This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

(click to enlarge)

Methods of Study in Indian Psychology

Prof. Adhikari Srikanta Dash and Shri Suvashisa Rana
Centre of Advanced Study in Psychology
Utkal University,
Bhubaneshwar – 751 004. India


Indian psychology is extensive, rich, complex, dynamic and integrative. The Vedas and Upanishads lay the foundation of Indian psychology. Psychology is defined as the study of the total mind (unconscious, sub-conscious, conscious, and super-conscious). Mind as a whole is called Antahkarana (internal organ) or Chitta. Distinguished by its four-fold functions of explication, recollection, determination, and self-reference; it consists of Manas (mind), Chitta (Sub-conscious), Buddhi (intellect), and Ahamkara (ego-sense). The methods used in Indian psychology include Pratyaksha (both objective and subjective observation), Anumana (inductive and deductive inferential reasoning), Sabda or Apthavachanam (words of scriptures or testimony by competent authority), Upamana (analogy or comparison), Arthapatti (implication), and Anupalabdhi (noncognition). Indian psychology put greater emphasis on subjective observation or intuition, called variously as Pratibha-Jnana, Arsajnana, Siddhadarsana, Yogi-pratyaksha, and Muktajnana. Indian scientific methods are neither antagonistic nor alternatives to; but comprehensively encompass and complement the Western scientific methods. This integrative methodological approach makes psychology a branch of philosophy, a science, an art, and a professional discipline.

“The tremendous engine of competition will destroy everything. If you are to live at all, you must adjust yourself to the times. If we are to live at all, we must be a scientific nation. Intellectual power is the force.” (Swami Vivekananda, Vol. 6, P.113).


“In the four and a half centuries from the European “discovery” of Asia to the present period of intensified culture contact, Europeans and Asians alike have learned all too little about each other. False antitheses and monolithic comparisons have persisted from one generation to the next; knowledge is difficult to attain, understanding is more so, and resort to cliché generalization proves irresistible. In recent times, some of these clichés have been dressed up in new jargons so that thousands of unwary readers have been lead to believe that they were being given new magic keys that would open the door to the “Oriental mind”, “Oriental logic” or whatnot. But the keys opened doors into dream worlds inhabited only by clichés and fantasies.” (A.F. Wright, in Nakamura, 1964, p.v)

The “Western” or “Occidental”; i.e., the Euro-American way of thinking claims itself to be postulational or logical, analytic, objective, scientific, and rationalistic, and the best, while branding the “Eastern” or “Oriental”, i.e., Asian ways of thinking as intuitive, synthetic, subjective, unscientific, and irrationalistic. This ethnocentric intellectual attitude has led to the belief that the Western peoples grasp things systematically and by orderly planning, whereas the Asians are neither systematic nor orderly in grasping things.  Secondly, there are people who regard the learning and the methods established in the modern West as infallible and the only absolute ones; and the Asian systems of thought and methods of study as unscientific. Such a thought tendency or mind-set seems to remain influential at present. This has led to the branding of the classical arts of Asia as “ethnic”, “native” or “folk”; the scientific and therapeutic systems and traditions of Asia “alternative”, “traditional” or “indigenous”, and the nations of Asia as “developing” or “underdeveloped” countries belonging to the “third-world”. Such clichés and labels lead us nowhere, for each nation and its peoples ought to be appreciative as well as critical of the learning and sciences of foreign cultures, and simultaneously remain appreciative as well as critical of their own indigenous culture, leaning and sciences.

Some people think of science and the scientific method as the only or the best way to establish the truth; and as though highly technical or extraordinarily complex. This is due to their ignorance of the exact meaning of science and the essentials of scientific method. The essential characteristic of the scientific method is a particular intellectual attitude towards any problem that may come up for solution, whether it be a problem in mathematics, physics, economics, aesthetics, education, law, medicine, engineering, state-craft, handicraft, or psychology. Many people in the world may be applying the scientific method in their daily round of duty without their being aware of it. Anyone going through the works of the masterminds among both Eastern and Western scientists finds that there is a striking resemblance in their intellectual attitude towards problems that presented themselves before them. It is an attitude characterized by accurate observation (Darshana and Bhuyodarshana), precise description, correct classification, patient experimentation (Pareeksha), rigid reasoning (Yukti-yuktam), careful verification (Nirnaya), institution of crucial tests (Vinigamaka) wherever necessary, and, above all, that supreme faculty of analytic-synthetic imagination (Buddhi) that can see the one connecting law running through the whole range of a mass of apparently unconnected phenomena. Facts are sterile until there are minds capable of choosing between them and discerning those, which conceal something and recognizing that which is concealed; minds, which, under the bare fact, see the ‘soul’ of the fact. The methods by which thinkers, both in the East and in the West, have tried to see, ‘under the bare fact, the soul of the fact’ are fundamentally similar. The difference exists only in name, not in essence. What science demands from its votaries is a severe discipline in the habitual use of the keen perceptual processes, the sharpened intellect, the trained mind, and a vivid imagination.

Firstly, the all-observing, keen perceptual processes of the scientist help him/her to observe minutely and widely and collect as many facts as s/he can gather. This is often a very laborious process. Secondly, the sharpened intellect, playing upon the facts so gathered, carefully analyses, catalogues, and categorizes them. These categories, viewed from a synthetic standpoint, suggest certain generalizations, which include all the facts or phenomena so far observed. Thirdly, the trained mind brooding upon these generalizations evolves a hypothesis, or may be, more than one hypothesis, in explanation of, and based on, these observed facts or phenomena. Every such hypothesis is merely a claim waiting to be verified experimentally. That hypothesis alone which is shown by experiments to work best, becomes the accepted theory, which is nothing more than the best working hypothesis, among perhaps several that may have been advanced. Moreover, its acceptance is merely tentative or provisional, contingent not only on the continued occurrence of verified phenomena but also on similar non-occurrence of contrary ones, for there is really no finality in science. The scientific method, then, is essentially a hypothetical or experimental method of trial and error. It treats all ‘facts’ as data to be replicated, all ‘principles’ as working hypotheses to be confirmed, all ‘truths’ as claims to be verified, and all allegations to be tested and evaluated according to the scientific consequences to which they lead. Finally, in all this, a vivid imagination is a most precious gift provided it is strictly controlled by rigid logic and crucial experimentation. At the outset, therefore, scientific method is satisfied with provisional conclusions that are not greatly trusted; and to the end, it is recognized that the human mind does not respond to the infinite gradations of logical probability, but becomes content and certain as soon as the evidence for a belief seems to it adequate. After that, the question is humanly settled, unless and until something occurs to reopen it. Science, then, is merely criticized, systematized and generalized knowledge.

Any individual who insists on objectively verifying the facts, attempts to classify facts systematically into meaningful categories, perceives their mutual relations and differences, describes their sequences by applying logical reasoning, and draws coherent conclusions and appropriate implications - is a man of science. The student of science takes more pains than the average person does to get at the facts. S/he is not content with sporadic knowledge, but will have as large a body of facts as s/he can get. S/he systematizes these data, observes certain logical processes and certain orders of inference from them, and sums up in a generalization or formula.

With modesty, enlightened self-awareness and self-criticism, tolerant appreciation, and creative integration, a new culture, a new system of thought, or a new method of study may develop. Valid and useful knowledge is possible not through ethnocentrism, nor by outright rejection of any particular system or method; but only through systematic, synthetic integration. The Indian students of psychology are advantaged and fortunate, compared to their Western peers. Without getting themselves involved and trapped by ethnocentric biases, they ought to utilize and integrate the positive aspects of both the Indian and Western scientific methods. The present paper argues that Indian scientific methods are neither antagonistic nor alternatives to; but comprehensively encompass and complement, the Western scientific methods.

The Importance of Psychology

Swami Vivekananda wrote more than a century ago:
“The idea of psychology in the West is very much degraded. Psychology is the science of sciences; but in the West, it is placed upon the same plane as all other sciences; that is, it is judged by the same criterion- utility. …

People seem to forget that about ninety percent of all our knowledge cannot, in the very nature of things, be applied in a practical way to aid to our material happiness or to lessen our misery. Only the smallest fraction of our scientific knowledge can have any such application to our daily lives. This is so because only an infinitely small percentage of our conscious mind is on a sensuous plane. We have just a little bit of sensuous consciousness and imagine that to be our entire mind and life; but, as a matter of fact, it is but a drop in the mighty ocean of subconscious mind. If all there is of us were a bundle of sense-perceptions, all the knowledge we could gain could be utilized in the gratification of our sense-pleasures. …

But even taking the Western idea of utility as a criterion by which to judge, psychology, by such standard even, is the science of sciences. Why? We are all slaves to our senses, slaves to our own minds, conscious and subconscious.

Deep down in our subconscious mind are stored up all the thoughts and acts of the past, not only of this life, but of all other lives we have lived. This great boundless ocean of subjective mind is full of all the thoughts and actions of the past. …

It the science of psychology that teaches us to hold in check the wild gyrations of the mind, place it under the control of the will, and thus free ourselves from its tyrannous mandates. Psychology is therefore science of sciences, without which all sciences and all other knowledge are worthless.

The mind uncontrolled and unguided will drag us down, down, for ever- rend us, kill us; and the mind controlled and guided will save us, free us. So it must be controlled, and psychology teaches us how to do it.

To study and analyse any material science, sufficient data are obtained. These facts are studied and analysed, and knowledge of the science is the result. But in the study and analysis of the mind, there are no data, no facts acquired from without, such as are equally at the command of all. The mind is analysed by itself. The greatest science, therefore, is the science of the mind, the science of psychology. …

If you intend to study the mind, you must have systematic training; you must practice to bring the mind under your control, to attain to that consciousness from which you will be able to study the mind and remain unmoved by any of its wild gyrations. Otherwise, the facts observed will not be reliable; they will not apply to all people and therefore will not be facts or data at all. …

The results obtained by all who go deep enough into the mind are the same.”(‘The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda’, 1989, Vol. 6, 28-32)

The Essentials of the Indian Scientific Method

Epistemology or the theory of knowledge has acquired special importance in European philosophy in the modern period. However, in India the position has been otherwise. From the very beginning of the different schools of thought until recent times, discussions on the problems of knowledge (both empirical and intuitive) have formed an essential part of philosophy. Max Weber said, “The premise which is common in the last analysis to all philosophies in Asia is that knowledge- whether it be that of books or mystical gnosis- is the only absolute way leading to supreme bliss in this world as well as in the next world.” All schools of Indian thought, without exception, regarded ignorance as the root cause of human suffering. Therefore, they were bent upon discovering the methods, processes, and types of valid knowledge; and using that knowledge for understanding the reality, living life meaningfully and peacefully by minimizing suffering and overcoming misery, and attaining self-realization and immortality. The Indian systems and theories analysed and categorized the factors constituting and connected with knowledge (Jnana or Prama) into the subject (Jnatr or Pramatr), the object (Jneya or Prameya), and the means of knowledge (Pramana). Knowledge, in the strict sense of correct cognition, is called Prama, and a source of knowledge is called a Pramana. The Indian philosophies and sciences recognize four tests of valid empirical knowledge. These are: (a) Yatharthya, i.e., correspondence or agreement or harmony of ideas or judgments with facts, (b) Pravritisamarthya, i.e., workability or practical utility that prompts fruitful activity, (c) Abadhitatva, i.e., coherence or non-contradiction or logical consistency of a judgment with other judgments known to be true, and (d) Nutanatva, i.e., novelty of the truth that acquaints us with something new. However, some schools (the Advaita Vedanta, for example) recognize only the empirical reality of the world, but not its ontological reality; for, the empirical knowledge of plurality is contradicted by the intuition of identity of the absolute. Similarly, the Buddhists consider intuition as a different and higher form of consciousness (Bodhi or Sambodhi), which resolves the contradictions in which the lower thought, bound up with the activities of the senses and entangled with polarities and diversities created by the intellect, is hopelessly involved.

Methods of Indian Psychology

Western sciences generally admit two chief sources of valid knowledge: perception and inference. However, the different Indian schools of thought, in addition to Pratyaksha (perception or observation) and Anumana (inductive and deductive inferential reasoning), also recognize various other sources of valid knowledge such as Sabda or Apthavachanam (words of scriptures or testimony by competent authority), Upamana (analogy or comparison), Arthapatti (implication), Anupalabdhi (noncognition), Aitihya (tradition), and Sambhava (possible entailment). Further, in addition to pure empirical observation, several other types of Pratyaksha have been discovered and discussed such as Pratibha-Jnana (intuition), Arsajnana (intuition of sages), Siddhadarsana (occult perception), Yogi-pratyaksha (yogic perception), and Muktajnana (omniscience, i.e., perception of a liberated soul). The Carvaka school regards perception alone, the Buddhists regards perception and inference, the Samkya and the Yoga schools regard perception, inference and testimony, the Mimamsa and the Advaita Vedantic schools regard perception, inference, comparison, testimony, presumption, and non-apprehension – as the sources of valid knowledge. Brief descriptions of the main six methods follow.

Pratyaksha (Perception or Observation)

Almost all the schools of Indian thought admit Pratyaksha or perceptual knowledge to be the basic source of valid knowledge. However, they distinguish between objective and subjective perceptions. Objective perception entails knowledge generated by the contact and relation of a sense organ (Indriya) to some object (Indriyartha-sannikarsa-janya-jnana). Objective perception may be indeterminate and determinate. Indeterminate perception is presentive, i.e., immediate apprehension or knowledge of acquaintance - just nameless sensory awareness of an object as something, which does not involve knowledge of relations, assimilation, and discrimination. Determinate perception is presentive-representative; definite knowledge endowed with qualities, actions, generality, and other features, and involves memory. Most schools accept the view that we have six Jnanendriyas (sensory organs of knowledge)- the five external ones of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, and the internal one, Manas (mind). If the object is an external one, the knower (the Atman/ Self/ Soul) directs the mind to gather the knowledge of or about it through the appropriate external sense organ.

There is fundamental agreement between the Western and the Eastern scientists with regard to the essential limitations of the objective observation method. Both agree that direct observation or apprehension frequently misleads us, because not only the senses and the intellect may deceive us but that even reasoning may lead us astray. Further, given a sufficiently robust will to see or believe what one wants to see or believe, one remains totally unaffected by any objectivity or reasoning. Numerous instances have been documented which show how the senses deceive us, and how often things are not really what they seem. The range of our senses is distinctly limited, even when aided by instruments of marvelous power and precision. It is therefore a well-recognized fact, in both the East and the West that, for the ascertainment of truth, direct perception does not take us very far. Moreover, Indian psychologists realized that the self is not known objectively – not even as the object of introspection – but as the consciousness, which immediately manifests itself. Further, the Yoga system demonstrated that extra-sensory perception and super-conscious knowledge are possible, which are not accessible to any external sense organ. Hence, people have everywhere turned to, with a view to add to, or correct the knowledge gained by direct observation.

Indian scientists have not been mere objective observers and speculative thinkers so far as psychology is concerned. They have also realized that the various states of mind cannot be properly understood without bringing in the subjective element; namely, training of the perceiving mind. They have never been inclined toward Behaviorism of the Western type. Hence, they explored and experimented with various forms of subjective knowledge. In subjective perception, the soul has simply to attend to it through the mind alone, without depending on any sense organs. Here, the mind does the double duty of an agent of attention as well as that of an internal sense organ. Indian scientists maintained that the ideal of immediate knowledge is not attained in sense perception or any other knowledge in the objective attitude. It is attained when the objective attitude is altogether overcome and the underlying unlimited consciousness, Brahman, is allowed to reveal itself. The Atman or self as possessed of some perceptible quality (like happiness or sorrow) is the object of such internal, subjective perception.

Study of the total mind (unconscious, sub-conscious, conscious, and super-conscious) is the special interest of Indian psychology. Indian psychologists have always laid great emphasis on the understanding of not merely the conscious, but also the various kinds of super-conscious and extra-sensory perception. In order to understand the objective validity of the various forms of extra-sensory perceptions and super-conscious cognitions, and to know the unconscious, one must experience and reflect upon these states. Indian psychologists have also realized that verification of the different experiences by intuition is the best criterion of their validity. Indian psychologists systematized their psychological concepts in the course of their subjective experiences. As the investigations of subjective experiences advanced, it was discovered that the unified mind could be trained and developed to experience and understand its extra-ordinary and extra-sensory powers. The mind, when concentrated and trained, develops tremendous powers to understand and control various gross and subtle laws of nature. Hence, in their study and exploration they have evolved methods of developing various extra-sensory experiences and super-conscious realization. Mind is sometimes considered to be a whole and called Antahkarana or the internal organ (as in Samkhya and Vedanta) or Chitta (as in Yoga), but sometimes distinguished by its four-fold functions, such as explication, recollection, determination and self-reference into the four aspects, namely, Manas (mind), Chitta (Sub-conscious), Buddhi (intellect), and Ahamkara (ego-sense), respectively. It is generally admitted that if the internal organ in some aspect does not assume the form of the object and present it to the Self or self-shining consciousness, there cannot be any knowledge of the object. This clue is utilized by the Yoga when it teaches that the modification of the Chitta into the form of the object should be stopped, so that no object may appear before consciousness and tempt it to attachment and bondage. Hence, Yoga is defined as the arrest of modification of the internal organ.

In chapter III of Yoga Sutra, Patanjali discusses these supernatural powers elaborately. Patanjali actually made a science of them by showing methods of not only developing these powers, but also of controlling the central and sympathetic nervous system and bringing about suspension of animation, breath control, etc. He labels these powers as Siddhis and discusses the acquiring of knowledge of past and future lives and events, subtle elements of matter, and the power to become invisible, move through the air, appear in different places simultaneously, walk on water, and so on. In Buddhist psychology, these powers have been called Abhijnas such as (a) subtle, extra-sensory hearing, (b) subtle, extra-sensory sight, (c) knowledge of previous births, (d) thought-reading, and (5) magical powers. Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Hathayoga-pradipika, various Buddhist texts like Saddharma-pundarika and Vinaya (Mahavagga), and different Tantras like Satcakranirupana and Padukapancaka are thorough-going studies of various aspects of extra-sensory perception, in which different methods of developing these powers are described (see Akhilananda, 1953). Sinha (1969) in Volume III, chapter VII of his Indian Psychology has discussed the epistemology of the supernormal perceptions such as Prativa-jnana (flash of intuition), Arsajnana (intuition of sages), Siddhadarsana (occult perception), Yogi-pratyaksha (yogic perception), and Muktajnana (omniscience or perception of the released/ liberated souls), elaborately. Rao (2001), in an extensive and comprehensive survey of perspectives and research on consciousness studies, has reviewed the empirical basis of extra-sensory perception in detail. The author has also reviewed the Eastern and Western theories and research on intuition elsewhere (Dash, 2001).

Anumana (Inference)

Anumana (inference) is the kind of knowledge, which is derived from previous knowledge of an invariable relation, technically called Vyapti or pervasion, between a sign (linga) and something bearing that sign (lignin). Gautama, the founder of the Nyaya School, and his later followers studied and wrote on inference extensively for centuries and influenced the views of other schools. Gautama laid down five steps as necessary for an inference when it is required to demonstrate a conclusion without straying from the point to be proved and without committing any formal or material fallacy. For Gautama, an inference or syllogism consists of the following five propositions:

  1. Thesis (Pratijna) is the proposition to be proved (e.g., the hill has fire),
  2. Reason (Hetu) is in support of the proposition (e.g., because it is smoky),’)
  3. Example (Udaharana) states the invariable relation between the sign and the signified, supported by some concrete instance guaranteeing material validity (e.g., whatever is smoky, is fiery; as the kitchen having a fireplace),
  4. Application (Upanaya) shows how the above relation applies to the case in hand (e.g., the hill is smoky, as smoke invariably accompanies fire), and
  5. Conclusion (Nigamana) (e.g., therefore, the hill has fire’).

It may be observed that the Greek Syllogism propounded by Aristole and widely used in Western logic consists of three propositions – the third, fourth, and fifth of the Nyaya syllogism. Whereas the Aristotelian syllogism is purely deductive, Anumana, as conceived here, is a formal-material, deductive-inductive process.

In Anumana, the invariable relation is established by different inductive methods. The Buddhist logicians adopt the five-step method of observation called Pancakarani, namely, (1) cause is not perceived, effect is also not perceived, (2) cause is perceived, (3) effect is also perceived, (4) cause disappears, (5) effect also disappears. The Buddhist logicians insist that the Panchakarani illustrates that the following changes being observed, everything else remaining constant, the relation of cause and effect is rigorously established. In his ‘Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus’, Sir Brajendranath Seal characterizes the Buddhist method of establishing induction through causal connection as the double method of difference and notes its superiority to the ordinary single method of difference adopted by Western logicians.

In the Western sciences, of all the modes of logical inference, there are no more than there were in the days of Aristotle, who recognized three: (a) analogical reasoning (argument from particular to particular), (b) inductive reasoning (argument from particulars to the universal principles, and © deductive reasoning (argument from the universal/ general to particulars). If we compare the above Western methods of inferential reasoning with Anumana, we find not only striking similarities, but also notice that Anumana as a Formal-Material, Deductive-Inductive inference is more comprehensive and more scientific than Aristotle’s Formal-Deductive process of reasoning or Mill’s Material-Inductive process of mediate inference, which combines formal validity with material truth, inductive generalization with deductive particularization. Further, it is also accepted that analogy, induction, and deduction are themselves not free from possible errors. The method of analogy that has done so much to illumine many dark abysses may be vitiated by some vital differences between the two sets of conditions compared. Logical inferential reasoning, in both its aspects (induction and deduction) can never get rid of doubt as to the absolute truth and soundness of its conclusions. Deduction depends on the validity of its premises, axioms, and postulates, and on the perfect subtleness and strength of the reasoning powers. Induction, unless we have an infinite number of facts and an infinite mental capacity to comprehend all such facts, cannot also give us the exact truth. An inductive conclusion, though based on a million instances becomes wrong if one single instance to the contrary is clearly proved to exist, and a higher law, which would explain and include the single contrary instance, has to be searched. Therefore, Indian scientists relied on other methods suitable for the study of diverse phenomena in different sciences.

Sabda or Aptavacana (Testimony)

Testimony or an authoritative statement (Aptavacana) is a sentence, which consists of words (Sabda). Except the Carvaka and Vaisesika schools, who admit only perception and inference, the other Indian schools accept testimony of an authority as the third source of valid knowledge. The former, like Western logicians, think that knowledge from authority is really a kind of inference, based on the reliability of the authority. However, the latter consider Anumana and Sabda as different. Testimony is of two types: (a) testimony that conveys knowledge of sensible objects, (b) testimony that conveys knowledge of supersensible objects. In order to yield valid knowledge, a statement must fulfill the following conditions. (a) A word in a sentence, by itself, is incomplete unless it carries some meaning and raises some expectation (Akanksha). (b) The meanings of the different words in a sentence should possess mutual compatibility (Yogyata) and thereby fulfill the expectation raised by one another. (c) The words in a sentence must have mutual proximity (Sannidhi), i.e., should not be uttered or written at long intervals. (d) The words in the statement must be appropriate to the context (Prakarana). (e) The statement must convey the intention of the speaker (Tatparya).

If we disbelieve authority, we have to go without so much of valuable knowledge obtainable from the statements of the scriptures and of specialists, experts, and other experienced persons. India is proud of its Rishis, Acharyas, Paramhamsas, Yogis, Siddhas, Gurus, Mahatmas, and Swamis, who realized the truth and documented it for the benefit of the posterity. They have lived and experienced the truths with honesty, sincerity, dedication, and devotion. If we disbelieve their words, we shall miss a lot and may have to waste so much time and energy in discovering the truths for and by ourselves. Of course, it is true that only the words of a reliable person (Apta) can yields valid knowledge. As in the Western sciences, while preparing a review of literature to develop testable hypotheses, the student must authenticate the reliability of the authority and the validity of the statements.

Upamana (Comparison or knowledge from similarity)

Upamana is knowledge of similarity about an absent or unfamiliar object obtained from the perceived similarity of a present or familiar object. It is the knowledge of the relation of a name and an object named.

Arthapatti (Presumption or Implication)

Arthapatti means the presupposition of what is necessary for explaining any fact either observed (drsta) or heard about (sruta). By this method, we suppose a word in a sentence where it remains understood, or we suppose the secondary, figurative meaning of a sentence where the primary meaning does not suit. It resembles the method of formulating a hypothesis recognized by Western logicians; but the difference is that here the supposition is not provisional but necessary to reconcile inconsistent facts. Confronted with the problem of judging and choosing rightly, among a number of contending alternatives or hypotheses both the Eastern and the Western philosophies have come to very nearly the same conclusion that there is no finality about either our premises or our conclusions. All that we can do is to test each hypothesis with the greatest possible care and accept that which explains and works best or better. The Western sciences insist that a good hypothesis must allow of the application of deductive reasoning and the inference of consequences capable of comparison with the results of observation. A good hypothesis must not conflict with any laws of nature, which we hold to be true. In a good hypothesis, the consequences inferred must agree with the facts of observation. It often happens that two (or even more) hypotheses have been put forward in possible explanation of phenomena, and owing, perhaps, to both agreeing with a large number of experimental facts, it may be exceedingly difficult to choose between them. Obviously, both cannot be correct; both may be wrong; one must be wrong. How are we to decide? We require a new, crucial experiment, which shall give results agreeing with one hypothesis, but not with the other. Therefore, Indian sciences have laid down stringent tests of a legitimate hypothesis. A legitimate hypothesis must satisfy the following conditions. (1) The hypothesis must explain the facts. (2) The hypothesis must not be in conflict with any observed fact or established generalizations. (3) The hypothesis should not assume any unobserved fact, event, or agent where it is possible to explain the facts satisfactorily by observed agencies. (4) When two rival hypotheses are in conflict, a crucial fact or test is necessary in order to establish either. (5) Of two rival hypotheses, the simpler, i.e., with minimum assumptions, is to be preferred. (6) Of two rival hypotheses, that which is immediate or relevant to the context is to be preferred to that which is alien or remote. (7) A hypothesis that satisfies the above conditions must be capable of verification before it can be established as a theory. Thus, it is evident that in Indian sciences, the tests of a valid hypothesis are extremely rigid and stringent.

Anupalabdhi (Non-apprehension)

Kumarila of the Bhatta school of Mimamsa and Advaitva school of Vedanta admit appropriate (yogya) non-apprehension as a unique and valid source of knowledge. Non-apprehension apprehends non-existence of an object, which is not present. Just as positive cognition is the source of the information positive entities, absence of the knowledge of a thing (under circumstances in which it should have been known had it existed) yields us the information about its non-existence. Non-existence in not merely ideal and subjective, not even a logical category; but it is real and objective, and an ontological category.

Discussion and Conclusion

Extravagant expectations continue to be entertained regarding possible achievements of the scientific method not only by the public at large but also by professed scientists in both East and West. The public still believes that statistical or mathematical demonstration is the ultimate truth, though modern mathematicians are under no such illusion. To some people, the most satisfactory testimony for truth is not so much its empirical validity or logical consistency, but its utility and practical application to reality, i.e., ‘truth is what works’. To others, however, the most satisfactory testimony for truth is its logical consistency or statistical probability. They accept that proposition as the best, which, to them, has the logical certainty of a coherent system of assumptions. This will perhaps explain in some measure why, ever since the dawn of history, there have been sects in every science and there have been bitter quarrels among them. Wherever knowledge is imperfect, as in psychology, differences of views are inevitable.

Contemporary psychology specializes at the interface of a number of scientific disciplines. It occupies an intermediate position between philosophical, natural, social, and cultural sciences. Its close affinity to these sciences, even the presence of certain fields that they explore jointly in no way detracts from its independence. Psychology preserves its object of investigation, its theoretical principles, and the methods of studying this object in all its fields. Psychology is a science about facts, laws, and mechanisms of the mind as an image of reality evolving in the brain and enabling the individual to control his/her behaviour and activity determined by personal traits. All sciences and branches of knowledge can only be meaningful if they serve man, enlighten him, are engendered by him, arise and develop as human history and practice. (see Psychology, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1989, Chapter 1)


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