds that my uncle is crying profusely. On asking the reason, he said

Our Grandmother just died. I saw her coming in my dreams and saying that she is leaving.

In those days there was no telephone and no communication channels other than Telegram,  which was again very expensive and not commonplace. My uncle got this dream and my father refuted this by saying that it was just a bad dream and that he should just go to sleep.

But my uncle was serious. He kept on crying and was deeply perplexed. He got up, put on his clothes and said

Look, there is only one last train leaving for Rampurhat at One 1 O’clock and I have to take the train and reach the village before morning. If I don’t make it there, I won’t be able to see grandma ever again. I am certain she is dead, I saw her face telling me that she is going forever. If I miss this train and reach tomorrow afternoon by taking the first train in the morning, they will cremate her and then inform me. I cannot take the chance. We only have half an hour left.

Here is what we will do. Last trains often stop at alternate stations so I will leave for the station while you will go in opposite direction, towards the station just ahead of Ranaghat. If you reach first and the train stops in that station, you will tell the guard to stop the train at Ranaghat because we have a family exigency. Sometimes, the guards do not stop trains at night and they may skip my station, so I just want to be 100% sure. In case they skip your station, I am sure they will stop at mine.

My father couldn’t argue any further, they took their bicycles and headed towards their respective stations in that cold winter night. Fortunately, my uncle was able to board the train that night and he arrived in the village early morning.

My father went to college and returned by evening. When he returns he finds a young boy waiting in the door. He had come from the village with a note that read

Dear brother,

I told you last night that grandma is no more. You didn’t believe me. Turns out, she died of a heart attack at the exact moment I saw the dream. Please come to the village at your earliest.

This cannot be co-incidence.

If you have a strong bonding with something or someone, you can communicate with that thing regardless of medium, technology, location and other limited parameters. If something is wrong about someone you care the most, your intuition will tell you before that thing even happens.

If you observe this closely you will be able to relate to this in your day to day life

  • Sometimes, you will find that a specific person can predict the outcome of a match precisely. He can predict the performance of a key player in the team and if you observe, you will find that this person has a strong emotional connection with that player – either he likes him a lot or hates him a lot.
  • Before appearing in an examination, sometimes you can predict that a particular question is going to be asked. Why? It is possible you have developed a strong connection with a specific chapter and you will feel that this question will certainly be asked.
  • Sometimes, you can predict that one of the projects you are working on is definitely going to fail, no matter how promising it looks while development.

How does this feeling of intuition arise? What lies at the root of that intuition (sometimes we call it “sixth sense”)? The answer is – activation of Pramanas.

What is Pramanas?

Pramana ( प्रमाण) literally means “proof” and “means of knowledge”.

The occurrence of anything in your head cannot come without “Knowledge”. Whatever originates in your head is somehow linked to some knowledge that the head has acquired.

Example – You saw a dream that humans are flying in the sky. You wake up and see that it is birds that are flying, not humans.

How did this thought originate?

This thought originated in your head because of a “Pramana”, which I am going to discuss later in the article. Your brain has observed that different things can float in the air. It can be birds, it can be a balloon, an air plane or a rocket.

Now that your brain has the knowledge that different things can float in the air, the “Pramana” in your brain has been activated. It can look into the future – that is, a day will come when humans will fly in the sky.

The moment your brain has “Proof of concept”, it can look into the unknown and deduce something which is completely oblivious and far from real. It can “connect” with a future reality and show a glimpse of that reality to you.

Similarly, the brain can activate a “Pramana” and provide you a glimpse of what is going to happen in very near future. Or it can connect you with an event which has happened with someone very close to you.

If you keep thinking about an event or see yourself in a specific role, it is most certain that you will one day achieve it. This happens because your mind continuously sets itself to a “Pramana” and once that proof of concept is established, the mind figures out a way to achieve it for real.

Senses Come After “Pramanas”

A “Sense” is nothing but a means to perception. You use your senses to “Perceive” something.

There are five traditionally recognized methods of perception, or sense

  • Sight
  • Touch
  • Smell
  • Hearing.
  • Taste

Your question is about the “Sixth sense”, which is a form of perception that is achieved without these 5 senses. It is also called “Extra sensory perception“.

Vedanta holds the view that “Pramanas” come before senses. The mind develops a “Proof of concept” first and then the senses are developed one after another.

The first sense that is developed is the sense of taste. A baby develops the sense of taste to differentiate what is mother’s milk and what is not. Even before the baby is able to see, hear, smell, touch or feel anything, it develops the sense of taste.

Now, here is something you should know.

Before the baby develops the sense of taste, it develops a “Proof of concept” or “Pramanas”. And what is that “Proof of concept”? That proof of concept is that the baby identifies the need of something which will satiate his/her hunger.

The baby is not aware of the definitions of food, hunger, mother and her breasts. But the baby is aware of the “Proof of concept” that he/she needs a medium that will fulfill his/her hunger.

This is that sixth sense which ships out of the box and it is always there with you. This sixth sense is nothing but the combination of 6 “Pramanas” mentioned below

The Six Pramanas (“Proof of Concept”)

These six means of knowledge are

  • Pratyaksha – Perception.
  • Anumana – Inference.
  • Upamana – Comparison
  • Arthapatti – Postulation
  • Anupalabdhi – Non-apprehension
  • Sabda – Sound.

These six means of knowledge is available with any living being and is not limited to humans. These means of knowledge activate your sixth sense and is considered higher than the 5 senses which we are aware of.

In reality, the sixth sense is developed first and then the usual senses of sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell are developed one after another.

Now this is a really vast subject and I can go on writing about each “Pramanas” but that will make this post very lengthy. I will just provide a brief introduction to each pramanas so you understand what they do

Pratyaksha

Literally means “First impression” about something which gives you the knowledge about what that thing could be or what that situation is.

See the image below

In this case, the “Pratyaksha” that hits your brain the moment you see the image is that the subject is in great danger. This is immediate cognition and you do not even appreciate how beautiful the sea is or how beautiful her smile is. You overlook them and focus on the “Pratyaksha” – she is in great danger or her life is in great danger.

The perception means the direct & immediate cognition of pain, pleasure, love, hate, danger, security, anger, knowledge or ignorance of various objects in our minds.

Reality is that she is completely safe and playing for fun, just like others.

So we see that “Pratyaksha” tells us something that it feels is attached to a subject or situation as a result of immediate cognition, without looking into the details, parameters and attributes.

Anumana

This is indirect knowledge that is gained from another means of knowledge. This is “Inferential knowledge” that the subconsious mind derives because it is aware of another knowledge from which this knowledge is being derived.

There is Fire without Smoke but there can never be Smoke without Fire. Smoke is always produced when something “Burns”. Right?

Now, when you see smoke, you will automatically deduce that something is burning in fire. This is your “Anumana” telling you that Fire exists whenever you see smoke. It is possible that your “Anumana” is wrong. In a Chemical laboratory, Smoke can be produced without Fire.

This “Anumana” is that “Pramana” which goes beyond “Pratyaksha” and derives a conclusion without observation, because it has access to a secondary means of knowledge

  • Smoke cannot be produced without Fire.
  • Rahul cannot score so less in the examination, he is always the First boy since 10 years
  • Air conditioner cannot be used to make a room warm, since it always cools the room.

Upamana

This is subconsious learning by analogy and observing similarities, thereby drawing conclusions and adjusting your “Anumana” and “Pratyaksha” about different objects.

Let me share an example.

  • You observed that all boys in your neighborhood who wear caps are very indisciplined.
  • You went to another country and found that all the boys who wore caps are very aggressive and ill mannered.
  • You came back to your country and found that the girls in your neighborhood have started wearing caps but they are not indisciplined.
  • You went to another country and observed that girls who wore caps are not aggressive.

You deduced this conclusion that a Cap is a differentiating factor in the disciplined nature of boys and girls in every country and it is this cap which decides the aggressiveness of each gender, regardless of Geography.

This conclusion is drawn from a generic observation and applying the coherent mathematics of comparison by observing similar objects across different environments. The next time you see a girl with a cap on her head, you will automatically deduce that she can’t be as reckless as a boy with a cap on his head can be.

Similarly, Upamana also tells you the “Good” and “Bad” parts about something which you are not aware of but you derive the knowledge by analogy and compasion. Example –

John  — “I graduated from Harvard university”.

You — “Oh great, you must be so knowledgeable”

John  — “No I am not. I said I graduated from there and that doesn’t mean I am knowledgeable. Yes most students in Harvard are knowledgeable”

You — “No this can’t be. If you were not knowledgeable, you cannot come out of Harvard university.”

John — “And how do you exactly define what knowledge is?”

You — I don’t know what knowledge is but I have observed that people who graduate from that university are considered very knowledgeable. Hence, you must be knowledgeable.

Arthapatti

Arthapatti is assumption of a fact based on “Anumana” and “Upamana”.

It is the “Upalabdhi” of something based on the assumption that if X is not true then Y must be true otherwise how can Z hold?

There is no Sun in the sky, it means it is night.

During a solar eclipse in 1999, I remember birds came back to their nest at 10 AM in the morning and came out thinking that the Sun had set and it is the dawn time. Hence they started chirping and dogs had started barking, as they usually do.

This is coming from the Anumana and Upamana that if there is no sun in the sky, it must be night time. And since the birds are Chirping, it is confirmed that the sun is rising.

Anupalabdhi

Anupalabdhi means Non apprehension and it is the absense of Arthapatti.

This knowledge is derived when something is absent, it is actually negative perception about the existence of a thing or event. Something that does not exist cannot be perceived through the senses; instead, another source of knowledge is needed. Anupalabdhi is when the non-perception of an object gives information as to its non-existence.

  • There is no ticket collector in the station. How do you define there is no ticket collector? You must first know who is a ticket collector and only then you can define that he is not present.
  • The teacher is teaching wrong lessons. You have to first know what is a right lesson and then you can have this perception of “Wrong” lesson.

Sabda

This is the last and ultimate Pramana – Sound.

One great thing about Sound is that nobody can control himself from getting influenced by sound.

You can shut your eyes and prevent vision. You can stop eating and prevent taste. You can remove all external objects and control smell and touch.

But sound? You cannot control. You can put fingers in your ears but you will still be able to hear a constant sound. Nobody can control sound and hence it is considered the strongest “Sense” or “Pramana”.

Sabda is verbal testimony which transmits knowledge. A verbal statement, uttered or written, is man’s most potent instrument for transmitting knowledge. We learn mostly by means of words. An oral or written message is a universal mode of communication. We constantly get various information, direction & knowledge through words, speech, text and other direct/indirect means of “Sabda”.

The Sixth sense

Coming back to your question, animals have the power to predict natural calamities. They do this through the usage of “Pramanas” (proof of concept).

Some animals are able to develop these pramanas early on and are better in predicting things because their “Proof of concept” about something is very strong. In case of an earthquake, the Frog, the snake, the dog and the bird will react quickly compared to a Lion, Tiger, human or buffalo.

It just means that a Frog and a Dog has a higher “Anumana” component, they have a higher degree of “Inferential knowledge” about earthquakes and can react accordingly.

The sixth sense is basically a combination of the different “Pramanas” which anyone can use to predict events before they even occur or predict things without knowing anything about them. Human beings can develop this through Yoga, meditation and other spiritual practices but animals don’t need “methods” since some of them have these “Pramanas” in built in them, so they can do it naturally without any homework.

Sometimes, you will see that you can predict something about a particular subject very easily. This is your sixth sense, a combination of your “Pramanas” in action which has deduced the knowledge about that particular thing in a purely  subconscious way.

The moment you become conscious about something, your senses takes over and “Pramanas” are subdued. Your senses are weak, your “Pramanas” are stronger since they interact in the subconscious zone and work without the intervention of senses and artificial knowledge.

The Sixth sense is a function of “Pramanas”, not a function of the other Five senses.

 
11 Kudos
Don't
move!