By Swami Harshananda
Anvaya literally means ‘following or succession’.
The two words, anvaya and vyatireka, are frequently used in philosophical works and logic to prove a point. They invariably go together. Anvaya is a positive statement indicating a universal agreement whereas vyatireka is the opposite of it, proving the same point by indicating the universal absence of the contrary. To illustrate :
- Smoke is seen on the yonder hill.
- We conclude that there is fire on that hill.
This conclusion is based on two premises from our previous experience :
- Wherever there is smoke, there is fire
- Wherever there is no fire, there is no smoke.
Of these, the first one is a positive statement, asserting the presence of fire wherever there is smoke. Hence it is called anvaya-vyāpti, or simply anvaya. The second statement asserts a negative factor, the universal absence of smoke when there is no fire. This is called vyatireka-vyāpti or vyatireka (negation or contrariety). To prove the existence of fire on the hill on the evidence of smoke, both these methods of argument are necessary.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore