Anumana in Indian Philosophy

by Sangita Chakravarty | 2016 | 48,195 words

This page relates ‘Avayavas of Anumana (in Mimamsa-Vedanta Philosophy)’ 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 (in Mīmāṃsā-Vedānta Philosophy)

From the definition of anumāna it is pertinent that there must be three terms and three propositions in it. The three terms of anumāna are, viz., the pakṣa, the vyāpya (hetu) and the vyāpaka (sadhya). These terms are respectively known as the minor, the middle and the major terms of syllogism. The pakṣa is the substratum possessing the vyāpya and vyāpaka. The vyāpya is also called gamaka, liṅga, hetu and sādhana. The Mı̇̄māṃsakas add one more synonym, viz., niyama. The middle term is called sādhana, because it is the means of proving the major term.

The major term is called vyāpaka, gamya, liṅgin, sādhya and niyāmaka. The words sādhana and sādhya are generally translated as probans and probandum. The word sādhana has one more meaning according to which it stands for the whole syllogism instead of for a part of it. That statement is termed as sādhana or the instrument of proof by which the knowledge of anumāna arises in a person other than the one making it.[1] The presence of probandum in the pakṣa is called pratijñā. [2] There are two alternative ways of stating the conclusion. In the first case, it is called pratijñā and in the latter case, it is called nigamana.

In this way, a sādhana has the following alternative forms:

Whatever has smoke has fire (vyāpti)
The hill has smoke (hetu)
The hill has fire (nigamana)


The hill has fire (pratijñā)
Because it has smoke (hetu)
Whatever has smoke has fire (vyāpti)

It has already been stated that there are five propositions in the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika system. In Indian philosophy, the Mīmāṃsā system rejects the Naiyāyika’s five membered syllogism. According to the Mimāṃsakas, the five membered inference involves unnecessary repetition. Restatement is a fault. In the Mīmāṃsā system, the Bhāṭṭa school and Prābhākara school both are called trivayavī. Prabhākara accepts inference for oneself (svārthānumāna) and inference for others (parārthānumāna).

Both consist of three members, viz.,

  1. pratijñā,
  2. hetu and
  3. udāharaṇa.

Pratijñā means the thesis or proposition. Hetu means the minor premise which states the reason. Udāharaṇa means the universal major premise which states the uniform relation illustrated by an example.

Prabhākara gives the example of trivayavī nyāya in the following way:

The hill has fire (pratijñā)
It has smoke (hetu)

Therefore, wherever has smoke has fire, e.g., mahānasa or kitchen (udāharaṇa).

The proposition (pratijñā) should be stated first, but the major premise and the minor premise may be stated in any order. The conclusion follows necessarily from the general principle of relation between sign and the predicate. A heterogeneous example is redundant here since a homogenous example is enough to illustrate the general principle.

The Bhāṭṭa Mīmāṃsakas also admit three avayavas of anumāna. They accept the avayavas of anumāna in two ways which are as follow:


The hill has fire (pratijñā)
It has smoke (hetu)
Therefore, wherever there is fire, there is smoke (udāharaṇa).


Wherever there is fire, there is smoke (udāharaṇa)
The hill has smoke (upanaya)
Therefore, the hill has fire (nigamana).

Śālikanātha Miśra, the commentator of Prakaraṇapañcikā, also accepts the three avayavas of anumāna, viz.,

  1. pratijñā,
  2. hetu and
  3. udāharaṇa.

Footnotes and references:


yena vākyena parasyānumānabuddhirutpadyate tat sādhanamityuccyate. Śāstradīpikā, p. 118


sādhyanirdeśaḥ pratijñā, yathā śabdo nitya iti. Prakaraṇapañcikā, p. 220

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