The Sautrandkas believe in the reality not only of the mind, but also of external objects. They point out that without the supposition of some external objects; it is not possible to explain even the illusory appearance of external objects.
If one never perceived anywhere any external object, he could not say, as a Vijnana-vadin does, that, through illusion, consciousness appears like an external object.
The phrase ‘like an external object’ is as meaningless as ‘like the son of a barren mother’ because an external object is said by the Vijnana- vadin to be wholly unreal and never perceived.
Again, the argument from the simultaneity of consciousness and object to their identity is also defecdve. Whenever we have the preception of an object like a pot, the pot is felt as external and consciousness of it as internal (i.e. to be in the mind).
So the object, from the very beginning, is known to be different from and not identical with consciousness. If the pot perceived were identical with the subject, the perceiver would have said, ‘I am the pot.’
Besides, if there were no external objects, the distinction between the ‘consciousness of a pot’ and ‘the consciousness of a cloth’ could not be explained, because as consciousness both are identical; it is not only regarding the objects that they differ.
Hence we must admit the existence of different external objects outside consciousness. These objects give particular forms to the different states of consciousness.
From these forms or representations of the objects in the mind, we can infer the existence of their causes, i.e. the objects outside the mind.
The reason why we cannot perceive at will any object at any time and place, lies in the fact that a percepdon depends on four different conditions and not simply on the mind.
There must be the object to impart its form to consciousness; there must be the conscious mind (or the state of the mind at the just previous moment) to cause the consciousness of the form.
There must be the sense to determine the kind of the consciousness, that is, whether the consciousness of that object would be visual, tactual or of any other kind. Lastly, there must be some favourable auxiliary condition, such as light, convenient position, percepdble magnitude, etc.
All these combined together bring about the perception of the object. The form of the object thus generated in the mind, is the effect of the object, among other things.
The existence of the objects is not of course perceived, because what mind immediately knows is the copy or representation of the object in its own consciousness. But from this it can infer the object without which the copy would not arise.
The Sautrantika theory is, therefore, called also the theory of the inferability of external objects (Bahyanumeya-vada). The name ‘Sautrantika’ is given to this school because it attaches exclusive importance to the authority of the Sutra-pitaka.
The arguments used by this school for the refutation of subjective Realism anticipated long ago some of the most important arguments which modern Western realists like Moore use to these are called respectively, the alambana, the samanantara, the adhipati and the sahakari pratyayas (conditions).
Many works of this class are named suttanta.’ Vide Sogen Systems, this interpretation of ‘sautrantika.’ refute the subjective idealism of Berkely.
The Sautrandka position in epistemology resembles ‘representationism’ or the ‘copy theory of ideas’ which was common among Western philosophers life Locke. This exists even now in a modified form among some critical realists.