Classical Indian Epistemology the Concept of Perception in Nyaya for Maharashtra PSC Exam

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  • According to Nyaya, perception or Pratyaksha is considered to be the first source of knowledge or pramana.
  • Perception is a definite or true cognition of objects produced by sense-object contact.
  • For example, the perception of the blue book in front of me is possible due to contact that occurs between my eyes and the object, the blue book.
  • According to Gotama, perception means non-erroneous cognition, which is produced by the inter-course of the sense organs with the objects.
  • Perception deals with five external sense organs, namely, the sense of sight (cakshuh) , sense of smell (ghrana) , sense of sound (srota) , sense of touch (tvak) and sense of taste (rasana) .
  • These five sense organs respectively perceive the physical qualities of colour, smell, sound, touch and taste in the objects.

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Classification of Perception

  • Nyaya school of Indian philosophy distinguishes between laukika and aleukia perception.
  • These two are also known as, ordinary and extra-ordinary perceptions.
  • According to Nyayaikas, the distinction between these two depends upon the manner in which the senses come in contact with their objects.
  • In the case of laukika or ordinary perception, there is the usual sense-object contact.
  • Whereas, in the case of aleukia or extra-ordinary perception, the object is not ordinarily presented to the sense organ. In other words, the object is perceived by the sense organ through an unusual medium.
  • The ordinary or laukika perception is of two kinds; 1. internal perception or manasa, 2. external perception or bahya.
  • In the former, mind comes in contact with the psychological states and processes like affection, cognition, desire, pleasure, pain, etc.
  • External perception or the latter perception takes place with the help of five external sense organs, namely, sense of sight, touch, sound, smell and taste when they come in contact with the object. These five external sense organs are composed of the panca-bhutas or the five elements namely, fire, air, water, ether, and earth.
  • Therefore, there are six different kinds of laukika or ordinary perceptions. They are;
  • visual perception (cakshusha)
  • auditory perception (srautra)
  • tactual perception (sparsha)
  • gustatory perception (rasana)
  • olfactory perception (ghranaja)
  • internal perception or mental perception (manasa)
  • On the other hand, there are three kinds of aleukia or extra-ordinary perceptions. They are;
  • Samanyalakshana
  • Jnanalakshana
  • Yogaja

Samanyalakshana perception:

  • According to Nyaya, samanyalakshana perception is also called the perception of classes.
  • It includes the concept of universals.
  • According to Nyaya, universals are regarded as a distinct class of reals and they inhere in particulars.
  • For example, the concept of cow-ness, universal concept of cow-ness inheres in all the particular, cows.
  • The perception of cow-ness is possible due to samanyalakshana perception.
  • In other words, universals are perceived extra-ordinarily.

Jnanalakshana perception:

  • This perception is also called the complicated perception through association.
  • In the case of jnanalakshana perception, the object is not directly presented to the sense-organs, but it is revived in memory due to the past cognitions of the object and it is perceived through representation.
  • For example, Sandalwood looks fragrant, or ice looks cold, or stone looks hard, etc.

Yogaja perception:

  • This is intuitive and immediate perception of all the objects of the past, present and the future.
  • This form of perception is only possessed by yogis or the liberated souls through the power of meditation.
  • Hence, it is supra-sensuous and supra-relational in nature.
Classification of Perception

The Two Stages of Perception

  • According to Nyaya school, there are two stages of perception, namely, indeterminate and determinate perception.
  • The former is also called Nirvikalpa and the latter is also called Savikalpa.
  • It is important to note that these are not the two different kinds of perception.
  • Rather, these are the two stages of perception.
  • In other words, indeterminate or nirvikalpa is the former stage of perception and determinate or savikalpa is the latter stage of perception.
  • These two can only be distinguished or divided in thought and not in reality.

Indeterminate or Nirvikalpa perception:

  • It deals with bare sensation or simple apprehension of the object.
  • In other words, it is the stage of bare awareness where the object is presented without any characterisation.
  • It is psychological in nature but its knowledge is logical in nature.
  • Nyaya says, it is undifferentiated and non-relational in nature.
  • As a result, it is free from assimilation, discrimination, analysis and synthesis.
  • According to Nyaya, we sense this perception and due to which indeterminate perception is inferred into perceptual judgement.
  • In other words, it is the result of logical deduction.

Determinate perception or Savikalpa perception:

  • This perception is determinate and relational in nature.
  • It deals with assimilation, discrimination, analysis and synthesis.
  • It is representational in nature.
  • Here, the perception is characterised, in other words, all the attributes, like, name, genus, etc. are understood.
  • We feel this perception.
The Two Stages of Perception

Different Definitions of Perception

According to Vatsyanana:

  • “Under determinate perception, the object is perceived with a name. Whereas, under indeterminate perception, the object is perceived without a name.”

According to Jayanta Bhatta:

  • “Indeterminate perception apprehends a substance or an object without a name and any association. Whereas, determinate perception apprehends a substance or an object with a name and with association.”

According to Gangehsa Upadhyaya:

  • Nirvikalpa is non-relational apprehension devoid of all association of name, genus, differentia, etc.”

According to Annam Bhatta:

  • Nirvikalpa is an immediate perception of an object and as well as its qualities but without the knowledge of relation between them.”





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