Anvaya

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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 :

  1. Wherever there is smoke, there is fire
  2. 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.


References

  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore