Prajnaparadha (प्रज्ञापराधः)

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Prajnaparadha (Samskrit : प्रज्ञापराधः) refers to the intellectual errors leading to improper actions that result in imbalances of bodily constituents. This term is used in Ayurveda while describing the three main causes of diseases. The cause of improper decisions and actions is rooted in one's own intellectual error thus, this intellectual error is considered as one of the fundamental causes of the disease.

परिचयः ॥ Introduction

प्रज्ञापराधः। Prajnaparadha is considered to be the root cause of misconduct or unrighteous actions of an individual. Primarily classified as intellectual errors, the following are considered as Prajnaparadhas

  • Improper understanding of the object
  • Lack of control over ego and mind in spite of proper understanding of the object
  • Inability to recollect and comprehend the potential dangers of planned actions

These intellectual errors lead to improper actions that result in imbalances of bodily constituents. Hence treatment modalities in Ayurveda, unlike the modern allopathic treatments, consider the mental and intellectual status of an individual as an important factor.

रोगहेतवः॥ Cause of Diseases

Ayurveda considers 3 fundamental causes for any disease.

असात्म्येन्द्रियार्थसंयोगः, प्रज्ञापराधः, परिणामश्चेति त्रयस्त्रिविधविकल्पा हेतवो विकाराणां, समयोगयुक्तास्तु प्रक्रुतिहेतवो भवन्ति । (Char. Samh. 11.44) [1]

asātmyendriyārthasaṁyogaḥ, prajñāparādhaḥ, pariṇāmaśceti trayastrividhavikalpā hetavo vikārāṇāṁ, samayogayuktāstu prakrutihetavo bhavanti ।

Meaning: According to Acharya Charaka the causes are as follows, [1]

  1. असात्म्येन्द्रियार्थसंयोगः । Asatmendriyartha Samyoga (Inappropriate contact of objects with senses)
  2. प्रज्ञापराधः। Pradjnaparadha (Intellectual error) and
  3. परिणामः। Parinama (Consequences/ Time)

हीन। Heena (Under/ deficient), मिथ्या । Mithya (Inappropriate/perverted) or अति । Ati (Excessive) yoga (union, exposure or contact) with any 3 of the above is said to result in development of diseases.

आचार्य वाग्भटः। Acharya Vagbhata and आचार्य चरकः । Acharya Charaka in their treatises have stated the 3 causes of disease as, हीनम्। Heena (Under/ deficient), मिथ्या। Mithya (Inappropriate/perverted) or अति। Ati (Excessive) exposure or contact with 3 factors namely, काल। Kala, अर्थ । Artha and कर्म । Karma.

कालार्थकर्मणां योगो हीनमिथ्यातिमात्रकः। सम्यग्योगोश्च विज्ञेयो रोगारोग्यैककारणम्॥ (Ash. Hrud. Soot. 1/19)[2]

kālārthakarmaṇāṁ yogo hīnamithyātimātrakaḥ। samyagyogośca vijñeyo rogārogyaikakāraṇam॥ (Ash. Hrud. Soot. 1/19)

Here the synonymous terms are

  1. कालः। Kala and परिणामः। Parinama, [1]
  2. अर्थः। Artha and असात्म्येन्द्रियार्थसंयोगः। Asatmendriyartha and
  3. कर्मः । Karma and प्रज्ञापराधः। Prajnaparadha.

It is believed that, Prajnaparadha may result in deficient, perverted or excessive activity of body, mind and speech which might lead to development of diseases.

असात्म्येन्द्रियार्थसंयोगः ॥ Asatmendriyartha Samyoga (Artha)

संयोग । Samyoga means union. Here, the union is of the इन्द्रिय । Indriya (sense organ) and इन्द्रियार्थ । Indriyartha (the subjects of the knowledge by the senses or simply an object). When there is excessive exposure of a subject to any sense organ, disuse or perverted use of any sense organ, then it is called as असात्म्येन्द्रियार्थसंयोगः। Asatmendriyartha Samyoga. Excessive or अतियोगः। atiyoga forms of this factor comprises excessive reading, thinking, mental work or physical activity, listening to loud sound for prolonged period etc.

Inappropriate unification of any इन्द्रिय । Indriya (Sense and motor organs) & इन्द्रियार्थ । Indriyartha (Subject of knowledge or object), leads to diseases related to that respective Indriya such as Atiyoga of रसनेन्द्रियम्। Rasanendriya includes overeating the food only to pacify the taste buds leads to रोगाः। Rogas (Diseases) such as अजीर्णम्। Ajeerna (Indigestion), अतिसारः । Atisara (Loose motions) etc.

परिणामः॥ Parinama (Kala)

कालः। Kala is the term referred to the various times of the year divided into 6 ऋतवः। Rutu (seasons) like हेमंतः। Hemant, ग्रीष्मः। Greeshma and वर्षा। Varsha characterized by Cold, Heat and Rains respectively. These external factors like cold, heat and rains affect the bodily constituents. Their excess, deficient or abnormal occurrences lead to imbalance in दोषाः। Doshas resulting in disease development. For example excessive rains, deficient rains or rains in the season of cold represent abnormal seasonal variations and are considered as the causes for development of diseases.

प्रज्ञापराधः ॥ Prajnaparadha (Karma)

Incorrect understanding or lack of understanding by the intellect and inappropriate actions performed out of it are called as intellectual errors or Prajnaparadha of the individual. It includes वेगवरोधः । Vegavarodha (Suppression of bodily urges involving actions like sneezing, coughing, urinating etc), अतिसाहससेवनम् । Ati-sahasa sevana (over exertion or performing activities demanding energy out of the capacity of one’s body and mind) etc. This leads to imbalances in दोषाः। Doshas and disease development.[3]

व्युत्पत्तिः ॥ Etymology

Literally, the word प्रज्ञा । Pradnya means wisdom or intelligence and अपराधः। Aparadha means offence.

Thus, the meaning of term ‘Pradnyaparadha’ becomes "an offence against wisdom".

It is called as an offense because, such actions adversely affect the individual who is performing those actions and, in spite of knowing possible consequences, one takes a step towards it. Thus, these are the thoughtless actions that are undertaken without apprehending their detrimental effects ignoring one’s wisdom or inner voice.

परिभाषा ॥ Definition

Acharya Charka has defined the term Prajnaparadha in details as follows,

धीधृतिस्मृतिविभ्रष्टः कर्म यत्कुरुते अशुभम्। प्रज्ञापराधं तं विद्यात् सर्वदोषप्रकोपणम्॥ (Char. Samh. 1.102)[4]

dhīdhr̥tismr̥tivibhraṣṭaḥ karma yatkurute aśubham। prajñāparādhaṁ taṁ vidyāt sarvadoṣaprakopaṇam॥ (Char. Samh. 1.102)[4]

Meaning: The unwholesome actions performed due to deranged intellect, Restraint (Control) and Memory are known as Prajnaparadha. It vitiates all doshas.

धीविभ्रंशः॥ Dhee vibhransha

धीः । Dhee is the term used to indicate बुद्धिः। Buddhi. By default, Buddhi works rightly and can discriminate between what is eternal and non-eternal, what is right and wrong, what is favorable and unfavorable, what is wholesome and unwholesome. Therefore, derangement of Dhee is when failure to adherence to right discrimination between these things is observed and thus, intellect fails to perform its role of selecting the right choice. [5]

धृतिविभ्रंशः ॥ Dhruti Vibhransha

The function of धृतिः । Dhruti is to impart control over organs. धृतिविभ्रंशः। Dhruti vibhransha is derangement in this function leading to inability to control the mind indulged in sensual pleasures.[5]

स्मृतिविभ्रंशः ॥ Smrti Vibhransha

स्मृतिः । Smrti perform the action of recollection for maintain the bodily balances. In स्मृतिविभ्रंशः। Smruti vibhransha, recollection of knowledge of reality is impaired due to covering of self by मानस दोषाः । manasa doshas like रजः । Rajas and तमः । Tamas. This incapacitates individual to recollect the right approach and leads to improper choices.[5]

प्रज्ञापराधस्य उदाहरणानि॥ Examples of Prajnaparadha

The unwholesome actions performed due to intellectual error includes following (Cha. Sha 1/103-108)

  • वेगोदीरण । Vegodeeran (Forcible propulsion of natural urges)
  • वेगावरोधः । Vegavarodha (Suppression of strong, forceful natural urges)
  • साहस सेवन । Sahasa Sevana (Over indulgence in exertion)
  • नारीणाम् अतिसेवनम् । Nareenam Atisevanam (Over indulgence in carnal pleasures)
  • कर्मकालातिपातश्च। KArmakalatipaatascha – (Excessive or delayed actions)
  • मिथ्यारंभश्च कर्मणाम् । Mithyarambhascha Karmanam – (Procrastination or wrong initiation of a task)
  • विनयलोपः । Vinaya lopa – (Disappearance of Modesty)
  • आचारलोपः । Achaara lopa- (Bad conduct or misbehaviour)
  • पूज्याणाम् अभिधर्षणम् । Poojyanam Abhidharshana- (Rebuking the respected and venerable men)
  • Willfully doing unrighteous actions and involving in activities that are known to affect body and mind adversely
  • अकालदेशसंचारः । Akaladesha sanchara- (Roaming about to an inappropriate place at a wrong time)
  • Friendship with wicked persons
  • Violating the rules of noble conduct mentioned in सद्वृत्तम्। Sadvrutta
  • Generating the emotions of envy, conceit, anger, greed, ignorance, narcosis and delusions.

All actions performed out of above said intellectual errors and other similar actions due to intellectual errors stemming from रजः । Raja (Manas dosha) and मोहः। Moha (Greed and infatuation) are included in Prajnaparadha.

प्रज्ञापराध विभागाः॥ Types of Prajnaparadha

In another discourse, Acharya Charaka has defined Prajnaparadha as threefold action (verbal, Physical and mental) having 3 subdivisions (Heena/mithya/atiyoga). These are also called as कायिक । Kayik, वाचिक । Vachik and मानसिक । Manasika Karmas commonly referred as कर्म । ‘Karma’.[6] [1] Hence Prajnaparadha comprises of 3 types of karmas viz.

  1. कायिक । Kayika (Physical)
  2. वाचिक । Vachika (Verbal) and
  3. मानसिक । Manasika (Mental)

प्रज्ञापराधस्य परिणामः॥ Effect of Prajnaparadha

The actions stimulated by prajnaparadha disturb the balance of त्रिदोषाः। tridosa system in the body as well as vitiate मानस दोषाः। manasa doshas namely रजः। Rajas and तमः। Tamas creating favorable conditions for development of disease.

There are ample improper actions stimulated by Prajnaparadha which are root causes of various diseases, e.g., habit of suppression of any natural urge is a result of Prajnaparadha and multiple other diseases where inappropriate actions taken by individual lead to disease development. Acharya charaha has clearly stated that, all agantu rogas [diseases caused due to factors like Visha (toxins), vayu (poisonous gas or polluted, abnormal wind), agni (burns or excess heat) or samprahar (injury) etc] and psychiatric diseases like depression, phobias, hysteria or anger etc are rooted in Prajnaparadha. [7] Thus avoiding Prajnaparadha is considered one of the key component in preventive healthcare in Ayurveda. [8]

प्रज्ञापराधः अधर्मः च॥ Prajnaparadha and Adharma

According to Acharya Charaka, all illnesses can be attributed either to निज हेतवः। Nija Hetus (endogenous factors) like an imbalance of the three dosha or आगन्तु हेतवः । Aagantu hetu (exogenous factors). On the basis of this criteria, Acharya Charaka has classified diseases in 2 categories viz.

  1. Nija (निजाः। internal causes)
  2. Agantu (आगन्तवः। external causes)

The later group includes epidemics and catastrophes known as जनपदोध्वंसः । ‘Janapadodhvansa’.

Acharya Charaka has attributed occurrence of epidemics and catastrophe to the immorality and adharma (अधर्मः । unrighteous acts) of corrupt leaders (Kings in ancient time), the effects of which spiral down to the social order and spread to every level of society. He also refers to asat-karma (असत्कर्मः। bad karma) of past life as another cause of जनपदोध्वंसः । Janapadodhvansa. [9]

The root cause of both, अधर्मः। Adharma and असत्कर्मः। Asatkarma, lies in prajnaparadha.[9]

Both Adharma (Unrighteous acts) and Asat Karma (Evil or wicked actions) involve various activities of an individual or a group of individuals that are annoying and hurting to others. As this chain of Adharma and Asat karma continues, unrighteousness takes hand over the righteousness. Nature and environment get affected and this results in derangement of natural elements, occurrence of calamities, catastrophes, wars etc which take a toll on lives of many at a time. Ayurveda infers that the life span of individuals depends on Daiva (दैवः। Effect of karma of past life) as well as Purushakara (पुरुषकारः। manly deeds performed in this life) . Here Daiva is the term used to denote the effects of deeds of past life and Purushakara indicates the effects of Karmas of present life. Acharya Charaka says,

दैवमात्मकृतं विद्यात् कर्म यत् पौर्वदैहिकम्| स्मृतः पुरुषकारस्तु क्रियते यदिहापरम्|| (Char. Samh. 4.30)[10]

daivamātmakr̥taṁ vidyāt karma yat paurvadaihikam| smr̥taḥ puruṣakārastu kriyate yadihāparam||

Therefore, the death of innocent people in involved in pious righteous acts in present life prematurely in such catastrophes or calamities is attributed to their strong Daiva ((दैवः। Effect of karma of past life).

स्वस्थवृत्ते प्रज्ञापराधः॥ Prajnaparadha in Preventive medicine

Parinama (परिणामः।) Or Kala is a Nishpratikriya Hetu (निष्प्रत्यनीक हेतुः। Factor beyond the capacity of our control) i.e it is not in our hands but remaining 2 Hetu (असात्म्येन्द्रियार्थसंयोगः। Asatmendriyartha Samyoga & प्रज्ञापराधः। Pradnyaparadha), can be avoided by Sadvruttacharana (सद्वृत्ताचरणम्। Following the code of good conduct expounded by Ayurveda), so diseases could be avoided.

Thus, it is inferred that, Prajnaparadha refers to those actions, which are undertaken in spite of being aware of the potential dangers. This causes imbalance and vitiation of all doshas of शारीरम्। Sharira and मनसः। manasa that hampers the body's normal functions, making the body home to various ailments.

Prajnaparadha (प्रज्ञापराधः।) holds greater relevance in contemporary times. Committing errors willfully, neglecting the potential dangers and indulging in sensual pleasures excessively is nothing but an intellectual blasphemy. Various addictions like smoking, alcoholism, misconducts like abusing elders and noble people and physical inactivity with faulty food habits are rooted in Prajnaparadha. Thus, considering this factor as a cause of lifestyle diseases holds tremendous significance as a basis for preventive medicine. Moreover it also signifies the importance of having mindful approach while making the choices which are going to affect not just an individual but also those around the individual in community.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Charakasamhita (Sootrasthanam Adhyaya 11 Sutram 44)
  2. Ashtanga Hrudayam (Sootrasthanam)
  3. Agnivesha . Charaka, Dridhabala, Charaka Samhita, Sharira Sthana, Katidhapurushiya Shariradhyaya, 1/102-109. 7th ed. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office; 2002. Text with English Translation and Critical Exposition Based on Chakrapanidatta's ‘Ayurveda Dipika’, by Dr. Ram Karan Sharma and Vaidya Bhagvan Dash.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Charaka Samhita (Sharirsthanam Adhyaya 1 Sutram 102)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Charaka Samhita (Sharirsthanam Adhyaya 1 Sutram 99-101)
  6. Ashtanga hrudayam (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 1 Sutram 19)
  7. Charaka Samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 7 Sutram 51-52)
  8. Ashtanga Hrudayam (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 4 Sutram 32)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Charaka Samhita (Vimanasthanam Adhyaya 4 Sutram 20)
  10. Charaka Samhita (Vimanasthanam Adhyaya 4 Sutram 30)