In Dvaita epistemology, Madhva focuses on the two meanings of the word ‘pramana’, one refers to knowledge as such and the other to the instruments of knowledge. He, therefore, distinguishes the two by introducing the terms, kevalapramana and anupramana. While kevalapramana applies to the meaning of knowledge, anupramana is the term used for means of knowledge.
Kevalapramana is defined as that knowledge which does not go beyond its object and anupramana is that which enables for a valid cognition. Kevalapramana is further classified into four kinds:
- Ishvara-jnana: Knowledge possessed by Ishvara which is complete.
- Lakshmi-jnana: Eternal knowledge dependent on lord.
- Yogi-jnana: It is the knowledge obtained through yogic powers as a result of meditation on the Lord.
- Ayogin-jnana: The jivas are those who do not come under the category of yogis. Their knowledge is invalid, inadequate and non-eternal.
Madhva maintains three anumpramanas or instruments of knowledge namely:
- Perception: The sense-contact with the objects.
- Inference: Inferential cognition based on the locus (paksha), reason (hetu) and result (sadhya) is established by the knowledge of universal concomitance (vyapti).
- Testimony: Madhva considers a statement free from defects is known to be a valid verbal testimony.