Ayurveda and Darshanas (आयुर्वेदः दर्शनानि च)

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Ayurveda (आयुर्वेदः।) and Darshana (दर्शनानि।) Shastras are the contemporary systems of knowledge developed in Bharatawarsha (भारतवर्षः।). Various concepts and theories found in Ayurveda and Darshanas have similarities. Darshanas represent the schools of Hindu philosophy and offer methods to acquire knowledge of the various components of this universe. Since Purusha (पुरुषः।), the Object of discussion in Ayurveda, is also one of the component of this universe, many theories and concepts discussed in Darshanas are applicable to Ayurveda system of knowledge as well.


परिचयः ॥ Introduction

The aim of Ayurveda is to maintain the health of Purusha (पुरुषः।) and confer longevity. Whereas, Darshana shastras discuss about the nature of external world and its relationship with individual soul. Darshanas also provide insights about goal of life and means by which one can attain the Goal.[citation needed]. Darshanas act as the tools which enable apprehension of the facts pertaining to external world. Since Ayurveda is a system of knowledge about life and, Darshanas provide means to apprehend the facts or obtain the knowledge; Ayurveda has accepted and incorporated some theories and concepts described in Darshanas as tools to facilitate learning the methods for preserving health and life.

Discussion in Darshanas is mainly pertaining to the cosmos and all elements involved in it, which is totally different from the object and purpose of Ayurveda. Thus, Ayurveda accepts these theories within the frame of reference of Ayurveda but without deviating from its basic concepts, object and scope.

Among all the Darshanas, Ayurveda is interconnected with Sankhya (साङ्ख्यः।), Vaisheshika (वैशेषिकः।), Yoga (योगः।), Nyaya (न्यायः।), Poorva mimansa (पूर्वमीमांसा।), Uttara mimansa (उत्तरमीमांसा।) or Vedanta (वेदान्त।) darshanas in general. Some references are also identified where Ayurveda seems to have similarity with some theories proposed by Bouddha darshana (बौद्धदर्शनम्।), Jaina darshana (जैनदर्शनम्।) and Charvaka darshana (चार्वाकदर्शनम्।).

साङ्ख्यदर्शनम् आयुर्वेदः च ॥ Sankhya darshana and Ayurveda

Ayurveda has adopted many theories proposed by Sankhya darshana (साङ्ख्यदर्शनम्।) indicating considerable influence of this school of Indian Philosophy on Ayurveda. Some of these similarities can be found here.

प्रमाणाः || Pramanas

Pramanas (प्रमाणाः।) are the means to acquire the correct knowledge of any object in this universe. Pratyaksha (प्रत्यक्षम्। Direct perception by senses), Anumana (अनुमानम्। Inference drawn on the basis of well established relationships that are previously known to the individual) and Aptopadesha (आप्तोपदेशः। Knowledge obtained from trusted sources like classical treatises, Gurus etc) are the 3 such ways or means proposed by Sankhyas to acquire knowledge. Ayurveda has accepted all 3 Pramanas as the tools for obtaining the knowledge about rogas (रोगाः। diseases) and it is clearly indicated in Charaka Samhita as follows,

त्रिविधम् खलु रोगविषेशविज्ञानम् भवति- तद् यथा आप्तोपदेशः, प्रत्यक्षं, अनुमानं चेति।– (Char. Samh. 4.3) [1]

trividham khalu rogaviṣeśavigyānam bhavati- tad yathā āptopadeśaḥ, pratyakṣaṁ, anumānaṁ ceti।

Meaning: There are 3 means to acquire knowledge about rogas (Diseases) viz. Aptopadesha , Pratyaksha and Anumana.

दुःखप्रकाराः || Types of Misery

Sankhya darshana lays greater emphasis on elimination of physical and mental pain to achieve the liberation. For this reason, 3 types of misery are described by Sankhyas namely, Adhibhoutik (अधिभौतिकम्।), Adhidaivik (अधिदैविकम्।) & Adhyatmik (अध्यात्मिकम्।). The entire knowledge in Ayurveda is focused on the purusha (पुरुषः।), the diseases affecting Purusha and the measures to provide health and well-being to Purusha by eliminating these diseases. Ayurveda considers Vikara (विकारः। disorders) or Vyadhi (व्याधिः। disease) as Dukkham (दुःखम्। sadness, misery or suffering) and thus, Sushruta Samhita has classified diseases on the basis of 3 types of Dukkha or miseries as described in Sanskhya darshana.

प्रागभिहितं तद्दु:खसंयोगाः व्याधयः इति। तच्च दुःखं त्रिविधं- आध्यात्मिकम्, आधिदैविकम्, आधिभौतिकमिति। (Sush. Samh. 24.4) [2]

prāgabhihitaṁ taddu:khasaṁyogāḥ vyādhayaḥ iti। tacca duḥkhaṁ trividhaṁ- ādhyātmikam, ādhidaivikam, ādhibhautikamiti।

Meaning: It is already mentioned that Vyadhi (व्याधिः। disease) are (manifested as) the combination of Dukkhas (दुःखानि। miseries). That Dukkha is of 3 types (and thus the diseases are of 3 types as follows) Adhyatmik (अध्यात्मिकम्।), Adhidaivik (अधिदैविकम्।) and Adhibhoutik (अधिभौतिकम्।).

सृष्टि उत्पत्ति सिद्धान्तः || The theory of origin of cosmos

Ayurveda has described the origin of Purusha at the very beginning of the section which deals with birth of a child, his growth and development. All these subjects are described in relevant sections in Ayurvedic classics. The classics also describe in brief, the accepted views amidst the various prevalent opinions about the origin of cosmos and origin of life as described in other shastras like Darshanas. Ayurvedic classics have adopted the Srishti utpatti Siddhanta (सृष्ट्युत्पत्ति सिद्धान्तः। The theory of origin of cosmos), 8 Prakruti (अष्टप्रकृतयः।), 16 Vikaras (षोडशविकाराः।) described by Sankhyas.

सृष्टि उत्पत्ति तत्वानि || realms of evolution

8 Prakrutis (अष्टप्रकृतयः।) are described as the 8 sources of creation. These include, 5 basic elements in subtle form, Avyakta (अव्यक्तम्। the dormant form of entire nature), Mahat (महत्।) or Buddhi (बुद्धिः। Intellect) and Ahankara (अहङ्कारः। Ego). 16 transformed products developed from these 8 sources of creation are 5 basic elements (पञ्चमहाभूतानि।), 5 sensory faculties (ज्ञानिन्द्रियाणि।), 5 motor faculties (कर्मेंद्रियाणि।) and mind. These are referred as 16 vikaras (षोडशविकाराः।). taken together, they are responsible for creation of universe as well as purusha. Acharya Charaka and Acharya Sushruta have described the Srishti utpatti as follows,

जायते बुढ्हेरव्यक्ताद्बुद्ध्या अह्म् इति मन्यन्ते। परं खादीन्यहङ्कारादुत्पद्यन्ते यथाक्रमम्॥ (Char. Samh. 1.63-64) [3]

jāyate buḍhheravyaktādbuddhyā ahm iti manyante। paraṁ khādīnyahaṅkārādutpadyante yathākramam॥

Meaning: Buddhi originates from avyakta, ahamkara originates from buddhi, and the five Tanmatras viz. akashatanmatra etc. from ahamkara. These, along with the five gross mahabhutas (in the right sequence) and the bio-transformed five indriyas, constitute the purusha.

अव्यक्तं महानहङ्कारः पन्चतन्मात्राणि श्चेत्यष्टौ प्रकृतयः शेषाः षोडश विकाराः। (Sush. Samh. 1.1-9) [4]

avyaktaṁ mahānahaṅkāraḥ pancatanmātrāṇi ścetyaṣṭau prakr̥tayaḥ śeṣāḥ ṣoḍaśa vikārāḥ।

Meaning: Avyakta, Mahat (Buddhi) and Ahankara along with 5 tanmatras (5 subtle elements) are called as 8 Prakritis, the rest are 16 vikaras.

सत्कार्यवादः || Satkaryavada

It is a theory postulated in Sankhya philosophy while describing the Srushti utpatti from Avyakta (अव्यक्तम्।). Satkaryavada (सत्कार्यवाद।) states that the Karya (कार्यम्। Effect) has its presence in Karana (कारणम्। Cause) in unmanifested form. Once the Karya (कार्यम्। Effect) is manifested, the Karana (कारणम्। Cause) appears subtle. There has to be some karana (कारणम्। Cause) for any manifested Karya (कार्यम्। Effect). This theory also states that the Cause and effect are similar in nature. The Samanya Vishesha siddhanta (सामान्य विशेष सिद्धान्तः।) postulated by Ayurveda could be considered as the derivation of the Satkaryavada proposed by Sankhyas which states that, similarity is the reason for increase (in body tissues and other elements) while difference in nature leads to depreciation.

Charaka Samhita clearly mentions terms Karya and Karana in the context of 10 fold assessment of disease and the diseased, for success treatments in practice of Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, ‘Karya’ is ‘establishing the Dhatusamya (धातुसाम्यम्। balanced state of body elements)’ while the Karanas are said to be padarthas (षट्‍पदार्थाः।) namely Samanya (सामान्यम्।), Vishesha (विशेषम्।), Dravya (द्रव्यम्।), Guna (गुणाः।), Karma (कर्मम्।) and Samavaya (समवायः।). The expansion and application of Satkaryavada in Ayurveda can also be found while describing the cause and effect relationship between defects present in male & female gametes and anomalies in the fetus.

सर्वदा सर्वभावानां सामान्यं वृद्धिकारणम्। ह्रासहेतुर्विशेषश्च, प्रवृत्तिरुभयस्य तु॥- (Char. Samh. 1.1.45) [5]

sarvadā sarvabhāvānāṁ sāmānyaṁ vrūddhikāraṇam। hrāsaheturviśeṣaśca, pravr̥ttirubhayasya tu॥

Meaning: Analogy or similarity is the reason for increase in existing substances in body while the reason for depreciation or decrease is the dissimilarity or difference.

परिणामवादः || Parinamavada

Sankhya Darshana has proposed a theory known as ‘Parinamavada’ (परिणामवादः।) to describe the evolution of matter. This theory advocates the process of evolution through transformation of properties. Ayurveda has adopted the theory of Parinamana (परिणमनम्।Transformation) in different backgrounds like Dhatuparinamana (धातुपरिणमनम्। Nourishment and development of Dhatus through transformation process), Vipaka (विपाकः। Transformation of original Rasa रसः। taste, into other after the process of digestion) etc.

जाठरेणाग्निनायोगात् यदुदेति रसान्तरम्। रसानां परिणामान्ते स विपाकः इति स्मृतः॥– (Asht. Hrud. 9.20) [6]

jāṭhareṇāgnināyogāt yadudeti rasāntaram। rasānāṁ pariṇāmānte sa vipākaḥ iti smr̥taḥ॥

Meaning: The transformation in the original Rasa of the substance after undergoing the process of digestion by Agni (is called as Parinaman) and the Rasa obtained at the end of this Parinaman (transformation) is called as 'Vipaka'.

This similarity in the acceptance of basic process of Parinaman responsible for change in attributes of a particular substance (due to the Agni, symbolic of fire element) indicates influence of Sanskhya darshana on Ayurveda.

वैशेषिकदर्शनम् आयुर्वेदः च ॥ Vaisheshika Darshanam and Ayurveda

Sankhya and Vaisheshika Darshanas have influence on most of the shastras developed in ancient time. Ayurveda can not be the exception to this. Though Vaisheshika and Nyaya Darshana are usually considered as allied shastras having most of the theories in common, there are few concepts unique to both of them. Ayurveda adopts concepts proposed by both the darshanas within its scope.

षट् पदार्थाः ॥ Shat padarthas

Vaisheshika darshana describes ‘Padarthas’ (पदार्थाः।) for the first time. These padarthas are the elements or substances comprising the universe. They are 6 in number and all of them have been mentioned in Charaka Samhita as ‘Shatpadartha (षट्‍पदार्थाः।)’ but in a slightly different sequence relevant to the scope and subject of Ayurveda. They are Samanya (सामन्यम् Similarity), Vishesha (विशेषम् Difference), Guna (गुणाः Attribute), Dravya (द्रव्यम् Substance), Karma (कर्माणि Activity), Samavaya (समवायम् Association).[7]

द्रव्यम् ॥ Dravyani

Dravya (द्रव्यम्।) is one of the 6 padarthas mentioned above. Ayurveda describes same 9 Dravyas as described by Vaisheshika darshana. They are 5 elements (पन्चमहाभूतानि। Panchamahabhutas), Atman (आत्मन्।), Manas (मनस्।), Kala (कालः।Time) and Disha (दिशा। Orientation in space).

परमाणुवादः ॥ Paramanu vada

Vaisheshikas are the pioneers in proposing the concept of Paramanu (परमाणुः।) which is regarded as the indestructible part of the substance. These extremely minute parts called Paramanu have also been mentioned in Ayurveda while describing the body constituents. Charaka Samhita refers the tiny avayavas (अवयवाः। ) in Body as ‘Paramanu’ inspired from Vaisheshikas.

शरीरावयवास्तु परमाणुभेदेनापरिसङ्ख्येया भवन्ति, अतिबहुत्वादतिसौक्ष्म्यादतीन्द्रियत्वाच्च| तेषां संयोगविभागे परमाणूनां कारणं वायुः कर्मस्वभावश्च|| (Char. Samh. 7.17)[8]

śarīrāvayavāstu paramāṇubhēdēnāparisaṅkhyēyā bhavanti, atibahutvādatisaukṣmyādatīndriyatvācca| tēṣāṁ saṁyōgavibhāgē paramāṇūnāṁ kāraṇaṁ vāyuḥ karmasvabhāvaśca||

Meaning: The structures and components of body, if differentiated at micro level (paramanu bheda), are innumerable (aparisankhyeya) because of abundance (atibahuta), highly subtleness (atisukshma), and imperceptibility (atindriya). The conjoining or cell combination or unification (samyoga) and the split or cell division (vibhaga) of deha paramanu - both are caused by vayu and karmaswabhava.

पाकजोत्पत्ति सिद्धान्तम् ॥ Pakajotpatti siddhanta

Vaishehsikas support Asatkaryavada (असत्कार्यवादः), which means that the effect does not pre-exist in its cause. The effect is a new beginning, a fresh creation. All physical things are produced by the multiple combinations of Paramanu (परमाणुः-s) commonly referred as atoms. Creation thus means, the combination of atoms in different proportions and destruction means dissolution of such combinations. The material cause of the universe is considered as the eternal atoms that are neither produced nor destroyed. It is only the atomic combinations which are produced and which get destroyed.[citation needed]. To support this theory, Vaisheshikas (वैशेषिकाः) have accepted the Pakajotpatti Siddhanta (पाकजोत्पत्ति सिद्धान्तः।). In Pakajotpatti, it is stated that Paramanus of a Dravya, under the influence of the heat, undergo a process called ‘Paka’ (पाकः। ripening, cooking) and attain a different configuration of association leading to the development of a substance, with different properties than the source material. This concept is fundamental to the theory of Vipaka (विपाकः।) in Ayurveda. Vipaka is the taste (Property- Guna) of a Food or herb (substance) developed after going through the process of Pachana (पाचनम्। Digestion or metabolism taking place under the influence of Agni, a form of heat element inside the body). This Vipaka is different from the original taste (Rasa रसः।) of Food or herb. This transformation in inherent properties of substances mentioned in Ayurveda, is in line with the original ‘Pakajotpatti Siddhanta (पाकजोत्पत्ति सिद्धान्तम्)’ proposed by Vaisheshikas. Thus, Ayurveda has accepted theories within frame of reference of Ayurveda from various Darshanas and developed its own theories like 'Vipaka'.

प्रमाणाः ॥ Pramanas

Ayurveda has accepted all 3 pramanas viz. (प्रत्यक्षम्।) Pratyaksha, (अनुमानम्।) Anumana and (शब्दः।) Shabda as mentioned by Vaisheshikas.

त्रिविधम् खलु रोगविषेशविज्ञानम् भवति- तद् यथा आप्तोपदेशः, प्रत्यक्षं, अनुमानं चेति।– (Char. Samh. Vima. 4.3) [1]

trividham khalu rogaviṣeśavijñānam bhavati- tad yathā āptopadeśaḥ, pratyakṣaṁ, anumānaṁ ceti।

Meaning: There are 3 means to acquire knowledge about rogas (Diseases) viz.

  1. आप्तोपदेशः॥ Aptopadesha
  2. प्रत्यक्षम्॥ Pratyaksha and
  3. अनुमानम्॥ Anumana

As mentioned earlier, Ayurveda accepts all these Pramanas as means to obtain knowledge of life.

Acharya Charaka mentions that there are limitations in obtaining the knowledge of all the elements and process happening inside the body using 5 senses of a physician. Hence knowledge obtained through 5 senses is limited whereas the knowledge that can be obtained using the method of inference is huge. This emphasizes the importance of use of Anumana pramana.

प्रत्यक्षं ह्यल्पम्; अनल्पमप्रत्यक्षमस्ति ॥ (Char. Samh. 11.7)[9]

ppratyakṣaṁ hyalpam; analpamapratyakṣamasti ॥

Meaning: The knowledge of the padarthas existing in this world which can be gained using Pratyksha pramana is limited or lesser than the knowledge that can be gained using Anumana pramana.

While diagnosing and treating various diseases, Ayurveda advises a (वैद्यः।) Vaidya to make use of his 5 senses to gain knowledge of the state of diseases and a diseased. In ancient times when the technology was not developed and the diagnosis was not done on the basis of laboratory reports, Pratyaksha (Direct perception), (आप्तोपदेशः।) Aaptopadesha and Anumana (Inference) were the only ways to assess and evaluate. Hence many important parameters of health were assessed on the basis of Anumana Pramana. Few examples of such evaluation include assessment of Strength of individual on the basis of his capacity to exercise, Assessment of strength of (अग्निः।) Agni (Indicative of digestive power in human body) on the basis of one's ability to digest certain types of foods etc. Thus, use of Anumana Pramana is considered crucial for diagnosis, assessment, evaluation and treatment in Ayurveda.

न्यायदर्शनम् आयुर्वेदः च॥ Nyaya Darshana and Ayurveda

The word ‘Nyaya’ (न्यायः) in Nyaya darshana is defined as, ‘Pramaanaihi artha parikshanam nyayam’ (प्रमाणैः अर्थपरीक्षणम् न्यायः।), which means that, the methods of investigating valid knowledge of anything with the use of Pramanas (प्रमाणाः) is called as Nyaya. Pramanas are used as tools to assess and acquire the knowledge. Thus, it is clear that, Nyaya darshana lays greater emphasis on describing various Pramanas.

प्रमाणाः ॥ Pramanas

The Naiyayikas (the Nyaya scholars) accepted four valid means of obtaining valid knowledge pratyakṣa Pramana (प्रत्यक्ष प्रमाणः। perception), anumāna Pramana (अनुमान प्रमाणः। inference), Shabda Pramana (शब्द प्रमाणः। Verbal authority, word/testimony of reliable sources) and upamāna Pramana (उपमान प्रमाणः। comparison). Ayurveda Samhitas mention all these 4 pramanas as means of knowledge. Upamana pramana (उपमान प्रमाणः। comparison) is the tool for acquiring knowledge through the use of comparison and analogy. Use of analogy and comparison is considered as a valid means of conditional knowledge. This enables individual to identify or gain knowledge of something that is not perceivable to his five senses directly at that point of time. Ayurveda has made use of this at numerous places like while describing the body structure, organs, processes, nature of pain in a disease etc. Aupamyam (औपम्यम्) is the term used in Ayurveda Samhitas to indicate Upamana pramana.

अथौपम्यम्- औपम्यंनामयदन्येनान्यस्यसादृश्यमधिकृत्यप्रकाशनं; यथा- दण्डेनदण्डकस्य, धनुषाधनुःस्तम्भस्य, इष्वासेनाऽऽरोग्यदस्येति|| (Char. Samh. Vima. 8.42)[10]

athaupamyam- aupamyaṁ nāma yadanyēnānyasya sādr̥śyamadhikr̥tya prakāśanaṁ; yathā- daṇḍēna daṇḍakasya, dhanuṣā dhanuḥstambhasya, iṣvāsēnārōgyadasyēti||

Meaning: Aupamya is the description of similarity between things such as analogy of dandaka (a disease in which body is rigid like rod) with danda (rod); that of dhanustambha(tetany) with bow and that of the health provider with the archer.

One can find use of this tool of analogy in Ayurveda compendiums at many places to provide knowledge of various subjects, like appearance of body organs (which can not be seen by naked eyes without dissection); clinical signs in diseased conditions like color of excreta, skin, body fluids; nature of pain (peculiar type of pain indicates specific pathophysiology and helps in accurate diagnosis).

तद्विद्यसंभाषा वादमार्गपदानि च ॥ Tadvidya Sambhasha and Vadamarga padas

In line with their objective of assessing and analyzing the means for acquiring valid knowledge of any subject, Naiyayikas have discussed methods like Tadvidya sambhasha (तद्विद्य संभाषा), Vadamargas (वादमार्गाः), Tantrayuktis (तन्त्रयुक्तिः) etc. Acharya Charaka encourages a Bhishak (भिषक् । Ayurvedic practitioner or Vaidya) to interact with the other Bhishaks and engage in clinical discussions to achieve success in diagnosis and treatment. He advocates the participation of Bhishak in such Sambhashas (संभाषा-s।) in order to promote advancement of knowledge, skills, clarifying doubts, generating new ideas, recognizing the hidden meaning of the verses mentioned in brief and thus enhancing the understanding of a particular topic. This discussion is termed as Sambhasha (संभाषा।). A methodical approach to discus in such sambhashas is mentioned by describing 44 Vadamarga padas (वादमार्गपदानि). This concept is adopted in Ayurveda from Nyaya Darshana.

कार्य अभिनिर्वृत्तिकराः भावाः ॥ Karya abhinirvruttikara Ghatakas

Charaka Samhita Vimanasthana describes 10 types of important factors that are considered as the essential components of the successful treatment. These 10 factors are Kaarana (कारणम्। the cause or Doer) , Karana (करणम्। tool), Karyayoni (कार्ययोनिः। source/root), Karya (कार्यम्। action), Karyaphala (कार्यफलम्। expected result/outcome), Anubandha (अनुबन्धः। consequence), Desha (देशः। site/place), Kala (कालः। time needed for transformation), Pravrtti (प्रवृत्तिः। targeted activity/effort) and Upaya (उपायः। means of successful management). Dhatusamya (धातुसात्म्यम्। balanced state of all the body tissues) has been described as the Karya (कार्यम्। ) of Ayurvedic treatment. All these 10 factors are adopted from Nyaya Darshana wherein Naiyayikas (The Nyaya scholars) have described them as the 10 factors helping in accomplishing any kind of Karya. Charaka says, if one proceeds for any action after knowing all these 10 factors well, it is believed that, he certainly obtains the desired fruit and subsequent benefit without any obstacles.  Thus it is advised that, every physician willing to take up any step towards treating the disease, should examine these 10 factors in context of Ayurveda ahead of time. Further, details of each factor and their assessment methods are also found in treatises.[11] This methodical approach towards the diagnosis, assessment and treatment suggested by Ayurveda represents acceptance of one more concept proposed by Nyaya darshana.

तन्त्रयुक्तिः ॥ Tantrayukti

Ayurveda is one of the Shastras offering the knowledge of certain topic and this knowledge if offered in various scriptures.  Initially the knowledge of Ayurveda was transferred through oral tradition. Later as the transfer of knowledge continued, various scholars composed the treatises like Agnivesha Samhita, Sushruta Samhita. These scholars composed their treatises in a specific manner. For this, they used methodical tools named ‘Tantrayukti’ ( तन्त्रयुक्तिः।) which were originally described as guideline to compose standard treatises by Nyaya Darshana. [12] Thus, it is important to understand these tools or Tantrayuktis in order to interpret and thoroughly understand any ancient shastra. Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Ashtanga Hrudaya are the main authoritative texts in Ayurveda and all of them have made use of Tantrayuktis provided by Nyaya darshana to compose these texts.[13]

पूर्व मीमांसा आयुर्वेदः च॥ Poorva Mimansa and Ayurveda

The main source of authority in regard to Mimamsa (मीमांसा।) is Jaimini's (जैमिनी। name of the expounder of Mimansa Darshana) Mimamsa-Sutra (मीमांसा सूत्राणि।). Jaimini does not believe in Moksha (मोक्षः।). He believes in the existence of Svarga (स्वर्गः। heaven) attainable through Karma (कर्मः।) or sacrifice.The Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini give a detailed description of the different sacrifices and their purposes, the doctrine of Apurva (अपूर्वम्।), and also some philosophical propositions.

Poorva mimansa is the school of philosophy belonging to Darshana shastras, which believes in the role of actions performed during one’s lifetime. These actions mainly in the form of rituals like Yajnas (यज्ञः-s।). Yajnas performed by an individual are believed to leave some impact on his life. Thus, the proponents of Poorva mimansa believe in engaging human beings in rituals that will help in creating good karma. Performing Yajnas, yagas (यागः ।) is called as Karmakanda (कर्मकाण्डः।) which is regarded as the mode of achieving Moksha (मोक्षः।) by Poorva mimansakas. The basis of advocating such Karmakanda for Moksha prapti is that, Poorva Mimansa Darshana believes in the entity called 'Apurva’ which develops as a consequence of actions performed by an individual in this world and in the current life. It is thus appraised that, this school of philosophy also believes in the correlated theories like past life, concepts like Pap (पापम्। sinful actions), Punyakarma (पुण्यकर्मम्। virtuous actions), Hell and heaven.

There are some subjects in Ayurveda which appear to be based on the similar theory. Ayurveda is unique in its approach while describing the types of treatment like Daivavyapashraya Chikitsa (दैवव्यपाश्रय चिकित्सा।).

This category of chikitsa (चिकित्सा।) includes performing particular Yajnas, Yagas, chanting Mantras, holding precious gems or stones to eliminate the possible effect of Karma of present or past life, as a treatment. Ayurveda calls this incomprehensible effect of past life as ‘Daiva’ (दैवम्।) and provides the means to eliminate its ill effects on body, manifested in the form of disease.

पूर्वजन्मकृतं पापं व्याधिरुपेण बाध्यते ॥[citation needed]

pūrvajanmakr̥taṁ pāpaṁ vyādhirupeṇa bādhyate ॥

While describing various categories of diseases, Acharyas have considered probable effect of karma of past life manifesting as a disease in current life under Adhidaivika Vyadhi (आधिदैविक व्याधयः।). And the methods to treat such type of diseases have also been described that include performing Yajnas, chanting mantras (मन्त्राः।) etc. Thus, it follows that, Ayurveda accepts theory of positive effects of performing Yajnas (यज्ञः-s।) for elimination of ill effects of karma to help achieve the ultimate objective ‘Ayu’ (आयुः। life) and good health.

वेदान्त दर्शनम् आयुर्वेदः च ॥ Vedanta Darshana and Ayurveda

Maharshi Vyasa (महर्षिः व्यासः।) is recognized as the expounder of this system and Shankaracharya (शंकराचार्यः।) is the unanimous professor and preceptor of Vedanta darsana (वेदान्त दर्शनम्।).

Various references available in Charaka samhita and other Ayurvedic literature reflect that Vedanta had played some important role in influencing the metaphysical thinking in Ayurveda.

‘Lokapurusha nyaya’ (लोकपुरुष न्यायः।) is one of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda. It states that, whatever is present inside the Purusha (पुरुषः।) has to be present in the Universe and vice versa. In other words, Purusha is considered as the epitome of the cosmos and hence there exists great similarity between the elements and functions of cosmos and a human being. While describing this, Acharya Charaka says that,

यावन्ताः लोके मूर्तिमन्तः भावविशेषाः तावन्ताः पुरुषे, यावन्ताः पुरुषे तावन्ताः लोके ॥- (Char. Samh. 5.3)[14]

yāvantāḥ loke mūrtimantaḥ bhāvaviśeṣāḥ tāvantāḥ puruṣe, yāvantāḥ puruṣe tāvantāḥ loke ॥

Meaning: Whatever existing constituents are present in universe, the same are present in the Purusha; similarly, whatever existing constituents form Purusha, can be observed in the universe.

Further, Acharya Charaka has also provided a list of constituents of Purusha (पुरुषः।) and Loka (लोकः। Universe) which are similar or which display congruence or resemblance. This theory of 'man as the epitome of universe' accepted by Ayurveda, is enunciated by Vedanta Darshana (वेदान्त दर्शनम्।). Advaita (अद्वैत।) Vedanta’s non-dualistic approach believes that the whole universe is in oneself and that oneself is in the whole universe.  According to Acharya Charaka, the ‘Brahma’ (ब्रह्मन्।) mentioned in Vedanta is present as ‘Antaratma’ (अंतरात्मन्।) in the Purusha commonly referred as the consciousness or soul. This darshana also declares that, Brahman is the supreme cause of the entire universe and is all pervading and eternal. Thus, the (जीवः।) living energy in a physical living body is only the bramhan and nothing else.

There are few other similarities between Ayurveda and Vedanta. They can be enlisted as follows;

1.     Panchikarana siddhanta (पंचीकरण सिद्धांतः। Pentamerisation) described in Ayurveda while explaining the the stages in Srushti utpatti (सृष्टी उत्पत्ती। the origin of cosmos theory).

2.     Bhutantara praveshakrut gunas (भूतांतर प्रवेशकृत गुणाः। Imitative pervasion) theory OR Bhutantaranupravesha (Imitative pervasion) put forward to describe the step in the formation of material aspect of the universe.

3.     The concept of Jivatma (जीवात्मा।)

4.     The concept of Moksha (मोक्षः।) and the ways to attain it.

In this way, metaphysical thinking in Ayurveda is influenced by Vedanta to a large extent and thus it is closely associated with Vedanta.

योग दर्शनम् आयुर्वेदः च॥ Yoga Darshana and Ayurveda

Yoga darshana (योग दर्शनम्।) is expounded by Acharya Patanjali (आचार्य पातञ्जली) and it is intimately allied to Samkhya darshana (सांख्य दर्शनम्।). The term ‘Yoga’ (योगः।) literally means ‘Union’. Here it refers to the union of Jivatma (जीवात्मा।) and Paramatma (परमात्मा।). It is believed that, this union can result only if the tendency of body, Manas (मनः। mind) and senses towards sensual pleasures is a warranted. Therefore, Yoga darshana describes various methods and practices to control this outward drive of Manas (मनः। mind) and teaches one to focus on individual’s inner self. This helps in developing the right focus to speed up the spiritual growth required for Moksha (मोक्षः।).


For rest of the topics, Yoga mostly accepts the postulates of Samkhya (सांख्याः।) with the only difference that ‘Yoga’ accepts the 26th additional principle named ‘Ishwara’ (ईश्वरः।). Thus, this system is also called seshwara samkhya darsana (सेश्वर सांख्य दर्शनम्।) which indicates Sanskhya darshana along with Ishwara).

Patanjali advocates eight important parts of yoga viz,

  1. Yama (यमः। moral codes) ,
  2. Niyama (नियमः। moral conducts),
  3. Asana (आसनः। posture of the body),
  4. Pranayama (प्राणायामः। control of breath/ respiration),
  5. Pratyahara ( प्रत्याहारः। withdrawal of senses from their objects),
  6. Dhyana (ध्यानम्। meditation),
  7. Dharna (धारणा। Retention), and
  8. Samadhi (समाधिः। trance of union with divine).

These 8 parts constitute Ashtanga Yoga (अष्टाङ्गयोग।), one of the most popular forms of Yoga in today's world. In Ashtanga yoga, the sequence of elements is highly important since it depicts the step by step progress of Sadhaka (साधकः। an individual following and practicing Ashtanga yoga) in the journey of attaining the ultimate goal, 'Moksha'.

Ayurveda and yoga both are practical and applied sciences. Yogic practices offer measures to achieve superior mental as well as physical health to facilitate smooth execution of further complex steps like Dharana (धारणा।), Dhyan (ध्यानम्।) and Samadhi (समाधिः।). Thus, these practices are selectively incorporated in Ayurveda to suit its objective as various non-pharmacological methods to offered to maintain physical as well as mental health.

Acharya Sushruta has proposed therapeutic application of 'Pranayama' ((प्राणायामः।) in the management of disease Hikka ( हिक्का। a disease characterized by recurrent hiccoughs/hiccups)[15] and also mentioned its use as a part of diagnostic method for identifying hidden Shalya ( शल्यम्। any foreign body or substance lodged in the body and causing pain) [16]. Acharya Charaka mentions the ‘Vayu/ Vata nigraha’ (वायुनिग्रहः / वातनिग्रहः । control over Vata) as one of the methods to channelize the energy of Vata responsible for development of diseases. This control can be achieved through ‘Pranayama’ since 'Pranayama' practices are designed to develop control over the movement of Prana (प्राणः। one of the 5 types of Vata dosha responsible for control of vital function of the body).

Yama and Niyamas are mentioned in Ayurveda in the context of Sadvrtta (सद्‍वृत्तम्।) and Achara rasayana (आचार रसायनम्।) in order to improve the physical, mental and social health.

Ayurveda offers appropriate life style recommendations for Yoga practice, as well as the preparation of the body, mind and life energy to unfold the full healing potential of all aspects of Yoga. Application of the concepts and practices of yoga in conjunction with Ayurveda enhances the therapeutic application of both the contemporary systems of healing. Thus, both these shastras (शास्त्राः।) compliment each other in variety of ways. It is important to integrate Yoga and Ayurveda in order to bring out a complete holistic healing system.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Charaka Samhita (Vimanasthanam Adhyaya 4 Sootram 3)
  2. Sushruta Samhita (Sootrasthanam Adhyaya 24 Sootram 4)
  3. Charaka Samhita (Sharirasthanam)
  4. Sushruta Samhita (Sharirasthanam)
  5. Charaka Samhita (Sootrasthanam)
  6. Ashtanga Hrudayam (Sootrasthanam)
  7. Charaka Samhita (Sootrasthanam)
  8. Charaka Samhita (Shareersthanam Adhyaya 7 Sootram 17)
  9. Charaka Samhita (Sootrasthanam)
  10. Charaka Samhita (Vimanasthanam Adhyaya 8 Sootram 42)
  11. Charaka Samhita (Vimanasthanam Adhyaya 8 Sootram 68)
  12. Sushrut Samhita (Uttartantram Adhyaya 65 Sootram 3)
  13. Sing A., TANTRA YUKTI METHOD OF THEORIZATION IN AYURVEDA, Ancient science of life; Vol : XXII(3) January / 2003 Pages 64-74
  14. Charaka Samhita (Sharirsthanam Adhyaya 5 Sootram 3)
  15. Sushruta Samhita (Uttartantram Adhyaya 50 Sootram 16)
  16. Sushruta Samhita (Sootrasthanam Adhyaya 26 Sootram 13)