Six Ways of Knowing as per Hindu philosophy

The five senses are doorkeepers which bring knowledge of the outer world to the mind. There are many things which we know indirectly without the direct aid of the senses.

Hindu sages have classified the means of valid knowledge into six broad groups called pramānas. The knowledge that we gain through these means should be foolproof.

The six means of knowing are:

  1. Pratyaksha — Direct perception by sense contact.
  2. Anumāna — Inference by previous experience.
  3. Sabda — Verbal testimony of the Vedas.
  4. Upamāna — Knowing by example.
  5. Arthāpatti — Conjecture from insignificant information.
  6. Anupalabdhi — Absence of a thing.

Schools of Philosophy and the Pramānas accepted by them:

Cārvākas:

  1. Direct perception

Bhuddhists:

  1. Perception
  2. Inference

Dualists (Madhvāchārya)

  1. Perception
  2. Verbal testimony

Vaiseshikas:

  1. Perception
  2. Inference

Jains:

  1. Perception
  2. Inference
  3. Verbal testimony

Qualified Non-dualists of Ramanuja:

  1. Perception
  2. Inference
  3. Verbal testimony

Sāmkhyans:

  1. Perception
  2. Inference
  3. Verbal testimony

Nyāyā People:

  1. Perception
  2. Inference
  3. Verbal testimony
  4. Knowing by example

Pūrva Mimāmsākas of Prabhākara Mishra:

  1. Perception
  2. Inference
  3. Verbal testimony
  4. Example
  5. Conjecture

Pūrva Mimāmsākas of Kumārila Bhatta:

  1. Perception
  2. Inference
  3. Verbal testimony
  4. Example
  5. Conjecture
  6. Absence

Advaitins of Sankara:

  1. Perception
  2. Inference
  3. Verbal testimony
  4. Example
  5. Conjecture
  6. Absence

***Extracts from Insights into Vedanta — TATTVABODHA  by Swami Nirmalananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, 2005

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