I have been reading this book called Being Different by Rajiv Malhotra. In this he mentions Purva Paksha i.e. the art of studying the opposing parties point of view thoroughly and then presenting your viewpoint (Uttara Paksha). He gives the example of Adi Shankaracharya who engaged in a lot of debates with Buddhist scholars etc. most famously Mandana Mishra (who later becomes his devotee)

My question is this: Do Hindu scriptures explicitly talk about Purva Paksha? If so, what do they say?

  • Purvapaksh means;presentation of antithetical view opposing the original statement. Ex. if we are proving that √2 is irrational. Then in proof by contradiction we 1st assume that √2 is rational. Now assuming √2 as rational is opposing view to fact that it is actually irrational(this is purva paksha). Apr 23 '16 at 9:49
  • @Vishalprabhulawande: Yes. :) Although, my question is if this is referenced in any scripture? Apr 23 '16 at 9:59
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    i do not know if any scripture directly mentions the meaning ; but if you refer any authentic Brahma sutras then generally structure and nomenclature of scripture is given by author(or publisher). The meaning ive presented above is from Brahma Sutras commentary of Srila Baladev VidyaBhushan(translated by HG Kusakratha das Brahmacari). Apr 23 '16 at 10:10

What I think

Purva Paksha is the Purva Mimansa Scholar(s) Adi Shankaracharya is refering to, when he says Purva Pakshin He refers to the Person who is against him or when his thoughts are directed to the purva Pakshin.

Similarly Uttarpakshin is the one who represents Uttara Mimansa scholar's, Here(in case of Adi Shankracharya's works) he himself was representative of Uttarpaksha i.e the uttara-mimansa. Uttarmimansa is alias for Vedanta School of thought

More on Mimansa School's
Purva Mimansa

Technically sound answer

There is one more interpretation by Wikipedia which I think is more relevant to this topic

In ancient Indian Jurisprudence, purva paksha referred to the complaint, with other parts of a trial consisting of uttar (the reply), kriyaa (trial or investigation by the court), and nirnaya (verdict or decision)


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    No, the term Purva Paksha has nothing to do with Purva Mimamsa be. Uttara Mimamsa. The Brahma Sutras deal with a variety of Purva Paksha positions, including Samkhya, Purva Mimamsa, Pashupata, etc. Purva Paksha just refers to summarizing the opponent's position before refuting it. Apr 22 '16 at 19:37
  • @KeshavSrinivasan That's why I classified it as my view with a technically sound or correct answer.
    – Yogi
    Apr 22 '16 at 19:38
  • OK, I'm just saying what you're calling "your view" is incorrect. Apr 22 '16 at 19:43
  • @Yogi - like a "hypothetical opponent" :-) May 12 '17 at 16:40
  • @SwiftPushkar Not exactly Hypothetical but yeah most of them(and their beliefs) are non-existent now, they are kala bhojana now! :D
    – Yogi
    May 12 '17 at 18:38

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