Dignāga (a.k.a. Diṅnāga, c. 480 – c. 540 CE) was an Indian Buddhist scholar and one of the Buddhist founders of Indian logic (hetu vidyā). Dignāga's work laid the groundwork for the development of deductive logic in India and created the first system of Buddhist logic and epistemology (Pramana).[1]

According to Georges B Dreyfus, his philosophical school brought about an Indian "epistemological turn" and became the "standard formulation of Buddhist logic and epistemology in India and Tibet."[2] Dignāga's thought influenced later Buddhist philosophers like Dharmakirti and also Hindu thinkers of the Nyaya school. Dignāga's epistemology accepted only "perception" (pratyaksa) and "inference" (anumāṇa) are valid instruments of knowledge and introduced the widely influential theory of "exclusion" (apoha) to explain linguistic meaning.[3] His work on language, inferential reasoning and perception were also widely influential among later Indian philosophers.[4] According to Richard P. Hayes "some familiarity with Dinnaga's arguments and conclusions is indispensable for anyone who wishes to understand the historical development of Indian thought."[5]

Dignāga was born in Simhavakta near Kanchipuram and very little is known of his early years, except that he took as his spiritual preceptor Nagadatta of the Pudgalavada school before being expelled and becoming a student of Vasubandhu.[6]

Dignaga. A statue in Elista, Russia.


2 Pramana Epistemology Buddhism
Buddhist epistemology holds that perception and inference are the means to correct knowledge.

Dignāga mature philosophy is expounded in his magnum opus, the Pramāṇa-samuccaya. In chapter one, Dignāga's explains his epistemology which holds that there are only two 'instruments of knowledge' or 'valid cognitions' (pramāṇa); "perception" or "sensation" (pratyaksa) and "inference" or "reasoning" (anumāṇa). In chapter one, Dignāga writes:

Sensation and reasoning are the only two means of acquiring knowledge, because two attributes are knowable; there is no knowable object other than the peculiar and the general attribute. I shall show that sensation has the peculiar attribute as its subject matter, while reasoning has the general attribute as its subject matter.[7]

Perception is a non-conceptual knowing of particulars which is bound by causality, while inference is reasonable, linguistic and conceptual.[8] This conservative epistemic theory was in contrast to the Nyaya school who accepted other means of knowledge such as Upamāṇa (comparison and analogy).


Pratyaksa is a kind of awareness that acquires information about particulars, and is immediately present to one of the senses. This is the topic of the first chapter of the Pramāṇa-samuccaya.[9] For Dignāga, perception is pre-verbal, pre-conceptual and unstructured sense data. In chapter two of the Pramāṇa-samuccaya he writes:

Sensation is devoid of structure. That cognition in which there is no structure is sensation. What kind of thing is this so-called structure? Attaching a name, a universal and so forth.[10]

According to Dignāga our mind always takes raw sense data or particulars and interprets them or groups them together in more complex ways, compares them to past experiences, gives them names to classify them based on general attributes (samanyalaksana) and so forth. This process he terms kalpana (arranging, structuring).[11] This cognitive process is already different than sensation, which is a simple cognition based only on the immediately present. Thus pratyaksa is only awareness of particular sense data such as a patch of green color and the sensation of hardness, never awareness of a macroscopic object such an apple which is always a higher level synthesis.[12] For Dignāga, sensation is also inerrant, it cannot "stray" because it is the most basic and simple phenomenon of experience or as he puts it:

"it is impossible too for the object of awareness itself to be errant, for errancy is only the content of misinterpretation by the mind."[13]

Also, for Dignaga, pratyaksa is mostly phenomenalist and is not dependent on the existence of an external world. It is also inexpressible and private.[14]


Anumana (inference or reasoning) for Dignāga is a type of cognition which is only aware of general attributes, and is constructed out of simpler sensations. Inference can also be communicated through linguistic conventions.[15]

A central issue which concerned Dignāga was the interpretation of signs (linga) or the evidence (hetu) which led one to an inference (anumana) about states of affairs; such as how smoke can lead one to infer that there is a fire.[16] This topic of svārthānumāna (reasoning, literally "inference for oneself") is the subject of chapter two of the Pramāṇa-samuccaya while the topic of the third chapter is about demonstration (parārthānumāna, literally "inference for others"), that is, how one communicates one's inferences through proper argument.[17]

According to Richard Hayes, in Dignāga's system, to obtain knowledge that a property (the "inferable property", sadhya) is inherent in a "subject of inference" (paksa) it must be derived through an inferential sign (linga). For this to occur, the following must be true:[18]

  1. The inferential sign must be a property of the subject of the inference. That is, there exists in the subject of inference a property, which is different from the inferable property and which is furthermore evident to the person drawing the inference; this second property may serve as an inferential sign in case it has two further characteristics.
  2. The inferential sign must be known to occur in at least one locus, other than the subject of inference, in which the inferable property occurs.
  3. The inferential sign must not be known to occur in any other loci in which the inferable property is absent.

Richard Hayes interprets these criteria as overly strict and this is because he sees Dignāga's system as one of rational skepticism. Dignāga's epistemology, argues Hayes, is a way to express and practice the traditional Buddhist injunction not become attached to views and opinions.[19] According to Hayes, for Dignāga, the role of logic is:

to counter dogmatism and prejudice. As a weapon in the battle against prejudice that rages in every mind that seeks wisdom--in minds of the vast majority of people who do not seek wisdom, prejudice simply takes full control without a contest-there is nothing as powerful as the kind of reason that lies at the heart of Dignaga's system of logic. For it should be clear that very few of our judgments in ordinary life pass the standards set by the three characteristics of legitimate' evidence. Taken in its strictest interpretation, none of the judgments of any but a fully omniscient being passes. And, since there is no evidence that there exist any fully omniscient beings, the best available working hypothesis is that no one's thinking is immune from errors that require revision in the face of newly discovered realities.[20]

Apohavada and language

Dignāga considered the interpretation of conventional and symbolic signs such as the words and sentences of human language to be no more than special or conventional instances of the general principles of inference or anumana.[21] He takes up several issues relating to language and its relationship to inference in the fifth chapter of his Pramāṇa-samuccaya.[22]

During Dignāga's time, the orthodox Indian Nyaya school and also Hindu Sanskrit grammarians (such as Bhartṛhari) had discussed issues of epistemology and language respectively, but their theories generally accepted the concept of universals which was rejected by most Buddhist philosophers. Influenced by the work of these thinkers as well as by Buddhist philosophers of the Sautrantika school who rejected Hindu theories of universals in favor of nominalism (prajñapti), Dignāga developed his own Buddhist theory of language and meaning based on the concept of "apoha" (exclusion).[23] Hattori Masaaki explains the doctrine thus:

a word indicates an object merely through the exclusion of other objects (anyapoha, -vyavrtti). For example, the word "cow" simply means that the object is not a non-cow. As such, a word cannot denote anything real, whether it be an individual (vyakti), a universal (jati), or any other thing. The apprehension of an object by means of the exclusion of other objects is nothing but an inference.[24]


As noted by Hayes, the difficulty in studying the highly terse works of Dignāga is considerable, because none of them have survived in the original Sanskrit and the Tibetan and Chinese translations which do survive show signs of having been done by translators who were not completely certain of the meaning of the work.[25] This difficulty has also led scholars to read Dignaga through the lens of later authors such as Dharmakirti and their Indian and Tibetan interpreters as well as their Hindu Nyaya opponents. Because of this tendency in scholarship, ideas which are actually innovations of Dharmakirti and later authors have often been associated with Dignaga by scholars such as Fyodor Shcherbatskoy and S. Mookerjee, even though these thinkers often differ.[26]

Dignāga's magnum opus, the Pramāṇa-samuccaya (Compendium of Valid Cognition), examined perception, language and inferential reasoning. It presents perception as a bare cognition, devoid of conceptualization and sees language as useful fictions created through a process of exclusion (Apoha).[27]

Other works include:

  • Hetucakra (The wheel of reason), considered his first work on formal logic. It may be regarded as a bridge between the older doctrine of trairūpya and Dignāga's own later theory of vyapti which is a concept related to the Western notion of implication.
  • Alambana-parīkṣā, (The Treatise on the Objects of Cognition) and its auto commentary (vrtti).
  • Trikāla-parikṣa, (Treatise on the tri-temporality)
  • Nyāya-mukha (Introduction to logic).

Tradition and Influence

Dignāga founded a tradition of Buddhist logic, and this school is sometimes called the "School of Dignāga" or the "Dignāga-Dharmakīrti school". In Tibetan it is often called “those who follow reasoning” (Tibetan: rigs pa rjes su ‘brang ba); in modern literature it is sometimes known by the Sanskrit 'pramāṇavāda', often translated as "the Epistemological School"[28] or "The logico-epistemological school."

Buddhist philosophers who wrote on pramana include:

This tradition of logic and epistemology continued in Tibet, where it was expanded by thinkers such as Cha-ba (1182–1251) and Sakya Pandita (1182–1251).

Dignaga also influenced non-Buddhist Sanskrit thinkers. According to Lawrence J. McCrea, and Parimal G. Patil, Dignaga set in motion an "epistemic turn" in Indian philosophy:

In the centuries following Dignāga’s work, virtually all philosophical questions were reconfigured as epistemological ones. That is, when making any claim at all, it came to be seen as incumbent on a philosopher to situate that claim within a fully developed theory of knowledge. The systematic articulation and interrogation of the underlying presuppositions of all knowledge claims thus became the central preoccupation of most Sanskrit philosophers.[29]

See also


  1. ^ Zheng Wei-hong; Dignāga and Dharmakīrti: Two Summits of Indian Buddhist Logic. Research Institute of Chinese Classics; Fudan University; Shanghai, China
  2. ^ Recognizing Reality: Dharmakirti’s Philosophy and its Tibetan Interpretations, (Suny: 1997), page 15-16.
  3. ^ Arnold, Dan. The Philosophical Works and Influence of Dignāga and Dharmakīrti, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195393521/obo-9780195393521-0085.xml
  4. ^ Dunne, John. "Dignaga" in Buswell (ed.) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BUDDHISM. Volume One A-L
  5. ^ Hayes (1982), p. ix.
  6. ^ Karr, Andy (2007). Contemplating Reality: A Practitioner's Guide to the View in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. Shambhala Publications. p. 212. ISBN 9781590304297.
  7. ^ Hayes (1982), p 133.
  8. ^ Tom Tillemans (2011), Dharmakirti, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  9. ^ Hayes (1982), p 132.
  10. ^ Hayes (1982), p 134.
  11. ^ Hayes (1982), p 135.
  12. ^ Hayes (1982), p 138.
  13. ^ Hayes (1982), p 139.
  14. ^ Hayes (1982), p 143.
  15. ^ Hayes (1982), p 143.
  16. ^ Hayes (1982), p 1.
  17. ^ Hayes (1982), p 132-33.
  18. ^ Hayes (1982), p 146, 153.
  19. ^ Hayes (1982), p 146, 167.
  20. ^ Hayes (1982), p 167.
  21. ^ Hayes (1982), p 1.
  22. ^ Hayes (1982), p 132.
  23. ^ Hayes (1982), p 27-28.
  24. ^ Hayes (1982), p 26.
  25. ^ Hayes, (1982), p. 6.
  26. ^ Hayes, (1982), p. 15.
  27. ^ Arnold, Dan. The Philosophical Works and Influence of Dignāga and Dharmakīrti, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195393521/obo-9780195393521-0085.xml
  28. ^ Tillemans, Tom, "Dharmakīrti", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/dharmakiirti/>.
  29. ^ Lawrence J. McCrea, and Parimal G. Patil. Buddhist Philosophy of Language in India: Jnanasrimitra on Exclusion. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. p 5.

Further reading

  • Chu, Junjie (2006).On Dignāga's theory of the object of cognition as presented in PS (V) 1, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 29 (2), 211–254
  • Frauwallner, Erich, Dignāga, sein Werk und seine Entwicklung. (Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Süd- und Ostasiens 2:83–164, 1959)
  • Hattori Masaaki, Dignāga, On Perception, being the Pratyakṣapariccheda of Dignāga's Pramāṇasamuccaya from the Sanskrit fragments and the Tibetan Versions (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968)
  • Hayes, Richard, Dignāga on the Interpretation of Signs (Dordrecht: Reidel Publishing Company, 1982)
  • Katsura Shoryu, Dignāga and Dharmakīrti on apoha in E. Steinkellner (ed.), Studies in the Buddhist Epistemological Tradition (Vienna, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1991), pp. 129–146
  • Mookerjee, S. The Buddhist Philosophy of Universal Flux, an Exposition of the Philosophy of Critical Realism as expounded by the School of Dignāga (Calcutta, 1935)
  • Sastri, N. Aiyaswami, Diṅnāga's Ālambanaparīkṣā and Vṛtti. Restored with the commentary of Dharmapāla into Sanskrit from the Tibetan and Chinese versions and edited with English translations and notes with extracts from Vinītadeva's commentary. (Madras: The Adyar Library. 1942)[1]
  • Tucci, Giuseppe, The Nyāyamukha of Dignāga, the oldest Buddhist Text on Logic after Chinese and Tibetan Materials (Materialien zur Kunde des Buddhismus, 15 Heft, Heidelberg, 1930)
  • Vidyabhusana, S.C. A History of Indian Logic – Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern Schools (Calcutta, 1921)

External links


Anuvyavasāya (Sanskrit:अनुव्यवसाय) is derived from anu ('after') + vyavasāya ('contact') – which means - 'after contact' or 'self reflective cognition' or 'cognition of a cognition'.Abhinavagupta has used this term to designate the re-presentation of what has been presented repeatedly as a dramatic representation. In Yoga psychology, it refers to the function of the mind in its intelligent (sāttvika) aspect by which the sensations (due to the sense-object contact ālochana) are associated, differentiated, integrated, and assimilated into precepts and concepts; it refers to the creative faculty of the mind, and also accepted by Dignāga and Dharmakirti of the Yogacara and the Sautrāntika schools of Buddhism respectively. The former held the view that the nature of a reality is absolute consciousness devoid of any subject-object relations that are the constructs of the mind and expressed in language. However, the Nyāya realists did not accept Dignāga’s contention that the cognitive state is self-conscious or self-luminous awareness and its expression in propositional form is a mental construction, because they held that there are two stages of perception – indeterminate or nirvikalpa perception and the determinate or savikalpa perception, follows the second stage, is when the mind relates it to the second stage. Abhinavagupta subscribes to the Yoga philosophy in explaining the determinate perception as an anuvyavasāya or creative function of the translucent mind predominated by its intelligence stuff (sattva).According to Murari Misra of the Mimamsa School, the primary knowledge whose truth is under consideration is apprehended in its anuvyavasāya or introspective awareness, which secondary knowledge also apprehends the truth of the primary knowledge. Ganesa, in support thereof, states that since a knowledge is specified only by its object (viseyanirupya), the anuvyavasāya apprehending a primary knowledge should also apprehend the primary knowledge as being knowledge of such and such object, which in fact amounts to apprehending it as a true knowledge; anuvyavasāya gives the datum for analysis, for it considers the ordinary mental perception of the primary knowledge with the extraordinary presentation through past knowledge of the object of the primary knowledge, and as a rule is accompanied by truth.Anukirtana (re-telling) is a special type of anuvyavasāya (re-perception). From the point of Advaita Vedanta, re-perception means the cognition of the mental states consisting of pleasure and pain. Anuvyavasāya (re-perception) reveals the previous knowledge existing at the stage as well as the self bearing that knowledge as a qualifier. In anuvyavasāya, the mind is conjunctively related to the knowing self in which the vyavasāya inheres; and, anuvyavasāya, which is subsequent introspective awareness, amounts to the appropriation of the vyavasāya as a conscious (intentional) property of the knowing subject. This means, knowing is known in a secondary act of retrospection.

Argument from miracles

The argument from miracles is an argument for the existence of God that relies on the belief that events witnessed and described as miracles – i.e. as events not explicable by natural or scientific laws – indicate the intervention of the supernatural.

One example of this argument is the Christological argument: the claim that historical evidence proves that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that this can only be explained if God exists. Another is the claim that many of the Qur'an's prophecies have been fulfilled and that this too can only be explained if God (Allah) exists.

Defenders of the argument include C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton and William of Ockham.

Buddhist atomism

Buddhist atomism is a school of atomistic Buddhist philosophy that flourished on the Indian subcontinent during two major periods. During the first phase, which began to develop prior to the 6th century BCE, Buddhist atomism had a very qualitative, Aristotelian-style atomic theory. This form of atomism identifies four kinds of atoms, corresponding to the standard elements. Each of these elements has a specific property, such as solidity or motion, and performs a specific function in mixtures, such as providing support or causing growth. Like the Hindus and Jains, the Buddhists were able to integrate a theory of atomism with their logical presuppositions.

According to Noa Ronkin, this kind of atomism was developed in the Sarvastivada and Sautrantika schools for whom material reality can be: reduced to discrete momentary atoms, namely, the four primary elements. These momentary atoms, through their spatial arrangement and by their concatenation with prior and posterior atoms of the same type, create the illusion of persisting things as they appear in our everyday experience. Atomic reality is thus understood first and foremost as change, though not in the sense of a thing x transforming into y. That is, change itself is the very nature of atomic reality rather than its being made of enduring substances the qualities of which undergo change. Atoms that appear to endure are, in fact, a series of momentary events that ascend and fall in rapid succession and in accordance with causal relations. Unlike the atoms of the Vaifesika, the atoms of the Sarvastivada-Vaibhasika and the Sautrantika are not permanent: they come into being and cease from one moment to the next going through a process of birth, continuance, decay and destruction. Yet the material compounds that consist of these atoms are real, if only in the minimal, phenomenological sense.The second phase of Buddhist atomism, which flourished in the 7th century CE, was very different from the first. Indian Buddhist philosophers, including Dharmakirti and Dignāga, considered atoms to be point-sized, durationless, and made of energy. In discussing Buddhist atomism, Stcherbatsky writes:

... The Buddhists denied the existence of substantial matter altogether. Movement consists for them of moments, it is a staccato movement, momentary flashes of a stream of energy... "Everything is evanescent," ... says the Buddhist, because there is no stuff ... Both systems [Sānkhya and later Indian Buddhism] share in common a tendency to push the analysis of Existence up to its minutest, last elements which are imagined as absolute qualities, or things possessing only one unique quality. They are called "qualities" (guna-dharma) in both systems in the sense of absolute qualities, a kind of atomic, or intra-atomic, energies of which the empirical things are composed. Both systems, therefore, agree in denying the objective reality of the categories of Substance and Quality, ... and of the relation of Inference uniting them. There is in Sānkhya philosophy no separate existence of qualities. What we call quality is but a particular manifestation of a subtle entity. To every new unit of quality corresponds a subtle quantum of matter which is called guna "quality", but represents a subtle substantive entity. The same applies to early Buddhism where all qualities are substantive ... or, more precisely, dynamic entities, although they are also called dharmas ("qualities").

Buddhist logico-epistemology

Buddhist logico-epistemology is a term used in Western scholarship for pramāṇa-vāda (doctrine of proof) and Hetu-vidya (science of causes). Pramāṇa-vāda is an epistemological study of the nature of knowledge; Hetu-vidya is a system of logic. These models developed in India during the 5th through 7th centuries.

The early Buddhists texts show that the historical Buddha was familiar with certain rules of reasoning used for debating purposes and made use of these against his opponents. He also seems to have held certain ideas about epistemology and reasoning, though he did not put forth a logico-epistemological system. The structure of debating rules and processes can be seen in the early Theravada text the Kathāvatthu.

The first Buddhist thinker to discuss logical and epistemic issues systematically was Vasubandhu in his Vāda-vidhi ("A Method for Argumentation"), who was influenced by the Hindu work on reasoning, the Nyāya-sūtra.A mature system of Buddhist logic and epistemology was founded by the Buddhist scholar Dignāga (c. 480–540 CE) in his magnum opus, the Pramāṇa-samuccaya. Dharmakirti further developed this system with several innovations. Dharmakirti's Pramanavarttika ('Commentary on Valid Cognition') became the main source of epistemology and reasoning in Tibetan Buddhism.

Buddhist philosophy

Buddhist philosophy refers to the philosophical investigations and systems of inquiry that developed among various Buddhist schools in India following the death of the Buddha and later spread throughout Asia. The Buddhist path combines both philosophical reasoning and meditation. The Buddhist traditions present a multitude of Buddhist paths to liberation, and Buddhist thinkers in India and subsequently in East Asia have covered topics as varied as phenomenology, ethics, ontology, epistemology, logic and philosophy of time in their analysis of these paths.

Early Buddhism was based on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs (ayatana) and the Buddha seems to have retained a skeptical distance from certain metaphysical questions, refusing to answer them because they were not conducive to liberation but led instead to further speculation. A recurrent theme in Buddhist philosophy has been the reification of concepts, and the subsequent return to the Buddhist Middle Way.Particular points of Buddhist philosophy have often been the subject of disputes between different schools of Buddhism. These elaborations and disputes gave rise to various schools in early Buddhism of Abhidharma, and to the Mahayana traditions and schools of the prajnaparamita, Madhyamaka, Buddha-nature and Yogacara.

Cataphatic theology

Cataphatic theology or kataphatic theology is theology that uses "positive" terminology to describe or refer to the divine – specifically, God – i.e. terminology that describes or refers to what the divine is believed to be, in contrast to the "negative" terminology used in apophatic theology to indicate what it is believed the divine is not.


Dharmakīrti (fl. c. 6th or 7th century) was an influential Indian Buddhist philosopher who worked at Nālandā. He was one of the key scholars of epistemology (pramana) in Buddhist philosophy, and is associated with the Yogācāra and Sautrāntika schools. He was also one of the primary theorists of Buddhist atomism. His works influenced the scholars of Mīmāṃsā, Nyaya and Shaivism schools of Hindu philosophy as well as scholars of Jainism.Dharmakīrti's Pramāṇavārttika, his largest and most important work, was very influential in India and Tibet as a central text on pramana ('valid knowledge instruments') and was widely commented on by various Indian and Tibetan scholars. His texts remain part of studies in the monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism.

Dharmapala of Nalanda

Dharmapāla (traditional Chinese: 護法, pinyin: Hùfǎ) (530-561 CE). A Buddhist scholar, he was one of the main teachers of the Yogacara school in India. He was a contemporary of Bhavaviveka (清辯, c. 490-570 CE.), with whom he debated.Xuanzang, the famous Chinese pilgrim, tells that Dharmapāla was born in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. He was a son of a high official, and betrothed to a daughter of the king, but escaped on the eve of the wedding feast, entered the order, studied all views, from Hinayana as well as Mahayana, and attained to reverence and distinction. He studied in Nalanda as a student of Dignāga. Later he succeeded him as abbot of the University. He spent his last years near the Bodhi tree, where he died.Dharmapāla developed the theory that the external things do not exist and consciousness only exists. He explains the manifestation of the phenomenal world as arising from the eight consciousness.Through the teachings of his disciple Silabhadra to Xuanzang, Dharmapāla’s tenets expanded greatly in China. His works survive in Chinese translations.


Geshe (Tib. dge bshes, short for dge-ba'i bshes-gnyen, "virtuous friend"; translation of Skt. kalyāņamitra) or geshema is a Tibetan Buddhist academic degree for monks and nuns. The degree is emphasized primarily by the Gelug lineage, but is also awarded in the Sakya and Bön traditions. The geshema degree is the same as a geshe degree, but is called a geshema degree because it is awarded to women.


Haribhadra Suri was a Svetambara mendicant Jain leader and author. There are multiple contradictory dates assigned to his birth. According to tradition, he lived c. 459–529 CE. However, in 1919, a Jain monk named Jinavijayi pointed out that given his familiarity with Dharmakirti, a more likely choice would be sometime after 650. In his writings, Haribhadra identifies himself as a student of Jinabhadra and Jinadatta of the Vidyadhara Kula. There are several, somewhat contradictory, accounts of his life. He wrote several books on Yoga, such as the Yogadṛṣṭisamuccaya and on comparative religion, outlining and analyzing the theories of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.

Index of Eastern philosophy articles

This is a list of articles in Eastern philosophy.

Indian logic

The development of Indian logic dates back to the anviksiki of Medhatithi Gautama (c. 6th century BCE) the Sanskrit grammar rules of Pāṇini (c. 5th century BCE); the Vaisheshika school's analysis of atomism (c. 6th century BCE to 2nd century BCE); the analysis of inference by Gotama (c. 6th century BC to 2nd century CE), founder of the Nyaya school of Hindu philosophy; and the tetralemma of Nagarjuna (c. 2nd century CE).

Indian logic stands as one of the three original traditions of logic, alongside the Greek and the Chinese logic. The Indian tradition continued to develop through to early modern times, in the form of the Navya-Nyāya school of logic.

Natural evil

Natural evil is evil for which “no non-divine agent can be held morally responsible for its occurrence.” By contrast, moral evil is “caused by human activity.” The existence of natural evil challenges belief in the omnibenevolence or the omnipotence of deities and the existence of deities including God.


Pramana (Sanskrit: प्रमाण, Pramāṇa) literally means "proof" and "means of knowledge". It refers to epistemology in Indian philosophies, and is one of the key, much debated fields of study in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, since ancient times. It is a theory of knowledge, and encompasses one or more reliable and valid means by which human beings gain accurate, true knowledge. The focus of Pramana is how correct knowledge can be acquired, how one knows, how one doesn't, and to what extent knowledge pertinent about someone or something can be acquired.Ancient and medieval Indian texts identify six pramanas as correct means of accurate knowledge and to truths: perception (Sanskrit pratyakṣa), inference (anumāna), comparison and analogy (upamāna), postulation, derivation from circumstances (arthāpatti), non-perception, negative/cognitive proof (anupalabdhi) and word, testimony of past or present reliable experts (Śabda). Each of these are further categorized in terms of conditionality, completeness, confidence and possibility of error, by each school of Indian philosophies.

The various schools of Indian philosophies vary on how many of these six are epistemically reliable and valid means to knowledge. For example, Carvaka school of Hinduism holds that only one (perception) is a reliable source of knowledge, Buddhism holds two (perception, inference) are valid means, Jainism holds three (perception, inference and testimony), while Mimamsa and Advaita Vedanta schools of Hinduism hold all six are useful and can be reliable means to knowledge. The various schools of Indian philosophy have debated whether one of the six forms of pramana can be derived from other, and the relative uniqueness of each. For example, Buddhism considers Buddha and other "valid persons", "valid scriptures" and "valid minds" as indisputable, but that such testimony is a form of perception and inference pramanas.The science and study of Pramanas is called Nyaya.


The Pramāṇa-samuccaya ("Compendium of Validities") is a philosophical treatise by Dignāga, an Indian Buddhist logician and epistemologist who lived from c. 480 to c. 540 CE. The work comprises an outline in the highly elliptical verse format typical of early Indian philosophical texts, and an explanatory auto-commentary.


Praśastapāda (Sanskrit: प्रशस्तपाद) was an ancient Indian philosopher. He wrote the Padārtha-dharma-saṅgraha (Collection of Properties of Matter) and a commentary, titled Praśastapāda Bhāṣya , on the Vaisheshika Sutras of Kanada (Circa 6th Century BCE), both texts are comprehensive books in physics covering a range from general physics to quantum physics. In these texts Prashastapada discusses the properties of motion. Ganganath Jha had translated Praśastapāda Bhāṣya which translation was published in 1916. Prashasta or Praśasta (Sanskrit: प्रशस्त) means praised or praiseworthy, lauded or laudable, commended or commendable or eulogized.Dayananda Saraswati writes that the Sutras of Kanāda and Padārthadharmasaṅgraha of Praśastapāda do not show much influence of the Nyaya System. Praśastapāda Bhāṣya is actually not a commentary but an independent compendium of the tenets of the Vaisheshika School. Udayanacharya of the Navya-Nyāya School, the author of Lakṣaṇāvalī which gives the definitions of Vaiśeṣika terms, and Nyāya Kusumanjali which is a systematic account of Nyaya Theism, who also belonged to Mithila, had written Kiranavali which is a commentary on Praśastapāda Bhāṣya .Praśastapāda can be tentatively dated to the second half of the 6th century C.E. The Vaiśeṣika philosophy recognizes twenty-four gunas or qualities that are inherent in substances; these include seventeen gunas listed by Kanada and seven gunas – gurutva (heaviness), dravatva (fluidity), sneha (viscidity), dharma (merit), adharma (demerit), shabda (sound) and samskara (faculty) - added by Praśastapāda. Vyomavati of Vyomaśekhara, Nyayakandali of Shridhara, Kiranavali of Udayana and Lilavati of Śrīvatsa are well known commentaries on his works.Praśastapāda refers to a type of perception that is the simple intuition ( alochana ) of the proper form ( svarupa ) of an entity, which is the apprehension of an undifferentiated ( avibhktam ) whole arising from cognition of its specific universals. This is the preliminary stage. He differs from Dignāga for whom the determinates of cognitions are subjective constructs imposed upon the given, and constructive cognition is not a perception; Praśastapāda, who was a realist, avers that the determinates are objective constituents of reality and their conceptual co-relates are not inter-subjective fictions. Praśastapāda by redefining substance as per se a possessor of attributes opened new turf by separating the cosmological from the logical dimensions of concepts. His commentary overshadowed the Vaisheshika Sutras and became the main vehicle for later commentaries. Praśastapāda describes the dissolution of the earth, water, air and fire in terms of their atomic constituents but excludes space because space is non-atomic. With regard to the conjoining and disjoining of atoms he includes a higher will or order as the guiding principle of universal dissolution which over-rides the natural karma of atoms.Kaṇāda does not directly refer to Ishvara (God) but Praśastapāda sees Ishvara as the cause of the universe but does not explain how God creates.

Richard Hayes (professor)

Richard Hayes (aka Dharmacārī Dayāmati) (born 1945) is an Emeritus professor of Buddhist philosophy at the University of New Mexico. He received his Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Toronto in 1982. Hayes moved to Canada in 1967 in order to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War.Hayes is a noted scholar in the field of Buddhist Sanskrit, specializing in the study of Dharmakīrti and Dignāga.Hayes was formerly Professor of Sanskrit at McGill University in Canada. He joined the University of New Mexico in the fall of 2003. and retired in 2014.

For many years Hayes was moderator and a prolific contributor to the now defunct online discussion group Buddha-L. Buddha-L attracted a mix of scholars and amateurs and hosted vigorous and at times acrimonious debates.

As well as teaching Buddhism and Sanskrit, Hayes is himself a Buddhist and a Quaker. In a brief blog bio he says he was "Initiated as a dharmachari with the name Dayāmati into the Triratna Buddhist Order on January 26, 2000. I am also a member of Albuquerque Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Hayes is a noted essayist (Land of No Buddha) and blogger (New City of Friends, Out of a Living Silence) of considerable wit and clarity. He has expressed vehement political opinions, and been critical in particular of Republican politicians.

Svatantrika–Prasaṅgika distinction

The Svatantrika–Prasaṅgika distinction is a doctrinal distinction made within Tibetan Buddhism between two stances regarding the use of logic and the meaning of conventional truth within the presentation of Madhyamaka.

Svātantrika is a category of Madhyamaka viewpoints attributed primarily to the 6th-century Indian scholar Bhāviveka. Bhāviveka criticised Buddhapalitas abstinence from syllogistic reasoning in his commentary on Nagarjuna. Following the example of the influential logician Dignāga, Bhāviveka used autonomous syllogistic reasoning (svātantra) syllogisms in the explanation of Madhyamaka. To have a common ground with essentialist opponents, and make it possible to use syllogistic reasoning in discussion with those essentialists, Bhāviveka argued that things can be said to exist conventionally 'according to characteristics'. This makes it possible to take the mere object as the point of departure for the discussion on inherent existence. From there, it is possible to explain how these things are ultimately empty of inherent existence.Prasaṅgika views are based on Candrakīrti's critique of Bhāviveka, arguing for a sole reliance on prasaṅga, "logic consequence," a method of reductio ad absurdum which is used by all Madhyamikas, using syllogisms to point out the absurd and impossible logical consequences of holding essentialist views. According to Candrakīrti, the mere object can only be discussed if both parties perceive it in the same way. As a consequence (according to Candrakirti) svatantrika reasoning is impossible in a debate, since the opponents argue from two irreconcilable points of view, namely a mistaken essentialist perception, and a correct non-essentialist perception. This leaves no ground for a discussion starting from a similarly perceived object of discussion, and also makes impossible the use of syllogistic reasoning to convince the opponent.Candrakīrti's works had no influence on Indian and early Tibetan Madhayamaka, but started to rise to prominence in Tibet in the 12th century. Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), the founder of the Gelugpa school and the most outspoken proponent of the distinction, followed Candrakīrti in his rejection of Bhavaviveka's arguments. According to Tsongkhapa, the Svātantrikas do negate intrinsic nature ultimately, but "accept that things conventionally have intrinsic character or intrinsic nature." Tsongkhapa, commenting on Candrakirti, says that he "refute[s] essential or intrinsic nature even conventionally." For Tsongkhapa, as well as for the Karma Kagyu school, the differences with Bhavaviveka are of major importance.Established by Lama Tsongkhapa, Candrakīrti's view replaced the Yogācāra-Mādhyamika approach of Śāntarakṣita (725–788), who synthesized Madhyamaka, Yogacara and Buddhist logic in a powerful and influential synthesis called Yogācāra-Mādhyamika. Śāntarakṣita established Buddhism in Tibet, and his Yogācāra-Mādhyamika was the primary philosophic viewpoint until the 12th century, when the works of Candrakīrti were first translated into Tibetan. In this synthesis, conventional truth or reality is explained and analysed in terms of the Yogacara system, while the ultimate truth is presented in terms of the Madhyamaka system. While Śāntarakṣita's synthesis reflects the final development of Indian Madhyamaka and post-dates Candrakīrti, Tibetan doxographers ignored the nuances of Śāntarakṣita's synthesis, grouping his approach together with Bhāviveka's, due to their usage of syllogistic reasonings to explain and defend Madhyamaka.After the 17th century civil war in Tibet and the Mongol intervention which put the Gelugpa school in the center of power, Tsongkhapa's views dominated Tibetan Buddhism until the 20th century. The Rimé movement revived alternate teachings, providing alternatives to Tsongkhapa's interpretation, and reintroducing Śāntarakṣita's nuances. For the Sakya and Nyingma schools, which participated in the Rimé movement, the Svatantrika–Prasaṅgika distinction is generally viewed to be of lesser importance. For these schools, the key distinction between these viewpoints is whether one works with assertions about the ultimate nature of reality, or if one refrains completely from doing so. If one works with assertions, then that is a Svātantrika approach. Refraining from doing so is a Prāsangika approach.


Tattvacintāmaṇi is a treatise in Sanskrit authored by 12th-century CE Indian logician and philosopher Gangesa Upadhyaya (also known as Gangesvara Upadhyaya). The title may be translated into English as "A Thought-jewel of Truth." The treatise is also known as Pramāṇa-cintāmaṇi ("A Thought-jewel of Valid Knowledge").The treatise introduced a new era in the history of Indian logic. Satis Chandra Vidyabhusana in his authoritative 681-page history of Indian logic divided the millennia long history of Indian logic into three sometimes overlapping periods: Ancient period (650 BCE – 100 CE), Medieval period (100 CE – 1200 CE) and Modern period (from 900 CE). He also identified certain standard work as typical representative of each of these periods. Tattvacinthamani of Gangesa is the text identified as the standard work of the Modern period in the history of Indian logic, the standard works for the earlier periods being Nyāya Sūtra by Akṣapāda Gautama (Ancient period) and Pramāṇa-samuccaya by Dignāga (Medieval period). The fact that Tattvacintāmaṇi was highly popular is attested by the appearance of a large number of commentaries that have been produced in the centuries that followed the appearance of the book. It has been estimated that while the original text of Tattvacintāmaṇi has about 300 pages, all the commentaries put together contain about a million pages.

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