Dinnaga’s View on the Role of Anyapoha (Exclusion of Others) in Understanding Word-meaning

Alok Ranjan Khatua

A Research Scholar, Ph. D. Programme, Vidyasagar University, and an Assistant Professor, Dept. of Philosophy, Mugberia Gangadhar Mahavidyalaya, Bhupatinagar, Puarba-Medinipur, Pin: 721425, West Bengal, India. Email:

 Volume VII, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.25274/bcjms.v7n2.v7n2sc03


The present paper deals with the Buddhist theory of meaning which is known as Apohavāda, it was first propounded by Diṅnāga. Diṅnāga, the great Indian logician and the father of Buddhist nominalism, in his celebrated work Pramāṇcamuccaya mentioned the apoha theory which asserts that universal is not real, it has no reality; only the unique particular is real. According to Diṅnāga, there is no need to assume the existence of real universals like “cowness” which is nothing but a class concept of the general term “cow”. He argues that we have no requirement of any real universal, because it has no ability to identify or to express any particular entity. According to him, word as a linguistic sign cannot refer to the real object; it can only refer to the negation of others (anyāpoha). Diṅnāga’s conception of anyāpoha is a possible substitute for universal (jāti or sāmānya) of other realist school of Indian logic. The term “sākṣādvṛtti” is directly applicable to the universal which, in other words, is known as  anyāpoha or negation of other. The term anyāpoha means negation of others or negation of contrary or exclusion of others (i.e. the double negation or the joint negation). Though Diṅnāga claims that the general term does not denote its particular as its own referent, yet, for alternative suggestion, he offers that a word denotes its own referent by the exclusion of others.

Keywords: Nominalism, exclusion of others (anyāpoha), linguistic sign, import of words, conceptual construction, reality