Acharya Tulsi - Fifty Years Of Selfless Dedication: What Is Preksha?

Published: 20.09.2012

The word preksha is derived from the root iksa, which means 'to see'. When the prefix pra is added, it becomes pra+iksha=preksha, which means 'to perceive carefully and profoundly.'[1]

Here 'seeing' does not mean external vision, but careful concentration on subtle consciousness by mental insight. Preksha Dhyana is a system of meditation which requires the engaging of one's mind fully in the perception of subtle internal and innate phenomena of consciousness.

Sampikkhae appagamappaenam[2] (Skt. samprekseta atmanamatmana). This aphorism from the Jain canon dasavealiyam forms the basic principle of this system of meditation. It simply means: 'See you yourself (perceive and realize the most subtle aspects of consciousness by your conscious mind). Hence to see is the fundamental principle of meditation. The name Preksha Dhyana was, accordingly, assigned to the present technique.

This technique is thus basically not concentration of 'thought' but concentration of 'perception'.

To know and to see are the characteristics of the consciousness. In its mundane state, being contaminated by karmic matter, the faculty is not fully manifested, but it can be developed.

The term dhyana (meditation) is usually defined as the 'concentration of thinking on a particular subject for a length of time.' Now the mind is the instrument of 'thinking' as well as 'perception'. And, therefore, when linked with preksha, dhyana becomes 'concentration of perception and not of thought.' While it is conceded that both thinking (conception) and seeing (perception) assist in ascertaining and knowing the truth, the latter is more potent than the former. In the tenets propounded by Lord Mahavir 'perceive and know' is given more prominence than 'think, contemplate and know'. This is because perception is strictly concerned with the phenomena of the present; it is neither memory of the past nor imagination of the future. Whatever is happening at the moment of perception must necessarily be a reality. The process of perception, therefore, excludes a mere 'appearance'.

One commences the practice of this technique with the perception of the body. The soul is contained in the body. Therefore, one must pierce the wall of the container to reach the content (the soul). Again, 'breathing' is a part of the body and the essence of life. To breathe is to live and so breath is naturally qualified to be the first object of our perception, while the body itself would become the next one. Vibrations, sensations and other physiological events are worthy of our attention. Our conscious mind becomes sharpened to perceive these internal realities in due course, and then it is able to focus itself on the minutest and the most subtle occurrences within the body. The direct perception of emotions, urges and other psychological events is then possible. And ultimately the entire envelope of karmic matter, contaminating the consciousness, can be clearly recognised.

As stated above, our conscious mind is capable of two categories of functions, viz. thinking and perceiving - conception and perception. But it is incapable of being engaged in both simultaneously. One either thinks or perceives. The exclusive perception of a single subject can thus become an efficient tool for steadying the ever-wandering mind. If one concentrates on perceiving any external object, he finds that his mind has steadied and his train of thoughts has almost halted. Similarly, when one concentrates on the perceptions of his own internal phenomena such as sensations, vibrations or even thoughts, he realizes that the mind has stopped its usual meanderings and is fully engaged in perception. Continued concentrated perception of the intrinsic processes ultimately enables one to perceive the subtle bodies.

In the context of Preksha perception always means experience bereft of the duality of likes ane dislikes. When the experience is contaminated with pleasure or pain, likes and dislikes, perception loses its primacy and becomes secondary.

Impartiality and equanimity are synonymous with Preksha. Preksha is impartial perception, where there is neither the emotion of attachment nor that of aversion, neither pleasure nor displeasure. Both these states of emotion are closely and carefully perceived, but not experienced. And because both are perceived at close quarters, it is not difficult to reject both of them and assume a neutral position. Thus, equanimity is essentially associated with Preksha.

Our sense organ of sight is merely an instrument of perception of an object; it is not responsible for its existence, nor does it derive pleasure (or pain) from it. The same applies to the purely perceptive consciousness. He whose 'perception' and 'knowledge' are pure does not attract new karmic matter, nor does he suffer the effect of the old accumulated karmas.


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Acharya Tulsi - Fifty Years Of Selfless Dedication
Jain Vishva Bharati Ladnun
Shrichand Bengani


R.P. Bhatnagar


● S.L. Gandhi
● Rajul Bhargava, Department of English, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur
● Ashok K. Jha, Department of English, LBS College, Jaipur

First Edition, 1985-2000

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Body
  2. Concentration
  3. Consciousness
  4. Dhyana
  5. Equanimity
  6. Karmas
  7. Karmic matter
  8. Mahavir
  9. Meditation
  10. Preksha
  11. Preksha Dhyana
  12. Soul
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