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BA(H) Philosophy – Theory of perception (NYAYA PHILOSOPHY)

In Logic perception is defined as the form of true cognition. Taking it, some naiyayikas define perception as a definite cognition which is produced by sense object contact and is true. Example the perception of the table before me is due to the contact of my eyes with the table and I am definite that the object is a table. The perception of distant figure either as a man or a post is doubtful and indefinite cognition and thus  is not a to perception. On other hand some naiyayikas and vedantas and many more rejected that perception can be done through without sense subject contact as we are told that God perceives us all and have no senses. Thus in   the case when I see a snake in a piece of a rope there is no contact between eyes and Rope. It is only due to the mental states like pleasure and pain. Thus sense object contact is mot common to all and cannot be a defining character of perception.  What common among all this is the” DIRECTNESS OR IMMEDIACY OF” of the knowledge given by them  we perceive the object, because we know it directly and without taking the help of any previous knowledge and thus it is called as PERCEPTION .

FOR EG:- If at midday you turn your eyes overhead you see the sun directly and not by means of any process of inference or  reasoning. There is neither any necessity e 9 any time for you to think and reason before the perception of the  sun rises in your mind.


There are different ways of classifying perception. The distinction between them is based  on the way  in which the senses come in contact  with their objects . One is ordinary perception (LAUKIKA)   in which the sense contact with the object is due to the presence of the object to the senses. And another is the extraordinary (AULAUKIKA) in which the object is not ordinarily present to the sense and is conveyed to senses through unusal medium .

And also there are two kinds of perception external and internal the first one is for the sight , hearing ,smell , taste and touch and the latter is for the mind’s contact with psychical states and processes.

In ordinary perception according to nyaya there are five organs which are smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing. They perceive respectively  the qualities of smell, taste , colour, sound and touch. Further, there are three modes of ordjnary perception beign explained by Nyaya philosphers.

These are NIRVIKALPAKA, SAVIKALPAKA, AND PRATYBHIJNA as the three modes of perception.

NIRVIKALPAKA  or indeterminate perception is primary cognition of an object and its diverese characters without any judgement to inter relate them. Suppose on the day of the examination when you are going to the bath and this thinking about the possible questions that can come and their answers. It is unlikely that you may finish your bathing without perceiving the water. Yet it cannot be said that you did not perceive the water. But for a very real perception of it your act of bathing cannot be explained . This perception of water and its characters without any thought or judgement it as a water, as liquid or as cold is called as the nirvikalpaka or the indeterminate perception.

SAVIKALPAKA perception is the cognition of an objects possessed of some characters. While nirvikalpaka is the cognition of the existence of an object where as the savikapaka is the recognition of its nature. They could not be any Savi kal pakka perception of an object without any previous nirvikalpaka perception of it. Unless we know the unrelated elements as such then we could possibly cannot know them as related. For ex unless I first percieve  water cold liquidity etc . So I cannot came to know them as water or as cold or liquid  etc. Thus the nirvikalpaka perception is indeterminate and savikalpaka perception as determinate predicative judgement.

PRATIBHIJNA means the recognition. It is a recognition of some object as it is it which was cognised before. In it we know immediately that the thing which we now cognised it as the same  for eg “THIS COW IS LIKE THE COW WHICH I SAW IN THE FOREST”  .

While all other philosophical systems accept these modes the Buddha and the Advaitw Vedanta system rejected it.



ALAUKIKA  or extraordinary perception is of three kinds. These are SAMANYALAKSANA, JNANALAKSANA AND YOGAJA.

SAMANYALAKSANA  which is the perception of the universal class. Every perceive a man from his physical appearance, by the ordinary perception since all men cannot be present physical to our sense . So we must know someone all the men . The nayiyakas explained this knowledge class by extraordinary perception in which the class men is presented through “MANHOOD” or the class cow as “COWNESS” . Now this direct knowledge or perception of universal manhood is the medium through which I percieve all men or class of men. To percieve manhood is to percieve the all class of man. This perception of the men class of manhood is due to the perception universal called SAMANYALAKSANA

the second kind of extraordinary perception is called JNANALAKSANA. A process by which sensation perceptions of different senses become so closely associated as to become integral parts of a single perception.  For eg  after seeing something one says “I see fragrant rose” one has a perception of fragnance by means of its Eyes . The naiyayika says that here our past olfactory experience of fragnance being get revived in the present visual perception.  Simultaneously seeing the colur so the present perception got revived and ome got to percieve the visual fragnance . It is called JNANALAKSANA

The third extraordinary perception is YOGAJA. It is the intuitive perception of all objects hidden and infinitesimal past and future by some person who possessed  super natural powers generated in the mind by meditation. In case who has achieved the intutive knowledge thier perceptions are constant and spontaneous. And the persons who are on the way of perfection it requires the help of concentration

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