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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Vidya, VidyA, Vidyaa

vidyā (limited knowledge)

See also ŚAIVISM.


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


vidyā (‘knowledge,’ ‘science’) Derived from the verbal root ‘vid’ (to know’) the term vidyā stands for knowledge in general as also for any organised body of knowledge. The Upaniṣads divide vidyā into two varieties: aparā vidyā (lower knowledge comprising all worldly sciences including the Vedas) and parāvidyā (spiritual wis¬dom resulting in God-experience). Some¬times, they have also used this word to indicate special modes of meditation such as Aksipurusavidyā, Bhumavidyā and so on. Vidyā, when understood as ātmavidyā (realisation of the ātman), is posited as the antidote of avidyā or nescience. The Arthaśāstra (2.1) of Kauṭilya (321 B. C.) recognises four kinds of vidyās: ānvīkṣikī (logic and metaphysics); trayī (the three Vedas excluding the Atharva¬veda)', vārttā (agriculture, trade and allied vocations); daṇḍanītī (statecraft). The Visnupurāna (3.6.28, 29) lists altogether 18 vidyās as follows: 4 Vedas; 6 Vedāṅgas; Mīmāmsā; Nyāya; Purāṇas; Dharmaśāstras; Ayurveda; Dhanurveda; Gāndharvaveda; Arthaśāstra. The 64 kalās (arts) are also some¬times known as vidyās. See also VIDYĀS.