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Nyaya
EncyclopediaofIndia
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NYYA
NYYA Nyya philosophy is also called pramna shstra, or the science of correct knowledge.
The objective of the Nyya is nvkshik, or critical inquiry. Its beginnings go back to the
Vedic period, but its rst systematic elucidation is Akshapda Gotama's Nyya Stra, dated
to the third century b.c. This text consists of ve books. After an overview, the text begins
with the nature of doubt and the means of proof. Next it considers the nature of self, body,
senses and their objects, cognition and mind.
The Nyya system supposes that we are so constituted as to seek truth. Our minds are not
empty slates; the very constitution of the mind provides some knowledge of the nature of
the world. The four pramnas through which correct knowledge is acquired are: pratyaksha,
or direct perception; anumna, or inference; upamna, or analogy; and shabda, or verbal
testimony.
Gotama mentions that four factors are involved in direct perception: the senses (indriyas),
their objects (artha), the contact of the senses and the objects (sannikarsha), and the
cognition produced by this contact ( jnna). Manas, or mind, mediates between the self and
the senses. When the manas is in contact with one sensory organ, it cannot be so with
another. It is therefore said to be atomic in dimension. It is because of the nature of the
mind that our experiences are essentially linear, although quick succession of impressions
may give the appearance of simultaneity.
Dharmakrti, a later Nyya philosopher, recognizes four kinds of perception: sense
perception, mental perception, self-consciousness, and yogic perception. Selfconsciousness is a perception of the self through its states of pleasure and pain. In yogic
perception, one is able to comprehend the universe in fullness and harmony.
Anumna (inference) is knowledge from the perceived about the unperceived. The element
to be inferred may be the cause or the eect of the element perceived, or the two may be
the joint eects of something else.
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The Nyya syllogism is expressed in ve parts: (1) pratijn, or the proposition: the house is
on re; (2) hetu, or the reason: smoke; (3) udharana, the example: re is accompanied by
smoke, as in the kitchen; (4) upanaya, the application: as in the kitchen, so too in the
house; (5) nigamana, the conclusion: therefore, the house is on re. This recognizes that
the inference derives from the knowledge of the universal relation (vypti) and its
application to the specic case ( pakshadharmat). There can be no inference unless there is
expectation (knksh) about the hypothesis, which is expressed in terms of the
proposition.
The Nyya attacks the Buddhist idea that no knowledge is certain by pointing out that this
statement itself contradicts the claim by its certainty. Whether cognitions apply to reality
must be checked by determining if they lead to successful action. Pram, or valid
knowledge, leads to successful action, unlike erroneous knowledge (viparyya).
In the twelfth century, the Navya-Nyya system was founded by Gangesha Upadhyaya. It
developed a highly technical language to formulate and solve problems in logic and
epistemology.
Subhash Kak

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Matilal, B. K. Nyya-Vaisesika. Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977.
Vidybhusan, Satisa Chandra. History of Indian Logic. Kolkata: Calcutta University, 1921.
Vidybhusana, Satisa Chandra. The Nyya Stras of Gotama. Revised and edited by Nandalal
Sinha. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1990.
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