According to Vedantic pramana system Anumana is Inferential knowledge and Shabda is Scriptural/Testimonial knowledge.

So when these two contradict each other which one should we consider as true?

If you can site sources it will be very helpful

  • pratyaksha is already known to be faulty (snake instead of rope). anumana, by definition, depends on previous experience of pratyaksha (seen fire & smoke today, hence tomorrow, smoke=>fire). hence anumana is also faulty. shadba (taken to mean Vedas, not just random testimony of people), has never faulted so far. Take from that what you will.
    – ram
    Jan 10, 2020 at 5:39
  • 1
    Anumana comes from inside while Shabda from outside. Outside, there are infinite sources but inside there is only one source self, a spiritually child person should follow Shabda while a wise sage should follow Anumana, rest all should maintain balance in between. During Yaksha prashan, Yudhishthira replied, "Argument leads to no certain conclusion, the Srutis are different from one another; there is not even one Rishi whose opinion can be accepted by all. The truth about Dharma and duty is hidden in the cave of our hearts, therefore that alone is the path along which the great have trod."
    – user16530
    Jan 10, 2020 at 8:02

2 Answers 2


From a Dvaita perspective:

Pratyaksha as verified by "sakshi", the indwelling self, is not an erroneous experience. This is not to negate the erroneous experiences at all. As far as Anumana is concerned, as its name implies, it is anu-mana, secondary to and based on pratyaksha.

As far as the Paramatma or Brahman is concerned, only source of knowledge is Sabda. Neither pratyaksha, nor anumana can help here. (Pratyaksha negatees and Anumaana can go both ways.)

And,this Sabda should be a non-dushta source and it should be so always- not only here in this so called phenomenal world but even in Mukthi, because if it can be negated, or if it is also in the realm of mithya, what it says may carry no value, and as a source, it is useless.

The dvaita system of Shri Madhvacharya accepts the Vedas as Nitya precisely for this reason.

An additional concept accepted by others too is the Veda-apaureshayatva. If the Vedas are the source of Brahmajnana and if the Source of the vedas is the Brahman, it becomes anyonyaashraya.

Another axiomatic concept is the svatahpraamaanya of the Vedas.

Now coming to your question:

When inference contradicts Sabda-

a. Suppose Sabda tells 'fire is cold', Sabda cannot be valid. So, is Sabda wrong? Sabda needs to be reinterpreted according to rules of grammar and rules of interpretation without contradicting pratyaksha or anumaana -a process called samanvaya. Thus, for a dvaitin, the whole vedas are pramana, even the so called karma kaanda portions (which classification it does not accept as there is no internal evidence for the same)

b. when the Sabda-contradicting inference is wrt Brahman, Shruti and those sadaagamas aligned with it alone are valid proof.

सदागमैकविज्ञेयं समतीतक्षराक्षरं नारायणं सदा वन्दे निर्दोषाशेषसद्गुणम् ||(Shriman Madhvacharya in Vishnutattvanirnaya).

The supreme is knowable only through sadaagamas.

So as far as the existence of the Brahman, Mukti etc are concerned, only Scripture is valid.

  • Please add references from scriptures to your answer. Mar 8, 2020 at 13:59

Śabda needs to be rejected when it doesn't sit well with Anumāna.

From Yoga-Vāsiṣṭha:

api pauruṣamādeyaṃ śāstraṃ cedyuktibodhakam |
anyattvārṣamapi tyājyaṃ bhāvyaṃ nyāyyaikasevinā || 2.18.2 ||

Even human compositions are acceptable when they are instructive of good sense; otherwise the Vedas also are to be renounced (as unreliable); because men are required always to abide by reason.

yuktiyuktamupādeyaṃ vacanaṃ bālakādapi |
anyattṛṇamiva tyājyamapyuktaṃ padmajanmanā || 2.18.3 ||

Words conformable with reason are to be received even if spoken by boys; otherwise they are to be rejected as straws though pronounced by the lotus-born (Brahma himself).

yo'smattātasya kūpo'yamiti kaupaṃ pibatyapaḥ |
tyaktvā gāṅgaṃ purasthaṃ taṃ ko nāśāstyatirāgiṇam || 2.18.4 ||

Whoever drinks from a well by reason of its being dug by his ancestors, and rejects the holy water of the Ganges even when placed before him, is an incorrigible simpleton.

  • 3
    Ironically, going by the above answer, the yoga vasistha itself needs to be rejected because it teaches advaita, which contradicts both pratyaksha and anumAna. Only Sabda can establish advaita.
    – user17987
    Jan 24, 2020 at 4:53
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    @yAdRcchika Advaitha does not contradict Pratyaksha or Anumana.
    – user13262
    Jan 24, 2020 at 7:02
  • After a particular stage you have to give up logic. Like the rockets take the satellite to space but the very same rockets become a burden later on and have to be given up, logic has to be given up to enter samadhi. Adwaitha is logical in some sense and also beyond logic in some other sense. Neither logic nor sabda can finish the game for you. Just by knowing that this is a dream is not enough. You need to wake up. Jan 26, 2020 at 5:28

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