NYAYA- Indian Psychology

Nyaya is the ‘science of reasoning’, ‘Science of logical proof’, and ‘Science of Truth’, It deals more with epistemology than with metaphysics or ethics. Nyaya divides the multifarious things of experience into certain classes of substance (Dravya). The Dravya are nine in number

  1. Earth
  2. Water
  3. Fire
  4. Air
  5. Ether
  6. Time
  7. Space
  8. Self
  9. Manas

Concept of Personality

According to Nyaya, personality is composed of Atman (individual soul), Manas (mind), and body. Consciousness is an attribute of Atman. The supreme soul is devoid of pleasure and pain. The individual soul, separate from each body is subject to pleasure and pain. All the psychic processes are done by Manas with the help of the body, and for Atman, like desire, aversion, pleasure, pain, and cognition.

To understand the complete psychic process, an understanding of the Self, Mind, and Body is necessary.

1)The Self (Atman)

The self is eternal and indestructible. It is unlimited in its activities by time and space. The existence of soulis proved beyond doubt. The body is merely its vehicle pf actions. Atman is not the mind and senses, but what controls them and synthesised their functions. The soul is different from bodies. Soul exist even after the perishing of the body

2) Relation of Atman with mind and body

Self is the ground of all thought and experience. In it reside all the innate facilities of the mind, the reflexes, the instincts, desires and dispositions of past life. Self is the guiding principle of mind, body and senses.

The process of perception is like this- the external senses and self comes into contact with the mind. In the case of internal perception, the external senses are unnecessary and hence the object is perceived by the mind, which is connected with the self.

It is through the self’s connection with the mind and body that consciousness results. Consciouness is not an essential properly of the soul.

3)The Nature of Consciousness

  • Consciousness is not a quality of the body
  • Consciouness is not a quality of the Manas
  • Consciouness and Soul
    • Consciousness cannot exists apart from the soul, but the soul itself is not necessarily conscious. Consciouness is a quality of the soul produced in the waking state by the association of the soul with manas.
    • Soul is eternal


Buddhi, according to Nyaya, identical with knowledge. Buddhi has two factors: Experience (anubhava) and memory (smrti). Knowledge is a reality, corresponding to the objective universe.

5)Concept of Mind

Mind in Nyaya is designated by the term Manas. Nyaya calls Manas the sixth sense. It is atomic in size and exists in contact with the soul.

Mind in Nyaya is given the status of an instrument of perception. The functions of Manas are

  1. Rememberance
  2. Inference
  3. Verbal cognition
  4. Doubt
  5. Intuition
  6. Dream
  7. Imagination
  8. The perception of pain and pleasure
  9. Desire
  10. Rest

6) Manas and Senses

Manas can well be distinguished from the other five senses, as it is the inner senses by which a person can cognise the inner states of thoughts, feelings and desires.

The five senses are composed of material substances like earth, water, fire, air and ether. These act as organ only. But Manas is not composed of material substance, and can act as an organ unlimited by specific functions, as the senses are.

The outer organ deals with outer perception, but Manas deals with internal perception like pleasure, pain, desire, aversion and the like.

7) Attention

Mind attends to one thing at a time. To us it may appear that mind attends to many objects, simultaneously, but actually the attention is non-simulataneous.

8) Subtle Body

The soul passes from one body to another through aid of Manas, which is atomic and imperceptible. Manas is super-sensuous and all prevading. After death, the body perishes, but Manas proceeds to the new abode of the fruition of Karma.

9) Subconscious Mind- Samskaras

These are of 3 kinds

  • Velocity which keeps the person in motion prompts him to desire and work
  • Bhavana, which enables a person to remember things and to recognize these
  • Elasticity which tends towards mental equilibrium when a person is a property of the earth and perhaps in all the other substance.

10) The Body

The body is the vehicle of action for the self. The mind along with the sense organs, is found to operate only within the body, never outside the body.

Karma that is responsible for the birth of the body. Without Karma, there is no reason to believe that the material substance in the mother’s womb will develop in a particular order viz, cell, mase, foetus, embryo, arteries, head and feet, absorb the food through the umbilical cord, and grow into a full developed infant that is born.

Psychology of Perception

According to Nyaya, there are as many as four means of acquiring valid knowledge, namely

  • Perception- Pratyaksa
  • Inference- Anumana
  • Comparison- Upamana
  • Testimony- Sabda
  1. Definition of perception

Sense-perception as that cognition

  • Which is produced by the contact of the object with the sense-organ
  • Which is not expressible by words
  • Which is not erroneous
  • Which is well-defined

The different factors involved in sense-object contact are

  • The sense (Indriyas)
  • The Object (Artha)
  • The immediate contact of the senses with the objects (Sannikarsa)
  • The cognition produced by this contact

2) Senses and Function in Perception

The perceptual senses are five in number

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Olfactory
  • Gustatory
  • Tactual

Their sites are eye-ball, the ear-hole, the nose, the tongue, and the skin. The senses are associated with the five elements- Eyes with colour and light, ear with sound and ether, nose with smell and earth, tongue with taste and water, and skin with touch and air

Nyaya gives reason for the variety of sense-organs. We cannot group all the senses under one universal because of the five reasons

  • Sign indicative
  • Location
  • Process
  • Shape
  • Constituents

3) Comparison with Modern Psychology

The description of the senses as given by Nyaya is not perfect, if we compare the same with modern psychology. According to modern psychology, the organ of smell is a muscous membrane lining the roof and part of the walls of the extreme upper portion of the nasal cavity. But Nyaya describes the sense of smell with its seat in the fore-part of nasal cavity.

4) Mind and soul in Perception

Nyaya says that perception is possible only when soul and mind are there. But the distinctive and the primary source of perception is the sense-object contact, without which no perception is possible, howsoever the mind functions. It is the senses that present the image to the mind, and the mind in its turn present it to the soul. The sense-object contacts the principal cause, and the mind-soul contact is the secondary cause.

5) Characteristics of Perception

  • Perception not verbal
  • Perception should not be erroneous
  • Perception should be well-defined

6) Process of Perception

In normal perception five entities function

  1. The object of perception (Visaya)
  2. The external medium such as light in the case of visual perception
  3. The sense organ (Indriya)
  4. The Manas, which helps the sense-organs to function
  5. The self or soul (Atman)

In case any of these do not operate, the perception will be erroneous.

7) Later modification in the concept of perception

Modern school of Nyaya deviates from the Gautama’s explanation of perception. The real perception has a wider scope, and is something more than sense-object contact. It must include ideation also, through the basis be sense-object contact

8) Types of Sense Object Contact

  • Samyoga -This is the direct contact between sense and object. Our eyes come in direct contact with a jar and perceive it
  • Samyukta-Samavaya- This is indirect perception through the medium of a third that has an association with the actual object through inherence. Colour has inherence in jar. We see colour through the jar, and not without the medium of jar
  • Samyukta-Samaveta-Samavaya- Colour and jar are mutually related. Colourness is inherent in colour and jar. The perception of colourness is of this type.

9) Types of Perception

A) Ordinary, B) Extra- Ordinary

The Ordinary perception is classified into three types

  • Interminater Perception
  • Determinate Perception
  • Recognitional Perception

The Extra-Ordinary Perception have been classified into three types

  • Perception with Universal Property
  • Acquired Perception
  • Extra-Sensory or Intutive Perception

States of Consciousness

Nyaya postulates three states

  • The wakeful State
  • The Dream State
  • The Deep Sleep State

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