According to the Bhatta Mimamsa and the Advaita Vedanta, non- perception (anupalabdhi) is the source of our immediate cognition of the non-existence of an object. The question here is: How do I know the non-existence, say, of ajar on the table before me?
It cannot be said that I perceive it with my senses, because non-existence is a negative fact which cannot stimulate any sense as a positive fact like the table can.
The Bhattas and the Advaitins hold, therefore, that the non-existence of the jar on the table is known from the absence of its cognition, that is, from its non-perception (anupalabdhi).
I judge that the jar does not exist on the table because it is not perceived. It cannot be said that the non-existence of the jar is inferred from its non-perception.
For, such an inference is possible, if we already possess the knowledge of a universal relation between non-perception and non-existence, that is, if we know that when an object is not perceived it does not exist.
Thus it would be begging the question or assumption of the very thing which was sought to be proved by inference.
Nor can we explain the knowledge of the jar’s nonexistence by comparison or testimony, since it is not due to any knowledge of similarity or of words and sentences.
Hence to explain the direct knowledge of the jar’s non-existence, we have to recognise non-perception (anupalabdhi) as a separate and an ‘^dependent source of knowledge.
It should, however, be remarked here that all non-perception does not mean the non-existence of what is not perceived.
We do not see a table in the dark, nor do we perceive any such! Supersensible entities as atoms, ether, virtue, vice yet we do not judge them to be non-existent.
If a thing should have been perceived under certain circumstances, then only its non-perception under those circumstances would give the knowledge of its non-existence it is such appropriate non-perception (Yogyanupalabdhi) that is the source of our knowledge of non-existence.