Anumana in Indian Philosophy

by Sangita Chakravarty | 2016 | 48,195 words

This page relates ‘Avayavas of Anumana (Indian syllogism)’ of the study on the concept of Anumana (inference) in the Vedic schools of Indian Philosophy. Anumana usually represents the most authentic means of valid knowledge. This paper discusses the traditional philosophical systems such as Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa and Vedanta.

(C). Avayavas of Anumāna (Indian syllogism)

Like all the systems of Indian philosophy the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika system also agrees in holding that the syllogism represents the typical form of an inferential reasoning. In anumāna, we can arrive at a truth through the medium of some other truths. The inferential knowledge is a deduction from certain propositions. In the Nyāya system, there are five members of syllogism.

An inference for others (parārthānumāna) consists of five constituent propositions (pañcāvayava).[1] These are—

  1. pratijñā (proposition),
  2. hetu (reason),
  3. udāharaṇa (exemplification),
  4. upanaya (application) and
  5. nigamana (conclusion).

(1) The first member of syllogism is called pratijñā or proposition, which is the logical statement of the thesis to be proved.[2] According to Gautama, pratijñā is the declaration of that which is to be established.[3] Vātsyāyana illustrates Gautama’s statement and holds that it is a judgement based upon the synthesis of a subject with a predicate. Uddyotakara’s view also agrees to that of Vātsyāyana.

(2) The second member of syllogism is called hetu or the reason, which states the reason for the establishment of the statement. Gautama states that hetu is the means for establishing sādhya through an affirmative or negative example. Hetu must exists in the subject. It must exists in similar instances. It must not exists in dissimilar instances.[4] Vātsyāyana and Uddyotakara support Gautama’s view and hold that both of the above mentioned types of example are necessary to ward off fallacy of reason. The hetu is the assertion of the middle term by which we know that the pakṣa or the minor term is or is not related to the sādhya or the major term.

(3) The third member of syllogism is called udāharaṇa or exemplification a universal proposition showing the invariable concomitance between the hetu and sādhya. [5] Gautama refers to two types of example, viz., sādharmyadṛṣṭānta and vaidharmyadṛṣṭānta. [6] A sādharmyadṛṣṭānta is a familiar instance which is known to possess the property to be established, and which implies that this property is invariably contained in the reason given. For example, ‘sound is non-eternal, because it is produced, whatever is produced is non-eternal, as a pot’. A vaidharmyadṛṣṭānta is a familiar instance which is known to be devoid of the property to be established and which implies that the absence of this property is invariably rejected in the reason given. For example, ‘sound is non-eternal, because it is produced, whatever is not non-eternal is not produced, as the soul.’ Either it states the invariable concomitance of the presence of the reason with the presence of the predicate, or it states the invariable concomitance of the absence of the predicate with the absence of the reason.

(4) The fourth member of syllogism is called the upanaya or the application, which states the existence of the reason in the subject, which is invariably concomitant with the predicate as stated in the exemplification[7] . When the udāharaṇa indicates that there is a universal relation between the hetu and the sādhya, the upanaya states that the hetu abides in the pakṣa. [8] It is the application of a general principle to a particular instance.

(5) The fifth and the last member of syllogism is called nigamana or conclusion.[9] It is the restatement of the proposition after the reason has been mentioned.[10] The proposition states what is to be proved, but the conclusion states what is proved.[11] It synthesizes all members of a demonstrative inference (anumāna) and proves the existence of the predicate in the subject.

The above mentioned five parts make up a complete demonstrative inference (anumāna). These five members of the Indian syllogism are called avayavas.

The following is a typical Nyāya syllogism,—

  1. The hill is fiery (pratijñā).
  2. Because it is smoky (hetu).
  3. Whatever is smoky is fiery, e.g., a kitchen (udāharaṇa).
  4. So like the kitchen, the hill is smoky (upanaya).
  5. Therefore, the hill is fiery (nigamana).

In addition to these five members of a syllogism, some old Naiyāyikas refer to five more constituents and thereby hold that anumāna has ten members of syllogism.[12] These additional five members of syllogism are–

  1. jijñāsā, which means desire to know an object of anumāna.
  2. saṃśaya, which means doubt as to the existence of the predicate.
  3. śakyaprāpti, which means capacity of the anumāna to prove the existence of the predicate.
  4. prayojana, which means the purpose of drawing the conclusion.
  5. saṃśayavyudāsa, which means removal of doubt due to certain knowledge between hetu and sādhya.

It has already been stated above that in the Vaiśeṣika system, Praśastapāda divides svārthānumāna into dṛṣṭa and sāmānyatodṛṣṭa.

Recognizing parārthānumāna he only mentions five syllogism, viz.,

  1. pratijñā (proposition);
  2. apadeśa (reason);
  3. nidarśana (example);
  4. anusandhāna (application) and
  5. pratyāmnāya (conclusion)[13] .

(a) According to the Vaiśeṣika system, pratijñā is the statement of a proposition. It states that the subject of anumāna is proposed to possess the inferable property[14] .

(b) Secondly, the apadeśa means the statement of the mark or probans which is invariably concomitant or connected with the probandum[15] .

(c) Thirdly, the nidarśana is of two kinds, viz., affirmative (sādharmyanidarśana) and negative (vaidharmyanidarśana).[16] The first kind of nidarśana explains the invariable concomitance between the presence of the probans in general and the presence of the probandum in general.[17] The second kind of nidarśana illustrates the invariable concomitance between the absence of the probans and absence of the probandum.[18]

(d) Fourthly, the anusandhāna states that the probans are invariably accompanied by the probandum inherent in the subject of an anumāna[19] .

(e) Lastly, the pratyāmnāya is the restatement of the proposition in order to convince another person.[20]

The following is a typical Vaiśeṣika syllogism:

  1. The air is a substance (pratijñā)
  2. Because it has qualities and action (apadeśa)
  3. Whatever has action is a substance, e.g., an arrow. Whatever is a non-substance is devoid of action, e.g., beinghood, (nidarśana)
  4. The air has action (anusandhāna)
  5. Therefore, the air is a substance (pratyāmnāya).[21]

Here, apadeśa corresponds to hetu; nidarśana corresponds to udāharaṇa; anusandhāna corresponds to upanaya; and pratyāmnāya corresponds to nigamana.

Footnotes and references:


pratijñāhetudāharaṇopanayanigamanāni pañcāvayavaḥ. Tarkasaṃgraha, p. 29 Cf: Nyāyasūtra, i. 1. 32


sādhyavattayā pakṣavacanaṃ pratijñā. Tarkasaṃgrahadīpikā on Tarkasaṃgraha, 42, p. 19


sādhyanirdeśaḥ pratijñā. Nyāyasūtra, i. 1. 33


udāharaṇa sādharmyāt sādhyasādhanam hetuḥ tathā vaidharmyāt. Ibid., i. 1. 34


vyāptipratipādakamudāharaṇam. Tarkasaṃgrahadīpikā on Tarkasaṃgraha, p. 29


sādhyasādharmyāttadharmabhābī dṛṣṭānta udāharaṇam / tadviparyayād vā viparītam // Nyāyasūtra, i. 1. 36,37


udāharaṇāpekṣastathetyupasaṃhāro na tatheti vā sādhyasya upanayaḥ. Ibid., i. 1. 38


pakṣadharmatājñānam upanayaḥ. Tarkasaṃgrahadīpikā on Tarkasaṃgraha, 42


abādhitatvādikaṃ nigamanaprayojanam. Ibid.


hetvopadeśātpratijñāyāḥ punarvacanaṃ nigamanam. Nyāyasūtra, i. 1. 39


nigamyante’nena pratijñāhetudāharaṇopanaya ekatreti nigamanam. Nyāyabhāṣya, i. 1. 39


Ibid., i. 1. 32


avayavaḥ punaḥ pratijñāpadeśanidarśanānusandhānapratyāmnāyaḥ. Praśastapāda Bhāṣya, p. 565


tatrānumeyoddeśo’virodhī pratijñā. Ibid., p. 566


liṅgavacanamapadeśaḥ. Ibid., p. 575


dvividhaṃ nidarśanaṃ sādharmyena vaidharmyena ca. Ibid., p. 598


tatrānumeyasāmānyena liṅgasāmānyasyānubidhānadarśanaṃ sādharmyanidarśanaṃ. Ibid.


anumeyaviparyaye ca liṅgasya abhāvadarśanaṃ vaidharmyanidarśanam. Ibid.,p. 599


nidarśane’numeyasāmānyena saha dṛṣṭasya / liṅgasāmānyamanumeye’nvānayanamanusandhānam // Ibid., p. 606


anumeyatvenoddiṣṭe ca aniścite ca pareṣāṃ niścayāpādanārthaṃ pratijñāyāḥ punarvacanaṃ pratyāmnāyaḥ. Ibid., p. 611


Vide Sinha, J.N., Indian Philosophy, vol-1, p. 322

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