Classical Indian Philosophy Nyaya: Epistemology, Perception

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Classical Indian Philosophy Nyaya: Epistemology- Perception (Philosophy)


  • 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.

Classification of Perception

  • Nyaya school of Indian philosophy distinguishes between laukika and alaukika 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 alaukika 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;
    • Internal perception or manasa,
    • 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 Panchabheda or the five elements namely, fire, air, water, ether, and earth.
  • There are six different kinds of laukika or ordinary perceptions. They are;
    • visual perception (cakshuh)
    • 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 alaukika 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.






1. Manasa and Bahya are the two kinds of

A. Laukika perception

B. Alaukika perception

C. Perception

D. None of these

Answer: A

2. ________ perception is intuitive and immediate perception of all the objects of the past, present and the future.

A. Yogaja

B. Manasa

C. Both A and B

D. None of these

Answer: A

3. Sandalwood looks fragrant is an example of

A. Jnanalakshana perception

B. Yogaja perception

C. Samanyalakshana perception

D. None of these

Answer: A

4. There are ________ kinds of laukika or ordinary perceptions

A. Five

B. Six

C. Two

D. Three

Answer: B