The reason for the propagation for Nyaya Philosophy:

Absolute truth is one without a second . But there are differences in the knowledge of Absolute truth. Sometimes the philosophy seems coherent(logical and consistent) and sometimes it appears there is some confusion. We have tried to present the differences in a coherent manner so that one is not confused why there different philosophies were propagated.

The reason can be found in Padma Puran Uttara Khanda Chapters 235-236:

Parvati said, “O sinless one, tell me about the tamasic scriptures that were composed by the brahmanas bereft of devotion  to the Lord. O Lord of the demigods Please tell me their names in sequence.

Lord Shiva replied, “O goddess, please listen. In sequence I shall tell you about the tamasic texts. Simply by remembering  them even wise persons become deluded. First,I Myself proclaimed the Shiva, pasupata, and related texts. After my power had  entered him, Kanada preached the Vaisesika Philosophy. Similarly, Gautama preached Nyaya,and Kapila preached the atheistic  Sankhya. Brihaspati preached the much-censured Charvaka doctrine, and Buddha proclaimed Buddhism to destroy the demons.

The entire conversation is not presented here. For more details please click the below link:

Conversation between Shiva and Parvati

So in a nutshell as per scriptures Nyaya philosophy was propagated by Shiva on the will of Narayana to attract the atheists.

Note: Some philosophical aspects are accepted by bonafide sampradayas as well.


Nyaya : An introduction:

Nyaya (न्याय) is a Sanskrit word which means method, rule, specially a collection of general or universal rules.In some contexts, it means model, axiom, plan, legal proceeding, judicial sentence, or judgment. In the theory of logic, and Indian texts discussing it, the term also refers to an argument consisting of an enthymeme (an argument in which one premise is not explicitly stated) or sometimes for any syllogism(an instance of a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two given or assumed propositions (premises); a common or middle term is present in the two premises but not in the conclusion, which may be invalid (e.g. all dogs are animals; all animals have four legs; therefore all dogs have four legs )).

In philosophical context, Nyaya encompasses propriety, logic and method.

Sixteen Padārthas or Categories:

The Nyaya metaphysics recognizes sixteen padarthas or categories  These sixteen categories are pramāṇa (valid means of knowledge), prameya (objects of valid knowledge), saṁśaya (doubt), prayojana (aim), dṛṣṭānta (example), siddhānta(conclusion), avayava (members of syllogism), tarka (hypothetical reasoning), nirṇaya (settlement), vāda (discussion), jalpa (wrangling), vitaṇḍā (cavilling), hetvābhāsa (fallacy),chala (quibbling), jāti (sophisticated refutation) and nigrahasthāna (point of defeat)

The Naiyayikas (the Nyaya scholars) accepted four valid means (pramaṇa) of obtaining valid knowledge (pramana) – perception (pratyakṣa), inference (anumāna), comparison (upamāna) and word/testimony of reliable sources (śabda). The Nyaya scholars, along with those from other schools of Hinduism, also developed a theory of error, to methodically establish means to identify errors and the process by which errors are made in human pursuit of knowledge. These include Saṁśaya (समस्या, problems, inconsistencies, doubts) and Viparyaya (विपर्यय, contrariness, errors)which can be corrected or resolved by a systematic process of Tarka ( तर्क, reasoning, technique)


Pratyakṣa (perception) occupies the foremost position in the Nyaya epistemology. Perception can be of two types, laukika (ordinary) and alaukika (extraordinary). Ordinary perception is defined by Akṣapāda Gautama in his Nyaya Sutra (I,i.4) as a ‘non-erroneous cognition which is produced by the intercourse of sense-organs with the objects’.

Indian texts identify four requirements for correct perception: 

Indriyarthasannikarsa (direct experience by one’s sensory organ(s) with the object, whatever is being studied), Avyapadesya (non-verbal; correct perception is not through hearsay, according to ancient Indian scholars, where one’s sensory organ relies on accepting or rejecting someone else’s perception), Avyabhicara (does not wander; correct perception does not change, nor is it the result of deception because one’s sensory organ or means of observation is drifting, defective, suspect) and Vyavasayatmaka (definite; correct perception excludes judgments of doubt, either because of one’s failure to observe all the details, or because one is mixing inference with observation and observing what one wants to observe, or not observing what one does not want to observe).

Ordinary perception to Nyaya scholars was based on direct experience of reality by eyes, ears, nose, touch and taste.

Extraordinary perception included yogyata or pratibha (intuition),samanyalaksanapratyaksa (a form of induction from perceived specifics to a universal), and jnanalaksanapratyaksa (a form of perception of prior processes and previous states of a ‘topic of study’ by observing its current state).

Determinate and indeterminate perception

The Naiyyayika maintains two modes or stages in perception. The first is called nirvikalpa (indeterminate), when one just perceives an object without being able to know its features, and the second savikalpa (determinate), when one is able to clearly know an object. All laukika and alaukika pratyakshas are savikalpa, but it is necessarily preceded by an earlier stage when it is indeterminate. Vātsāyana says that if an object is perceived with its name we have determinate perception but if it is perceived without a name, we have indeterminate perception. Jayanta Bhatta says that indeterminate perception apprehends substance, qualities and actions and universals as separate and indistinct something and also it does not have any association with name, while determinate perception aprrehends all these together with a name. There is yet another stage called Pratyabhijñā, when one is able to re-recognise something on the basis of memory.

Inference :

Anumāna (inference) is one of the most important contributions of the Nyaya. It can be of two types: inference for oneself (Svarthanumana, where one does not need any formal procedure, and at the most the last three of their 5 steps), and inference for others (Parathanumana, which requires a systematic methodology of 5 steps). Inference can also be classified into 3 types: Purvavat (inferring an unperceived effect from a perceived cause), Sheshavat (inferring an unperceived cause from a perceived effect) and Samanyatodrishta (when inference is not based on causation but on uniformity of co-existence). A detailed anaysis of error is also given, explaining when anumana could be false.

Theory of inference

The methodology of inference involves a combination of induction and deduction by moving from particular to particular via generality. It has five steps, as in the example shown:

  • There is fire on the hill (called Pratijñā, required to be proved)
  • Because there is smoke there (called Hetu, reason)
  • Wherever there is smoke, there is fire, e.g. in a kitchen (called Udāhārana, example of vyāpti)
  • The hill has smoke that is pervaded by fire (called Upanaya, reaffirmation or application)
  • Therefore there is fire on the hill (called Nigamana, conclusion)

In Nyāya terminology for this example, the hill would be called as paksha (minor term), the fire is called as sādhya (major term), the smoke is called as hetu, and the relationship between the smoke and the fire is called as vyapti (middle term). Hetu further has five characteristics: (1) It must be present in the Paksha, (2) It must be present in all positive instances, (3) It must be absent in all negative instances, (4) It must not incompatible with the minor term or Paksha and (5) All other contradictions by other means of knowledge should be absent. The fallacies in Anumana (hetvābhasa) may occur due to the following:


  1. Asiddha: It is the unproved hetu that results in this fallacy. [Paksadharmata]
    • Ashrayasiddha: If Paksha [minor term] itself is unreal, then there cannot be locus of the hetu. e.g. The sky-lotus is fragrant, because it is a lotus like any other lotus.
    • Svarupasiddha: Hetu cannot exist in paksa at all. E.g. Sound is a quality, because it is visible.
    • Vyapyatvasiddha: Conditional hetu. `Wherever there is fire, there is smoke’. The presence of smoke is due to wet fuel.
  2. Savyabhichara: This is the fallacy of irregular hetu.
    • Sadharana: The hetu is too wide. It is present in both sapaksa and vipaksa. `The hill has fire because it is knowable’.
    • Asadharana: The hetu is too narrow. It is only present in the Paksha, it is not present in the Sapaksa and in the Vipaksha. `Sound is eternal because it is audible’.
    • Anupasamhari: Here the hetu is non-exclusive. The hetu is all-inclusive and leaves nothing by way of sapaksha or vipaksha. e.g. ‘All things are non-ternal, because they are knowable’.
  3. Satpratipaksa: Here the hetu is contradicted by another hetu. If both have equal force, then nothing follows. ‘Sound is eternal, because it is audible’, and ‘Sound is non-eternal, because it is produced’. Here ‘audible’ is counterbalanced by ‘produced’ and both are of equal force.
  4. Badhita: When another proof (as by perception) definitely contradicts and disproves the middle term (hetu). ‘Fire is cold because it is a substance’.
  5. Viruddha: Instead of proving something it is proving the opposite. ‘Sound is eternal because it is produced’.

Comparison, analogy:

Upamāna (उपमान) means comparison and analogy.  Upamana, states Lochtefeld, may be explained with the example of a traveller who has never visited lands or islands with endemic population of wildlife. He or she is told, by someone who has been there, that in those lands you see an animal that sort of looks like a cow, grazes like cow but is different from a cow in such and such way. Such use of analogy and comparison is, state the Indian epistemologists, a valid means of conditional knowledge, as it helps the traveller identify the new animal later. The subject of comparison is formally called upameyam, the object of comparison is called upamanam, while the attribute(s) are identified as samanya. Thus, explains Monier Williams , if a boy says “her face is like the moon in charmingness”, “her face” is upameyam, the moon is upamanam, and charmingness is samanya. The 7th century text Bhaṭṭikāvya in verses 10.28 through 10.63 discusses many types of comparisons and analogies, identifying when this epistemic method is more useful and reliable, and when it is not.  In various ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism, 32 types of Upanama and their value in epistemology are debated.

Word, testimony:

Śabda (शब्द) means relying on word, testimony of past or present reliable experts . Hiriyanna explains Sabda-pramana as a concept which means testimony of a reliable and trustworthy person (āptavākya). The schools of Hinduism which consider it epistemically valid suggest that a human being needs to know numerous facts, and with the limited time and energy available, he can learn only a fraction of those facts and truths directly. He must rely on others, his parent, family, friends, teachers, ancestors and kindred members of society to rapidly acquire and share knowledge and thereby enrich each other’s lives. This means of gaining proper knowledge is either spoken or written, but through Sabda (words)The reliability of the source is important, and legitimate knowledge can only come from the Sabda of reliable sources.

The disagreement between the schools of Hinduism has been on how to establish reliability. Some schools, such as Carvaka, state that this is never possible, and therefore Sabda is not a proper pramana. Other schools debate means to establish reliability. Therefore bonafide sampradayas gives on sabda as transferred from bonafide guru parampara.

Testimony can be of two types, Vaidika (Vedic), which are the words of the four sacred Vedas, and Laukika, or words and writings of trustworthy human beings. Vaidika testimony is preferred over Laukika testimony. Laukika-sourced knowledge must be questioned and revised as more trustworthy knowledge becomes available.

Nyaya on God and salvation

Early Naiyyayikas wrote very little about Ishvara (literally, the Supreme Soul). Evidence available so far suggests that early Nyaya scholars were non-theistic or atheists.

Later, and over time, Nyaya scholars tried to apply some of their epistemological insights and methodology to the question: does God exist? Some offered arguments against and some in favor.

Arguments that God does not exist

In Nyayasutra’s Book 4, Chapter 1, verses 19-21, postulates God exists, states a consequence, then presents contrary evidence, and from contradiction concludes that the postulate must be invalid.

The Lord is the cause, since we see that human action lacks results.

This is not so since, as a matter of fact, no result is accomplished without human action.

Since this is efficacious, the reason lacks force.

— Nyaya Sutra, IV.1.19 – IV.1.21 

A literal interpretation of the three verses suggests that Nyaya school rejected the need for a God for the efficacy of human activity. Since human action and results do not require assumption or need of the existence of God, sutra IV.1.21 is seen as a criticism of the “existence of God and theism postulate”.  The context of the above verses includes various efficient causes. Nyayasutra verses IV.1.22 to IV.1.24, for example, examine the hypothesis that “random chance” explains the world, after these Indian scholars had rejected God as the efficient cause.

Arguments that God exists:

It was promoted by later nyaya scholars.

Udayana’s Nyayakusumanjali gave the following nine arguments to prove the existence of creative God:

  • Kāryāt (lit. “from effect”): The world is an effect, all effects have efficient cause, hence the world must have an efficient cause. That efficient cause is God.
  • Āyojanāt (lit., from combination): Atoms are inactive. To form a substance, they must combine. To combine, they must move. Nothing moves without intelligence and source of motion. Since we perceive substance, some intelligent source must have moved the inactive atoms. That intelligent source is God.
  • Dhŗtyādéḥ (lit., from support): Something sustains this world. Something destroys this world. Unintelligent Adrsta (unseen principles of nature) cannot do this. We must infer that something intelligent is behind. That is God.
  • Padāt (lit., from word): Each word has meaning and represents an object. This representational power of words has a cause. That cause is God.
  • Pratyayataḥ (lit, from faith): Vedas are infallible. Human beings are fallible. Infallible Vedas cannot have been authored by fallible human beings. Someone authored the infallible Vedas. That author is God.
  • Shrutéḥ (lit., from scriptures): The infallible Vedas testify to the existence of God. Thus God exists.
  • Vākyāt (lit., from precepts): Vedas deal with moral laws, the rights and the wrongs. These are divine. Divine injunctions and prohibitions can only come from a divine creator of laws. That divine creator is God.
  • Samkhyāviśeşāt (lit., from the specialty of numbers): By rules of perception, only number “one” can ever be directly perceived. All other numbers other than one, are inferences and concepts created by consciousness. When man is born, his mind is incapable of inferences and concepts. He develops consciousness as he develops. The consciousness development is self-evident and proven because of man’s ability with perfect numerical conception. This ability to conceive numerically perfect concepts must depend on something. That something is divine consciousness. So God must exist.
  • Adŗşţāt (lit., from the unforeseen): Everybody reaps the fruits of his own actions. Merits and demerits accrue from his own actions. An Unseen Power keeps a balance sheet of the merit and demerit. But since this Unseen Power is Unintelligent, it needs intelligent guidance to work. That intelligent guide is God.




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