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Course Detail

Course Name Indian Theories of Knowledge and Metaphysics
Course Code 21PHL503
Program M.A. in Philosophy
Semester One
Credits 4


Unit I

Ontological Concepts:
Prameya as the object of knowledge
Padartha- etymology and definition
Vaisesika – Saptapadartha
Nyaya – Catalogue of sixteen categories, The concept of Samanya.
Buddhism – Reality as Vijnana Santana, The concept of Nama-Rupa organization.
Jainism – The six ultimate categories of Dharmastikaya, Adharmastikaya, Akasastikaya. Jivastikaya, Pudgalastikaya and Kala.
The Vedanta doctrine of Sattatraya.
Samkhya dualism of Prakrti and Purusa.
Mahabhutas – The doctrine of Pancabhutas. Sankaracarya’s scheme of Pancikarana. Carvaka theory of primordial elements.

Unit II

Concept of the Self:
Jivatman and Paramatman – The Vedanta view of distinction and unity
The Jiva as Karta, Bhokta and Jnata
Anatmavada/ Nairatmyavada of Buddhism
Carvaka denial of the soul – grounds and arguments

Unit III

Theories of causation:
Svabhāvavāda, Satkāryavāda – Pariṇāmavāda and Vivartavāda, Asatkāryavāda – Ᾱrambhavāda and Pratītyasamutpādavāda. Definitions and representative Schools.

Unit IV

Epistemological concepts:
Jnana, Prama and Aprama – definitions
Pramanas – The six pramanas and those accepted by different schools.
Svatahpramanyavada and Paratahpramanyavada

Unit V

The debates:
Visayatva, Akaratva and Prakasatva of knowledge – Schools and positions
Pramana Vyavasta and Pramana Samplava – Nyaya-Buddhism debate
The Scepticism about Pramanas held by Nagarjuna and Jayarasi Bhatta

Unit VI

Fallacies of cognition:
The concept of Khyati
Khyativada – Akhyati, Anyathakhyati, Viparitakhyati, Atmakhyati, Asatkhyati, Anirvacaniyakhyati, Satkhyati, and Sadasatkhyati – Definitions and representative Schools.


Indian Theories of Knowledge and Metaphysics is a course offered in the first semester of the M. A. Philosophy Programme. The core concern of the course is to enable the learners to study the various themes of metaphysics and epistemology as expounded by the orthodox and heterodox schools of classical Indian philosophy. The main objective is the keen understanding of the reciprocal development of the theories of being and knowledge as the characteristic feature of Indian philosophical tradition. The course will further enable the learners to analyze the points of debate on the problems of knowledge in classical Indian philosophy. This course is designed mainly as the gateway to the study of the other areas of Indian philosophy.

Course Objectives

1. To familiarize with the basic terms in classical Indian metaphysics and epistemology.
2. To understand the salient features of Indian metaphysics and epistemology.
3. To analyse the ontological and epistemological theories in classical Indian philosophy.
4. To study the different views of reality and knowledge in Indian philosophy.
5. To evaluate critically the debates between major systems over the core concerns in metaphysics and epistemology.
6. To comprehend the Indian viewpoints about the validity and invalidity of knowledge.

Course Outcomes

CO 1: Familiarity with the core themes of metaphysics.
CO 2: Comprehensive study of the metaphysical theories held by the different schools of classical Indian philosophy.
CO 3: Exposition of the key metaphysical notions of matter, causation and the Self.
CO 4: Comparative understanding of the major theories of causation.
CO 5: Comprehensive study of the key concepts in Indian epistemology.
CO 6: Acquaintance with the Pramana Sastra.
CO 7: Critical approach to the problem of the validity/invalidity of knowledge on the basis of the different positions held by the different schools of classical Indian philosophy.
CO 8: Analytic study of the various theories of erroneous cognition held by the different schools of classical Indian philosophy.




1. Sinha, Jadunath. Indian Realism. London: Motilal Banarsidass, 1938.
2. P. K. Mukhopadhyaya. Indian Realism. Calcutta: Lexington Books,1984.
3. Stephen H. Phillips. Classical Indian Metaphysics. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1997.
4. Harsh, Narain. Evolution of the Nyaya-Vaisesika Categoriology. Varanasi: Bharati Prakashan, 1976.
5. Sadananda Bhaduri. Nyaya Vaisesika Metaphysics. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1947.
6. Sankara. Pancikarana. Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1961.
7. Debabrata Sen. The Concept of Knowledge. Calcutta: K P Bagchi, 1984.
8. K. N. Jayatilleke. Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge. London: Routledge, 1963.
9. Swami Satprakasananda. Methods of Knowledge. London: Springer, 1965.
10. D. M. Datta. The Six Ways of Knowing. Calcutta: Motilal Banarsidass, 1960.
11. Satischandra Chatterjee. The Nyaya Theory of Knowledge. Calcutta: Calcutta University, 1965.
12. Govardhan P. Bhatt. Epistemology of the Bhatta School of Purva Mimamsa. Varanasi: Mittal Publications, 1962.
13. B. K. Matilal. Perception. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.
14. Roy W Perret. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
15. Rao, Srinivasa. Perceptual Error: The Indian Theories. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998.

CO – PO Affinity Map

PO PO 1 PO 2 PO 3 PO 4 PO 5
CO 1 3 2 2 3 3
CO 2 3 3 2 3 1
CO 3 3 3 1 3 2
CO 4 3 3 1 3 1
CO 5 3 3 1 3 2
CO 6 3 3 1 3 1
CO 7 3 3 2 3 2
CO 8 3 3 2 3 2

3 – strong, 2 – moderate, 1 – weak

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