Definition - What does Anumana mean?

Anumana is a Sanskrit word that means “inference” or “knowledge that follows.” It is one of the pramanas, or sources of correct knowledge, in Indian philosophy. Anumana is using observation, previous truths and reason to reach a new conclusion and truth. A simple example is observing smoke and inferring that there must be fire.

Anumana consists of five steps: a hypothesis (pratijna), reason (hetu), an example (udaharana), reaffirmation (upanaya) and conclusion (nigamana). The hypothesis is conditionally true if there are positive examples and an absence of counter-evidence.

Yogapedia explains Anumana

According to Hindu philosophy, there are six pramana. Each of the schools of philosophy acknowledges one or more of these pramana as valid sources of knowledge:

  • Pratyaksha (perception) – Acquiring knowledge from experience
  • Anumana (inference) – Gaining right knowledge from logical conclusion
  • Upamana (comparison) – Learning by observing similarities
  • Arthapatti (postulation) – Supposition of a fact to support a well-established fact
  • Anupalabdhi (non-apprehension) – Understanding non-existence by non-perception
  • Sabda (testimony) – Gaining authentic knowledge from spoken and written words

Yoga accepts anumana and two other pramanas: pratyaksha and sabda. Only the quasi-philosophical school of Carvaka rejects anumana, instead accepting pratyaksha as the sole valid source of knowledge.

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