By Swami Harshananda
Tarka literally means ‘logic,’ ‘reasoning’.
Definition of Tarka
Tarka or logic, which depends upon uhā or guessing, is one of the aids to attaining correct knowledge when direct and clear knowledge is not possible. Philosophical treatises often take recourse to it. As far as the spiritual truths beyond the ken of the senses are concerned, tarka is not accepted as an independent source of the knowledge. It is accepted only if it does not go against the Śruti but strengthens its teachings.
Tarka, Sense of Tarkaśāstra
The word tarka is also used in the sense of Tarkaśāstra or the Science of Logic. The Nyāya and the Vaiśeṣika schools are generally considered Tarkaśāstras. There are also independent works on the same subject. Tarka as the logical reasoning can be proved with a simple illustration. When we notice smoke rising from a nearby hillock, we conclude that there is a fire on it though we do not actually see the fire itself. This is because, in our prior experience, we have observed that wherever there had been smoke, there was a fire also. If someone argues that smoke may be there even without fire, the reply is that it cannot be, since smoke and fire have always gone together. This is a universal experience. This method of proving is tarka.
Scriptures on Tarka
Works on tarka have described eleven varieties of the same. They are:
- Śruti means Vedas.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore