Here, this is what's said of Akhyati Vada


  • Advocated by Prabhakara school of Purva-Mimamsa.

  • Does not admit of error in the logical sense.

  • No logical distinction between knowledge and error.

  • Believe in intrinsic validity of knowledge.

  • So, all knowledge is valid per se and error is only partial truth. Other words, error is only imperfect knowledge.

  • Error also regarded as Non-apprehension.

  • Error can never be regarded as unitary knowledge.

  • Error is due to the non-discrimination between the two cognitions.

  • Error is regarded as commission. Not omission.

But inspite of these points its not quite clear how this applies to real world examples.

How does it compare to Advaita view and how have Advaitis refuted it?

Note: This view is said to be very similar to Satkhyati Vada of Shri Ramanujacharya.

1 Answer 1


Akhyati vada of Prabhakara school is different from Satkhyati Vada of Shri Ramanujacharya.

You have to take a single example of silver in the nacre or snake in the rope example and look at all the classifications of error.

Akhyātivāda of Prabhakara Mimansa. The error lies not in perception but in the lack of appropriate discrimination. Advaita rejects this because silver is perceived here and now. It is not from memory.

sat khyAti – this is the theory of vishiShTAdvaita (Ramanuja) and argues that there must be real silver present in the nacre for one to see. Since all objects are fundamentally made of the same five elements, everything is present in everything else. Hence, perception of silver in the nacre is due to the presence of real silver there. This can be dismissed because then every object consists of everything else.

The advaita view is as follows:

Anirvacanīya-khyātivāda. the illusory object of the snake is a product of ignorance (avidyā) about the substratum of the rope and the error is caused due to Maya (which is also indescribable). In the silver/nacre example, the realities are relative. For example, the silver that I saw does not come under the category of asat or unreal since it is experienced as I saw it. When it is negated by the knowledge that it is nacre, the ‘silver that I saw’ is recognized as not real. Therefore, it is mithyA in relation to nacre. Mithya is Anirvacanīya. As Madhusudhana saraswati says in advaita siddhi: The nature of mithyA is that it is different from sat, and asat. It is ‘sat asat anadhikaraNatvarUpam anirvachanIyatvam’ – its inexplicability arises since it is based on neither existence nor non-existence.

From vedanta paribhasa

Objection: Nevertheless, the mental state or impression in the form of ‘this’, and the state of ignorance of ‘Brahman’ due to nescience are two distinct entities. According to prabhAkara (who was a student of kumArila bhatta, but formed his own school of pUrva mImAMsA different from his teacher), one should treat the perception of the object as ‘this’ and the recognition of the object as ‘silver’, as two separate processes. I.e. cognition and recognition are two distinct processes and should not be combined. However, in the perception of illusory silver, the perception of ‘this’ is getting mixed up with the recognition of real silver perceived elsewhere so that we have a mixed-up perception of ‘this is (that) silver’. Hence, the illusory silver, according to prabhAkara, is not an error in perception but an error in recognition. A qualified perception such as ‘erroneous perception’ is therefore not permitted and your above analysis violates this.

Reply: Not true. We do not accept prabhAkara’s analysis of error. In our view, error is taking something other than what it is – atasmin tat buddhi. Nescience also involves taking the substantive Brahman as other than what it is; as an object this or object that. This is fundamental in all erroneous perceptions. In the example being discussed, I am taking the object that I am perceiving as ‘this’ as silver instead of what it actually is – nacre. This error is at the vyAvahArika level. There is an error at the pAramArthika level too. But the cause for both errors is the same. One and the same consciousness is reflected in two states involving real (the existence as object) and unreal (the experiential ‘this’ as a form with quality). When the real is not recognized due to nescience, the unreal is taken to be a real object. This is admitted as an error in perception. The illuminating consciousness, sAkshI, illumines the real and the unreal components – ‘this is’ and ‘silver’. One is the substantive of ‘is-ness’, and the other the attributive content of the vRRitti in the form of silveriness. Thus, an error arises in every perception and is accepted by advaita vedAnta where the real is ignored, and the Adheya, or superimposed attributive knowledge forms the basis for the substantive knowledge.

Based on rope/snake principle,

(1) asat-khyati: rope being present, there appears the snake which is not present there.

(2) sat-khyati: rope itself looking like snake.

(3) atma-khyati: rope remaining unidentified, the remembrance of snake, formerly seen elsewhere, creates the illusion.

(4) akhyati: totally unreal.

(5) anayatha-khyati: mental image of snake projected and seen as if it were in front of oneself.

(6) anirvachaniya-khyati: inexplicable.

  • Thank you so much🙏
    – user22253
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 17:23

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