Anumana is inferential knowledge. It means cognition that follows previous knowledge. It involves predicting assumptions or postulations about unknown or lesser-known facts based on understanding previously established phenomena. It explores the past history regarding any subject predicting present status and the prognosis of any phenomena. Thus anumana provides the information applicable to all time frames. Preceded by direct perception (pratyaksha pramana), anumana can help in the logical reasoning of prospects of the subject. It enables the knowledge seeker to gain insights about the subject beyond perception. Anumana pramana explores the cause-effect relationship of known phenomena to postulate regarding the unknown phenomena. It can thus establish a correlation between effect and cause in retrospective and prospective studies.
|Authors||Bhojani M. K. 1, Joglekar A. A.2|
|Editors||Deole Y.S.4, Basisht G.3|
1 Department of Sharira Kriya, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi
2Department of Samhita Siddhant, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi
3 Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India4 Department of Kayachikitsa, G.J.Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat, India
|Date of first publication:||March 22, 2022|
Etymology and derivation
The word ‘anumana’ is derived from the Sanskrit verb “ma” meaning to know and prefixed by “anu” meaning following or coming after. Anumana is an act of inferring or drawing a conclusion from given premises.[Monniere Williams dictionary]
The word anumana (inferential cognition) denotes the process of anumitikarana (tool for inferential cognition) or prediction.[Shabdakalpadruma]
Anumana pramana is an instrument of obtaining inferential knowledge that arises from subject deduction. [Tarkasangraha] A deduction is ascertaining facts with respect to the invariable characteristics of the subject. It is defined as knowledge that is produced after direct perception (pratyaksha pramana).
It can be referred to as obtaining knowledge of indirect objects after perception. [Gangadhar rai] Vaschaspatyam describes it as a resultant of knowledge of linga (characteristic mark) with the help of lingi (universally accepted characteristic).
Anumana is a tool of obtaining knowledge preceded by pratyaksha pramana. It provides knowledge of the past, present, and future. For example, the presence of fire can be inferred on appearance of smoke; the copulation in past is inferred by witnessing pregnancy, and predicting the future tree after examining the seed. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 11/21-22]
Anumana is the indirect inferential knowledge based on yukti i.e. reasoning, logic, and experiments. [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 4/4]
Anumana is the reasoning supported by invariable concomitance such as the knowledge of agni (is examined) by the power of digestion; that of the strength of a person by analyzing the capacity to exercise, competency of auditory organ etc. by the ability of perception of sound, etc. [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/40]
Synonyms of Anumana
Three types based on chronological inference:
Based on the time frame of the knowledge obtained, anumana is of 3 types- past, present and future. [Nyaya philosophy, Chakrapani on Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 11/21-22]
1) Futuristic prediction (purvavataanumana): This is to predict about effect (karya) from the cause (karana). It is the inference of effect from cause (kaaranatkarya-anumana).
It refers to inferring to actions in the future. For instance, the production of future fruiting can be assumed by looking at the seed. This resembles to analysis of preliminary or rudimentary knowledge is done to gain information about future probabilities. The prediction of impending disease after examining the etiological factors can be done. For instance, the habit of pica (mrudbhakshana) indicates the occurrence of anaemia (pandu) disease in future. The premonitory features indicate future disease conditions.
2) Inference of past history (sheshavataanumana): This is to predict about cause (karana) from effect (karya). It is inference of cause from the effect (kaaryatkarana-anumana).
It refers to inferring the actions in the past. Here the visible effect is analyzed to obtain its possible cause. It resembles the analytic method of study where analysis of knowledge of the gross object is done to acquire the minutest details. For instance, the evidence of pregnancy infers the act of copulation done in the past. For example, the appearance of signs and symptoms of any disease refers to the past infection or inflammation.
3) General inference (samanyatodrishta): It is inference regarding the knowledge by the generalization of concept or a common phenomena. Purvavataanumana represents future or antecedent knowledge, sheshavataanumana represents past or subsequent knowledge and samanyatodrishta explains present or analogous knowledge.
Three types based on methods of inference:
1) Anvaya-vyatireki: It is joint method of agreement in presence and absence of causative factor. The invariable relationship exists between presence and absence of causative factor and phenomena. For example, if there is presence of pain (shoola), vata dosha is invariably responsible for it. Absence of vata dosha will in turn reflect the absence of pain. This is also observed in the manifestation of disease pathology. The continuous exposure to causative factors (nidana sevana) leads to continued pathogenesis and occurrence of disease. As soon as the treatment protocol including removal of causative factors is implemented, it leads to pacification.
2) Kevalanvayi: It is fixed affirmation or inherent relation between means and object. For instance, the agni and pitta dosha are affirmed or interrelated due to the presence of teja mahabhuta in both. The indispensable relation (ashraya-ashrayai bhava) between pitta dosha and rakta dhatu is an example of kevalanvayi. [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana.11/26-28] Similarly the relationship between observation of pathognomonic signs of any disease reflect the presence of the particular disease. For instance the relation between increased body temperature (santapa) and fever (jwara).[Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 3/31]
3) Kevala-vyatireki: It is firm negation between the means and object. The prithvi mahabhuta will always be different from teja mahabhuta, non-concomitance (vyatirekavyapti) exists in both of these. This is observable in all the different physiological and anatomical entities as every structure is unique. The relation between vata dosha and asthi dhatu is indicative of kevala-vyatirekihetu.
Two types based on objectives:
Two types of anumana based on targeted recipients are described namely: swartha (for information of oneself) and parartha anumana (made for providing the information to other). (Tarkasangraha)
1. Personal inference (swartha-anumana): It is inference from one’s own perspective or predictions. It is private conclusion made by the examiner based on previous knowledge. It does not require to be explained to other. It is the process of recognition of characteristic sign leading to logical reasoning and inference (linga-paramarsha).
2. Demonstrative inference (parartha –anumana): It is inference made to explain the perspective or prediction to others. It is meant for demonstration of knowledge to others. In order to convey the inference to others the medium of five syllogisms (pacha-avayavivakya) is proposed. These are explained as a part of vaada-marga that enables an individual to convey or convince the opinion about any phenomena.[Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/34] These can be elaborated as follows-
a. Proposition (pratijna):
It is declaration or assertion of statement to be proved. It is the main subject or concern or argument.
b. Reason, tool or cause (hetu):
It is the tool, method or instrument to attain the knowledge or prove the phenomena. Pratyaksha, anumana, aitihya (aaptopadesha or testimony) and aupamya (analogy) are tools to obtain the rightful knowledge. [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/35]
c. Concomitance, example (udaharana or drishtanta):
It denotes the concomitance or similarity of the observed phenomena with the existent knowledge. This generalizes the knowledge to both scholars and illiterate people equally. This knowledge is comprehensible to both the elite and ignorant recipient.
d. Justification (upanaya):
It compares, correlates initial proposition (pratijna) and established fact (drishtanta) to justify the activity. It is the application of general rule to the particular case. It is described under the heading of sthapana. [Cha. Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/31] It is the assumptive correlation to generalize a particular rule.
e. Conclusion (nigamana):
It is repetition of proposition or declaration. It involves the establishment of proposition with help of hetu, drishtanta and upanaya.
Constituents of anumana pramana: 
The example of fire and smoke is most commonly quoted to explain the anumana pramana. It denotes the understanding or assumption of presence of fire on the hill after witnessing the smoke on the hill. Thus the smoke marks as characteristic feature indicating the presence of fire. Thus the observer is entitled to make preposition of fire on hill based on the previous knowledge of the invariable relationship between smoke and fire. This invariable relationship between objective (sadhya) and cause (hetu) is termed as vyapti. It is instrumental in generating the deduction (paramarsha) to draw an inference or establishing the knowledge through anumana.
There are three constituents to form an inferential knowledge.
- Paksha (concerned subject or abode)
- Sadhya (objective)
- Linga (characteristic sign)
If the example of smoke on hill is considered, hill is denoted as paksha (minor term) as it is subject under consideration for inference. Fire is sadhya or major term which is supposed to be proved. Smoke is the linga i.e. middle term marking the characteristic sign indicating the presence of fire. This linga is termed as hetu or sadhana i.e. tool to derive the inference. Thus the three terms namely paksha, sadhya and linga are pivotal to derive inferential knowledge regarding any condition.
For instance, in the diagnosis of diseases, paksha is the patient or subject concerned. Sadhya is diagnosis the physician wants to make. Linga is the characteristic feature or symptomatology that helps in making the diagnosis. Thus the vyapti is the invariable unconditional concomitance between subject of concern and characteristic feature. For instance, the relation between the presence of heat and pitta dosha depicts the vyapti sambandha.
Fallacies or limitation of inference (hetvabhasa)
These are fallacies that make a hetu (reason or tool) to appear valid, when it is actually invalid. These can hinder the process of inference. Nyaya philosophy has explained 5 types of fallacies or hetvabhasa. These are savyabhichari (inappropriate reason), viruddhi (contradictory reason), satpratipaksha (inferentially contradicted middle term i.e. it is contradicted by inferential knowledge), asiddha (unproved or inconclusive hetu), badhita (non-inferentially contradicted middle term or absurd hetu i.e. it can be disproved by other pramana like pratyaksha etc.). These fallacies can make false interpretation and limits the knowledge through anumana.
Importance of concept of anumana
The persons who are knowledgeable and well versed with the scriptures or literary texts (aaptopadesha pramana) require only pratyaksha (direct perception) and anumana pramana (inference) for examination of any phenomena like disease. [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 4/5] The pratyaksha pramana or sensorial knowledge has some limitations. Direct observations cannot always provide with sufficient information. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 11/7] Hence, it is necessary to understand the phenomena by inferential knowledge and logical reasoning with the help of anumana pramana. The entities like sense organs (indriya) themselves cannot be assessed by pratyaksha pramana and are best assessed using anumana pramana. [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 25/22-23] While assessing the numbers and properties of various anatomical structures like tendons (snayu) , joints (sandhi) , muscles (peshi) etc. the pratyaksha pramana is not always sufficient. Here anumana or tarka can be helpful to understand the exact number. [Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 7/14] Anumana is necessary for the understanding of complex entities like atma. It cannot be properly assessed by yukti and aaptopadesha. [Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 1/44] Similarly the functions of different dosha , their subtypes , dhatu are assessed through the means of anumana only. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 27/3]
Following phenomena can be observed through the means of anumana pramana. [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 4/8]
|Sr. No.||Reference quote||Entity to be assessed||Method of assessment|
|1.||Agnim jaranshaktya||Assessment of digestion||Assessment of power of digestion by quality and quantity of food consumed and digested|
|2.||Balam vyayamshaktya||Assessment of physical strength||Examined with the capacity to exercise|
|3.||Shrotradeeni- shabdadiarthagrahanena||Assessment of the functioning of the sense organs||Assessed by the clarity and accuracy of perception of their respective objects.|
|4.||Mano- artheshuavyabhicharnena||Assessment of functioning of mana or mental perception||Absence of altered perceptions by the sensory organs indicate the rightful functioning of mana.|
|5.||Vijnanam vyavsayena||Assessment of skill set or knowledge of person||Assessed by one’s occupation and knowledge.|
|6.||Rajah sangena||Assessment of rajas guna or affection||Involvement in material pleasures or attachments|
|7.||Moham avijnanena||Assessment of moha or ignorance||Assessed by lack of knowledge|
|8.||Krodham abhidrohena||Assessment of anger||Assessed by choosing measures for revenge or revenging attitude|
|9.||Shokam dainyena||Assessment of sorrow||Assessment of grief is done by inability to think critically or sorrowful disposition|
|10.||Harsham aamoden||Assessment of pleasure||Assessed by level of happiness|
|11.||Preetim toshena||Assessment of affection or love||Assessed by level of satisfaction|
|12.||Bhayam vishadena||Assessment of fear||Assessed by duration and severity of anxiety|
|13.||Dhairyam avishadena||Assessment of patience or strength of mind||Assessed by ability to face the adversities without fear|
|14.||Veeryam utthanena||Assessment of bravery or vitality||Assessed by ability to cope up with the situation|
|15.||Avasthanam avibhramena||Assessment of stability of mind||Stability assessed by absence of doubts and confusions|
|16.||Shraddha abhiprayena||Assessment of faith||Faith or desire is assessed by the act of requisition.|
|17.||Medha grahnena||Assessment of intelligence||Assessed by ability to retain the information|
|18.||Sangyanam grahanena||Assessment of orientation or recognitive power||Assessed by ability to identify and comprehend the object|
|19.||Smriti smarnena||Assessment of memory||Assessed by ability to recall the facts|
|20.||Hriyam apatrapnena||Assessment of level of shyness||Assessment from bashfulness|
|21.||Sheelam anusheelnena||Assessment of character||Assessed by habits of the person|
|22.||Dvesham pratishedhena||Assessment of hatred||Assessed by repulsion or disinclination towards the thing|
|23.||Upadhi anubandhena||Assessment of deception||Assessment of subsequent manifestation|
|24.||Dhriti alaulyena||Assessment of consistency or determination||Assessed by firmness and stability of thoughts|
|25.||Vashyata vidheyataya||Assessment of obedience||Assessed by compliance and faithful following|
|26.||Vaya kalena||Assessment of age||Assessed with the help of chronological time|
|27.||Bhakti deshena||Assessment of liking towards a particular food||Assessed by habitat of living|
|28.||Satmya upashayena||Assessment of habituation||Assessed by the level of wholesomeness|
|29.||Vyadhi vedanaya||Assessment of disease||Assessed by signs and symptoms|
|30.||Goodhalinga vyadhi Upashaya-anupashayabhyam||Assessment of diseases that are difficult to diagnose||Assessed by effectiveness of treatment in terms of relief or no relief/ aggravation.|
|31.||Dosha pramana||Assessment of dosha pramana or morbidity||Assessed by the level of consumption of provocative factors|
|32.||Ayushakshaya arishtai||Assessment of imminent death||Assessed by the presence of arishta lakshana or poor prognostic signs|
|33.||Shreyastwam kalyanabhiniveshena||Assessment of impending prosperity||Assessed by the righteous deeds done|
|34.||Amalam sattvam||Assessment of sattvika qualities of mana||Assessed by absence of impairments like attachment, envy, anger etc.|
|35.||Grahanyastu mridudarunatwam||The patho-physiology of organ grahani||Assessed through the interrogation of the patient.|
|36.||Swapnadarshana||Assessment of dreams||Assessed through the interrogation of the patient.|
|37.||Abhipraya||Assessment of goals||Assessed through the interrogation of the patient.|
|38.||Dwesha, Sukha- Dukha||Assessment of feelings like hatred (dwesha) , happiness (sukha) , sorrow (dukkha)||Assessed through the interrogation of the patient.|
[Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 4/7]
Importance in gustatory examinations (rasanendriyapariksha)
Taste of various tissues in the body of the patient is the object of the gustatory sense organ. It can be ascertained by inference only and not by direct observation. The taste in the mouth of the patient should be ascertained by interrogation. It is suggestive of vitiation of dosha in body. Sweet taste of the body fluids can be inferred, when flies are attracted towards the body. In the case of bleeding, if there is a doubt about the pure or vitiated nature of the blood, then it should be resolved by giving the blood to dogs and crow to taste. Intake of the blood by dogs and crows indicates its purity and rejection indicates that the blood is vitiated by pitta, i.e. the patient is suffering from bleeding disorders (raktapitta). Similarly, other tastes in the patient’s body can be inferred. It is also useful in determining the arishta lakshana pertaining to tongue (rasanendriya). [Cha.Sa.Indriya Sthana 3/20]
Importance in diagnosis
Pratyaksha pramana has many limitations in knowledge perception about past and future scenarios. Hence while searching for the past history of patient and deciding the prognosis, the physician has to refer to the inferential knowledge or anumana. Various physiological entities like agni (digestion), bala (strength), indriya shakti (sensorium), medha (cognition), smriti (memory) can be assessed using the principles of anumana pramana. Pathological conditions like quantification of dosha (dosha pramana), lifespan (ayushya-kshaya), nature of grahani (grahani swarupa), nature of pain (vyadhi-vedana) are assessed through anumana pramana.
In surgery, anumana is applied to search foreign body that is deeply embedded in tissues and not visible to the naked eye.[Dalhana on Su.Su.1/16] If ghee applied over the affected part melts faster than that of unaffected part, this indicates the presence of foreign body. The inference like the overlying ghee melts due to heat and inflammation.
Signs of a disease can be observed by pratyaksha pramana, but symptoms are assessed using the deliberation of anumana pramana. This makes the anumana pramana more effective in diagnosis of mental disorders (manasa roga). It also helps in predicting the prognosis, chance of survival of the patient and outcomes of the treatment in the future. Anumana helps in assessment of subtle individual entities like ojas, dhatu, dosha, mana, atma that cannot be directly perceived by sensorial faculties, but only by referring to their characteristics and functions.
Anumana is a tool for the assessment of imbalance of the dosha in terms of hyper functioning (vriddhi) and hypo functioning (kshaya), dhatu and mala etc. entities. [Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 15/39] According to the contemporary science, the laboratory parameters are set to determine the body pathology. For instance, the rise in ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) depicts inflammation in the body. Also the symptoms like rise in body temperature denote occurrence of fever. Thus the anumana or inference is most pivotal in making the diagnosis of any disease. For instance in case of fever of exogenous origin (agantuja jwara) , the symptoms can be best understood using the means of anumana. [Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 3/121]
Importance in treatment
The symptoms put forth by the patient should be inferred by the physician to assess the general condition, prognosis and treatment response in a patient. The treatment plan is initiated and executed by assuming the factors like dosha, kala, bala, disease condition (vyadhi avastha) by the physician.
The outcome of the treatment in a patient is also assessed by the physician, while prescribing the medication. This underlines the importance of anumana in treatment. The categories of medicine (mahakashaya) described in the text are exemplary. The physician can use numerous other herbs and modalities based on his expertise according to the condition of patients by applying anumana and yukti pramana. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 4/20] So the inferential knowledge of the physician coupled with logical reasoning is pre-requisite for wholesome treatment. It is most important tool in assessing the lifespan , impending death or morbidity status of the individual. Hence it is basis of the determination of near death signs (arishta lakshana). [Cha.Sa.Indriya Sthana 4/3-4] [Cha.Sa.Indriya Sthana 2/14]
Importance in teaching and learning methodology
Anumana pramana involves drawing inference and logical reasoning on the basis of previously experienced or observed facts. Thus it explores the cognitive and psychomotor domain of learning. It is thus necessary for development of skills of analysis, logical reasoning and inductive thinking in the learner.
Anumana pramana as research tool
The anumana pramana helps the researcher to establish a cause and effect relationship acknowledging the information in all three phases of time i.e. past, present and future. It utilizes the analytical methods of logical reasoning to solve the domain of research question. Anumana pramana has a wide applicability in research as it is concerned with application of deductive, inductive and analogical reasons for analysis of facts observed.
The five components of a statement (pancha-avayavivakya) as a part of parartha anumana is also an excellent example of presentation or preparation of research module. Proposition (pratijna) is initial preposition of research question or hypothesis. Hetu are comparable to research methods and relation of the subject with outcomes. Example (udaharana) is the review of previous work done which makes the matter easily understandable by stating examples. Application (upanaya) involves the application of general rule to the particular concept similar to the discussion part of research work. conclusion (nigamana) is conclusive statement regarding the phenomena.
The three types of anumana i.e. purvavata, sheshavata and samanytodrishta resemble the observational research designs like cohort (prospective study), case control (retrospective study) and cross sectional studies (prevalence study) respectively. The process of research and testing of hypothesis itself denotes the application of the evidence obtained in the sample studied to the population. Thus the inference regarding the population is made from information obtained from a sample. The statistical analysis also helps to determine the validity of research by comparing the data or information obtained with previous knowledge. Thus the term statistical inference or inferential statistics rightfully glorify the importance of anumana pramana.
The karya-karana bhava in Ayurveda mentions the cause-effect relationship pertaining to any phenomena. This is the basis of designing any research and stating a hypothesis. The ten fold examination factors (dashavidhapariksha bhava) thus help in inferring this relationship in structured and stepwise manner resembling the research protocol. [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/68]
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