Classical Indian Epistemology the Theory of Khyativada, Atma, Sadasat and Anirvachniya Khyati

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Classical Indian Epistemology: The Theory of Khyativada & Eight Theories (Philosophy)


  • Khyati means error and Vada means discourse or theory.
  • So, Khyati-Vada is the theory of error.
  • It means errors that occur in perception.
  • The schools of Indian philosophy accept eight theories of error. They are;
    • Atma-Khyati
    • A-Khyati
    • Sadasat-khyati
    • Anirvachniya-khyati
    • Asat-Khyati
    • Anyatha-khyati
    • Sat-Khyati
    • Viaparita-khyati


  • It is referred to as the idealistic theory.
  • It negates all external objects.
  • Here, perception includes mental Vritti or modification.
  • Advocated by Yogacara/Vijnana-vada school of Buddhism.
  • Error is super-imposition form of cognition on the so called external object which is regarded as unreal.


  • Advocated by Prabhakara school of Purva-Mimamsa.
  • Does not admit of error in the logical sense. No logical distinction between knowledge and error.
  • Believe in intrinsic validity of knowledge.
  • So, all knowledge is valid per se and error is only partial truth.
  • Other words, error is only imperfect knowledge.
  • Error also regarded as Non-apprehension.
  • Error can never be regarded as unitary knowledge.
  • Error is due to the non-discrimination between the two cognitions.
  • Error is regarded as commission. Not omission.


  • Advocated by Later Sankhya school of Indian philosphy
  • It is based upon the united perception of real and unreal object.


  • Advocated by Advaita Vedanta school of Sankara.
  • According to them, object is neither real nor unreal. It is mithya.
  • Error is indescribable, indeterminate and inexplicable.
  • Error is unreal because it has no existence apart from Brahman and error is not unreal because it projects the world of appearance or phenomenal world.


  • Advocated by Madhyamika School or Shunya-vada school of Buddhism.
  • It involves perception of non-existent entities.
  • Shunya forms the basis for all apparent perceptions.
  • It was believed to be given by Nagarjuna.


  • Advocated by Nyaya-Vaisesika school of Indian Philosophy
  • This theory of error is similar to Kumarila՚s Viaparita-khyati.
  • Error is due to wrong synthesis of the presented and the re-presented object.
  • In other words, the represented object is confused with the presented object.
  • The word, anyatha means elsewhere.
  • In other words, the presented object is seen elsewhere and the represented object exists elsewhere.
  • The shell is misperceived as silver which exists somewhere else.
  • They recognise subjective element in the theory of error.


  • Advocated by Ramanuja of Visishtadvaita Vedanta School.
  • According to this theory, there is no error.
  • The silver is as real as the shell. The shell appears as silver because there are some particles of silver in the shell.
  • This view is similar to the view of Prabhakar՚s theory of Khyati called a-Khyati.
  • Error is regarded as non-apprehension and not misapprehension.
  • So, error is regarded as partial truth or incomplete truth.
  • Cognition is never regarded invalid.
  • There is no subjective element found in error.
  • Therefore, distinction between error and truth is only practical.


  • Advocated by Kumarila Bhatta school of Purva-Mimamsa.
  • There is a logical distinction between truth or knowledge and error.
  • Error is misapprehension. Not non-apprehension.
  • Error is regarded as a unitary knowledge and not a composition of two imperfect cognitions.
  • Error is regarded as omission. Not commission.
  • Error is due to positive wrong synthesis of two elements, the perceived and the remembered.
  • Memory is cause.

Points to Remember!

  • The theory of error or Khyati accepted by Prabhakara school (Akhyāti) , the Sat-Khyati of earlier Sankhya school, and the Khyati of Ramanuja school (Sat-Khyati) comes under one group which holds error as mere non-apprehension.
  • The theory of error or Khyati accepted by Kumarila school of Purva-Mimasa (Viaparita-khyati) , the Anyatha-khyati of Nyaya, and the Sadasat-khyati of later Sankhya school come under one group which holds error as mis-apprehension.


1. Khyati-vada deals with the theory of

A. Doubt

B. Mistake

C. Error

D. All of these

Answer: C

2. According to the theory of Khyati-Vada, error occurs in

A. Pratayaksha

B. Anumana

C. Arthapatti

D. Both A and B

Answer: A

3. Atma-Khyati is advocated by

A. Madhyamika school of Buddhism

B. Vijnana-vada school of Buddhism

C. Buddhism

D. Both B and C

Answer: B

4. The shell is misperceived as silver which exists somewhere else- this is the view of

A. Atma Khyati

B. Viparita Khyati

C. Anyatha Khyati

D. Asat Khyati

Answer: C

5. Cognition is never regarded invalid in which Khyati

A. Sat Khyati

B. Asat Khyati

C. Viparita Khyati

D. All of these

Answer: A





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