We have already seen that every school of thought has its own ontology, epistemology and ethics. Ontology has been explained as the study of entities. Now we shall know about epistemology and ethics.
Epistemology means the study of knowledge and also the valid grounds of knowledge. Epistemology is known as pramana shastra. In Madhwa’s epistemology, there are two types of pramana – Kevalapramana and Anupramana. Kevalapramana means knowledge and Anupramana is the means of knowledge.
In Anupramana there are three main divisions:
- Verbal testimony
Perception: It means knowledge obtained from the sensory organs and the mind. It is known as Pratyaksha.
Inference means the process by which knowledge is obtained through reasoning. Inference includes deduction, interpretation, etc. Deduction means understanding the particular from the general. It is known as Swarthanumana. Inference functions only on the foundation of either perception or verbal testimony. Interpretation is explaining the subtle meaning inherent in the scriptures.
Verbal testimony is the third pramana accepted by Madhwas. Complete sentences can be considered as verbal testimony. It is of two kinds: compositions not having human authorship (apoursheya) and human compositions (poursheya). The Vedas come under the apoursheya category.
Thus we can see that epistemology is the study of proofs of knowledge. Application of knowledge into practical situation constitutes the study of ethics. Ethics is also known as Sadachara or morality. Thus ethics are benign and beneficial conduct. The five yamas and five niyamas of ashtanga yoga constitute the practice of ethics.
“Ethics is a science of morality and morality is the practice of ethics”.
Finally the objective of studying all the above topics is peaceful co-existence and journey towards liberation.