Nirvikalpaka Pratyaksha (study)

by Sujit Roy | 2013 | 40,056 words

This essay studies Nirvikalpaka Pratyaksha or “Indeterminate perception” primarily based on Nyaya Philosophy and Bauddha philosophy. Pratyaksa is that cognition which is produced by the contact of a sense organ with an object. It is a direct cognition of reality which is not derived through the medium or instrumentality of any other cognition....

Chapter 4 - Nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa in Buddhist Philosophy

In this chapter we shall discuss the nature of nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa as in Buddhist philosophy. The discussion will be confined within the views of Dignāga (400 A.D), and Dharmakīrti (7th century A.D) along with the views of the commentators like Vinītadeva (700 A.D), Dharmottara (847 A.D.), Śāntarakṣita (749 A.D), and Kamalaśīla (750 A.D).

Dignāga and Dharmakīrti admit only two kinds of valid cognition (pramā), viz., pratyakṣa (direct cognition) and anumāna (indirect cognition).[1]

According to the Buddhists, there are only two varieties of objects of cognition (prameya);[2] the svalakṣaṇa or the unique particular and the sāmānyalakṣaṇa or the universal/class character. Of these two, the svalakṣaṇas are alone real entities while the sāmānyalakṣaṇas are the constructions of our conceptual thinking. The Buddhists do not believe that the same object can be known by different pramāṇas, one kind of objects is known by only one pramāṇa. So to cognize the above two kinds of objects we have to admit two different kinds of pramāṇas. As there is no object of a third type, no other pramāṇa is necessary to admit. By pratyakṣa pramāṇa we know svalakaṣaṇas and by anumāna pramāṇa we know sāmānyalakṣaṇas.

Dignāga’s definition of pratyakṣa:

The master logician Dignāga in his Pramāṇasamuccaya presents the definition of pratyakṣa as thus: “pratyakṣam kalpanāpoḍham nāmajātyādyasaṃyutam[3] i.e. pratyakṣa is that cognition which is free from conceptual construction (kalpanā) that is from the association of name, class character, genus etc. The term ‘kalpanāpoḍha’ means free from conceptual construction which is definitely indicates the nirvikalpaka form of pratyakṣa; which is considered by the Buddhist logicians as the only form of pratyakṣa. According to them, it is only nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa which is real and unerring. The pure particular is the object (ālambana) of nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa. The pure particular is called svalakṣaṇa that is grasped by us in nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa.

The term ‘kalpanāpoḍham’ has been deemed sufficient to exclude inference, which is invariably associated with imaginary constructions (kalpanā). And it is also competent to exclude errors and illusions (bhrama) from the category of pratyakṣa, as errors and illusions are never in harmony with facts though they may be free from kalpanā. Pratyakṣa, however, being a species of authentic knowledge presupposes as a necessary condition this harmony of fact with knowledge. So we see that the definition of pratyakṣa, as propounded by Dignāga, is self-contained and self-sufficient.

Dignāga in his Nyāyamukha defined kalpanā as the association of jāti (classcharacter), guṇa (quality), kriyā (action), dravya (substance) and saṃjñā (name) which are known as pañcakalpanā in Buddhist logic.[4] Some critics say that jāti, guṇa, kriyā etc. are all imaginary constructions and not objective existences and so, cannot be associated with a real object, since association is possible only between two real substances like milk and water. Śāntarakṣita admit that verbal association alone is sufficient to characterize kalpanā and the association of jāti, and the like has been mentioned only out of regard for other’s views which have found wide currency.[5]

Dharmakīrti’s definition of pratyakṣa:

Dharmakīrti accepts Dignāga’s definition of pratyakṣa, but adds another epithet ‘abhrānta’ (non erroneous) to it. So his definition becomes: “tatra kalpanāpoḍhamabhrāntaṃ pratyakṣam[6] i.e. pratyakṣa is that cognition which is free from conceptual construction and which is non-erroneous.

The word ‘tatra’ indicates localization (saptamī-arthe), but it is (moreover) used to indicate a selection. Thus the meaning of the sentence is the following one. ‘Tatra’ here means among pratyakṣa and anumāna. Pratyakṣa is here taken as subject and the characteristics of non-constructive and non-erroneous are predicated to it. It is nonconstructive and containing no error.

According to Vinītadeva,[7] the term pratyakṣa stands for ‘what is to be defined’ (lakṣya) and the expressionkalpanāpoḍham abhrāntaṃ’ stands for the definition (lakṣaṇa).

Thus the meaning conveyed is: whatsoever is free from conceptual construction and is nonerroneous is to be viewed as pratyakṣa. The term ‘kalpanāpoḍha’ (not to be a construction) means to be foreign to construction, not to have the nature of an arrangement or judgment. The term ‘abhrānta’ (not an error) means not contradicted by reality which possesses efficiency.

However, these two characteristics are intended to clear away wrong conceptions. According to Dharmakirti,[8] the characteristic kalpanāpoḍha alone is not sufficient for the definition of pratyakṣa. If the second characteristic of abhrānta were not added, the following misconception would not have been guarded against. The vision of a moving tree (by an observer travelling by ship) and similar cases of perception are cases of right perception, because it is not a construction. Indeed a man acting upon such a perception reaches something which is a tree (vṛkṣa-mātra [mātram]). Hence, that experience supports (saṃvādakatvāt) the validity of his perception. It would thus be consistent knowledge and so far would be direct, as not being a mere construction. In order to guard against this view the characteristic ‘abhrānta’, has been inserted. Such cases of perception are erroneous, and not pratyakṣa. Neither it is an anumāna, since it is not derived from some mark in its threefold aspect. As there is no other way of cognition we maintain therefore that the vision of a moving tree is error. If it is error, how are we to explain that a tree is nevertheless reached? The tree is not really reached upon, since a tree changing its position in space is the definite image (paricchinna), and a tree fixed on one place is actually reached. Therefore the object which has produced the sensation of a moving tree is not actually reached, and the tree actually reached has not produced the visual sensation. Nothing at all is reached on the basis of this wrong cognition. If a tree is actually reached, it depends upon an altogether different cognitive act. Thus it is that the characteristic of ‘abhrānta’ has been introduced in order to make the definition proper.

Dharmakīrti defines kalpanā as: “abhilāpasaṃsargayogyapratibhāsapratītiḥ kalpanā[9] i.e. kalpanā (conceptual construction) is a distinct cognition of a mental reflex (pratibhāsa) which is capable (yogya) of coalescing (associated) with a verbal expression (abhilāpa). Dharmottara says, this association takes place when the mental reflex (pratibhāsa) and verbal expression are cognized in one sweep, so both are felt to be one inseparable whole.[10] The word capable (yogya) is advisedly put in to include even the conceptual cognitions of new born baby, who have not yet learnt the use of language, but whose knowledge has reached the state of judgment and so would have been actually associated with articulate word. The actual employment of words is, at best, symptomatic of conceptual thought and does not constitute its essential character. The criterion of conceptual thought is found in the indefinite, blurred presentation of the mental reflex (aniyatapratibhāsatvat) and this indefiniteness is due to the absence of sense-datum, which alone is the cause of a definite invariable presentation. But as the objective datum in question is not present before the eyes and the conceptual thought arises independently of this objective reality, the presentation of the pratibhāsa lacks the distinct richness and vividness of direct perceptual cognition. Conceptual knowledge (vikalpa) has a past and a future reference and identifies the past and the present datum of experience and so is authentic being based upon and determined by a living fact. Conceptual thought or experience mixed with conceptual thought is independent of a live fact and so is unauthenticated and unreliable as evidence of objective reality.[11] Dharmottara in his Nyāyabinduṭīkā mentioned it. The word ‘pratīti’ means awareness, i.e. cognition (buddhi). And ‘tayā rahitam’ means free from construction.

Dharmakīrti further states that “timirāśubhramaṇanauyāna-saṃkṣobhādyanāhita bibhramaṃ jñānaṃ pratyakṣam[12] i.e. pratyakṣa is such knowledge which is free from such construction, when it is not affected by an illusion produced by colour-blindness, rapid motion, travelling on board a ship, sickness or other causes.

Here, colour-blindness is a one type of eye-disease. This is a cause of illusion located in the organ of sense. Rapid movement as, e.g., when we rapidly swing a firebrand, then we have the illusion of a fiery circle. But, if we swing the firebrand slowly, then we do not have it. Therefore, the swinging is qualified by the word ‘rapid’. This is a cause of delusion which is located in the object of perception. Travelling by ship as, e.g. when the ship is moving, a person standing on the deck, then he has the illusion of moving trees on the shore. So, the word ‘travelling’ is used. Here illusion depends on the place where one is situated. Disease is the disturbance the gaseous, the bilious and the phlegm. When the gaseous principal in the body is disturbed, deceitful images like that of a flaming post arise. It is an internal cause of illusion. But each of these causes, whether they be located in the organ or in the object, whether internal or external, invariably affect the organ of sense; because when the organ of sense is normal there can be no illusive sensation. All these causes of disease, down to the internal one, are but an exemplification of the possible causes. The words ‘and other causes’ are added in order to include such organic diseases as the disturbance of vision by jaundice, such objective causes as a rapid movement to and frow. When, e.g., the firebrand is seen rapidly moving to and fro, we have the illusion of a fiery-coloured stick. Such external causes as riding on an elephant and such internal ones as the effect of strong blows on vulnerable parts of the body are also included. So, knowledge when it is free from illusion which is produced by the aforesaid reasons is called perceptive knowledge.[13] Thus, it is shown that the above characteristics combined with one another determine the essence of pratyakṣa.

Dharmakīrti used ‘abhrānta’ epithet to exclude errors from the domain of pratyakṣa. This addition, however, has been a source of confusion and has led to polemic among the commentators. Some thinkers who regarded illusions as purely mental facts, having nothing to do with sense-perception objected to the inclusion of the adjective ‘non-erroneous’ (abhrānta) in the definition of pratyakṣa, as uncalled for. But Śāntarakṣita has stoutly opposed this view on the ground that as illusions occur on the operation of particular senseorgans and cease when this operation ceases, they should be regarded as sensuous aberrations and not pure mental errors. They arise only when there is a defect in sense-organs concerned, and if organic defect is not held to be responsible, these errors would disappear in spite of this defect, if the man is logically persuaded of his error. But however much a man might be satisfied by reasoning, his illusory perception does not disappear so long as the organic defect is not removed. A jaundiced person, though persuaded of the error, does not cease to see things yellow until the jaundice is cured. But mental illusions, such as belief in the existence of supernatural beings or of universals as objective categories, however obstinate and confirmed by habits, are seen to disappear when the deluded person is properly schooled in philosophic thinking. But the mirage or double moon will not cease to be presented unless the physical defect is removed. Moreover, the vivid presentation of false objects in illusions cannot be accounted for unless they are regarded as sensuous presentations. Therefore, Śāntarakṣita concludes that illusions being perceptual knowledge and being free from ideal constructions could come within the definition of pratyakṣa.[14]

But Vinītadeva gave a different interpretation of the expression ‘abhrānta’. According to him, ‘abhrānta’ epithet means ‘not lacking correspondence with reality’ (avisaṃvādaka). But this alone would be wide enough to include anumāna as the latter too does not lack this correspondence. So the other clause ‘free from ideal constructions (kalpanā)’ is added for the exclusion of anumāna, which is invariably attended with ideal elements. Abhrānta should not be construed says Vinītadeva, “as meaning a knowledge which is contrary to and erroneous in respect of the object. This interpretation of the word ‘abhrānta’ would make the definition absolutely futile as all knowledge, let alone pratyakṣa, is erroneous with regard to its object according to the Yogācāras and accordingly this definition has been so worded as to meet their position also.” But Dharmottara has strongly criticized Vinītadeva’s interpretation and he observes that this interpretation of the word ‘abhrānta’ as ‘not lacking correspondence with reality’ is itself futile, as from the context which treats of ‘true and authentic knowledge’ and of pratyakṣa as a sub-species of the same, we have it that pratyakṣa must not be incongruent with fact, because authentic knowledge connotes this very congruence and not anything else. So Vinītadeva’s interpretation would make the definition tautologous, as the definition in relation to the context would read as follows: “The cognition which is not incongruent and is free from kalpanā is not incongruent”. But this reiteration of ‘not incongruent’ does not answer any purpose. So the word ‘abhrānta’ should be taken to mean that which is not contrary to the real object presented in it.[15] In other words, if we look into the meaning of the definition, we shall see that the epithet ‘abhrānta’ is not necessary.

Pratyakṣa being a species of valid knowledge must be free from discrepancy with fact and this is adequate to exclude ‘errors’, as errors are invariably discrepant with reality. Therefore, the epithet ‘abhrānta’ is useless whether it is taken in the sense of ‘non-discrepant’ (avisaṃvādaka) as Vinītadeva suggests, or in the sense of ‘non-erroneous’ as proposed by Dharmottara. The idealistic position has been severely left alone and the Sautrāntika standpoint can be fully met even without this qualification. Here a question arises -what led Dharmakīrti to propose this amendment? We got the answer from the Dharmottara’s commentary and its confirmation from the Tattvasaṃgraha. Dharmaottara observes that the twofold qualification is introduced in the definition to combat a prevailing misconception and not for the exclusion of anumāna, as for this the epithet ‘free from ideal constructions’ (kalpanāpoḍha [kalpanāpoḍham]) is sufficient. If the second epithet was not added in the definition of pratyakṣa, such experiences as of moving trees and the like could be regarded as true perception, as these are free from ideation and capable of satisfying the pragmatic test. But such experiences are absolutely false and so cannot be included in the category of valid pratyakṣa.[16]

Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla[17] too observe that some thinkers held even those abnormal experiences to be valid knowledge in as much as they satisfied the pragmatic test. But both Śāntarakṣita and Dharmottara rightly point out that what constitutes validity is not pragmatic fitness alone, but also harmony of presentation with reality. So such presentations as that of the light of jewel for the jewel itself, or of yellow conch-shell for a really white conch-shell, or of moving trees for trees which are really fixed and stationary are not valid perceptions, though there is actual verification. Mere verification and pragmatic satisfaction cannot however be accepted as the test of validity.

Now, it is clear that Dignāga’s definition of pratyakṣa is complete and sufficient by itself. The addition of the epithet ‘abhrānta’ has no logical necessity or justification, as the necessary condition of valid experience is agreement with reality in all respects and as experiences of yellow conch-shell and the like do lack this all round correspondence, they are excluded for the same reason from the category of valid perception (pratyakṣa). But the misapprehension prevailed in certain quarters and Dharmakīrti felt it imperative to clear this misconception. It is fully evident from the testimony of Dharmaottara and Śāntarakṣita that the introduction of this epithet ‘abhrānta’ was not made by way of improvement, but was dictated by a practical necessity to rebut a prevailing misconception among a section of Buddhist philosophers, which, perhaps on account of its volume and strength, called for this amendment.

Both Dignāga[18] and Dharmakīrti unambiguously highlight the indeterminate character of perception which is ‘free from conceptual construction’ (kalpanāpoḍha). It may be noted at the outset that Dignāga was not the only person to define pratyakṣa in this way. Vindhyavāsin, an elder contemporary of Vasubandhu (4th century A.D) defined pratyakṣa as not characterized by anything which is existent in the auditory organ (śrotrādi vṛttir avikalpikā).[19] According to Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla, the epithet kalpanāpoḍhatva does not signify that pratyakṣa is ineffable (anabhidheya); it signifies that pratyakṣa is devoid of conceptual construction (avikalpikā). Therefore, Dignāga, Dharmakīrti and the other

Buddhists logicians consider that pratyakṣa which is free from conceptual construction (kalpanāpoḍha) is a kind of pure sensation–a piece of cognition by which the object is revealed only in its simple and pure nature, devoid of all attributes and associations. Like the sensation of a child or of a dumb, such a piece of cognition can never be verbally communicated in as much as any connection with a ‘verbal expression’ (abhilāpa) would necessarily involve an element of construction. Therefore, the definition of pratyakṣa given by Dignāga and Dharmakīrti applies only to the nirvikalpaka form of pratyakṣa.

Dharmakīrti says, pratyakṣa as a presentation determined exclusively by the object and free from all conceptual constructions (kalpanā). Obviously it is nirvikalpaka knowledge, since savikalpaka knowledge involves the conceptual activity of the mind. Dharmakīrti is of opinion that names and relations are imposed by the mind, while the senses reveal the objects accurately unless they are themselves perverted by organic or extraneous causes. This pure pratyakṣa, free from all traces of conceptual activity, is said to give us the object in its own nature (svalakṣaṇa [svalakṣaṇam]).

The Buddhist logicians denies savikalpaka pratyakṣa on the ground that the determination of an object as having a name and a class-character is not conditioned by the object itself but is purely a subjective construct imposed upon it by the cognizer. The imposition of construction vitiates the real nature of the object. The real is unique and changes from moment to moment. The real of the previous moment is absolutely different from the reals of the present and succeeding moments. Therefore, there can be nothing common to the reals of different moments.[20] Savikalpaka pratyakṣa involves conceptual construction (kalpanā) i.e., association of name, class, character, etc. and for this reason, it is erroneous perception. So, Buddhist philosophers do not accept the validity of such pratyakṣa.

In addition, savikalpaka pratyakṣa, which invariably arises in the form of judgment, being essentially relational, only gives us false appearance. But conceptual constructions, e.g., class-character, quality etc. are, at best, ‘working errors’ and their pragmatic value is only a meretricious show. Reality is revealed only in the primal simple experience and the truth of such experience is attested by verification of the presentation with reality and pragmatic satisfaction is only symptomatic of such truth.

But a question has been raised as to why a pratyakṣa free from determination, i.e. nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa is alone regarded as reliable evidence of reality, though it has no practical utility unless and until it is made determinate. It can be converted into useful cognition only when determinative reflection (vikalpa) is brought to bear upon it and this determinative process is considered to be purely intellectual having nothing to do with reality proper. Nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa however has no practical value unless and until it is determined as pratyakṣa of something. And this determination is rendered possible only by the reflective, intellectual activity, which certifies ‘it is blue’ that is perceived and not red or any other thing. Unless and until it is determined as such, the experience is as good as nonexistent (asatkalpa), because it cannot lead to any activity and so there is no acquisition of anything. As pratyakṣa, determined by an intellectual activity is alone endowed with practical efficiency, it is savikalpaka pratyakṣa that should alone be regarded as valid experience (pramāṇa); and if vikalpa is invalid by its very nature, how can it refrain from infecting it with its own invalidity?[21]

To this Dharmottara[22] says that there are two kinds of vikalpa and both are equally unreliable and invalid by their very constitution, and there is a vital difference in their functional character. There is a kind of vikalpa which interprets the perceptual experience and makes it clear and intelligible. It does not assert its independence but functions in the background. The other variety of vikalpa is pure imagination without any touch with external reality. This later verity is absolutely unreliable as evidence of reality. But the reflective thought, which arises in the trail of perception and is generated under its influence (pratyakṣabalotpanna), stands in a different category. It does not assert its independence as pure imagination does, but only serves to determine the perceptual knowledge as knowledge of something. The nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa is a simple, homogeneous, unitary cognition, in which the subject and the object, perception and perceptual matter, are not distinguished but given in a lump, as it were.

Thus we see that according to the Buddhist Logicians only nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa is real perception which is free from all conceptual constructions (kalpanā). Dravya, nāma, jāti, guṇa, and kriyā are known as pañcakalpanā in Buddhist logic. So perceptual cognition is free from any type of association with dravya, nāma, jāti, guṇa, and kriyā. It is the perception of real entity known as svalakṣaṇa and is indistinct and inexpressible by words. Svalakṣaṇas are momentary. Perception captures the unique and momentary particular, which is fleeting and non-repeatable. And this characteristic also found in the nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa and so it is the only perception of Buddhists philosophy. On the other hand, savikalpaka pratyakṣa involves conceptual construction (kalpanā) which is association of name, class, character, etc. and for this reason, it is erroneous perception. So, Buddhist philosophers do not accept the validity of such pratyakṣa.

Let us now turn to the object of perceptual cognition in Buddhist logic. The all Buddhist logicians are unanimous in holding that the object of perceptual cognition is svalakṣaṇa.[23] Svalakṣaṇa is that which makes a difference between cognitions arising out of a close and a remote observation of a thing. When an object is observed from a distance the resulting cognition is indistinct. But when it is observed closely the cognition is distinct. That which is cognized distinctly on a closer approach and indistinctly from a distance is svalakṣaṇa and it is the real (paramārthasat), because it is free from conceptual impositions (anāropitaṃ rūpam) or thought-determinations. On the other hand, sāmānyalakṣaṇa which is common to other objects, e.g., ‘cowness’ does not really belong to the object, but is imposed upon it by the knower, and hence it does not make any difference in cognition, whether an object is observed closely or from a distance. Therefore, it is not an object of pratyakṣa. Sāmānyalakṣaṇa is a mode of thought and not a mode of existence. Our modes of thinking or categories of thought are external to things-in-themselves; they cannot touch reality.

According to Dignāga, svalakṣaṇas alone are real objects of cognition proper. According to the Vaibhāṣikas, the Hīnayānist, the realities are in the form of unique particulars[24] and pratyakṣa alone is the means of apprehending such unique particulars. These unique particulars are momentary and are equally self-sustained and self-destructive. In each moment a unique particular destroys itself and a similar (not the same) unique particular emerges in its place. This is what is meant by “universal flux”[25] or “instantaneous being”.[26] Dharmakīrti interprets such unique particulars as characterized by a sort of productivity (arthakriyā-sāmartha), distinguished from everything (sarvato-vyāvṛtta), beyond the reach of words (śabdasya aviṣaya) and shorn of all kinds of adjuncts or qualifications or conceptual constructions (avikalpaka).[27]

According to the Buddhists, svalakṣaṇa can be cognized through pratyakṣa alone. It has no extension in space (deśa-anānugata) and has no duration in time (kālanānugata). Time and space are not external objective realities as held by the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika realists.[28] Even the temporal and extended objects of everyday experience are only constructed objects of our general modes or forms of thought (sāmānyalakṣaṇas as opposed to svalakṣaṇas). When we conceive the svalakṣaṇas as arising in succession one after another, we come to construct the idea of duration of time. On the other hand, when we think of the svalakṣaṇas as arising in contiguity with one another, we construct the idea of space. Again when we conceive these svalakṣaṇas both in succession and in contiguity we have the notion of motion. As a matter of fact external reality is timeless. It is not only in the sense that it is not extended but also in the sense that it has no duration. Similarly, it is space less in the sense that it has no extension. As a result, it is motionless also. It is isolated, discrete and disconnected. It does not share its nature with anything else. It is annihilated as soon as it arises and new one emerges there.

According to the Buddhists, svalakṣaṇa lasting only for a moment and being replaced by another is not static but dynamic. It is not being but becoming. It is a constant movement in the sense that disconnected and detached bits of reality constantly follow one another. Dharmakīrti established the existence of svalakṣaṇa on the evidence of sāmānyalakṣaṇa. He argues that there is no doubt that there are constructed objects in this world. Now if we begin to withdraw all constructions from the entities on which the constructions are imposed, what will remain there? The pure entities constitute the real answer. The cognition of these entities is called nirvikalpaka jñāna. Although the cognition of those pure entities is not expressible, we can very well notice it while noticing those entities. Such cognition cannot be denied because there is agreement both in presence and in absence between those entities and their pratyakṣa. Where there is pure entity there is pratyakṣa (provided there is no exterior obstruction) viz. pratyakṣa of blue patch. Again, where there is no pratyakṣa there is no pure entity viz. son of a barren woman.[29] This argument of Dharmakīrti, has an idealistic flavour.

Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla point out that we cannot have a constructive cognition at the very first moment of contact with an object. Constructive cognition takes place after an association of the conventional name (be it of whatever type) with the object. But before such an association we have to admit some cognition (sensation) of the pure entity. This is evident from the fact that when our attention is engaged otherwise or when our attention is absorbed in a particular object then although we perceive some object (other than the entity primarily concerned), we cannot characterize the object by any qualification. That pratyakṣa of the object is free from all types of construction. Unless we admit the actuality of such pure entities shorn of all types of qualification and their pratyakṣa,[30] we are unable to distinguish the pratyakṣa of an absent-minded person from that of one who is not so.

According to the Buddhists, we apprehend constructive objects through inference and not through pratyakṣa. So called qualificative perception (savikalpaka pratyakṣa) is a sort of such inferential cognition and is not pratyakṣa proper (pseudo-perception). Perceptual cognition characteristically lacks all sorts of determination. So it is only non-qualificative perception (nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa) that can be called pratyakṣa proper. It is due to the wrong application of the term ‘pratyakṣa’ that we call qualificative perception. The sensuous cognition of a pot or of a cow may be qualificative but certainly not pratyakṣa. In Buddhist epistemology even such a cognition of a pot or of a cow is on ultimate analysis cognition only in the secondary sense i.e., cognition in the ordinary level of life (saṃvṛta jñāna). The so called savikalpaka pratyakṣa (equally true of all inferential cognition) is the cognition of objects that belong to the world of thought and not to the world of reality either external or internal. In other words, savikalpaka pratyakṣa is the cognition of unreal entities and ipso facto not cognition proper. How much vividly the constructed object may appear, it is far off and qualitatively different from the vividness of unique particular.

A question may be raised at this point: Do the Buddhists at all accept a world of sāmānyalakṣaṇas over and above the world of svalakṣaṇas? Dharmakīrti anticipating such a possible mis-conception takes up a detailed discussion to prove the unreality of the world of sāmānyalakṣaṇas. He states that although in the ultimate sense svalakṣaṇas alone are the proper objects of cognition, a svalakṣaṇa may be apprehended in two ways: as it is (svarūpeṇa) or as other than it is (pararūpeṇa). When it is known as it is, it is called svalakṣaṇa and when it is known as other than it is called sāmānyalakṣaṇa. But it is not the case that there is a real sāmānyalakṣaṇa apart from svalakṣaṇa. Pratyakṣa is the direct intuition of the given. Savikalpaka jñāna is the attribution of some image or conceptual construction to what is given. This image or conceptual construction is not a case of fanciful imagination or an illusory object. From this objective reference to reality we can prove the actual existence of svalakṣaṇa.[31]

Dignāga and Dharmakīrti and other Buddhists draw a very clear line of discrimination between the svalakṣaṇa and the sāmānyalakṣaṇa. The former is real since it alone is causally efficient while the latter is not real. It can at best be regarded to be empirically real while the former one is real from the ultimate point of view.[32]

Dharmakīrti in the second chapter of his Pramāṇavārttika lists some fundamental points of distinction between the svalakṣaṇa and the sāmānyalakṣaṇa:

(i) “svalakṣaṇasyārthakriyāśaktatvāt, vijātīyavyāṛttyupakalpitasya ca sāmānya syāśaktatvād viṣayadvaividhyam”,[33] i.e. svalakṣaṇa has a power to produce effect while the sāmānyalakṣaṇa conceived only for the purpose of discrimination, does not have any such power.

(ii) “sadṛśaṃ sāmānyam; sarvayaktisādhāraṇatvāt. asadṛśaṃ svalakṣaṇam; sarvato vyāvṛttatvāt”,[34] i.e. svalakṣaṇas are specific in character since they are distinguished from everything other than itself, sāmānyalakṣaṇas have general character, since they can be common among many things.

(iii) “śabdasya viṣayaḥ sāmānyam aviṣayaḥ svalakṣaṇam”,[35] i.e. svalakṣaṇa is not expressible through words while the sāmānyalakṣaṇa is expressed through words.

(iv) “tathā viṣayādanyeṣāṃ nimittānāṃ manaskāravat sādguṇyasaṃketagrahaṇānāṃ bhāve grāhikāyā dhiyaḥ sāmānye sattvāt svalakṣaṇe cābhāvāt viṣayadvai vidhyam”,[36] i.e. svalakṣaṇa is apprehensible without depending on other factors like verbal conventions whereas sāmānyalakṣaṇas cannot be apprehended without depending on such other factors.

Thus according to Dharmakīrti there are fundamental differences between svalakṣaṇa and sāmānyalakṣaṇa in respect of casual efficiency, similarity, expressibility through words and apprehensibility through other factors.[37] Because of such fundamental differences in the nature of the two objects, two different means of cognition are required to apprehend the two different types of objects. Pratyakṣa is fit to apprehend the svalakṣaṇa while the anumāna is for sāmānyalakṣaṇa. If we compare Dharmakīrti’s analysis with that of Dignāga regarding the distinction between these two types of objects, we find that the concept of causal efficiency (arthakriyā) was unfamiliar to Dignāga. It is a new addition by Dharmakīrti. He adds this further concept to the unreality of universal or sāmānya. Later on in the same chapter of Pramāṇavārttika he states that “meyaṃ tvekaṃ svalakṣaṇam”,[38] i.e. the unique particular alone is the object of valid cognition, and shows that this is not at all inconsistent with his previous statement that there are two means of valid cognition since there are two different types of objects. Prameya is said to be twofold because the svalakṣaṇa can be apprehended in two ways, as it is (svarūpeṇa) and as something other than itself (pararūpeṇa). So, it is not the case that there is real sāmānya apart from the svalakṣaṇas. It is simply on the basis of apprehending the unique particulars (svalakṣaṇa) in two different ways that we have two different objects of valid cognition.[39]

After having thus given the definition of pratyakṣa, Dharmakīrti proceeds to point out its different varieties, in order to refute the divergent opinions of those who maintain that there is no other direct cognition but sense-perception, of those who find fault with our definition of mental perception, and of those who admit neither self-cognition nor the yogic apprehension of the Buddhist saint. He says, it is of four varieties,[40] viz., (i) sense-perception (indriya-pratyakṣa), (ii) mental perception (mānasa-pratyakṣa), (iii) self-cognition (svasaṃvedana), and (iv) yogic apprehension (yogījñāna). These four varieties of pratyakṣa are to be mentioned in the order as stated.

(i) Sense-perception (indriya-pratyakṣa):

Of these four varieties, sense-perception may be described as the pratyakṣa by the senses or due to the senses (indriya-jñāna [jñānam]).[41] In other words, sense-perception stands for the entire class of perception of objective realities, which are presented to consciousness through the medium of sense-organs. The sense-organs are of five kinds like, visual, auditory, etc. so the sense-perception can be classified under five categories, viz., (i) visual perception (cakṣurvijñāna [cakṣurvijñānam]), (ii) auditory perception (śrotra-vijñāna [vijñānam]), (iii) olfactory perception (ghrāṇendriyaja-vijñāna [ghrāṇendriyajavijñānam]), (iv) tactual perception (kāyendriyaja-spraṣṭavya-vijñāna [spraṣṭavyavijñānam]), and (v) gustatory perception (rāsana-vijñāna [rāsanavijñānam]).[42] The visual cognition has colour as its object, the olfactory one has smell for its object, the gustatory one has taste for its object, the auditory one has sound for its object and the tactual has touch for its object. This classification is based on the variety of the media or the channels of perception and does not in any sense invest the sense-organs with agentive powers. Their function only consists in creating a connecting link between the subjective consciousness and the objective reality lying outside. This function is exhausted when the object is presented to consciousness and does not continue thereafter. So the first presentation is alone authoritative with regard to the objective reality. Śāntarakṣita says that the cognition which arises in the trail of primal cognition, does not exclude any misapprehension, it cannot be put on the level of inference (anumāna). Mere exclusion from the category of errors cannot be the ground of validity. Inference, too, is valid not because it is distinguished from error, but because it removes error and misapprehension, which were actually present. But in this case of determinate perception, the determinate cognition does not remove any misapprehension, because no such misapprehension is felt to exist.

The term ‘sense-perception’ is due to the fact that this variety of pratyakṣa has sense organs as their specific cause (asādhāraṇa-hetu). ‘Having sense organs as their specific cause’ is a very important expression, since otherwise the definition would have been overly inclusive as it would be applicable to inferences about the senses. Inferences about the senses are also a variety of cognition and they are about the senses. So, if ‘sense-cognition’ meant ‘cognition of the senses’ (indriyasya jñānam) it would include that variety of inferences. But as the term is restricted for cognition having sense organs as their specific causes, there is no chance for such inclusion as such inferences do not have sense organs as their causes.[43]

We have seen that the sense-perceptions are due to the sense organs as also due to the objects for their occurrence. Then why is it that this variety of cognition is named after the sense organs only?[44] It is in reply to such a query that Vasubandhu has offered two reasons: (i) According as the sense organ is strong or weak, the cognition or vijñāna becomes clear or dim. As such the sense organs are regarded as the basis of such cognitions. (ii) The sense organ is the specific cause. For these two reasons, sense-perceptions are named after the sense organs and not after the objects.[45]

Dignāga in his Pramāṇasamuccaya and Dharmakīrti in his Pramāṇavārttika, have mentioned the second argument of the Abhidharmakośa to justify the name ‘senseperception’.[46] Dharmakīrti has said that a name is to be taken after its indicator (gamaka). For instance, if a sprout is named as ‘sprout of barley’ it can be understood that it has as its specific cause barley and not rice, but if it were named ‘sprout of earth’ this name could not specify what it is, for it can be applied to sprout of barely and sprout of rice in the same way. Hence, to point to the nature of the object the specific cause (asādhāraṇa hetu) is to be considered as the indicator (gamaka). This is the practice followed in the case of senseperception.[47] This explanation also makes it clear that even if indriya-vijñāna is interpreted as indriyasya vijñānam (cognition of the senses), it does not signify that the sense organs (indriya) are the agents. It simply points to the sense organs being the specific cause of such cognitions.[48]

This variety of pratyakṣa is regarded as valid cognition (pramāṇa) only in those cases where it can give rise to a determinate cognition (a moment later) which corresponds very much to the sensation. In other words, this sense-perception is considered as valid only because it can generate a determinate cognition about the sensation.[49] The very validity of sense-perception depends on the generative efficiency of itself and it can be regarded as an efficient cause of cognition only when it exercises functioning and this functioning is nothing but the generation of conceptual knowledge of itself.[50]

(ii) Mental perception (mānasa-pratyakṣa):

Dharmakīrti defines mānasa-pratyakṣa as: “svaviṣayānantara viṣaya sahakāriṇendriya jñānena samanantara pratyayejanitaṃ tanmanovijñānam[51] i.e. mental perception follows the first moment of every sense-cognition which is thus its immediately preceding homogeneous cause. The latter is cooperating with the corresponding moment of the object, which immediately follows the proper object of sensation. The proper object of sense-cognition is the object in the moment corresponding to sensation. The following object is the object which is not different, is quite similar to it. Difference here means interval in time as well as difference in quality. Thus, every difference between the two momentary objects is denied. The quite similar second moment following upon the moment when the object has produced sensation and supported by the preceding one is here alluded to. It is clear that the next following moment of the object, after the moment corresponding to sensation, a member of the same compact series of moments, is here meant. This second moment is here said to cooperate with sensation. Cooperation can have two different meanings. It can mean either a real mutual influence of one fact upon the other or the compresence of two facts followed by another fact called their one result. Since we are here on Buddhist ground all reality is reduced to momentary. A momentary reality cannot possibly have an increment as a result; therefore cooperation is to be taken in the second sense, as one resulting fact following upon preceding two facts. Because the object and the sensation are together producing one mental sensation, therefore there is no mutual (real) influence between them.

A similar correlation exists between the sensations of ordinary men and those of the Yogi who is supposed to be capable of apprehending them directly. But in that case a foreign sensation is the objective fact followed by the Yogi’s perception of it. In order to distinguish this analogous case of correlation between a sensation and the following moment of consciousness the words ‘immediate’ (anantara) and ‘homogeneous’ (samanantara pratyaya) have been inserted. It is homogeneous (samanantara pratyaya) as a mental content, and it is immediate (anantara), since there is no interval between them, and it is a cause (kāraṇa), since it is followed by it. Thus it is an immediately preceding moment in the same chain of momentary entities. Upon it a mental sensation follows, i.e. springs up. Thus it is being expressed that the outer sense and the inner sense represent two succeeding moments, two parts of the same compact series of one stream of thought, and in this sense mental or internal sensation is a species of pratyakṣa. Thus the intuition of the Yogi is discriminated, since it is a part of another stream of thought.

Regarding the mental perception some objections are raised. First, it is a repeated cognition of the same object and is no new cognition at all, and secondly, if it is a real cognition of an external object, then the blind and the deaf would be able to apprehend colour and sound through mental sensation. But since the object of the inner sense differs from the object of the outer sense, the reproach of repetition, i.e. of not being a cognition because of apprehending what has been already apprehended by the outer senses, is ill-founded. On the other hand, since the moment of grasping by the outer sense is underlying the moment of grasping by the inner sense, both are inseparable. The deduction ad absurdum, that namely the blind and the deaf would not exist, if the inner sense could apprehend a special object, a moment of it not apprehended by the outer sense, this deduction is thereby refuted.

Now we contend that such internal sensation is a kind of direct cognitive process (pratyakṣa) in the presumption that the efficiency of the outer sense is extinct in one moment. The indefinite sensation of colour which we have at the moment when the sense of vision is efficient is entirely and exclusively sense-cognition. Otherwise, if both these sensations, by the outer sense and by the inner sense, were simultaneous, we would have no pure sensation at all, no sensation at all depending upon the organ of sight exclusively. This internal sensation is a postulate of our system. There are no facts to prove it. But there is no contradiction in admitting it, if it were of the described kind. In this sense its definition has been given by Dharmakīrti.[52]

The reason for postulating mental perception of external objects is discussed by the different post-Dharmakīrti Buddhist logicians in different ways. Some accept it only because it is canonically established. The following āgama is quoted in justification of mental perception. Lord Buddha had said “O Monks! There are two way by which colour can be apprehended–by the sense-cognition and then subsequently by the mental perception.[53] Dharmottara clearly says that there is no means to establish this variety of pratyakṣa. But he accepts it simply because he does not find anything wrong in accepting it insofar as its nature has been explained by Dharmakīrti.[54] But some Buddhists like, Jitāri omits this variety from his classification of pratyakṣa. Anyway, the Buddhists view is that there is no logical fault in admitting such pratyakṣa and further it fits with the words of Lord Buddha. Hence it has to be admitted as a variety of nirvikalpaka pratyakṣa.

(iii) Self-cognition (svasaṃvedana [svasaṃvedanam]):

Dharmakīrti in his Nyāyabindu defines svasaṃvedana as: “sarva citta caittānāmātmasaṃvedanam[55] i.e. every consciousness and every mental phenomenon are self-conscious. Consciousness simply apprehends the presence of an object. Mental phenomena apprehend special states of consciousness, such as pleasure etc. It is emphasized that every flash of consciousness and every special state of it are self-conscious. Indeed pleasures etc. are being clearly experienced and therefore are present to the mind. Selfconsciousness is not itself a special mental phenomenon differing from all others. In order to remove this supposition the term ‘every’ (sarva) has been inserted into the definition. There is no mental phenomenon whatsoever it may be which could be unconscious of its own existence. This feeling of its own existence is immediate cognition. For, indeed, we feel our own existence in some way or other and this aspect of our cognition, which represents a feeling of its own existence, is pratyakṣa.

According to our system when an external reality, such as a patch of colour, is apprehended, we at the same time feel something internally in the shape of well-being or some other emotion which is a thing different from the patch of colour. It is not possible to maintain that a patch of, e.g., blue colour is felt as being itself the pleasure (it affords us), because the verdict of our intellect does not support the judgment ‘this patch of blue colour has itself the form of pleasure.’ If it were the case, if we were satisfied that blue and pleasure are felt as equivalents, then we could maintain such identity. We call cognized directly that aspect of the object regarding which the function of direct perception, i.e., the mere pointing out of its presence, is followed by the construction of the corresponding image. But we cannot maintain that the sensation produced by a patch of blue is followed by an image not of blue, but of pleasure. Therefore we really are experiencing pleasure as something quite different from the object blue, as something which is not equivalent to blue, and this is, no doubt, cognition. Therefore we do experience our own cognition. Self-consciousness is essentially a case of cognition, it makes present to us our own self. It is not a construction, it is not an illusion, and therefore it is pratyakṣa.[56]

Therefore, self-consciousness stands for that cognition by which the mind and all the mental state are apprehended. It can be described that self-cognition or the cognition cognizing itself is the result of the act of cognizing. Every cognition is produced in a two-fold appearance, namely that of itself as to the subject (svābhāsa) and that of the object (viṣayābhāsa). The cognizing of itself as possessing these two appearances or the selfcognition (svasaṃvedana) is the result of the cognitive act. Such sort of self-consciousness is conceived as indeterminate cognition (nirvikalpaka jñāna) since it is free from conceptual constructions (kalpanā) and is unerring because its nature consists in direct intuition of the nature of itself.

The term ‘svasaṃvedana’ or ‘svasaṃvitti’ stands for the idea that a cognition is cognized by itself and does not need any other cognition to cognize itself. In Tattvasaṃgraha, Śāntarakṣita defines svasaṃvedana as: “svarūpa-vedanāyānyad vedakaṃ na vyapekṣate. na cāviditam astīdam ityartho’yaṃ svasaṃvidaḥ[57] i.e. self-cognition as such cognition which does not need any other cognizant to cognize itself, nor does it ever remain unapprehended. Śāntarakṣita says that cognition is opposed to insentient objects. This immateriality is nothing but the self-consciousness of the cognition.[58] Self-consciousness of cognition is not to be understood as action and its agent, since cognition being a single entity without compartment cannot be divided into knower, known and the knowing. In the Pramāṇavārttikālaṃkāra, Prajñākaragupta has said that the agent, the object, and the means are mere fictional constructs and not existent in reality. It is explained that the self touches itself by means of itself.[59] It is not possible that cognition and other mental states are illuminated by another cognition. And this theory of self-cognition is admitted by both the Sautrāntika and the Yogācāra schools alike.

(iv) Yogic apprehension (yogījñāna):

Dignāga in his Pramāṇasamuccaya has said that the yogin’s intuition of a thing in itself unassociated with the teacher’s instruction is also a type of pratyakṣa. Since the intuition of a mystic is not associated with any conceptual construction (kalpanā), even the authoritative words of the teachers, and apprehends only a thing in itself, it is regarded as a case of pratyakṣa. Dharmottara says that the word pratyakṣa though etymologically means cognition arising out of the senses, actually stands for direct or immediate apprehension. And since the yogic apprehension is a case of immediate apprehension of the particulars there is no difficulty in admitting such apprehension as a variety of pratyakṣa. The term yoga means samādhi (concentration) and also prajñā (wisdom) and it is characterized by intent alertness of the mind on one particular topic (cittaikāgratā-lakṣaṇa [cittaikāgratālakṣaṇaḥ]). This wisdom or prajñā is that which discerns the truth of all objects totally without any termination.[60] A man possessing such wisdom is regarded as a yogī. Durveka Miśra in his commentary remarks that when Dharmottara and his followers have identified samādhi with prajñā, they are following the usual practice. In the Pramāṇaviniścayaḥ another interpretation is offered. That is, it is the capacity to discriminate vivekakaraṇaśakti. Therefore, in the ultimate stage the mystic is not only able to apprehend the true nature of the objects, but make distinctions among the momentary particulars.[61]

Dharmakīrti in his Nyāyabindu defines yogijñāna as: “bhūtārthabhāvanā prakarṣa paryantajaṃ yogijñānaṃ ceti[62] i.e. the intuition of the yogī which is produced after the termination of intensive meditation on a true object. The term ‘bhūtārtha’ (true object) means the object derived through valid cognition (pramāṇa-upapannārtha [pramāṇopapannārthaḥ]). The term ‘bhāvanā’ (meditation) means repeated ascription of the mind. The cognition which originates after the termination of intensive meditation on the true nature of object is called the yogic apprehension, and such apprehension is free from conceptual constructions (kalpanā) and is non-erroneous. The true nature of the object is the fourfold noble truth, suffering, the causes of suffering, cessation of suffering, and the means of such cessation. We should concentrate on the nature of the object as constituted by the five skandhas, as momentary, as void, as devoid of any soul but full of suffering, etc. And this truth is also consistent with the truth that ‘what is real is momentary’ obtained through inference.

According to Dharmottara, the meditation process is of three stages, viz., (i) bhāvanāprakarṣa in which a yogin’s vision begins to be clear, (ii) prakarṣaparyantāvasthā in which the yogin contemplates the object as though it were veiled by a thin cloud just as when one looks at the object through a smoked glass, and (iii) yoginaḥ pratyakṣam in which the object is perceived as clearly as it were a small grain on his palm.[63] Thus the yogin’s contemplation proceeds through two stages and reaches its highest form in the third stage. The second stage continues till the yogin is able to reach his highest stage of enlightenment, when he is able to have a clear and distinct idea of the nature of all objects. The clarity of apprehension reaches its final form only in this third stage. As such the yogic apprehension is described to be borne out of prakarṣaparyantyāvasthā where the yogin has a direct apprehension of the object but with less clarity. But Vinītadeva mentions bhāvanāprakarṣa is of four degrees, viz., smṛtyupasthāna, uṣmagata, mūrdham and kṣānti. The prakarṣaparyanta is the same as laukikāgra dharma. After that comes the decisive moment, the meditating person suddenly acquires the faculty of transcendental intuition, he changes completely, and it is another pudgala, a saint, a ārya, a bodhisattva.

Such yogic intuition is regarded as a case of pratyakṣa for it satisfies both the requirements of pratyakṣa, viz. being free from conceptual constructions (kalpanā) and being non-erroneous. Since it is a case of clear and distinct apprehension of objects, and it is unerring. But why is it nirvikalpaka? According to Buddhist philosophers, what is unerring cannot be savikalpaka. The possibility of savikalpaka jnñāa arises when we are able to compare the present representation of the object with the past representations and this comparison is possible only in the second moment and by that time the object is no longer there. So, just as our past cognition is only apparently real, so also the object of the past cognition is apparent and it cannot be actually real. So savikalpaka jñāna cannot give us a proper knowledge of the actual object. As such that which has been regarded as clear and distinct has to be nirvikalpaka cognition. In other words, yogijñāna is nirvikalpaka because it is unerring.[64]

Dharmakīrti says that the object of this fourfold division of pratyakṣa is svalakṣaṇa.[65] When the mental image varies according as the object is near or remote, the object then is the svalakṣaṇa.[66]

Footnotes and references:


dvividhaṃ samyagjñānam”.—-Nyāyabindu, I.2.
pratyakṣamanumānañca”.—-Nyāyabindu, I.3.


māṇaṃ dvividhaṃ viṣayadvaividhyatvāt …..”.—-Pramāṇavārttika, II. 1.


Pramāṇasamuccaya, verse 3.


Quoted from Satkari Mookerjee’s ‘The Buddhist Philosophy of Universal Flux’, p. 283.


parāparaprasiddhe’yam kalpanā dvividhā matā”. —-Tattvasaṃgraha, śl. 1221.
satyaṃ lokānuvṛttye’dam uktaṃ nyāyavide’dṛśam. iyān eva hi śabde’smin vyavahārapathaṃ gataḥ”. —-Ibid, śl. 1228.


Nyāyabindu, I.4.


pratyakṣam iti anena lakṣyam uktam. kalpanāpoḍham abhrāntam iti anena lakṣaṇam uktam. tena kalpanāpoḍham abhrāntaṃ yad bhavati tad eva pratyakṣaṃ veditavyam iti artha ukto bhavati”.—-Nyāyabinduṭīkā, Vinītadeva, p. 7.


Buddhist Logic, VoI-II, by T H. Stcherbatsky, p. 16.


Nyāyabindu, I.5.


abhilāpena saṃsarga ekasmin jñāne’bhidheyākāra yā’bhidhānākāreṇa saha grāhyākāratayā śīlanam”.—-Nyāyabinduṭīkā, p. 10.


indriyaviñānaṃ tu sannihitamātragrāhitvāt artha-āpekṣam, arthasya ca pratibhāsaniyamahetutvān niyatapratibhāsam”.—-Ibid, p. 11.


Nyāyabindu, I.6.


According to Dharmakīrti, pratyakṣa is such knowledge which is free from such construction, when it is not affected by an illusion produced by colour-blindness, rapid motion, travelling on board a ship, sickness or other causes. But Vinītadeva says that the term ‘jñāna’ is not mentioned in the sūtra I.4. How then is it available? Vinītadeva answers that construction (kalpanā) is always found to be related to knowledge only and illusoriness (abhrānta) also is found to be an attribute of knowledge only. Therefore, what is free from construction and not illusory must be nothing but knowledge (jñāna).


etac ca lakṣaṇadvayaṃ vipratipattinirākaraṇārtham,na tvanumānanivṛttyartham. yataḥ kalpanāpoḍhagrahaṇenai’vā’numāṇam nivarttitam. tatrā’saty abhrāntagrahaṇe gacchadvṛkṣadarśanādi pratyakṣaṃ kalpanāpoḍhatvāt syāt. tato hi pravṛttena vṛkṣamātram avāpyata iti saṃvādakatvāt samyagjñānam……… tannivṛttyartham abhrāntagrahaṇam, tad dhibhrāntatvān na pratyakṣam.”——Nyāyabinduṭīkā, p. 9.


etac ca lakṣaṇadvayam ityādinā…… Vinītadevavyākhyā…..dūṣitā. tena ta evam vyākhyātam. “abhrāntam iti yad visaṃvādi na bhavati, evaṃ saty anumānasyā’py etal lakṣaṇaṃ prāpnotī’ti kalpanāpoḍhagrahaṇaṃ tannivṛttyartham yady evam vyākhyāyate, ālambane yan na bhrāntaṃ tad abhrāntam ity ucyamāne sarvaṃ pratyakṣaṃ jñānam ālambane bhrāntam iti na kasyacit pratyakṣatvaṃ syāt. tathā cā’ha, ‘sarvam ālambane bhrāntaṃ muktvā tathāgatajñānam’ iti Yogācāramate, tad apyatrā’cāryeṇa saṃgṛhītam” iti. tad ayuktam…………………..nanū’ktam Yogācāramatam asaṃgṛhītaṃ syād iti, ucyate. bāhyanayena Sautrāntikamatānusāreṇā’cāryeṇa lakṣaṇaṃ kṛtam ity adoṣaḥ.”——Nyāyabinduṭīkāṭippanī (Bib. Bud.), pp. 18-19.


pītaśaṅkhādibuddhīnāṃ vibhraṃepi pramāṇatām. arthakriyāvisaṃvādād apare sampracakṣate. tan nā’dhyavasitākārapratirūpo na vidyate. tatrā’py arthakriyāvātpir anyathā’tiprasajyate.”——Tattvasaṃgraha, śls 1324-25. “kecit tu svayūtthyā evā’bhrāntagrahaṇaṃ ne’cchanti. bhrāntasyā’pi pītaśaṅkhājñānasya pratyakṣatvāt…………pramāṇaṃ cā’visaṃvāditvāt. ata evā’cārya Dignāgena lakṣaṇe na kṛtam abhrāntagrhaṇam.”——Tattvasaṃgrahapañjikā, thereunder. Quoted from Satkari Mookerjee’s ‘The Buddhist Philosophy of Universal Flux’, p. 279.


Collected from Satkari Mookerjee’s ‘The Buddhist Philosophy of Universal Flux’, p. 279.


“A clear-cut distinction between nirvikalpaka and savikalpaka perception was introduced for the first time in Indian Philosophy by Dignāga”. —-The philosophy of NyāyaVaiśeṣika and its conflict with the Buddhist Dignāga school, by D.N. Sastri, p. 437.


Śrotrādi-vṛttir avikalpikā referred to by Hattori in Dignāga on Perception, p. 82.


The basic ways of knowing, by Govardhan P. Bhatt, p. 197.


nanu nirvikalpakatvāt pratyakṣam eva nīlabodharūpatvenā(na)’tmānam avasthāpayituṃ śaknoti. niścayapratyayenā’vyavasthāpitaṃ sad api nīlabodharūpaṃ vijñānaṃ asatkalpam eva. tasmān niścayena nīlabodharūpaṃ vyavasthāpitaṃ vijñānaṃ nīlabodhātmanā sad bhavati tasmād adhyavasāyaṃ kurvad eva pratyakṣaṃ pramāṇam bhavati…………yady evam adhyavasāyasahitam eva pratyakṣam pramāṇaṃ syān na kevalam,”——Nyāyabinduṭīkā, p. 20.


Collected from Satkari Mookerjee’s ‘The Buddhist Philosophy of Universal Flux’, p. 343.


The Buddhists are not unanimous about the nature of the ultimate reality. Different schools of Buddhism cling to different interpretations of it. To Nāgārjuna the ultimate reality is void, hence nothing specific can be said about it. To Asaṃga and Vasubandhu it is consciousness only. Dignāga and his followers regard unique particulars as the ultimate reality. This unique particular again is regarded as an internal conscious moment by Yogācārins and as an external unique particular by Sautrāntikas and Vaibhāṣikas.—Epistemology, Logic and Grammar in Indian Philosophical Analysis, by B.Kārikā Matilal, p. 39.


The coinage ‘unique particular’ has been taken from B.Kārikā Matilal’s ‘Epistemology, Logic and Grammar in Indian Philosophical Analysis’.


The term is introduced by Satkari Mookerjee in his noble bookThe Buddhist Philosophy of Universal Flux’.


The term is introduced by T H. Stcherbatsky in his noble book ‘Buddhist Logic’.


Nyāyabindu, p. 15-17.


“In the first period of its philosophy Buddhism admitted the reality of space as one of the elements of the universe. It was an empty space imagined as an unchanging, eternal, allembracing element. But when later Buddhists were confronted by idealism in their own home, they saw that the reality of external objects does not admit of a strict proof, and the reality of a substantial space was then denied.”—-Buddhist Logic, Vol. I, by T H. Stcherbatsky, p. 85.


Buddhist Logic, Vol. I, by T H. Stcherbatsky, p. 155.


svalakṣaṇaviṣayamhi pratyakṣam sāmānyalakṣaṇaviṣayāmanumānumiti pratipādayisyamaḥ”,—-Pramāṇasamuccayavṛtti, Dignāga. Quoted from Hattori, Dignāga on Perception, P. 79-80.—The Buddhist theory of tight compartmental scope of the pramāṇas is known as ‘pramāṇa vyavasthā’ as opposed to the Naiyāyika’s ‘pramāṇa samplava’. According to the Naiyāyikas, the same object can be cognized by any of the four kinds of means of cognition. But for the Buddhists the objects of pratyakṣa can in no way be cognized by anumāna and vice versa.


These logical explanations are taken from Pradyot Kumar Mandal’s ‘Aviśiṣṭa viṣaya and svalakṣaṇa’, Pratyaya, 2nd Issue, 2008.


arthakriyāsamarthaṃ yat tad atra paramārthasat. anyat saṃvṛtisat proktam; te svasāmānyalakṣaṇe”.—-Pramāṇavārttika II. 3.


Pramāṇavārttikavṛtti, p. 84. 6 -7.


Ibid. p. 84. 12 -13.


Ibid. p. 84. 16 -17.


Ibid. p. 84. 19 -21.


……..śaktyaśaktitaḥ. arthakriyāyām; keśādirnātho’narthādhimokṣataḥ. sadṛśāsadṛśatvāc ca viṣayāviṣayatvataḥ. śabdasyānyanimittānāṃ bhāve dhīsadasattvataḥ.”—-Pramāṇavārttika, II.1-2.


Ibid., II. 53.


tasya sva-para-rūpābhyāṃ gater meyadvayaṃ matam.”—-Ibid., II. 54. “tasya svalakṣaṇasya pratyakṣataḥ svarūpeṇānumānataḥ pararūpeṇa sāmānyākāreṇa gater meyadvayaṃ matam, na tu bhūtasāmānyasya sattvāt.”—Pramāṇavārttikavṛtti, p. 100.10-12.


taccaturvidham.”—-Nyāyabindu, I.7.


yadindriyeṇa janyate tad indriyasya bhavati”.—-Dharmottara Pradīpa, p. 57.6.


Collected from Satkari Mookerjee’s ‘The Buddhist Philosophy of Universal Flux’, p. 296.


nanu ced indriyānumānam api kāryaprabhavaṃ bhavatīndriyasya jñānam. tatas tasyāpi pratyakṣatvaṃ prāptam ityāha———indriyāśritamiti. āśritaṃ janyatayā tasmin satyeva bhāvāt. na cendriyānumānam indriyeṇa sākṣāt janyate, yena tasya pratyakṣatvaṃ syād iti bhāvaḥ.”—-Dharmottara Pradīpa, p. 57.7-9.


sākṣāc ca jñāna-janane samartho viṣayo’kṣavat. atha kasmād dvayādhīnajanma tat tena nocyate.”—-Pramāṇavārttika, II.191.


tadvikāravikāritvād āśrayāś cakṣurādayaḥ. ato’sādhāraṇatvāc ca vijñānaṃ tair nirucyate.”—-Abhidharmakośa, I.45.


asādhāraṇahetutvād akṣaistad vyapadiśyate.”—-Pramāṇavārttika, II.1.


samīkṣa gamakatvaṃ hi vyapadeśo niyujyate. taccākṣavyapadeśa’sti tad dharmaśca niyojyatām.”—-Ibid., II.192.


indriyasya jñānaṃ pratyakṣam iti kathayatā nendriyasya draṣṭṛtvam iti darśitam.”—-Dharmottara Pradīpa, p. 57. 10-11.


tasmād adhyavasāyaṃ kurvad eva pratyakṣaṃ pramāṇaṃ bhavati.”—-Nyāyabinduṭīkā, p. 16.


Collected from Madhumita Chattopadhyay’s ‘Walking along the paths of Buddhist Epistemology’, p. 98.


Nyāyabindu, I.9.


Collected from T H. Stcherbatsky’s ‘Buddhist Logic’, VoI-II, p. 28.


bhikṣavo rūpaṃ gṛhyate, kadācit cakṣuṣā tadākṛṣṭena manasā ca.”—-Tarkabhāṣā, p. 9.


etac ca siddhāntaprasiddhaṃ mānasaṃ pratyakṣam. na tvasya prasādhakam asti pramāṇām. evaṃ jātīyakaṃ tad yadi syāt na kaścid doṣaḥ syāditi vaktuṃ lakṣaṇam ākhyātam asyeti.”—-Nyāyabinduṭīkā, p. 63.


Nyāyabindu, I.10.


Collected from T H. Stcherbatsky’s ‘Buddhist Logic’, VoI-II, p. 30.


svarūpa-vedanāyānyad vedakaṃ na vyapekṣate. na cāviditam astīdam ityartho’yaṃ svasaṃvidaḥ.”—-Tattvasaṃgraha, 2012.


vijñānaṃ jaḍarūpebhyo vyāvṛttam upajāyate. iyam evātmasaṃvittir asya yājaḍarūpata.”—-Tattvasaṃgraha, 2000.


kalpitaḥ karmakartrādiḥ paramārtho na vidyate, ātmānam ātmanaivātmā nihantīti nirucyate.”—-Pramāṇavārttikabhāṣya, II. 369.19.


niḥśeṣa-vastutattva-vivecikā prajñā yogo asyāsti iti yogī.”—-Tarkabhāṣā, 11. 2-3.


samādhiścittaikāgratā. iha Dharmottareṇa lokaprasiddhir-āśritā. viniścayatīkāyāṃ tu śāstrasthitis tenāvirodhaḥ. yadvā samādhigrahaṇasyopalakṣaṇatvāt prajñā ca vivekakaraṇa-śaktir draṣṭavyā’sa yasyāsti sa nityasamāhito viveka-karaṇa-tatparaśca yogī.”—Dharmottara Pradīpa, 72. 19-22.


Nyāyabindu, I.11.


tadiha sphuṭābhatvārambhāvasthā bhāvanāprakarṣaḥ. abhrakavyavahitam iva yadā bhāvyamānaṃ vastu paśyati sā prakarṣaparyantāvasthā. karatalāmalakavad bhāvyamānasyārthasya yad darśanaṃ tad yoginaḥ pratyakṣam.”—-Nyāyabinduṭīkā, p. 68.


Collected from Madhumita Chattopadhyay’s ‘Walking along the paths of Buddhist Epistemology’, p. 111.


tasya viṣayaḥ svalakṣaṇam.”—-Nyāyabindu, I.12.


yasyārthasya sannidhānāsannidhānābhyāṃ jñānapratibhāsabhedastat svalakṣaṇam.”—- Ibid., I.13.

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