Shastra Rachana Paddhati (शास्त्ररचनापद्धतिः)

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Shastra rachanapaddhati (Samskrit : शास्त्ररचनापद्धतिः) means the methodology of composition of shastras. Samskrit literature abounds with hundreds of treatises pertaining to ancient Bharatiya Vijnana shastras of which more than half a dozen books provide us the detailed information outlining the devices or means for composition of a scientific or methodical structure of a shastra. Every Bharatiya shastra, irrespective of its subject matter, has been built using these principles of methodology, of which the teachers, students, and the critics who expounded theoretical works on those subjects, were required to be familiar with.

परिचयः|| Introduction

Our ancient intellectuals had not only produced numerous shastras or monumental treatises on almost all branches of ज्ञान and विज्ञान (Knowledge and Science) but also envisaged a detailed and comprehensive methodology of composing theoretico-scientific treatises. While there exist a few differences in the methodology of composition of shastras and the modern day research dissertations, journal and paper presentations all kinds of scientific writings essentially have the same requisites, as recognized by scholars and researchers all over the world. In the Bharatavarsha, such intellectual efforts were known prior to Panini's composition of Ashtadhyayi, a highly evolved exposition. Many thinkers put in their efforts in enriching and refining the methodology, creating a number of devices relating to words, structures and meanings pertaining to the composition of a shastra described in their authoritative and famous texts as given below,

  • Vishnudharmottara Purana, contains discussions on sundry topics like poetics, arts, sculpture
  • Panini Maharshi's Ashtadhyayi, a world famous grammar treatise
  • Kautilya's Arthashastra, a work on polity and statecraft
  • Charaka Samhita, greatest extant work on Ayurveda
  • Sushruta Samhita, a renowned work on surgery
  • Vagbhata's Ashtangasangraha and Ashtangahrdayam, books on Ayurveda
  • Nilamegha's Tantrayuktivichara, a medical treatise

Apart from them Chakrapanidatta, Arunadatta, Indu were authors of commentaries which have methodology of importance.

Constituents of Methodology

All these works, belonging to divergent disciplines, portray the depth of Indian thinkers, who looked at the scientific treatises from all possible angles, critically examined the various conceptual aspects of the scientific works along without neglecting the subtle aspects. The lesser known fact is that these great Indian thinkers after a thorough research, in-depth comprehensive study of the shastras available to them, formulated a methodology for building scientific theories having 95 constituents, under five headings.[1][2]

  1. तन्त्रयुक्तयः (tantrayuktayaḥ) ॥ 36 Tantrayuktis
  2. व्याख्यानि (vyākhyāni) ॥ 15 Vyakhyas
  3. कल्पनाः (kalpanāḥ) ॥ 7 Kalpanas
  4. आश्रयानि (āśrayāni)॥ 20 Ashrayas
  5. ताच्छील्यानि (tācchīlyāni)॥ 17 Taatchilyas

A brief introduction of each of the five given elements of composition and presentation of shastras will be undertaken in this topic.


Tantrayukti (तन्त्रयुक्तिः), an uncommonly used word, refers to the methodical elements and devices (Yuktis) of Tantra (theory) that are involved into making of a theory, the structural aspects as well as the interpretation. There are about 36 such generally accepted tantrayuktis, though different texts propose a varying numbers of such yuktis ranging between 32 to 41.[1][2]

Again a word of wide import, Tantra used as a synonym for Shastra (in this context means theory) is that which holds the various aspects of a subject, into which are interwoven different thoughts, objectives, observations and proposals covering the vast expanse of the subject.

While almost all the above mentioned texts discussed tantrayukti, Arunadatta, the commentator of Vagbhata's Ashtangahrdayam, has dealt with explanation for a large number of devices other than the tantrayuktis.


Vyakhya has been defined as विवरणात्मकशब्दसमूहरूपोग्रन्थविशेषः। meaning a particular composition explanatory in nature. Arunadatta in his Sarvanga Sundara commentary for Ashtangahrdayam explains thus

व्याख्या अपि तन्त्रस्य गुणः। ताभिरपि तन्त्रमलङि्क्रयते । ताश्च पञ्चदश प्रकारा ।

Meaning: An explanation (or exposition or commentary) is also an attribute (a desirable property) of a scientific composition. There are 15 types of Vyakhyas which are

  • पिण्डव्यख्या ॥ piṇḍavyakhyā
  • पदव्यख्या ॥ padavyakhyā
  • पदार्थव्यख्या ॥ padārthavyakhyā
  • अधिकरणव्यख्या ॥ adhikaraṇavyakhyā
  • प्रकरणव्यख्या ॥ prakaraṇavyakhyā
  • अर्थव्यख्या ॥ arthavyakhyā
  • कृच्छ्रव्यख्या ॥ kr̥cchravyakhyā
  • फलव्यख्या ॥ phalavyakhyā
  • उच्चितकव्यख्या ॥ uccitakavyakhyā
  • न्यासव्यख्या ॥ nyāsavyakhyā
  • प्रयोजनव्यख्या ॥ prayojanavyakhyā
  • अनुलोमव्यख्या ॥ anulomavyakhyā
  • प्रतिलोमव्यख्या ॥ pratilomavyakhyā
  • अतिसूत्रव्यख्या ॥ atisūtravyakhyā
  • समस्तव्यख्या ॥ samastavyakhyā


  1. 1.0 1.1 W. K. Lele (2006) Methodology of Ancient Indian Sciences Varanasi : Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan
  2. 2.0 2.1 Singh, Anuradha (2003) Tantra Yukti Method of Theorization in Ayurveda, Ancient Science of Life, Vol : XXII(3) January 2003 Pages 64-74