The validity of Anumana (inference) in Nyaya system

by Babu C. D | 2018 | 44,340 words

This thesis is called: The validity of Anumana (inference) in Nyaya system. It tries to establish the validity of Anumana through citing its application either consciously or unconsciously in every sphere of human life. Anumana in Nyaya system is the knowledge of any object not by direct observation but by means of the knowledge of a liṅga or sign ...

Chapter 2 - Pramanas in Indian Philosophical Thought

Darshana meaning ‘vision’ or ‘the instrument of vision’[1] in Indian literature is referred as philosophy in the Western one. Darshanas and the traditions based on these (sampradayas) together constitute the system of Indian spirituality and religion, their synthesis and practice. Darshana in terms of the spiritual philosophy serves the purpose of a window to observe the true nature of the world. Traditionally, darshana is defined as one that explicit the true nature of the world (samsara), the cause of binding (bandha karana) and the path to liberation of Self (nishreyasa).[2] The ultimate aim of darshana is to show the path to liberation by eliminating the source of binding. The knowledge of Self (jiva), the phenomenal world (jagat) and the absolute reality altogether forms the basis of liberation. The Upanishads is the foundation of Indian Philosophy. The systems of Indian philosophy are comprised of systematic speculations on the varied nature of reality, harmonious with the teachings of the Upanishads, which are the treasures of truth. The corresponding term in the western world ‘philosophy’ comes from two Greek words ‘Philos’ meaning ‘love’ and ‘Sophia’ meaning ‘wisdom’.[3] It is a scientific and logical inquiry into the nature of existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, time, space, causality, evolution and language.

It has three parts

  1. Epistemology which is theory of knowledge,
  2. Ontology–the theory of reality and
  3. Axiology-study of values.[4]

Darshanas basically include two schools of thought viz., Astika (orthodox) and Nastika (heterodox). The nine Indian Philosophical systems have been classified under these two broad divisions depending on whether the system believes or not in the infallibility of Vedas. The systems that believe in the existence of God or consider Vedas as infallible are considered as Astika; whereas Nastikas or heterodox are those who neither consider the Vedas to be infallible nor derive their own validity from the authority of the Vedas. The Schools of Materialism, Buddhism, and Jainism fall in this category as they repudiated the authority of the Vedas. The remaining six Schools are Astikas as they either directly or indirectly accept the authority of the Vedas. Of these, Mimamsa and Vedanta depend entirely on the Vedas and exist in continuation of the Vedic tradition. Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, and Vaisheshika are not based on the Vedas, but they accept the authority of the Vedas.[5]

Although each school of philosophy is unique, all of them have certain common characteristics such as direct experience, acceptance of authority, harmony amongst schools, parallel growth and coexistence of a number of schools, open mindedness, support of logic and reasoning, belief in eternity, law of karma, moral and ethical teachings, acknowledgement of suffering, thoroughness and practicality. All schools are thus interrelated and therefore none of these can be studied without reference to another in which it finds a mention. In the theoretical side, Nyaya is connected with Vaisheshika, Sankhya with Yoga and Purvamimamsa with Uttaramimamsa. Even though they differ in their essence, they share some basic principles in common and hence work complementary to each other.

All these philosophical schools in ancient India have been born out of an urge to inquire about the reality. Indian Epistemology involves four foundational factors: Prama–the valid knowledge; Prameya-the knowable, the object known; pramana-the chief instrument or organ of knowing the source of valid knowledge; and Pramata-the knower. This chapter deals in detail with the third factor of Indian Epistemology i.e., Pramana-the source of knowledge.

The concept of Pramana is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘ma’ which means correct notion, true knowledge base, foundation and accurate notion. The literal meaning of ‘ma’ is “proof”. It is defined as the karana or the extra ordinary cause of a prama or right knowledge. It implies that which is a “means of acquiring prama or certain, correct, true knowledge”. It is that which gives valid knowledge and only valid knowledge of objects. It forms one part of a triputi (trio) of concepts, which describe the ancient Indian view on how knowledge is gained. The other two concepts are knower (Pramata) and knowable (Prameya).[6]

Although all Indian Philosophers and thinkers accept pramana as the karana or the extra ordinary means of prama, they differ in their opinions regarding the nature of pramana.

Footnotes and references:




Shankara Bharadwaj Khandavalli, Hindupedia, The Hindu Encyclopedia


. Mukta Biswas, Sankhya Yoga Epistemology, D.K. Print world private Ltd. Ramesh Nagar. p.1




Mukta Biswas, Sankhya Yoga Epistemology, D.K. Print world private Ltd. Ramesh Nagar. p.4.


Ibid, pp. 57-59

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