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Bhutarutajñāna literally means ‘knowledge of the sounds of animals’.

Man alone is endowed with the power of speech, with which he can convey his thoughts and feelings to others. However he has curious to know whether animals, birds and/or worms have their own means of communication. Patañjali asserts in the Yogasutras,[1] that a yogi can acquire that extraordinary power by practicing saiyama[2].

This can be illustrated with an example. When a person utters the word ‘cow’ we get the knowledge of a cow. However, on analysis, we find three things:

  1. The word itself is a sound produced by uttering the three letters c, o and w, in succession by the vocal organs.
  2. The animal cow is a solid external object perceptible to the eyes and the hands.
  3. The knowledge of it produced in the mind is in the form of mental waves.

Ordinarily, these three are mixed up and yet give us an experience.

If the yogi can manage to separate these three in his mind and practice saiyama on each of them separately, then, he realizes the basic truths underlying each of them:

  1. Śabda - Sound
  2. Artha - Object signified
  3. Pratyaya - Knowledge in the form of mental waves

This will now empower him to ‘know’ the meaning of all the sounds uttered by all the living beings including those of the animal kingdom. The Purāṇas refer to the yogis who had acquired this power.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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