It has been previously seen that the Nyaya admits comparison as a unique source of knowledge. But the Mimamsa, though accepting comparison as an independent source, accepts it in quite a different sense.

According to it, knowledge arises from comparison when, on perceiving a present object to be like an object perceived in the past, we come to know that the remembered object is like the perceived one.

Some examples will make this clear. On seeing a rat one perceives that it is like a mouse perceived in the past, and thence he gets the knowledge that the remembered mouse is like the perceived rat.

This knowledge namely, ‘that mouse, perceived in the past, is like this rat,’ is obtained from comparison, or from the knowledge of a similarity of the rat to the mouse.


Similarly one who has seen a cow previously at home goes to a forest and finds a gavaya (nilgai) and perceives its similarity to the cow at home.

He may thence obtain by comparison (i.e. by the knowledge of this similarity) the further knowledge that the cow at home is like the gavaya. Such knowledge cannot be classed under percepdon.

For, the object (the mouse or the cow) known to be similar is not perceived then. It does not come under memory, because though the object was perceived in the past, its similarity to the present object was not then known, and, therefore, this similarity cannot be said to be simply remembered.

It is not also an inference. From knowledge like ‘this gavaya is like the cow at home’ we cannot infer ‘the cow at home is like this gavaya,’ unless we have another premise like ‘all things are similar to other things which are similar to them.


‘And such a universal premise containing an invariable concomitance between two terms is not really used in the above case where one arrives at the knowledge of the absent cow’s similarity to the present gavaya, from the perception of the gavaya being similar to the cow.

Again, such knowledge does not obviously arise from verbal testimony or authority. Hence it is given an independent place.”

The Nyaya holds that on learning from an authority that a gavaya is like a cow, a person goes to a forest, perceives some animal like the cow and thence he has by upamana or comparison the knowledge that such an animal is a gavaya.

Against this Nyaya new it is pointed out by Mimarnsaka writers that the knowledge that the particular animal perceived is like the cow is derived from perception and the knowledge that such an animal looking like the cow is a gavaya is obtained thrugh recollection of what was previously learned from some authority.


Lastly, the knowledge that this particular animal is a gavaya is a mere inference from the last knowledge. Hence what the Nyaya considers to be derived from a new source, namely comparison, is not really so.

It may be noted here that though the account given above is the one generally accepted by later Mimariisakas, Sabarasvami seems to understand upamana, as, what is called in Western logic analogical argument.

The existence of another self is proved, he remarks, by an argument like this. ‘Just as you felt the existence of your own self, similarly by analogy you can believe that others also feel the existence of their own selves.’

Such an argument he calls upamana. Sahara’s definition of upamana as ‘knowledge of an unperceived object as being similar to some known object,’ is not incompatible with the suggestion that he takes upamana as analogical argument.


It should also be remembered that ‘similarity’ (sadrsya), which is the object of upamana is regarded by the Mimamsa as an independent category of reality.

It is pointed out that similarity cannot be called a quality (guna), because a quality cannot be possessed by another quality, but ‘similarity’ is possessed by qualities even.

It cannot be treated as a universal (samanya or jute) because a universal means something which is exactly identical in many individuals {e.g. cowness in cows). Similarity does not mean any completely identical character.