Indian Epistemology Introduction and the Concept of Prama and Aprama

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Indian Epistemology: The concept of Prama and Aprama (Philosophy)

Introduction: Prama & Aprama

  • Knowledge in Sanskrit is called prama.

  • It means true cognitions which contribute to knowledge.

  • On the other hand, false cognitions which contribute to false knowledge are called Aprama.

  • Cognitions are classified in Indian philosophy into two categories;

    • True cognitions or those cognitions which possess the property of pramanaya

    • False cognitions or those cognitions which possess the property of apramanya.

  • The theory of knowledge or pramana-sastra is a rich Sanskrit text that deals with valid knowledge and the means of valid knowledge.

  • All the schools of Indian philosophy (both, orthodox and heterodox) accept the concept of prama and means of valid knowledge or pramanas.

The Concept of Prama

  • Prama means valid knowledge.

  • It also means right apprehension of an object.

  • Knowledge is regarded as valid or invalid. Valid knowledge means right manifestation of the object, just like how it is presented to us.

  • Prama is produced from pramanas.

  • The pramanas accepted in Indian philosophy are;

    • Perception

    • Inference

    • Comparison

    • Postulation

    • verbal testimony

    • non-apprehension

  • Pramanas give us knowledge.

The Concept of Aprama

  • Aprama means invalid knowledge.

  • It means wrong apprehension of an object.

  • Knowledge is regarded as valid or invalid. Invalid knowledge means wrong apprehension of the object.

  • As a result, it does not correspond to reality.

  • Aprama is produced from;

    • Memory

    • Doubt

    • error or mistake

    • hypothetical reasoning

  • Aprama leads to failure and disappointment for it does not give us real knowledge.

  • Memory is a means of invalid knowledge because it is regarded as representative knowledge.

  • Doubt is regarded as uncertain cognition.

  • Error is regarded as misapprehension of the object.

  • Hypothetical reasoning is not regarded as real knowledge. It is based on assumptions, pre-suppositions. For example, if and then statements do not contribute to knowledge.


1. Aprama deals with

A. Mistake

B. Error

C. Doubt

D. All of these

Answer: D

2. _____ leads to failure of knowledge

A. Mistake

B. Error

C. Doubt

D. Aprama

Answer: D

3. ______ is based on is based on assumptions, pre-suppositions

A. Mistake

B. Error

C. Hypothetical reasoning

D. Both b and c

Answer: C

4. Prama means

A. Valid knowledge

B. Right apprehension of the object

C. Knowledge is accordance with reality

D. All of these

Answer: D





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