BY Promod Puri
The rationalist and liberal thought in Hinduism is the very basis of Sankhya school, which is one of several ancient Hindu faculties infusing diversity in the theological philosophies of the faith.
Sankhya in Hindi or Sanskrit means number. So it seeks rationality as demonstrated by a numeric equation like 2+2=4. It rejects 2+2=5. In other words, a concept has to go through rational examination before being accepted or rejected.
Sankhya establishes three principles that accept knowledge. These are:
1. Pratyksa, which means perceiving things or thoughts directly through one’s senses. The truthful of knowledge is to be taken by creditable perception. The proof, termed parmana in Sanskrit, has to be established not by analogy or cognitive imagination but by both external senses and mind’s conscious awareness.
2. Anumana or inference involves both observation and reasoning in establishing a fact. When a hypothesis or proposition is created, it must be observed with logical consequence. Dark clouds in the sky infer that rain is likely to come, is an example of Anumana.
3. Sabda or sabd means word. It is just a communication tool. But according to Sankhya the device has validity only when a statement of knowledge comes from a reliable and legitimate source either thru written or spoken words.
The three principles by which knowledge is created and allowed for its distribution have metaphysical and empirical elements. These requirements of the Sankhya school help Hinduism to go through its epistemology tests of finding the nature and justification of religious ideations and beliefs.


  1. It is a difficult subject for an ordinary mind. For example, even ‘sense’ and ‘perception’ are not independent. These are dependent on the perceiver. Again the perceiver is also not independent. The perceiver is the product of his ‘conditioning’. Therefore, there are different perceptions of the same phenomenon. Anuman also depends on analogy or certain beliefs. For example, the fire, according to undisputed anumaan will burn. But it refused to burn Prahalad. Words also have played havoc. ‘Ashwathama hato hatah’. – Ashwathama has been killed. Let us take the word “equality”. Is equality justified on the scales of Pratkshya, anumaan and word?

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