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Gangesha – Hindu Logician in the Nyaya System of Philosophy


Gangesha and his followers were termed as neo logicians (Navya Nyayaiyikas). Writers before Gangesha, like Jayanta Bhatta and Pakshadhara Mishra, were called older logicians (Prachina). The period of Gangesha may be assigned to the last quarter of the 12th Century AD.

All the Hindu dialecticians, who wrote after Gangesha, were influenced by the thought-measuring formulae used by Gangesha. By using such a formulae, it was possible for later dialecticians in Hindu philosophical literature to achieve a remarkable degree of quantitative precision in measuring the extent (temporal and spatial), content and intent (purpose and potency) of cognition. Thus, to understand the later works a deep study of Gangesha’s works became a necessity.

The modern school of Nyaya (Logic), beginning with Gangesha attempts to give precision to the thoughts of the old school.

Navya Nyayaiyikas lays emphasis on the theory of knowledge.

The forms and concepts invented by theory of knowledge gave Nyaya the expression of a symbolic logic.

Compared with the old theory of logic, which was more empirical and practical, the modern system became more formal and conceptual.

Navya Nyayaiyika system tried to find out relation of meanings and concepts. It developed into a formal logic of relations between concepts and their determinants.

Old Naya may be called philosophical logic, while the modern Nyaya is formal logic and dialectic.
The language of Gangesha is terse. The key to Navya Nyaya of Ganesha is its terminology. Those who have mastered this terminology are sure to find in the works of Gangesha a discipline of unique subtlety and value.

Works of Gangesha

Tattava Chintamani, a epistemological treatise of Gangesha, is broadly divided into four parts devoted to perception (pratyaksha), inference (anumana), comparison (upamana) and verbal testimony (shabda).

The most valuable and important commentary on Tattava Chintamani is that of Raghunatha known as Didhiti.

Gangesha has given twenty definitions (vyaptis) to universal proposition or invariable concomitance. Nineteen definitions were analyzed thoroughly and found to be defective, with defects like over-pervasiveness, less-pervasiveness or non-pervasiveness. The final definition is known as Siddhanta Vyapti.

Some of the main deviations from the other systems by Gangesha are:
  • Gold is classified as belonging to Fire and not to the Earth.
  • Vayu is not perceptible.
  • The definition of prama or real knowledge is unique.
  • Nirvikalpaka knowledge is devoid of any prakara
  • A new definition to yogya anupalabdhi using karmadharaya compound.
Excerpts and notes taken from – 
  • Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IV published by India Heritage Research Foundation – page 237 – 238
  • History of Indian Logic (1970), Satishchandra published by Motilal Banarsidas.