REFERENCES: Narada-bhakti-sutra, 59: "Pramana means proof. Vaishnava philosophers condense all the different types of pramanas into three: pratyaksha, anumana, and shabda. Pratyaksha means direct evidence by the senses. But since the senses are imperfect, pratyaksha often has to be corrected by higher knowledge. Anumana refers to deductive and inductive logic, which depends on the validity of its premises and reasons, and so cannot prove anything with final certainty. Shabda means receiving knowledge from authoritative sources. Vedic knowledge is shabda-pramana. This is particularly applicable to transcendental subject matter, which cannot be understood by the empirical and theorizing methods. Even in ordinary affairs, there are many things we have to accept on authority. We can learn the identity of our father from our mother, the only foolproof authority. Aside from the mother there is no way to know for sure who our father is. When the source of information is perfect, as in Vedic knowledge, then shabda-pramana, or shabda-brahma, becomes the ultimate proof. As Srila Prabhupada states, "As far as the soul's existence is concerned, no one can establish his existence experimentally beyond the proof of shruti, or Vedic wisdom" ( Bg. 2.25, purport)." WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW According to scriptures also, there are seven mothers: (1) the real mother, (2) the wife of the spiritual master, (3) the wife of a brāhmaṇa, (4) the wife of the king, (5) the cow, (6) the nurse, and (7) the earth. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM In the conditioned state, our knowledge is subjected to many deficiencies. The difference between a conditioned soul and a liberated soul is that the conditioned soul has four kinds of defects. To err is human. This is one defect of the conditioned soul. māyā. Māyā means "what is not." Everyone is accepting the body as the self. If I ask you what you are, you will say, "I am Mr. John; I am a rich man; I am this; I am that." All these are bodily identifications. But you are not this body. This is illusion. We cannot, therefore, expect knowledge (veda) with these imperfect senses. With all these deficiencies, in conditioned life we cannot give perfect knowledge to anyone. Nor are we ourselves perfect. Therefore we accept the Vedas as they are. In India if one person tells another, "You must do this," the other party may say, "What do you mean? Is this a Vedic injunction, that I have to follow you without any argument?" Vedic injunctions cannot be interpreted. But ultimately, if you carefully study why these injunctions are there, you will find that they are all correct. Kṛṣṇa. Another name for the Vedas is śruti.Śruti refers to that knowledge which is acquired by hearing. It is not experimental knowledge. Śruti is considered to be like a mother. We take so much knowledge from our mother. For example, if you want to know who your father is, who can answer you? Your mother. If the mother says, "Here is your father," you have to accept it. It is not possible to experiment to find out whether he is your father. Similarly, if you want to know something beyond your experience, beyond your experimental knowledge, beyond the activities of the senses, then you have to accept the Vedas.There is no question of experimenting. It has already been experimented. It is already settled. The version of the mother, for instance, has to be accepted as truth. There is no other way. Brahmā is called the grandfather, the forefather, because he was the first to be instructed in the Vedic knowledge. In the beginning the first living creature was Brahmā. He received this Vedic knowledge and imparted it to Nārada and other disciples and sons, and they also distributed it to their disciples. In this way, the Vedic knowledge comes down by disciplic succession. It is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā that Vedic knowledge is understood in this way. If you make experimental endeavor, you come to the same conclusion, but just to save time you should accept. If you want to know who your father is and if you accept your mother as the authority, then whatever she says can be accepted without argument. There are three kinds of evidence: pratyakṣa, anumāna and śabda. Pratyakṣa means "direct evidence." Direct evidence is not very good because our senses are not perfect. We are seeing the sun daily, and it appears to us just like a small disc, but it is actually far, far larger than many planets. Of what value is this seeing? Therefore we have to read books; then we can understand about the sun. So direct experience is not perfect. Then there is anumāna, inductive knowledge: "It may be like this"-hypothesis. For instance, Darwin's theory says it may be like this, it may be like that. But that is not science. That is a suggestion, and it is also not perfect. But if you receive the knowledge from the authoritative sources, that is perfect. If you receive a program guide from the radio station authorities, you accept it. You don't deny it; you don't have to make an experiment, because it is received from the authoritative sources. śabda-pramāṇa. Another name is śruti. Śruti means that this knowledge has to be received simply by aural reception. The Vedas instruct that in order to understand transcendental knowledge, we have to hear from the authority. Transcendental knowledge is knowledge from beyond this universe. Within this universe is material knowledge, and beyond this universe is transcendental knowledge. We cannot even go to the end of the universe, so how can we go to the spiritual world? Thus to acquire full knowledge is impossible. There is a spiritual sky. There is another nature, which is beyond manifestation and nonmanifestation. But how will you know that there is a sky where the planets and inhabitants are eternal? All this knowledge is there, but how will you make experiments? It is not possible. Therefore you have to take the assistance of the Vedas. This is called Vedic knowledge.