The Doctrine of Perception in Buddhism

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Mokesh Barua


In the Indian classical epistemology major and, perhaps the most controversial
issue is the etymology of perception. Most of the Indian philosophical schools accept
perception as the primary means of knowledge, but differ on the nature, kinds, and objects
of perceptual knowledge. The Buddhist epistemology which is known as pramāna is the
study of right knowledge which is classified into two perception (pratyakṣa) and inference
(anumāna). Perception or pratyakṣa was declared as direct knowledge while anumāna was
understood as indirect knowledge.
The perceptual objects such as svabha, svalaksaṇa, self or the particular nature of the
object etc. and whether the external world truly exists or not—all these issues were crucially
debated, disputed during the period of Northern Main Buddhist stream or Nikāya Buddhism
within and out of the Buddhist schools. All these factors are indirectly and directly related
to the concept of perception. This paper will broadly focus on the doctrinal controversies
such as what can we know, and how we know it i.e. direct and indirect perception among
the different Buddhist schools.


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How to Cite
Barua, M. (2019). The Doctrine of Perception in Buddhism. The Journal of International Association of Buddhist Universities (JIABU), 12(1), 276–282. Retrieved from


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