The Term “avyapadeśyam” in Gautama’s Definition of Perception Development through the Commentarial Tradition

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Kuntala Bhattacharya


Of all the cognitive means recognized in Indian philosophical schools, perception is considered the primary. Gautama, the philosopher who authored Nyāyasūtra—the first aphoristic collection of the Nyāya tenets—defines perception as the principal cause of true perceptual cognition, that is, of a cognition generated out of sense-object contact, non-deviating, non-vacillating, and nonverbal. Of these, the adjective “nonverbal”—the translated version of the Sanskrit term “avyapadeśyam”—ignited a serious debate that was argued for about a millennium. This article tries to trace different interpretations of the term in the classical Nyāya commentarial literature, especially in the writings of Vātsyāyana, Uddyotakara, Vācaspati Miśra, and Jayanta Bhaṭṭa. It also attempts to show briefly how the contributions of these philosophers in the debate were influenced by the prevalent Indian philosophical scenario.

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How to Cite
Bhattacharya, . K. . (2021). The Term “avyapadeśyam” in Gautama’s Definition of Perception: Development through the Commentarial Tradition. Journal of World Philosophies, 6(1), 24–37. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Kuntala Bhattacharya, Rabindra Bharati University

Kuntala Bhattacharya is an associate professor at the Department of Philosophy, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. Her research areas include classical Indian Philosophy, especially Nyāya and Buddhist epistemology and logic.