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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Verbal Testimony- Sabda Pramana (Nyaya Philosophy)


Verbal Testimony- Sabda Pramana (Nyaya Philosophy)
A sentence which is a means of valid knowledge is called verbal testimony. It is the fourth kind of valid knowledge in Nyaya philosophy, it is called Sabda or agama or authoritative verbal testimony. Its means is called Sabda. It is defined as the statement of a trustworthy person (aptavakya) and consists in understanding its meaning. A sentence is defined as a collection of words and a word is defined as that which is potent to convey its meaning. The power in a word to convey its meaning comes, according to ancient Nyaya, from God, and according to later Nyaya, from long established convention.
Verbal Testimony is of two kinds:
Vaidika and secular (laukika). The Vaidika testimony is perfect and infallible because the Vedas are spoken by God; Secular testimony, being the words of human beings who are liable to error, is not infalliable.
A sentence in order to be intelligible must conform to certain conditions. These conditions are four:
1.      Akanksa: It is mutual implication or expectancy. It is the capacity of the words to become objects of enquiry. When we hear a word describing or signifying a course of action something of that course of action becomes our object of enquiry. The words of a sentence are interrelated and stand in need of one another in order to express a complete sense. A mere aggregate of unrelated words will not make a logical sentence. It will be sheer nonsense, eg., ‘cow horse man elephant’.
2.      Yogyata: the words should possess the fitness to convey the sense and should not contradict the meaning. For e.g., ‘water the plants with fire’, it is a contradictory sentence. It is the condition of consistency.
3.      Sannidhi: The third condition is the close proximity of the words to one another. The words must be spoken in quick secession without any long intervals. If the words ‘bring’, ‘a’, ‘cow’ are uttered at long intervals they would not make a logical sentence. It is defined as contiguity.

4.      Tatparya: The valid of a sentence depends on it purport not on its literal meaning. It is the condition of the intention of the speaker if the words are ambiguous. For e.g., the word’ saindhva’ means salt as well as horse. Now if a man who is taking his food asks another to bring ‘saindhava’, the latter should not bring a horse. Hence this condition can also be said to be interpreted on the basis of common sense.


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