Indian Perspectives on Knowledge

The Indian perspective on knowledge is rooted in the ancient Indian philosophical and spiritual traditions, which have evolved over thousands of years. One of the key concepts in Indian thought is the idea of "Vedanta," which is the ultimate goal of knowledge and self-realization.

Indian Perspectives on Knowledge

There are six orthodox schools of thought in India that accept the Vedas' status as a source of divine revelation. The Jains, heterodox Buddhists, and materialists did not acknowledge its authority. These many schools of thought spoke extensively about the issue of knowledge, its origins, validity, and its veracity.

Yogic Knowledge

Indian spirituality is deeply rooted in ancient Indian philosophical and spiritual traditions, which have evolved over thousands of years. One of the key components of Indian spirituality is the practice of yoga, a spiritual discipline that aims to bring about a union of the individual self with the divine. In Indian philosophy, yoga is not just a physical practice, but it also includes meditational and philosophical practices. The ultimate goal of yoga is to achieve self-realization and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Indian spiritual texts like the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and many others, discuss the various techniques of yoga and the ultimate goal of self-realization.

One of the most prominent forms of yoga is "Raja Yoga," also known as "Royal Yoga," which emphasizes the cultivation of the mind and the attainment of self-realization through meditation. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali considered the foundation text of Raja Yoga, outlines the eight limbs of yoga, including ethical guidelines, physical postures, breath control, and meditation. Another important form of yoga is "Bhakti Yoga," which is a form of yoga that emphasizes the cultivation of devotion and love for the divine. Bhakti Yoga involves practices such as prayer, devotional singing, and the repetition of the divine name.

"Karma Yoga" is another form of yoga that emphasizes the performance of selfless actions and detachment from the fruits of one's actions. Karma Yoga is considered the most effective way to purify and transform the individual's karma, leading to liberation. In addition to yoga, Indian spirituality also includes meditation, a technique for achieving a state of deep concentration and inner peace. Meditation is considered an essential tool for self-realization and liberation and is integral to many Indian spiritual traditions.

Materialism: Orthodox and Heterodox Philosophical Views of Knowledge

In the Classical and Medieval eras, epistemological debates primarily focused on two topics. Despite the schools’ significant contributions to Indian epistemology, there were differences in the number of Pramanas, sources or grounds of knowledge. The three periods of Indian philosophy are (I) the Vedic period, (II) the Upanishad period, and (III) the post-Vedic period. The so-called orthodox systems developed throughout the post-Vedic period, a time of methodical development. Six thinking systems, or darsanas, gained greater notoriety than the others: the Nyaya of Gautama, the Vaisksika of Kinda, the Siimkhya of Kapila, the Yoga of Patanjali, the Mrva Mimamsa of Jamini, and the Uttara Mimamsa, or the Vedanta of Badarayana. As they all recognize the primacy of the Vedas, they are all Brahmanical systems. When compared to academic reasons, these schools placed a higher priority on spiritual experience. Jains, Buddhists, and Materialists were those who rejected the Vedas

Charvaka Materialist School's Views of Knowledge

They were known as Chrirviika, and their philosophy that this world is all there is known as Lokayata. Even in India, where spiritual notions predominate the culture, others were suspicious of such ideals and subscribed to a materialist view of the universe. The materialists rejected the validity of inference and abstract ideas, rejected the idea of an afterlife, and believed that sense perception is the only reliable source of information. They emphasized the four conventional elements of earth, water, fire, air, and the senses. For the Charvaka, consciousness is only a change of these physical components. According to the Chirvska school's (materialist) epistemological philosophy, perception (Pratyaksa) is the sole kind of verifiable knowledge.

The Nyaya School

Atomistic pluralism and logical realism are the two pillars of the Nyaya philosophical philosophy. It is associated with the Vaishessika systems, which produced ontology and metaphysics. Orthodox Indian intellectuals created the Nyaya Philosophy to create a knowing science (Pramanasastra) that would be successful enough to support their positions against unconventional challengers. As a result, the Naiylyikas is remembered in the annals of Indian philosophy as extremely creative logicians and epistemologists. It can be observed that the Nyaya system has impressively investigated the area of cognitive consciousness and figured out how it establishes a connection with the world of physical things.

The Vaishesika Philosophy

Of the six orthodox schools, it is said to be the oldest. The Nyaya Sutras of Gautama were composed just before the Vaishesika sutras of Kannada. Since the name "Vishesa" means "particularity," this philosophy strongly emphasizes the value of unique individuals. It acknowledges three elements of experience—substance, quality, and activity—as having genuine, objective existence and three outcomes of intellectual discrimination—generality, particularity, and combination. This School accepts verbal witness, comparison, inference, and comparison as legitimate forms of knowledge, just like the Nyaya School.


The Mimamsa emphasizes that every piece of information is on its own, and nothing in other knowledge supports that. The essential character of the causes of knowledge results in the validity of knowledge, and there are no outside factors to blame. Only when knowledge ceases to be true can an explanation be perceived to be necessary. Moreover, its invalidity is deduced from a flaw in the knowledge instrument or, later, contradictory knowledge. If a rope is mistaken for a snake, the later knowledge of the rope renders the rope snake knowledge incorrect. Although knowledge has an inherent presumption of validity, its invalidity is irrefutable, and its validity is not susceptible to deduction. Error is abnormal; the truth is normal.

Heterodox School's Views of Knowledge

Jainism divides knowledge into immediate (Aparoksa) and mediate categories (Paroksa). Avadhi, Manahparyiya, and Kevala are further divisions of immediate knowledge, whereas Mati and Shruta are divisions of mediate knowledge. Once more, there are two categories of knowledge: PramBna, or knowledge of something in its current state, and Naya, or understanding of something about something else. Naya refers to the point of view from which we make claims about something. Every truth is a matter of perspective. "Naya" is the term for having a limited understanding of one of a thing's numerous characteristics. There are seven "nayas," the first four of which are referred to as "Artha-naya" because they link to things or meanings, and the last three of which are referred to as "shabda-naya" because they do so.

Pramana (Source of Knowledge -Nyaya)

Pramana is a source or method of legitimate perception (Pramas). Perception, inference, analogy, and verbal testimony are the four types of legitimate apprehension (yathartha anubhava). A Pramana, according to Vataylyana, is a source or method of reliable information. The Nyaya School holds that a causal relationship between Prama and pramana may be determined and established based on their consistent presence and absence. It is asserted that the latter is the source or cause of the former since the former cannot exist without the latter. The two types of valid knowledge (Prama) are anubhava (presentative) and smriti (representative or memory). The latter is a replica of an earlier view. Since it is created by the resuscitation of a previously known perception of an item, the instrument of recollection cannot be acknowledged as an independent Pramana, which is false knowledge.

Yathsrtha, or the real, and Ayathiirtha, or the unreal, are the two categories of bhava, presentative knowledge. The former is the more sound or legitimate (prama) option since it perfectly matches the item in question or recognizes an attribute as a property that the object in question possesses. A Pramana or an instrument is necessary for a genuine kind of knowledge, however. As a result, both the knower (pramata) and the known object (prameya) are causes of true knowledge (prama). These are not regarded as pramana since they are not the most effective tools or causes of true knowledge. The four types of such legitimate knowledge, according to the Nyaya school, are Pratyaksa (perception), Anumrina (inference), Upamlna (knowledge obtained via resemblance), and Sabda (verbal testimony).


The Indian perspective on knowledge is rooted in ancient philosophical and spiritual traditions, which aim to bring about self-realization and liberation. The concepts of Vedanta, yoga, dharma, and varna play a crucial role in shaping the Indian perspective on knowledge. These ideas continue to be studied and practiced in India and other parts of the world. They continue to have a significant impact on the cultural and spiritual landscape of India.

Updated on: 06-Feb-2023


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