By Swami Harshananda
Anupalabdhi literally means ‘non-perception’.
Out of the six pramāṇas (means of obtaining knowledge) accepted by the (Bhāṭṭa) Mīmāmsā and the Advaita Vedānta systems of philosophy, anupalabdhi or non-perception forms the last. It is one of the five sources of non-perceptual knowledge. According to the Mimāṁsā epistemology of Kumārila Bhatta, the non-perception of an object is a source of our immediate cognition of the non-existence (abhāva) of that object.
For instance, how is the non-existence of a jar on the table in front of us, known? It is known from the absence of its cognition, since, being a negative fact, it cannot be perceived through the senses. Can we not get this knowledge through anumāna or inference? Why should we accept an additional source of knowledge? No, we cannot; because there is no concomitant relationship between non-perception and non-existence, as in the case of non-perception in the dark.
Hence anupalabdhi as an additional means of knowledge must be accepted. However, it is to be noted that if a thing would have been perceived under given circumstances, but not perceived, then only its anupalabdhi or non-perception becomes a proof of its non-existence. Such anupalabdhi is sometimes called ‘yogyānupalabdhi. ’
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore