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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Jammalamadaka Suryanarayana

Sometimes transliterated as: pramēya, prameyam, viṣayaḥ, vishaya

The elaboration of the term 'Pramēya' is pramā viṣaya. Pramā means valid knowledge and being a subject to it is pramēya. According to Gōtama the world is of sixteen elements, which were named in the beginning[1] of Nyāya sūtraṃ. After defining Pramāṇa or means of valid knowledge and its types, definition of the second element pramēya is discussed. Even though there are many things that might be accounted to be valid knowledge, but Gōtamaḥ mentions only twelve pramēyās or the subject to validate knowledge. These are especially significant because the true knowledge about them dispels all the delusions and lead to mōkṣaḥ/ freedom from suffering; while the false knowledge concerning these topics perpetuates rebirth and suffering.

Types of Pramēya[edit]

Ātma- śarīra- indriya- artha- budhdhi- manaḥ- pravṛtti- dōṣa- prētyabhāva- phala- duḥkhāpavargāstu pramēyaṃ।[2]

According to Gōtamaḥ, there are twelve pramēyas. They can be enlisted as follows:

  1. Self - It is called as ātmā.
  2. Body - It is called as śarīraṃ.
  3. Senses - It is called as indriyaṃ.
  4. Experiences - It is called as arthaḥ.
  5. Intelligence - It is called as buddhiḥ.
  6. Intellect - It is called as manaḥ.
  7. Activity - It is called as pravṛttiḥ.
  8. Imbalances - It is called as doṣaḥ.
  9. Re-birth - It is called as prētyabhāvaḥ.
  10. Consequence - It is called as phalaṃ.
  11. Suffering - It is called as duḥkhaṃ.
  12. Liberation - It is called as apavargaḥ.


Ichā- dvēṣa- prayatna- sukha- dukha- jñānāni ātmanō lingam iti।[3]

It means that the ātmā cannot be known by any sense organs. That means that we can not see, hear, smell, touch and taste ātmā. Then can how could we know ātmā? it can be inferred by ichā means desire, dvēṣa means aversion, prayatnaḥ means internal effort, sukhaṃ means happiness, dukkha means unhappiness and jñānaṃ means cognition. Then the question arises from where do these six emotions initiate from. It originates from the ātmā and not the body or manas. As we can sense all these emotions very easily, we can infer the ātmā with them. The inference may be "This is ātmā, because of ichā[4]"


Cēṣṭēndriyārthāśrayaḥ śarīraṃ|[5]

This verse denotes that the body is the place which has cēṣṭā(It is called as motion), indriyaṃ(It is called as sense organs) and arthaḥ(It is called as experiences). It has been widely accepted in the tradition that how the knowledge of an object leads to an effort. A person first knows about something and then starts liking or disliking it and then makes an effort to own or disown it(Jānati icchati yatati) Here the actions which lead to obtaining or leaving an object is called cēṣṭā.


Ghrāṇa- rasana- cakṣhustvak- śrōtrāṇi indriyāṇi bhūtēbhyaḥ।[6]

Here the Gowtama states the five indriyās or sense organs namely:

  1. Ghrāṇaṃ - It is called as nose.
  2. Rasanaṃ - It is called as tongue.
  3. Cakṣhuḥ - It is called as eyes.
  4. Tvak - It is called as skin.
  5. Śrōtraṃ - It is called as ears.

At the end of the sūtraṃ we can see the word bhūtēbhyaḥ is the plural form of bhūtāt. Hence it can be inferred that the cause for each sense organ is different. The sūtraṃ defining Pancha būtāni[7] are:

Pṛthivī- āpaḥ- tējaḥ- vāyurākāśaṃ iti bhūtāni।[8]

Pancha bhūtāni are referred to as five elements of nature. Here:

  1. Nose or ghrāṇaṃ is related to earth.
  2. Tongue or rasanaṃ is related to water.
  3. Eye or cakṣhuḥ is related to fire.
  4. Skin or tvak is related to air.
  5. Ear or śrōtraṃ is related to Space.


Gandha-rasa- rūpā- sparśa- śabdāḥ pṛthivyādiguṇāstadarthāḥ।[9]

Five sense organs sense different types of subjects via. smell, taste, color, touch, and sound. These senses are objects derived from pancha bhūtāni or five elements. Here the term arthaḥ is used to mean these five subjects of sense organs.


Budhdhirupalabdhiḥ jñānamityanarthāntaraṃ।[10]

There is no difference between the words Buddhi, Upalabdhi, and Jñānaṃ which have the same meaning. They all represent cognition.


Yugapat jñānānutpattirmanasō lingaṃ।[11]

According to nyāya darśanaṃ there are many reasons behind the birth of a cognition. A unique relation between manaḥ and indriyaṃ is also one of them. Every object is not related to a sense organ except for the manaḥ which is related with that sense organ. That is why we cannot identify different types of cognition at any given point of time.


Pravṛttirvāgbudhdhi- śrīrāraṃbhaḥ iti।[12]

Pravṛttiḥ is the extrovert activity which sets mind, body, and voice in motion for good or bad. In general, the word buddhi refers to cognition but here the sūtrakāra is referring it to manaḥ.


Pravartanālakṣaṇāḥ dōṣaḥ।[13]

Pravartanā means the cause of extrovert activity. Sutrakarā concludes that every dōṣaḥ will be the cause of extrovert activity. Generally the term dōṣaḥ is used to mean an action or an attribute, which results in negativity. According to Gōtamaḥ, as extrovert activity leads to suffering he states the cause for extrovert activity as dōṣaḥ.


Punarutpattiḥ prētyabhāvaḥ।[14]

It explains the re-embodiment of the Self or jīva in another physical form after death. Birth is nothing but jīva having a relation with a new body and mind complex. Therefore, birth is not the production of a new circumstance, but only re-association; while death is not the destruction of anything just separation. So re-birth is called prētyabhāvaḥ.


Pravṛttidōṣa- janitōrthaḥ phalaṃ।[15]

The reason behind the extrovert activities are attraction(Here Attraction is denoted by rāgaḥ) or aversion(Here aversion means dvēṣaḥ.) or delusion (Delusion here implies mōhaḥ). Any extrovert activity results either in pleasure(It means sukhaṃ) or pain(it means dukhaṃ). Sutrakara described this as phalaṃ. So the result of extrovert activities may be called phalaṃ.


Bādhanālakṣaṇaṃ duḥkhaṃ।[16]

Generally, we suffer a lot in our lifetime. Sometimes the situation or action, which gives happiness may also result in suffering. Like when we are very hungry a small quantity of food gives happiness, but that same thing may result in suffering when we are not hungry or when we are sick. The Nyaya tradition suggests that the whole concept of suffering is because of not knowing the original characteristics of the elements. So the true knowledge about them would eventually eradicate them. So any type of suffering may be called Duḥkhaṃ.


Tadatyanta- vimōkṣōpavargaḥ।[17]

Apavargaḥ(Upāttasya janmanaḥ hānaṃ anyasya ca anupādānaṃ, ētāṃ avasthāṃ aparyantāṃ apavargaṃ vēdayantē apavargavidaḥ) is defined after describing duḥkhaṃ i.e suffering. In the āstika doctrine, we believe that there is always a birth after death according to our sins and virtues. This cycle is called sasāraḥ. By contrast, apavargaḥ is a state where one comes out of that cycle and never takes birth. Gōtama states that suffering starts from birth, so the complete end of the suffering would only be possible by the absence of birth and re-birth.


  1. प्रमाणप्रमेयसंशयप्रयोजनदृष्टान्तसिद्धान्त- तर्कनिर्णयवादजल्पवितण्डा- हेत्वाभासछलजातिनिग्रहस्थानानां तत्वज्ञानात् निश्रेयसाधिगमः(1.1.1-Nyāya sūtraṃ)
  2. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.9
  3. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.10
  4. ayaṃ ātmā icchātaḥ
  5. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.11
  6. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.12
  7. It refers to the five elements.
  8. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.13
  9. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.14
  10. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.15
  11. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.16
  12. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.17
  13. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.18
  14. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.19
  15. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.20
  16. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.21
  17. Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.22