Shastra Rachana Paddhati (शास्त्ररचनापद्धतिः)

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Shastra rachanapaddhati (Samskrit : शास्त्ररचनापद्धतिः) means the methodology of construction of scientific and theoretical texts such as shastras and poetics. Samskrit literature abounds with thousands 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.[1][2]

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.

Methodology of Ancient Shastras

Earliest instances of methodical composition of knowledge base can be seen in the Anukramanikas. They are associated with Vedic texts and are the scientific indices on the vedic mantras. Each Veda contains atleast one such index. Because of Anukramanikas the texts have been preserved and tradition continued. These indices are very systematic recording the exact number of mantras, even aksharas, such that no scope for interpolation or deletion was allowed preserving the text accurately.

Nyaya Shastra which is the primary source of logic for all other shastras, explains five requisite methodologies as follows:[3]

  1. प्रतिज्ञा । Pratijna is the hypothesis that needs to be evaluated
  2. हेतुः । Hetuhu is the proposed reasoning of the problem
  3. उदाहरणम् । Udaharana include the examples, illustrations or data in support of the hypothesis
  4. उपनयः । Upanaya includes verification and devices to establish the correlation
  5. निगमनम् । Nigamana draws the conclusion

All the shastras and poetic 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. As such these concepts can be understood by illustrations from poetics also. 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][4]

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

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][4] According to Kautilya's Arthashastra the following list of 32 Tantrayuktis are given[2]

  • अधिकरणम् ॥ adhikaraṇam (Topic)
  • विधानम् ॥ vidhānam (Statement of Contents)
  • योगः ॥ yogaḥ (Employment of sentences)
  • पदार्थः ॥ padārthaḥ (Meaning of the word)
  • हेत्वर्थः ॥ hetvarthaḥ (Reason)
  • उद्धेशः ॥ uddheśaḥ (Mention)
  • निर्देशः ॥ nirdeśaḥ (Explanation)
  • उपदेशः ॥ upadeśaḥ (Advice)
  • अपदेशः ॥ apadeśaḥ (Reference)
  • अतिदेशः ॥ atideśaḥ (Application)
  • प्रदेशः ॥ pradeśaḥ (Indication)
  • उपमानम् ॥ upamānam (Analogy)
  • अर्थापत्तिः ॥ arthāpattiḥ (Implication)
  • संशयः ॥ saṁśayaḥ (Doubt)
  • प्रसङ्गः ॥ prasaṅgaḥ (Situation)
  • विपर्ययः ॥ viparyayaḥ (Contrary)
  • वाक्यशेषः ॥ vākyaśeṣaḥ (Completion of a sentence)
  • अनुमतम् ॥ anumatam (Agreement)
  • व्याख्यानम् ॥ vyākhyānam (Emphasis)
  • निर्वचनम् ॥ nirvacanam (Derivation)
  • निदर्शनम् ॥ nidarśanam (Illustration)
  • अपवर्गः ॥ apavargaḥ (Exception)
  • स्वसंज्ञा ॥ svasaṁjñā (Technical term)
  • पूर्वपक्षः ॥ pūrvapakṣaḥ (prima facie view)
  • उत्तरपक्षः ॥ uttarapakṣaḥ (Correct view)
  • एकान्तः ॥ ekāntaḥ (Invariable rule)
  • अनागतावेक्षणम् ॥ anāgatāvekṣaṇam (Reference to a future statement)
  • अतिक्रान्तावेक्षणम् ॥ atikrāntāvekṣaṇam (Reference to a past statement)
  • नियोगः ॥ niyogaḥ (Restriction)
  • विकल्पः ॥ vikalpaḥ (Option)
  • समुच्चयः ॥ samuccayaḥ (Combination)
  • ऊह्यम् ॥ ūhyam (What is understood)

Again a word of wide import, Tantra is used synonymously with Ayurveda, a branch of Veda, education, aphorism, knowledge, shastra and definition. Tantra is referred as a synonym for Shastra in the present context means a 'theory' is 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. Thus it means a device or a method to systematically compose a text (or a shastra) to convey the intended ideas clearly.[2]

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.

व्याख्या ॥ Vyakhya

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

Some Vyakhyas have similar meanings as in tantrayuktis, while some are different devices. A few examples are as follows:[1]

  • पिण्डव्यख्या ॥ Pinda Vyakhya is defined as सङ्क्षेपतया सूत्ररूपेणाध्यायादीनां व्यख्या।
  • Pinda vyakhya is a text containing a brief and synoptic explanation of the chapters, divisions in the form of a sutra.

    • अधिकरणव्यख्या ॥ Adhikarana Vyakhya is defined as यद्वस्तुकृतमारभ्य तदनुषङ्गेण व्यख्यानमारभ्यते ।

    Adhikara vyakhya is defined as a detailed explanation with all-inclusive definitions, illustrations of the topic or subject undertaken.

    • अर्थव्यख्या ॥ Artha Vyakhya is defined as यत्र प्रकरणेसूत्रे वा स्वभावस्योपवर्णनं क्रियते । तद्यथा प्रकृतिरुच्यते स्वभावः।

    Artha vyakhya is that text part which contains the description of the natural state of the subject in context, in detail. It is elaborate detail oriented, subtle or vivid description of the innate property of an item in context.

    • न्यासव्यख्या ॥ Nyasa Vyakhya is defined as यस्मिन्नधिकारे वर्तमाने तेनाधिकरणार्थेन सहितं सम्बन्धमभिवीक्ष्यान्यस्यार्थो विनिक्षिप्यते।

    Nyasa vyakhya is defined as that text where " a doubt /question is raised initially about a shastra definition or a sutra meaning which is resolved later and to simultaneously discuss another meaning related to the sutra or shastra"

    • पदव्यख्या ॥ Pada Vyakhya is defined as यत्पदाना छदें कृत्वोच्चारणम्।

    Pada vyakhya is that text matter which contains grammatically split words contained in the sutra or karika by breaking up the sandhis, samasas and with etymological explanation. Padavyakhya consists of 3 processes Sandhi viccheda, Samasavigraha and Vyutpattikathana which helps the reader to understand words of the text.

    • पदार्थव्यख्या ॥ Padartha Vyakhya is defined as तेषामेव पदानां विवरणम् ।

    Padartha vyakhya contains the explanation of the words split in the Pada vyakhya. It helps the reader understand the meaning of each and every word of the text.

    • प्रयोजनव्यख्या ॥ Prayojana Vyakhya is defined as यत्सूत्रमभिधीयमानम स्वार्थस्य निष्पत्तौ निमित्तभावमुपैति।

    Prayojana vyakhya defines the purpose of using some words of the sutra, logic or concept indicated in the shastra or sutra. It is one of the important devices which imparts the core concept of the sutra or shastra to the reader.

    Thus we see that Vyakhyas are devices to promote a clearer and better understanding of the words used in the scientific or poetic works. They have an important function of throwing light on the main scientific concepts and doctrines.

    कल्पना ॥ Kalpana

    Kalpana (कल्पना) means the use of a word in a secondary sense. There are seven kinds of Kalpanas, Arunadatta's explanatory text is

    तत्र प्रधानकल्पना द्विधा प्रधानस्य कल्पना प्रधानेन वा कल्पना प्रधानकल्पना ।

    • प्रधानकल्पना ॥ pradhānakalpanā - is of two kinds प्रधानस्य कल्पना and प्रधानेन कल्पना
    • गुणकल्पना ॥ guṇakalpanā
    • भक्ष्यकल्पना ॥ bhakṣyakalpanā
    • लेशकल्पना ॥ leśakalpanā
    • विद्याकल्पना ॥ vidyākalpanā
    • आज्ञाकल्पना ॥ ājñākalpanā

    प्रधानेन कल्पना ॥ pradhānēna kalpanā प्रधानेन तु कल्पना यथा - क्षीरदधितक्र... सर्वः क्षीरवर्ग इत्युक्तः क्षीरप्राधान्यात् ।

    Pradhana Kalpana is a method which is used to name a group of substances after one of them which predominantly possesses the common property. For example, there is a predominance of milk in milk, curds, buttermilk, butter, ghee etc, all these things are said to belong to the milk-group. This device follows the Nyaya ' प्रधानेन व्यपदेशा भवन्ति ' which the ancient thinkers commonly followed and is an important Kalpana.

    भक्ष्यकल्पना ॥ bhakṣyakalpanā भक्ष्यकल्पना नाम - एतत्तदमृतं साक्षात् इत्यादि ।

    Bhakshya Kalpana is used in the sense of utility or adoption especially important in Ayurvedic aspect. This mode of composition refers to the edible and drinkable substances to explain a scientific concept. The science of medicine is compared to अमृतम्

    विद्याकल्पना ॥ vidyākalpanā

    Vidya Kalpana is a composition that presents an assessment of the interdisciplinary study or scholarship of the author, and gives the reader an idea about the author's familiarity with other branches of knowledge. For example, Kshemendra advises that aspiring writers should familiarize themselves with the list of branches of knowledge that he lists.

    आश्रयम् ॥ Ashraya

    An ashraya (आश्रयम् ) is a prop, a supporting text or concept used to arrive at the correct meaning of the subject matter. Arunadatta described 20 kinds of Ashrayas

    • आदिलोपः ॥ ādilopaḥ
    • मध्यलोपः ॥ madhyalopaḥ
    • अन्तलोपः ॥ antalopaḥ
    • उभयपदलोपः ॥ ubhayapadalopaḥ
    • आदिमध्यान्तलोपः ॥ ādimadhyāntalopaḥ
    • वर्णोपजननम् ॥ varṇopajananam
    • ऋषिक्लिष्टम् ॥ r̥ṣikliṣṭam
    • तन्त्रशीलम् ॥ tantraśīlam
    • तन्त्रसंज्ञा ॥ tantrasaṁjñā
    • प्राकृतम् ॥ prākr̥tam
    • समानतन्त्रप्रत्ययः ॥ samānatantrapratyayaḥ
    • परतन्त्रप्रत्ययः ॥ paratantrapratyayaḥ
    • हेतुहेतुकधर्मः ॥ hetuhetukadharmaḥ
    • कार्यकारणधर्मः ॥ kāryakāraṇadharmaḥ
    • आद्यन्तविपर्ययः ॥ ādyantaviparyayaḥ
    • शब्दान्तरम् ॥ śabdāntaram
    • प्रत्ययः ॥ pratyayaḥ
    • उपनयः ॥ upanayaḥ
    • सम्भवः ॥ sambhavaḥ
    • विभवः ॥ vibhavaḥ

    परतन्त्रप्रत्ययः ॥ paratantrapratyayaḥ

    When a shastra concept is such that it cannot be explained clearly with the help of one's treatise, or another author's treatise belonging to the same branch of learning, then the explanation is attempted using the concepts presented in a different discipline. Poetics are abundant with examples of such type of compositions.

    हेतुहेतुकधर्मः ॥ hetuhetukadharmaḥ

    Hetu means a major or potential cause; Hetuka means a minor or incidental cause. To make an inference of the dharma or the common property after reading or hearing both the Hetu and hetuka is called the Hetuhetukadharma Ashraya. It is to be kept in mind that Hetu unfailingly brings about the effect. This concept support system helps the reader draw a line of demarcation between the major and minor causes of an effect and thus finds place as an important consideration in building the methodology of a text.

    कार्यकारणधर्मः ॥ kāryakāraṇadharmaḥ

    To speak of an effect as a cause and a cause as an effect in a secondary sense is called Karyakarana Dharma. Kshemendra affirms that Auchitya, propriety, is the property or cause that brings poetry to life (effect). Vakrokti, an elegant turn of expression, is a means to achieve poetic beauty. There is a cause and effect relationship between the Vakrokti and Charuta. Alamkara shastra abounds with many such examples.

    ताच्छील्यम् ॥ Tatchilya

    Tatchilya is an informal use of a word in a scientific or poetic composition. In common language, people normally use words with extending, stretching or even twisted meanings, implying them to describe other situations, actions than they were originally meant for. This is the metaphorical process and in essence means transfer of meaning of a word to an entirely different context or situation. For example : we say 'In the eyes of law she was guilty and punished', here we mean in the 'view of law', since law, an inanimate thing cannot have eyes, and its action of viewing is extended to law. But such usages are very common and many times are used to enhance poetic beauty.

    This 'extension of meaning to something else' or 'a secondary use of language' is called Tatchilya. Arunadatta describes 17 kinds of Tatchilyas

    सप्तदश ताच्छील्यादीनीत्युक्तम् ।

    • ताच्छील्यम् ॥ tācchīlyam
    • अवयवः ॥ avayavaḥ
    • विकारः॥ vikāraḥ
    • सामीप्यम्॥ sāmīpyam
    • भूयस्त्वम्॥ bhūyastvam
    • प्रकारः॥ prakāraḥ
    • गुणिगुणविभवः ॥ guṇiguṇavibhavaḥ
    • संसक्ता ॥ saṁsaktā
    • तद्धर्मता ॥ taddharmatā
    • स्थानम् ॥ sthānam
    • तादर्थ्यम् ॥ tādarthyam
    • साहचर्यम् ॥ sāhacaryam
    • कर्म ॥ karma
    • गुणनिमित्तता ॥ guṇanimittatā
    • चेष्टानिमित्तता ॥ ceṣṭānimittatā
    • मूलसंज्ञा ॥ mūlasaṁjñā
    • तात्स्थ्यम् ॥ tātsthyam

    गुणनिमित्तता ॥ guṇanimittatā is defined as गुणनिमित्तं नाम, - यत्कस्य विभूतिः प्रशंसादिका ख्यार्यते।

    To name something after a praiseworthy quality in it. For example, observance of celibacy helps one achieve righteousness, fame, long life and utmost purity. Considering this if one calls Brahmacharya itself as धर्म्य, यशस्य, आयुष्य, etc one will be said to be using गुणनिमित्तता

    चेष्टानिमित्तता ॥ ceṣṭānimittatā चेष्टानिमित्तं नाम, - यस्मिन्नाममात्रं कस्यचित् क्रयया भवति भावस्य। नात्र प्रस्पन्दक्रियेष्टा । यथा दीपवदस्य ज्ञानं ज्वलति इत्युच्यते ।

    When two things having some common characteristic are compared in order to praise one of the things, such a usage of words in a secondary sense is called चेष्टानिमित्तता। For example, when someone says " as knowledge shines like a lamp", it is well known that knowledge does not burn, does not have flames or not hot to touch. Yet the comparison is made taking into account one characteristic that is common both to lamp and knowledge which is prakashana the action of light.

    तादर्थ्यम् ॥ tādarthyam तादर्थ्यं नाम, - यत्प्रयोजनार्थं प्रवर्तते भवस्तेनैव व्यपदिश्यते । यथा मदनमधुकलम्बा इत्यादीनि छर्दनानि, छर्दनप्रयोजनानीत्यर्थः।

    To name an object after the purpose for which it is used is called तादर्थ्यम् । For instance, a मदनफल is used for vomiting (छर्दन) so it is itself called छर्दन।

    मूलसंज्ञा ॥ mūlasaṁjñā is defined as या लोकेऽन्यस्मिन्नर्थे प्रसिद्धा तन्त्रे चान्यस्मिन् (अर्थे) निवेशिता ।

    A word used in everyday life is used in one sense while it is used in another sense for technical term in scientific treatise. For instance, we use the word रूप in daily life to mean colour - white, red etc, but in आयुर्वेद it means a symptom.

    Methodology of Modern Scientific Treatises

    Modern technological advancements are bringing in various investigative procedures for verification of processes through experimental procedures. Standards and control checks are in place to ensure test results and reproducibility of any experiment is of great importance. Following a strict protocols adhering to standard operating procedures in any industry has led to widespread standardization of products obtained. Reason is no longer sufficient and gone are the days of trial and error experimentation, every aspect of science now sustains on verifiability and experimental testing of knowledge.[4] Modern Methodological Devices include

    • Research Problem
    • Literature Review
    • Hypothesis
    • Research Design
    • Data Collection
    • Data Analysis
    • Presentation of Results
    • Conclusions


    1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 W. K. Lele (2006) Methodology of Ancient Indian Sciences Varanasi : Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan
    2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mahadevan, Jayaraman (2008) Paper Presentation : The Doctrine of Tantrayukti at University of Hyderabad, Department of Sanskrit Studies
    3. Dash, Kesab Chandra. (1992) Elements of Research Methodology in Sanskrit. Varanasi : Chaukamba Sanskrit Sansthan
    4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Singh, Anuradha (2003) Tantra Yukti Method of Theorization in Ayurveda, Ancient Science of Life, Vol : XXII(3) January 2003 Pages 64-74