Buddhi (बुद्धिः)

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Buddhi (Sanskrit: बुद्धिः) is known as the intellectual power of the brain. According to the Darshanas (दर्शनानि) , Buddhi is considered to be one of the primary factors of evolution. However, in the context of human body, mind and consciousness; buddhi is believed to be the intellectual faculty pertaining to the individual Jivatma (जीवात्मा).

परिचयः ॥ Introduction

Ayurveda was developed along with many other contemporary shastras (शास्त्राणि) like darshanas. Darshanas were the widely accepted schools of Bhartiya (भारतीय) philosophy in that time. As a result, many concepts in Ayurveda have also been described after narrating their popular meaning as per the darshanas like Sankhya (साङ्‍ख्य दर्शनम्) and Vaisheshika (वैशेषिक दर्शनम्). Sankhya and Vaisheshika darshanas have maximum influence on Ayurveda. Thus, Ayurveda classics also describe the philosophical aspects of the term Buddhi that are originally narrated in darshanas. Spiritual aspects of Buddhi are described while narrating the Srshti Utpatti siddhanta (सृष्टि उत्पत्ति सिद्धान्तः), while role of buddhi in human physiology can also be found in understanding the process of obtaining knowledge of any subject. Here, buddhi is said to play the critical role as it forms the connecting link between the Manas (मनः mind) and Atman (आत्मा Soul or consciousness). Thus, according to Ayurveda, buddhi is the intellectual faculty which performs vital role in cognition.

व्युत्पत्ति॥ Etymology

Buddhi is a Sanskrit term derived from the root, budh (बुध्), which means "to know" or "to be awake." Therefore, buddhi refers to the intellect, wisdom and the power of the mind to understand, analyze, discriminate and decide.

व्याख्या ॥ Definition

Buddhi has been primarily defined as the decisive capacity of an individual. Any person in normal healthy state has the capacity to discriminate the good and the bad, right and wrong. On this basis further a decision can be taken which is best suitable for individual's life. This capacity has been called as Buddhi.

निश्चयात्मिका बुद्धिः|

Commentator Chakrapani has also defined buddhi as, the only reason or factor behind the ability of analysis of certain thing is called as buddhi.

बुद्धिस्तु ऊहापोहयोरेकं कारणंगमयत्यात्मानं| (Chakrapani commentary, Char. Samh. Sharir 1.72)

Man is such a creature who makes logical reasoning for every perception and this is known as Viveka buddhi. In other words, buddhi is the ability to perform logical reasoning, analysis and taking informed decision on the basis of that.

आत्मगुणः बुद्धिः ॥ Buddhi as an attribute of Jivatma

सार्था गुर्वादयो बुद्धिः प्रयत्नान्ताः परादयः|

गुणाः प्रोक्ताः ... (Char. Samh. Sutra 1.49)

इच्छा द्वेषः सुखं दुःखं प्रयत्नश्चेतना धृतिः|

बुद्धिः स्मृतिरहङ्कारो लिङ्गानि परमात्मनः||७२|| (Char. Samh. Sharir 1.72)

Buddhi as Atmaja bhava of garbha- Cha sharira 3.10

While describing gunas, Charaka samhita mentions buddhi. Chakrapani, the commentator of Charaka samhita there opines that, buddhi is knowledge. By this means, one should consider all aspects of buddhi like smrti (power of recollection or memory), chetana (liveliness), dhrti (knowledge storing capacity), ahankara (the feeling of 'I know' or ego) etc under one term buddhi. And all these are believed to be the attributes of individual jivatma.

बुद्धिः ज्ञानम्; अनेन च स्मृतिचेतनाधृत्यहङ्कारादीनां बुद्धिविशेषाणां ग्रहणम्| (Chakrapani commentary Char. Samh. Sutra 1.49)

Various aspects of Buddhi

Dhee, Dhrti, Smrti are various aspects of buddhi and each of them has a specific role.


The perception of knowledge of any object or subject 'as it is' (Yatharthanubhava) is called as 'Dhee'.


Dhrti is said to be the controlling factor which which prevents the manas from indulging in harmful and non-beneficial objects.


Smrti is defined as the one's ability to recall things.

Dhee, Dhrti and Smrti are closely associated with each other and their individual function is largely dependent on each other. These 3 entities are recognized as internal dimensions of manas.

शरीरे बुद्धेः स्थानम् ॥ Seat of buddhi in Shariram

Hrdaya (हृदयम्) is regarded as the seat of buddhi and its proper functioning is regulated by sadhaka pitta.

Acharya Vagbhata expounds the buddhi (बुद्धिः intelligence), medha (मेधा memory and intellect), abhimana (अभिमानः ego) as attributes to sadhaka pitta (साधक पित्तम्) which is residing in heart (हृदयम् hrdaya).Thus emotions are shown to be deeply related to and dependent on heart.

ज्ञानदेवता बुद्धिः ॥ Buddhi as one of the Jnana devata


बुद्धिः सिद्धिः स्मृतिर्मेधा धृतिः कीर्तिः क्षमा दया||

तानि चानुमतान्येषां तन्त्राणि परमर्षिभिः| (Char. Samh. Sutra 1.38-39)

बुद्धिव्यापारः ॥ Role of buddhi in the process of cognition and memory

Manas (mind) is the connecting link between sensory organs and the purusha. For knowledge of any subject from the external world, the link between purush and sensory organs must be established. This is possible when the maans is connected with both these components. Therefore, the presence of manas is must for the perception of subject or knowledge and in the absence of which no knowledge or perception occurs. The objects which are perceived through the Indriyas (senses) are termed as Arthas (objects). Each Indriya (senses) has specific objects to perceive, not the else. In the same way Manas (mind) as being an independent Indriya (senses), it also has its own Manoarthas (Objects of mind). For the cognition sense objects conjoins with senses and senses with Manas (mind). Buddhi Vyapara (discrimination) follows just after it. Buddhi (intellect) works on it by reasoning and logic and reacts accordingly. If there is no action to be taken then it gains knowledge and gets stored for further use. Retention of cognition takes place under the area of Medha (storage device)

बुद्धीन्द्रियाणि ॥ Sensory organs

The process of cognition carried out by Buddhi is incomplete without participation of sensory organs. Since purush acquires jnana (knowledge) through this process of cognition, these sensory organs are called as Jnanendriyani (ज्ञानेन्द्रियाणि). These are total 5 in number. Each of these 5 organs have dominance of 1 element or mahabhuta than rest of the 4 mahabhutas. Buddhi operates through these 5 sensory organs.

एकैकाधिकयुक्तानि खादीनामिन्द्रियाणि तु| पञ्च कर्मानुमेयानि येभ्यो बुद्धिः प्रवर्तते||२४|| (Char Sharira 1.24)

विविधाः बुद्धि ॥ Types of Buddhi

Types of buddhi are identified on the basis of the source of that knowledge. If the purush acquires knowledge about image of some thing which is obtained through eyes (Chakshu), that buddhi is known as chakshubuddhi. Similarly on the basis of source or route of knowledge buddhi is of various types.

या यदिन्द्रियमाश्रित्य जन्तोर्बुद्धिः प्रवर्तते| याति सा तेन निर्देशं मनसा च मनोभवा||३२||

भेदात् कार्येन्द्रियार्थानां बह्व्यो वै बुद्धयः स्मृताः| आत्मेन्द्रियमनोर्थानामेकैका सन्निकर्षजा||३३||

सत्याबुद्धिः ॥ Satya Buddhi

Satyabuddhi has a special significance in spiritual journey. It is that type of buddhi which develops in an individual when the person's manas is full of sattva guna and devoid of rajas and tamas guna. Exclusively abundant sattva guna in manas empowers the person to brake the barriers of ignorance and darkness clouding the buddhi. Beyond the boundaries of ignorance the person understands the real nature of existence. The person attains detachment to things i.e., one becomes desire less leading to attainment of yogic power and accomplishment of samkhya (knowledge of all categories). These realizations make the individual wise freeing him from ego, leading to freedom from vanity and detachment from the causes of misery. Such a person does not hold anything but renounces everything. The Brahman, the Eternal, Immutable, Tranquil and Indestructible, is, thus, attained and is the ultimate wisdom, also known as vidya (learning), siddhi (accomplishment), mati (wisdom), medha (power of retention), prajna (intellect) and jnana (knowledge). In simpler words, Satya buddhi is the samskrit term used for enlightenment. Acharya Charaka explains what exactly the person who is enlightened understands in words as below,

शुद्धसत्त्वस्य या शुद्धा सत्या बुद्धिः प्रवर्तते| यया भिनत्त्यतिबलं महामोहमयं तमः||१६||

सर्वभावस्वभावज्ञो यया भवति निःस्पृहः| योगं यया साधयते साङ्ख्यः सम्पद्यते यया||१७||

यया नोपैत्यहङ्कारं नोपास्ते कारणं यया| यया नालम्बते किञ्चित् सर्वं सन्न्यस्यते यया||१८||

याति ब्रह्म यया नित्यमजरं शान्तमव्ययम् | विद्या सिद्धिर्मतिर्मेधा प्रज्ञा ज्ञानं च सा मता||१९|| (Char Shaira 5.16-19)