By Swami Harshananda
Arthapatti literally means ‘that which is obtained through an established fact,’ ‘Postulation’.
The darśanas or philosophical systems have bestowed considerable attention on the methods of obtaining knowledge. Means of such knowledge vary from three to six. It is the Purva-mīmānsā system that accepts and describes six such means, which form the maximum of such series.
‘Arthāpatti’ or ‘postulation’ is the penultimate in this series. It is described as the necessary supposition of an unperceived fact which alone can explain a phenomenon that demands an explanation. For example it is also observed that a man fasts during the day and yet grows fat. It is impossible to reconcile these two facts, fatness and fasting, unless we admit that he eats at night! This postulation is called ‘arthāpatti.’
The Mīmānsakas and Advaitins maintain that this is a distinctive source of knowledge whereas others include it under ‘anumāna’ or inference.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore