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The Language of Logic- Navyanyaya Perspectives

The Language of Logic- Navyanyaya Perspectives
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Item Code: NAZ699
Author: Tirumala P Kulkarni and Jaideep Joshi
Publisher: Manipal University Press
Language: English
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9789382460046
Pages: 140
Other Details: 9.00 X 6.00 inch
weight of the book: 0.33 kg
About the Book

The Language of Logic- Narayana Prespectives is a unique introduction to the Philosophy and language if Indian Logic- Navyanya. Setting out with the technical languages of Navyanaya, the book takes the reader through its applications to computerized language processing, and culninates in the philosophical aspects of indian logic. By introducing complex ideas with lucid narration, illustrations, and interesting analogies, it opens the door for a general audience to the intricacies of the tradional Nyaya-vaiseika doctrine.

About the Author

Tirumala P Kulkarni, a PhD in Dvaitavedanta, is a pioneering youn scholar, who is highly regarded for his contribution to the field of Sanskrit Computational Linguistics. He presently works as a professor in Poornapranja Vidyapeetha Sanskrit College. Bengaluru and teaches Devaitavedanta. Navyanyay and Alankarasastra. He is a member of the team developing tagged corpora and Sanskrit grammatical toolkits for the SHMT project of Government of India, and is known for designing innovative coureware for practical Sanskrit. This course has the potential to change the senario of teaching Sanskrit. He has been awarded with the prestigious Vidyamanyaprashastri.

Jaideep Joshi, Btech in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, is currently pursuing a PhD in Ecology at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. His wide range of interest include studying collective animal behaviour, Sankrit, and Indian philosophy.


The words in any language are finite. The concept each word corresponds to, however, forms a continuum. Naturally, the words — both content words as well as function words are overloaded. This brings in ambiguity in Natural languages. It is this ambiguity, which makes it unfit to use Natural Languages for logical deductions. Logic demands a language with precision. In the West, this led to the development of a new formal language and resulted in a complete calculus for logical deductions in the form of Predicate Calculus. But this formal language being artificial, we do not find its use or application in other branches of knowledge.

Indian logicians (Naiyayikas) who were actively involved in the debates of establishing the authenticity of the Vedas also noticed ambiguity as an impeding factor for logical argumentation and debates and developed a technical language, which then can be used as a tool for disambiguation. This language, often known as the Technical Language of Navyanyaya, became the language of all serious discourse. It did not replace the human language, but was used as a supplementary tool to the existing language. Sibajiban Bhattacharyya (1990, p129) observes "This language, developed within the language of realistic Vaisesika ontology, was, however, found to be ontologically neutral, and was used not merely in different philosophies... but also in grammar, philosophy of language, poetics, law, and other branches of study." There have been significant efforts to make the Indian texts on Nydya accessible to the modern scholars by Ingalls, Matilal, Staal, Sibajiban Bhattacharya, J L Shaw and Jonardan Ganeri in recent times. The oral tradition of Indian education system laid more emphasis on the memorization. Today’s education system on the other hand uses visual aids more than the memory. Prof V N Jha while teaching a Japanese student realized the need to make the Navyanyaya language accessible through the visual aid and this resulted into the graphical representation of the Navyanyaya Expressions (NNE) as illustrated in his book on "Visayatavada" and later on followed by Toshihiro Wada in his book on "The analytical method of Navyanyaya’’.

During 1992-94, a series of workshops were held at IIT, Kanpur in which Prof Sibajiban Bhattacharya, Prof Prahladachar, Prof Mukhopadhyaya, Prof Rajaram Shukla, Prof Vineet Chaitanya, and Prof Rajeev Sangal participated. The aim of the workshop was to understand the technical language of Navyanyaya, present it to the scientists and technologists through the familiar Conceptual Graphs of Sowa, and express it through the FOPC (First Order Predicate Calculus). This resulted into my own MTech thesis. From 1998-2000, Dr Tirumala Kulkarni and Dr Shrinivasa Varakhedi joined a two-year programme on Natural Language Processing (NLP) at IIIT and the discussions during these sessions resulted in better understanding of the concepts of samanddhikaranya and vyapti. Dr Varakhedi’s PhD thesis discusses the use of samanddhikaranya and vyapti for representation of existential and the universal quantifiers.

Another important allied branch of Nydya is the Vaisesika, which is famous for its ontology. The Vaisesika school provided a systematic classification of the padarthas (lit: the meaning of a word) - the things that can be cognised. Later both the schools merged together to form Nyaya-vaisesika school. Udayana, the late 10th century Naiyayika, discussed the impediments for something to be a class character (jazi), known as jdtibadhakas. One of them is samkara, which results into multiple inheritance. Another constraint is infinite regress (anavastha). According to this condition, no universal can be admitted to exist. For, this leads to infinite regress. Kishor Kumar Chakrabarti, quoting Udayana’s explanation that there can be no universal of which every universal is a member, points to the similarity of the argument with Russell’s paradox. As is well known, Russell’s Paradox challenged the theoretical foundation of set theory. The well founded ontological system of Vaisesika with the six impediments for jati such as samkara, anavasthda, etc. provides a sound base for ontological classification of the padarthas.

It is our belief that the Indian logic with the technical language (because of its ontologically neutral technical language) on the one hand and the well founded ontological system on the other hand provides a sound base for "knowledge engineering". Unfortunately, this knowledge is not easily accessible to the present day computational linguists, or the "knowledge engineers".

There was a need to make this work easily available to the researchers who do not have any formal training in Navyanydya. Dr Tirumala Kulkarni and Mr Jaideep have done an excellent job in presenting the basic concepts of Navyanydadya, motivating them through examples that are relevant today. With his strong background in Nydya and a vast teaching experience in Sahitya, he has added various rasas to the otherwise dry language of Navyanydaya. For a "knowledge engineer" working in the field of NLP, this serves as an introductory book for both the Vaisesika ontology as well as the technical language of Navyanyaya. An easy flowing language, motivating examples, illustrative pictures and diagrammatic representation of NNEs make this book self- sufficient in itself. This book can even serve as a textbook for courses with focus on Natural Language Processing. I congratulate the authors for this wonderful work.


I am from the gurukula background. I have traditionally studied Nyaya and Vedanta from Gurus. In the gurukula system, we have to reproduce yesterday’s topics before the Guru everyday, along with monthly, half-yearly and annual exams. This method not only helps but also forces us to study the work in depth. I have studied Nydya under HH Sri Vishveshatirtha Svamiji, Prof D Prahladacharya, Pandit Keshava Bayari, Prof A Haridas Bhat, Pandit Gururaj Mathada and others. In 1990, Prof M P Rege, the scholar of western philosophy and logic from Pune, visited our gurukula and taught us Symbolic Logic for fifteen days. We were trying to compare the two systems to find similarities. During 1998-2001, my friend Dr Shrinivasa Varakhedi and J had an opportunity to present and discuss the Navyanyaya (Neo Logic) concepts to the scholars from a modern scientific background. It was our fortune that we met stalwarts like Sri Vineet Chaitanya, Prof Ramakrishnamacharyulu, Prof Rajeev Sangal and Dr Amba Kulkarni. A particularly useful lesson that I learned in this endeavour was that we have amazing concepts and methods in traditional works, but the need of the hour is to present them using modern methods. Many non-traditional observations in this book are due to these discussions. I specially remember Sri Vineet Chaitanya for his sharp and new observations, like calling a type of avacchedaka as mode of cognition, recognizing the importance of the parydpti relation, and recognizing the role of Naiydyikas as knowledge engineers. For a long time, it was in my mind that there should be a small guide on Navyanydya for beginners, especially for the people from technical backgrounds. In 2012, Prof Malhar Kulkarni, IIT Bombay, introduced me to his student Jaideep Joshi, presently a research scholar in IISc, who within a very short period came up with a reader in Nydya language. The speciality of this book is that a student from a technical background, having understood the age-old concepts, has co-authored this book. Three kinds of readers may find this book useful:

  1. People from technical backgrounds like computer science, and western logic, who are curious about the contribution of Indian logic and its historical role
  2. People who are already familiar with traditional sastras other than Nyaya and wish to know more about Nyaya
  3. Traditional scholars who are curious to know how these sdastras are relevant in today’s age
At present, beginners in other schools of Indian Philosophy are forced to either skip passages that use Navyanydya, or spend too much time in reading Navyanyaya works, which devote a lot of space to their core topics, namely ontology and epistemology. This is like using engineering books to learn English! Therefore, I feel that there is a need of books such as "Navyanydya for Alankara Studies", "Navyanydaya for Vedanta Studies", etc. The present book may set the baseline for all such further works. I hope students and teachers of Nydya and logic are benefitted by this book.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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