Apara vidya consists of book knowledge such as the code of rituals, etymology, grammar, mathematics and the four Vedas. Para vidya is knowledge of and unity with the Supreme God or Universe. It is reaching the Paramatman (the Supreme Self), the point at which Self and Universe become one.
To attain para vidya, meditation techniques are employed. The Four Techniques of Knowledge were popularized in the second half of the 20th century by Prem Rawat (Maharaji), but the techniques, in fact, date back to ancient times and are as follows:
- Focus on sight – This technique is intended to open the divine inner eye. The thumb and middle finger are placed on the eyes and the forefinger touches the middle of the forehead (location of the inner eye).
- Focus on sound – In this second technique, the ears are sealed off by the thumbs, then the practitioner listens to the silence and inner voice.
- Focus on breath – Western cultures recognize this technique as a key component of yoga practice. The practitioner concentrates on feeling the inhale and exhale while meditating.
- Focus on taste – This final technique is an advanced mudra (gesture or seal), also known as khecari mudra, which is designed to awaken spiritual energies. The tongue is rolled back and up into the nasal cavity above the soft palate. Symbolically, the tongue tastes the knowledge of the third eye energy center.