Nyaya-Vaisheshika categories (Study)

by Diptimani Goswami | 2014 | 61,072 words

This page relates ‘Pramana (1): Pratyaksha or Perception’ of the study on the Nyaya-Vaisheshika categories with special reference to the Tarkasangraha by Annambhatta. Both Nyaya and Vaisesika are schools of ancient Indian Philosophy, and accepted in their system various padarthas or objects of valid knowledge. This study investigates how the Tarkasamgraha reflects these categories in the combined Nyayavaisesika school.

Pramāṇa (1): Pratyakṣa or Perception

Perception is the most primary and fundamental of all the pramāṇas. The Naiyāyikas, maintain that all other pramāṇas depend on perception.[1] Perception is the final test of all knowledge. Inference, verbal testimony requires confirmation by perception, while perception does not require any such confirmation.[2] The term pratyakṣa is a compound of two terms prati, meaning before and also, meaning sense-organ.[3] This term is used for both perceptual knowledge (pratyakṣa jñāna) and the source of perception (pratyakṣa pramāṇa).

Gautama defines pratyakṣa as that knowledge which arises from the contact of the sense-organ with its object, which is unnamable, uncontradicted and determinate.[4] These three conditions given by Gautama have been critically and elaborately discussed by the subsequent logicians. These three terms have also created a great deal of controversy among these logicians. According to Gautama, pratyakṣa is produced by the sense-object-contact. Though this sense-object-contact accepted by Gautama as the cause of perception has been admitted by Vātsyāyana also, he maintains that sense-object-contact is not the only cause of perception. He has made it clear that in every perceptual knowledge there must be the contact of the mind and also of the self. That means, the self-unites with the mind, the mind with the sense-organ and the sense-organ with the object, then only perception arises. However, Vātsyāyana points out that Gautama accepts only sense-object contact as the cause of perception, since self-mind contact is common to perception, inference etc.[5] Vācaspati Miśra clarifies that the word sannikarṣa is used in the definition because sannikarṣa includes both saṃyoga and samavāya and as such is more suitable for the purpose.[6]

The second adjective used by Gautama in the definition of perception is avyapadeśyam which means that it cannot be expressed in words. This word has given rise to much controversy. According to Vācaspati Miśra, this term is used in the definition to indicate indeterminate perception (nirvikalpa pratyaḳsa).[7] Jayanta Bhaṭṭa also holds the same view[8] Vācaspati Miśra also holds that the term Vyāvasāyātmaka in the definition indicates savikalpaka pratyakṣa.[9] Thus, Gautama includes the two types of perception in the definition. However, according to Vātsyāyana and Uddyotakara, the term Vyāvasāyātmaka excludes doubtful apprehension from the scope of perception.[10]

By the term avyabhicāri erroneous knowledge is excluded. Vātsyāyana points out that when one perceives water in a mirage, the eye actually comes in contact with the hot surface of the desert mixed up with sun-rays. Here there is sense-objectcontact, but this is not a valid cognition. To avoid this the author of Nyāyasūtra has added this term in the definition.[11] Other logicians also accept this meaning of the term.

In this way Gautama’s definition has been elaborately explained by the latter logicians. However, the portion of the definition indriyārthasannikarṣotpannaṃ jñānam (the knowledge produced by the contact of an object with a sense-organ) is accepted by all as the basic definition of perception. Thus, Annaṃbhaṭṭa has defined perception as that knowledge which is produced by the sannikarṣa of an object with a sense-organ.[12] He also states pratyakṣa (perception) as the instrument of perceptive knowledge.[13] He uses the word jñāna to mean the right apprehension and the wrong apprehension. Perceptive knowledge is produced through the connection of the sense-organ with the objects.[14] In the Dīpikā, he states that indriya (sense-organ) means eye, nose, etc., artha (object) means jar etc. When there is a contact between the senseorgan and the object, there is a knowledge, which is known as perception.[15] In this definition the word jñāna is added to exclude sannikarṣadhvaṃsa and through the word indriyārtha, the pratyakṣa becomes different from other kinds of knowledge.[16] According to Śivāditya, the instrument of true knowledge which cannot be unconnected with perceptible knowledge, is known as pratyakṣa.[17] In the Nyāyasiddhāntamuktāvalī, Viśvanātha states that knowledge is known as pratyakṣa which is produced through the sense-organ.[18] He also mentions in his Bhāṣāpariccheda that the sense-organs are of six kinds, viz. nose, tongue, eye, skin, ear and mind. The object of the nose is smell, the object of the tongue is taste, the object of the ear is sound, the object of the eye is sight, touch is the object of the skin, pain, pleasure are the objects of the mind.[19]

Though sense-object contact is said to be the main cause of perception, there is also perception without sense-object-contact. God has no body and as such has no senses. But he perceives all things. To account for the perception of God Viśvanātha has given another definition of perception. Thus, he say that perception is that knowledge which is not generated by the instrumentality of any other knowledge.[20] The instrument of inference is the knowledge of vyāpti that of comparison is the knowledge of similarity and that of verbal testimony is the knowledge of words. But perception is not caused by any other knowledge. This definition is common to both ordinary perception and God’s perception.

Types of Pratyakṣa:

Perception is divided into two types laukika (ordinary) and alaukika (extra-ordinary).Ordinary perception is again divided into two types–savikalpakam (determinate) and nirvikalpakam (indeterminate). Annaṃbhaṭṭa and Keśava Miśra, however, divided pratyakṣa directly into two types–savikalpaka and nirvikalpaka.[21]

Laukika and alaukika pratyakṣas are based on the way in which the sense-organ come in contact with their object. It is called laukika pratyakṣa in which there is direct contact of the sense-organ with objects. The ordinary perception is caused by ordinary sannikarṣa or sense object contact.

The contact of the senses with the objects is regarded by the Naiyāyikas as of six kinds–

  1. saṃyoga (conjunction),
  2. saṃyuktasamavāya (inherence with what has come into contact),
  3. saṃyuktasamavetasamavāya (inherence with that is inherent with a thing which has come in contact),
  4. samavāya (inherence),
  5. samavetasamavāya (inherence with what is inherent) and
  6. viśeṣaṇaviśeṣyabhāva (the connection of the attribute with the substantive).[22]

1. Saṃyoga sannikarṣa: Conjunction is the contact, producing perception of the jar by the eye.

2. Saṃyuktasamavāya sannikarṣa: The inherent union with the conjoint is the contact in producing the perception of the colour of a jar, as the colour is inherently united with the jar which is in contact with the eye.

3. Saṃyuktasamaveta samavāya sannikarṣa: Inherent union with the intimately united is the contact in producing the perception of the universal genus colourness, as colour is inherently united with the jar that is conjoint with the ocular organ and the genus colourness is inherently united therewith.

4. Samavāya sannikarṣa: Inherent union is the contact in the perception of word by the organ of hearing as the organ of hearing is the ether in the cavity of the ear in as much as sound is the quality of ether and the quality and the qualified are inherently united.

5. Samavetasamavāya sannikarṣa: Inherent union with the inherently united is the contact in cognizing soundness, as the genus soundness is inherently united with sound which is inherently united with auditory sense.

6. Veśeṣaṇaviśeṣyabhāva sannikarṣa: The connection of the qualifier and the qualified is the conjunction in the perception of negation, as in the cognition. This spot of earth is with the negation of jar. Here, the negation of a jar is an attribute of a place in contact with the eye.[23]

On the other hand alaukika pratyakṣa is that in which sense-organ does not come in contact with the object directly, but through an unusual medium. Alaukika pratyakṣa has three types -

  1. sāmānyalakṣaṇa,
  2. jñānalakṣaṇa and
  3. yogaja.[24]

Savikalpaka pratyakṣa:

Savikalpaka pratyakṣa is that in which the cognition of an object is qualified by certain attributes like name, genus, quality etc.[25] According to Annaṃbhaṭṭa, attributive knowledge is called savikalpaka (determinate) pratyakṣ.[26] In Dīpikā he says that the knowledge which comprehends the relation of qualified and qualifier such as name, class etc. are known as savikalpaka.[27] Apprehensions like, ‘He is a Dittha’; ‘He is a Brāhmaṇa’; ‘He is black’; ‘He is a cook’ etc. are the examples of Savikalpaka pratyakṣa. These are the illustrations of knowledge qualified by saṃjñā (name), jāti (class), guṇa (quality) and kriyā (action) respectively.

Nirvikalpaka (indeterminate) is called that cognition which is not qualified by such attributes.[28] Annaṃbhaṭṭa in his Dīpikā states that the knowledge in which subject, attribute and relation (between the attribute and the subject) are absent, is the nirvikalpaka knowledge.[29]

Chandradhar Sharma observes that:

Nirvikalpaka perception is the immediate apprehension, the bare awareness, the direct sense experience and is free from assimilation, discrimination, analysis and synthesis.”[30]

According to these philosophers, nirvikalpaka is an actual knowledge but beyond sense perception (atīndriyam). In reality the contents of the savikalpaka and the nirvikalpaka are the same. But the difference is that while in the savikalpaka the object and its attributes stand in the subject-predicate relation, in the latter, no such relation is accepted.

The Naiyāyikas accepts nirvikalpaka perception as a logical necessity. It is a fact that all attributive knowledge presupposes the knowledge of the quality and qualified separately. As for example, the knowledge in the form of daṇḍī puruṣaḥ (The man with a stick) must be preceded by the knowledge of both the stick and the man separately. Only there we can have the attributive knowledge. Hence, Annaṃbhaṭṭa says that it can be inferred that any attribute knowledge is generated by the knowledge of the attribute.[31]

Footnotes and references:


cf. Nyāyasūtra, 1.1.5; Nyāyābhāṣya, 1.1.6-7


cf. Ibid., 1.1.3


cf. Bijalwan, C.D., Indian Theory of knowledge, p.67


indriyārthasannikarṣotpannaṃ jñānam avyapadeśyam avyabhicāri vyāvasāyātmakam pratyakṣam. Nyāyasūtra, 1.1.4


Nyāyabhāṣya, on Nyāyasūtra, 1.1.4


Nyāyavārtikatātparyatīkā, p. 109


Ibid., p. 129


nirvikalpakavat tasmāt pratyakṣaṃ savikalpakam. Nyāyamañjarī, p.


Nyāyavārtikatātparyatīkā, p.133


Nyāyabhāṣya, on Nyāyasūtra, 1.1.4; Nyāyavārtika on Ibid.




indriyārthasannikarṣajanyaṃ jñānam pratyakṣam. Tarkasaṃgraha, p.29


pratyakṣajñānakaraṇaṃ pratyakṣam. Ibid


Ibid., p.211


Dīpikā on Tarkasaṃgraha, p.30


Tarkasaṃgraha, p. 211


pratyakṣapramā’yogavyavacchinnaṃ pratyakṣapramāṇam. Saptapadārthī, p.73


indriyajanyaṃ jñānaṃ pratyakṣam. Nyāyasiddhāntamuktāvalī, p. 282


Bhāṣāpariccheda, pp. 80-83


jñānākaraṇakam jñānaṃ pratyakṣam. Nyāyasiddhāntamuktāvalī, p. 282


Tarkasaṃgraha, p.31


Ibid., pp.31-33


alaukikastu vyāpāratrividhaḥ parikīrtitaḥ/ sāmānyalakṣaṇo, jñānalakṣaṇa yogajastathā// Bhāṣā-pariccheda, p. 99


savikalpakaṃ nāmajātyādiyojanātmakaṃ. Tarkabhāṣā, p. 72


saprakārakaṃ jñānaṃ savikalpakam. Tarkasaṃgraha, p. 29


nāmajātyādiviśeṣaṇaviśeṣyasaṃbandhāvagāhi jñānamityarthaḥ. Dīpikā on Ibid., p.30


nirvikalpakaṃ nāmajātyādi yojanāhīnaṃ vastumātrāvagāhi… Tarkabhāṣā, p. 70


viśeṣaṇaviśeṣyasaṃbandhānavagāhi jñānamityarthaḥ. Dīpikā on Tarkasaṃgraha, p. 30


Sharma, C.D., A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, p.194


Dīpikā on Tarkasaṃgraha, p. 30

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