Purva paksha

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Purva paksha, sometimes also transliterated as pūrvapakṣa or poorva paksha, is a tradition in dharma discourse. It involves building a deep familiarity with the opponent's point of view before criticizing it. The purva paksha approach was used by Adi Shankaracharya in his work to re-establish Sanatana Dharma in India.[citation needed]

In ancient Indian jurisprudence, purva paksha referred to the complaint, with other parts of a trial consisting of uttar (the reply), kriyaa (trial or investigation by the court), and nirnaya (verdict or decision).[1]:13

In his book Being Different (2011), Rajiv Malhotra sought to use the purva paksha approach.[2] Malhotra states that purva paksha

is the traditional dharmic approach to rival schools. It is a dialectical approach, taking a thesis by an opponent ('purva pakshin') and then providing its rebuttal ('khandana') so as to establish the protagonist's views ('siddhanta'). The purva paksha tradition required any debater first to argue from the perspective of his opponent in order to test the validity of his understanding of the opposing position, and from there to realize his own shortcomings. Only after perfecting his understanding of opposing views would he be qualified to refute them. Such debates encourage individuals to maintain flexibility of perspective and honesty rather than seek victory egotistically.In this way, the dialectical process ensures a genuine and far-reaching shift in the individual.[2]:48

According to Shrinivas Tilak, Malhotra's use of purva paksha in Being Different may be regarded as a kind of "reverse anthropology."[3]:288[4] Tilak states that

By "reversing" the gaze on contemporary Western and Indological constructions of the dharmic worldview and ways of life, Malhotra seeks to expose how "exotic," "ethnic," and "provincial" such constructions have really been notwithstanding the West’s allegedly "universalistic" claims (2011: 67, 176, 334). His other objective is to draw attention to the Christian-centric focus of the West’s archive of knowledge and its historical involvement in the systematic suppression of the dharmic worldview and ways of life to be found in the works of Indologists. By problematizing the way in which Dharma has been represented by Western scholarship, he exposes the asymmetrical nature of the relationship that obtains between the powerful discipline of Indology and its disempowered subjects, the Indians (334).[3]:288

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kumar, Raj (2003). Essays On Legal Systems In India. Discovery Publishing House. ISBN 9788171417018. 
  2. ^ a b Malhotra, Rajiv (2011). Being different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. New Delhi: HarperCollins Publishers India. ISBN 9789350291900. OCLC 769101673.  ISBN 9350291908
  3. ^ a b Tilak, S. (2013). "Differing Worldviews (Western and Dharmic) in Rajiv Malhotra's Being Different". International Journal of Hindu Studies. doi:10.1007/s11407-012-9130-2. 
  4. ^ Tilak states "The methodological stance of the purvapaksha in Being Different may be broadly described as a context-sensitive approach to “anthropologize” the Western worldview in a manner akin to what Roy Wagner has called “reverse anthropology” (1981: 31).