By Swami Harshananda
Ārsa-jñāna literally means ‘sage-intuition’.
Epistemology recognizes intuition as a valid source of knowledge. Though normally the mind acquires knowledge through the medium of the organs of perception, it can do so even without them, under certain conditions. Being next to the ātman (the soul) and capable of reflecting its glory, mind has infinite potential for knowledge. This potential is unfolded through spiritual disciplines.
In the case of the ṛṣis or sages, the power of the mind blossoms forth due to learning, austerity and meditation. Through such a mind they can intuit anything they wish to know. Such knowledge, as acquired through the intuition of these sages, is called ‘ārṣajñāna.’
It is also called ‘prātibha-jñāna’ (intuitive knowledge) and is often equated with ‘yogi-pratyakṣa’ (yogic intuition). Knowledge obtained in this way is distinct and vivid, and is free from doubts or illusions. It always agrees with facts.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore