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Recollection and Non-recollection: A Study of Novelty, Independence and Validity of Cognition Through the Analysis of Recollection in Indian Philosophy


The Indian philosophical schools divide the types of cognitions mainly as recollection and non-recollection. The set of non-recollections is termed as experiential cognitions ( anubhava ). Two issues about recollection and experience are discussed in this paper. One is defining recollection and distinguishing a recollection from similar types of cognitions. The second one is the validity of recollection. With regard to the validity of recollection, views of three philosophers namely Prabhākara, Gaṅgeśa and Udayana, are discussed and compared. All the three consider recollection as not valid although the reasons put forth by them for such a consideration differs. While briefly analyzing these views, the paper shows that somehow the concept of validity is relevant only in case of experiential cognitions. In this process, the paper puts an effort to pin down a particular feature present in all the experiential cognitions that can account for the distinction of the experience from a recollection and can justify the invalidity of recollection.

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  1. See Nyāyakośa entry under smṛti, in Jhalakīkar (1928), p.1046).

  2. The accuracy of cognition is used as a technical translation for the word yāthārthya in this paper. Yāthārthya is the technical understanding of the Naiyāyika as defined by Gaṅgeṡa that it is an experience of a property x-ness in the locus x of that very property. “yatra yadasti tatra tasyānubhavaḥ pramā, tadvati tatprakārakānubhavo vā” See Tattvacintāmaṇi in Tarkavagish (2010, p.401).

  3. The word experience is used in the sense of anubhava in this paper. It refers to all other cognitions excluding recollection.

  4. Jatly and Parikh (1991), p.599).

  5. Tarkasaṅgraha in Tripāthi (2014, p.21).

  6. Atītakālaviśiṣṭo vartamānakālāvacchinnaścārtha etasyāmavabhāsate, Nyāyamañjarī in Śukla (1991, p.31).

  7. See Bālapriyā commentary in Veezinathan (2008, p.118).

  8. ghaṭo ghaṭa ity ākārakaḥ satata pratyayaḥ’ Sarvalakṣaṇasaṃgrahaḥ, Bhikṣu (2015, p.67).

  9. Simha (1998, p.20).

  10. Saṃskāra ātmaguṇaḥ’, See Nyāyabhāṣya in Mishra (2018, p.323).

  11. Tenopekṣāny aniścayatvena saṃskāraṃ prati hetuteti bhāvaḥ.” See Muktāvalī in Jere (2002, p.530).

  12. As mentioned in “Definition of recollection” section , only a vivid cognition, repeated cognition or venerated cognition leaves behind the latent impressions.

  13. See Nyāyabhāṣya for a detailed enumeration and description of the factors that trigger a recollection. Mishra (2018, p. 322–323).

  14. anubhavasmaraṇayor ekaviṣayattvam”, Tattvacintamaṇi, in Tarkavagish (2010, p.843).

  15. samānaprakārakasmaraṇena pūrvasaṃskārasya vinaṣṭatvāt” See Muktāvalī in Jere(2002, p.431).

  16. Shukla (2017, pp.222–223).

  17. “smṛtau hi jātāyāṃ saṃskāro draḍho bhavatīty anubhavasiddham”, See Advaitasiddhi in Bagchi, S. (1971, p.139).

  18. na ca punaḥ punaḥ smaraṇād dṛḍatarasaṃskārānupapattir iti vācyaṃ, jhaṭity udbodhakasamavadhānasyaiva dārḍyapadārthatvāt” See Muktāvalī in Shukla (2017), p.222).

  19. The word pramāṇa is used both as an instrument of valid cognition and also as a valid cognition itself.

  20. na hi yāthārthyaṃ prāmāṇya nimittaṃ| tasya sarvasaṃvit sādhāraṇatvātTantrarahasya, Shastry (1956, p.2).

  21. anubhūtiḥ pramāṇaṃ|…smṛtivyatiriktā ca saṃvit anubhūtiḥTantrarahasya, Shastry, (1956, p. 2).

  22. The word ‘that’ is used here in the sense of tat/saḥ, a usage of the word while referring to some object cognized at a previous point in time.

  23. I use the word ‘this’ to refer to a yonder object, while ‘that’ is used to refer to an object at a different point of time.

  24. While narrating the alternatives to consider recollection invalid, Gaṅgeśa quotes Udayana in the Tattvacintāmaṇi, See Phillips (2020, p.600).

  25. …anubhave kālaḥ dharmāntaraṃ vā yo vartamānatvena viṣayaḥ sa eva smaraṇasya| anubhavasmaraṇayoḥ ekaviṣayatve’pi smaraṇe tatra tat śabdaprayogaḥ saṃskārajajñānasyaiva tacchabdaprayogahetutvāt |” See Tattvacintāmaṇi in Tarkavagish ( 2010, p.843).

  26. This is the specific recollection type where one refers to the time of experiencing the object as ‘that pot’. Other type is the recollection without the word ‘that’. These are recollections of mere main objects like pot, mat etc.

  27. Tarkavagish (2010, p.843–844).

  28. saṃskārahetv anubhavaprāmāṇyapāratantreṇa ythārthatve’pi smṛtiraprameti sarvatantrasiddhāntaḥ’ ibid.

  29. See Savikalpakavāda in Tattvacintāmaṇi of Gaṅgeśsa for a detailed discussion on the topic.

  30. yad vā neyaṃ yathārthā| tathāhi smṛtiḥ svaviṣayavartamānatvaviṣayā atītānāgatāgocarapratītitvāt pratyabhijñāvat, pratītitvad vā ghaṭo’stīti pratītivat| pratīteḥ samayaviśeṣaviṣayatvaniyamāt|, Tattvacintāmaṇi in Tarkavagisha, (2010), p.844).

  31. Evaṃ ca smṛteḥ yathābhūtasya vartamānatā viṣayaḥ| tatra viśeṣasya viśeṣaṇasya vā vartamānatvābhāvāt smṛtiḥ ayathārthaiva’ ibid.

  32. Ibid (p.845).

  33. See Tarkasaṁgraha in Tripāthi, (2014, p.21).


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We thank Dr. Nirmalya Guha (Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi) for his valuable inputs and suggestions.


The authors did not receive support from any organization for the submitted work.

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Shukla, R., Bhat, S.K. Recollection and Non-recollection: A Study of Novelty, Independence and Validity of Cognition Through the Analysis of Recollection in Indian Philosophy. J. Indian Counc. Philos. Res. 39, 249–262 (2022).

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