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By Swami Harshananda
Vikalpa literally means ‘doubt,’ ‘choice’.
The word Vikalpa has several senses. It's different inference as per varied theories is as follows:
- When manas or the mind is defined as that part of the antahkaraṇa which is responsible for saṇkalpa and vikalpa, the word vikalpa stands for doubt.
- In a more technical sense, it stands for an alternative or an option.
- If a Vedic passage declares that one can offer sacrifice with vrīhi or yava, it is a vikalpa that gives a choice to the sacrificer.
- The dharmaśāstras give many vikalpas or alternatives in the performance of certain rituals.
- The Yogasutras uses the word vikalpa to indicate that wave of the mind which arises after hearing a word, even though there is no corresponding real object outside. For instance, when we hear the word “Rāhu’s head,” the idea of a head that arises in the mind is a vikalpa because Rāhu has only a head and no other parts of the body.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore