Recording to another classification, ordinary perception is of two namely, yiinrikalpaka or the indeterminate and savikalpaka or the determinate. Here the principle of classification is the more or less developed character of perceptual knowledge.

To these two we may add pratyabhijna or recognition. Keeping in view the nature of perception, the Naiyayikas distinguish thus between three modes of ordinary perception. Extraordinary perception is always determinate, since it is definite and explicit knowledge.

Nirvikalpaka or indeterminate perception is the primary cognition of an object and its diverse characters without any judgment to inter-relate them. Suppose you look at an orange placed on the other side of your table.

Immediately after the first glance, or after the first moment of contact between your eyes and the object, you apprehend something, its colour, shape, etc., along with a general character called orangeness.


But at first sight, you do not think of it as yellow or round, or as an orange. This kind of primary perception is called indeterminate perception.

Suppose on the first day of your examination you enter the bathroom engrossed in thinking about the possible questions and their answers, it is not unlikely that you may finish your bath without thinking of the water used by you ‘as water’, ‘as cold’, etc.

Yet it cannot be said that you did not perceive the water. But for a very real perception of it, your act of bathing cannot be explained.

This perception of water and its characters, without any thought or judgment of it as water, as liquid, as cold, etc., is the nirvikalpaka or indeterminate perception of it.


Savikalpaka perception is the cognition of an object as possessed of some character. While nirvikalpaka is the cognition of the existence of a thing as such, savikalpaka may be said to be the recognition of its nature.

Thus, when looking at the orange, I judge within myself ‘this is an orange’, ‘this is round, red, etc.’

I do not only cognize the unrelated elements as such, but also explicitly relate them. Here the existent fact, this, becomes the subject of proposition and orangeness, etc., are related it as predicates.

Thus we may say that nirvikalpaka is determinate apprehension, and savikalpaka a determinate, redicative judgment.


There could not be any savikalpaka reception of an object without a previous nirvikalpaka perception of it unless we first knew the unrelated elements as such; we could not possibly know them as related. Unless I first perceive water, coldness, liquidity, etc., I cannot come to know it as water or as cold, or as liquid, etc.

Pratyabhijna is recognition in its literal meaning. It is re­cognition of some object, i.e., cognition of it as that which was cognised before.

In it we know immediately that the thing which we now cognise is the same as that which was cognised before, as when one say: ‘This must be the same man who helped me into the tram-car yesterday.’

It should be remarked here that the distinctions of nirvikalpaka perception, savikalpaka percepdon, and pratyabhijna have not been recognised, or recognised in the same way, in all the systems of Indian philosophy.


While the Vaisesika, the Sankhya and the Mlmarhsa systems accept, on the whole, the Nyaya view as explained here, the Baudha and the Advaita Vedanta systems reject it and hold very different views.