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Prama In Nyaya System Of Logic

Prama is knowledge that is true, certain and presentational according to the Nyaya system of logic. Memory may be true, yet it is not prama, because it is not presentational. Similarly, doubt about conjecture are not prama, because they are not definite and ascertained, though they are not illusions. Illusions, on the contrary, are presentational and have certitude, yet they are bhrama (false). Hence prama (knowledge), to deserve the title, must have all the following characteristics – certitude, truth, and presentation (capable of being displayed).

Such knowledge can be given only through valid means of pramakaranam – pramanam (knowledge), like perception, inference, comparison, verbal testimony, postulation and non-perception (the last one leading to the knowledge of non-existent facts). They are also said to be productive of prama (true knowledge) because they yield a knowledge originating from an objective basis which at least is presentational. There is always an element of direct perception in these valid means of knowledge.

Systems of thought other than Nyaya different from the Nyaya School. For instance, Advaita defines prama as true knowledge which has the two characteristics of – novelty and no contradiction. If novelty is insisted on, memory will not be true knowledge. If no contradiction alone is preferred, then memory can be admitted as true knowledge. Advaita thus keeps the way open for memory being regarded as pratha.

Vaisesikas and Jainas hold memory as an independent means of knowledge in its own light, quite as much as any other means like perception and inference. The Nyaya restriction of the character of prama, only to presentational cognitions, has been set aside partially by Advaita and totally by the Vaiseshikas.

According to Buddhists, prama is determined by the practical success of the activity it induces. Bhatta Mimamsakas agree with the Advaitins in saying that prama must have anadigatattva (novelty). Thus they exclude memory from the class of true knowledge. Prabhakara Mimamsakas on the other hand, define prama as immediate knowledge, thus excluding memory from the title of truth.