Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his teachings said “Pragyapradh or ‘mistake of the intellect’ occurs when the intellect, drawn towards and influenced by material consciousness, loses connection with the wholeness of consciousness. And this happens when we stop being centered within ourselves.”
Dr Deepak Chopra in Perfect Health wrote: “Aging is ‘a mistake of the intellect’. This mistake consists of identifying oneself solely with the physical body.”
Dr Ram Kant Mishra wrote: “The Ayurveda texts define the source of all disease and suffering as Pragyapradh. This occurs when individuals (or even single cells) ‘forget’ their connection with the wholeness of life and believe themselves to be isolated entities. Creating, and then eating, genetically engineered foods expose us to Pragyapradh”.
In Ayurveda, the origin of all disease is traced to “Pragyapradh”, a term which means “mistake of the intellect”. This term comprises of two words i.e. “Pragya” meaning intellect and “parade” meaning crime, thus giving the complete meaning as ‘doing wrong things in spite of knowing about their negative side effects or consequences that will lead to a disease’.
In Ayurveda, it is said that Pragyapradh is the main cause of a disease, especially janpadodhwans (epidemic diseases).
The various mistakes performed by the intellect can be classified into three groups:
- Dhi (intellectual) or ‘due to lack of intellect or ignorance’. It refers to diseases occurring due to ignorance. For example a person not knowing the bad effects of alcohol indulges in it.
- Dhriti (awareness) or ‘when one does wrong things in spite of the awareness’. For example, when a person knows that smoking is bad for health but is still addicted to it and is unable to leave it due to his craving or weak will power.
- Smriti (memory) or ‘smrutivibhrast, which refers to the onset of ailment due to loss of memory. For example, a person who is aware of the bad effects of refined carbohydrates decides not to eat them in future but eats them forgetting his resolution not to eat.
In all these situations, the body is controlled by the intellect and the ego and not by the soul and one is not taking decisions from the level of consciousness.
Mistake of the intellect involves disobeying the laws of nature. There are three common mistakes listed in the Vedantic literature, namely attachment (or addiction), desires (weak will power) and show off (ego).
The basic description of above comes from the Epic Ramayana where attachment is represented by Kaikeyi, desires or greed by the golden deer Marich, and the ego by Ravana. If any one of them would have been absent, Ramayana could not have taken place.
Today we know that addictions to refined carbohydrates, tobacco, drugs and alcohol are responsible for most lifestyle disorders. Desires and greed are responsible for our nibbling habit at functions. And showing-off in parties and marriage gatherings makes us choose costlier fruits and vegetables which are non-seasonal and not grown locally and, hence, unnatural.