If you have not read the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, then maybe we should all read it. In that, this is the first thing that is spoken about. It is about the five modulations of the mind. It is very important.
The five modulations are: Pramana (proof). We want proof for everything. We want proof of love, of truth, of someone’s honesty, of God. We want to prove everything.
The second modulation is Viparyaya (incorrect conclusions or wrong understanding). Viparyaya means the mind making up its own universe, which is very different from what actually is in reality. In the Yoga Sutras, it is said, ‘Viparyayaha mithya jnaanam atad rupa pratishtham.’ (Yoga Sutras, Ch.1, V.8)
It means, that what you thought, was not what was actually happening in reality. It meant, you were having a wrong understanding of reality.
So Viparyaya means seeing the unreal as real, and the real as unreal. It means seeing that which is temporary, transient and perishable as permanent and imperishable. Sat and A-Sat. (The Absolute truth and Maya (fantasy)
It is like, sometimes others think something about you, but those people are gone, and that thought is gone as well, but you have held on to that thought in your mind and you are miserable. This is Viparyaya.
A simple example could be: you are going into someone’s house and they do not see you entering. There is a gust of wind, or maybe they see a lizard entering the house, so they shut the door, but you think that they have banged the door on your face.
It was simply a coincidence of your going towards the door and them banging the door shut. You thought they saw you coming because you saw them, and they shut the door. These are some simple examples of Viparyaya. You sit and think, ‘Others are thinking badly about me’. But in fact if you ask them, they will tell you, ‘I never thought about you. I was busy with my own work’. Where do people have the time to think about you?
The third is Vikalpa (fantasy or imagination). It again means the mind thinking or galloping on that which is not there at all.
The fourth is Nidra meaning sleep, and the fifth is Smriti (memory), meaning dwelling upon something in the memory, or thinking all the time about something that happened in the past.