Philosophy of Charaka-samhita

by Asokan. G | 2008 | 88,742 words

Ayurveda, represented by Charaka and Sushruta, stands first among the sciences of Indian intellectual tradition. The Charaka-samhita, ascribed to the great celebrity Charaka, has got three strata. (1) The first stratum is the original work composed by Agnivesha, the foremost of the six disciples of Punarvasu Atreya. He accomplished the work by coll...

Āyurveda is a practical science and Carakasaṃhitā is a treatise on it. So it is quite natural to have the question: “What is the relevance of the study of the philosophy of Caraka?” or “Is there any philosophical speculation in Carakasaṃhitā?”

The question presupposes the notion that science is distinct from philosophy. Philosophy does not provide us with the kind of knowledge that science provides. Science is a way of gaining knowledge by explaining observed facts and the knowledge thus obtained is useful in the day to day life of man. But philosophy is not so. It is attached to transcendental principles. It is abstract in character, and has no direct involvement in human life conditions.

So it is essential to give a reasonable or at least a satisfactory answer to the above-mentioned queries, even though such questions are the outcome of utilitarian thoughts. Such an answer would also prove the historicity of Carakasaṃhitā.

A retrospective introspection of the evolution of human thought reveals that “man began by dealing wholesale with the world, indulging in speculations about the general nature and behaviour of the universe without separating scientific and philosophic fields and methods of investigation from one another”.[1] Gradually persuaded by increasing human needs and directed to different groups of events, the spirit of universal enquiry was subdivided into specialized investigations. Thus, in the West, special sciences like Astronomy, Medicine, and Logic slowly originated at a fairly early date and steadily became independent and self supporting.[2] This shows that the Western sciences have their roots in the early philosophical thoughts, but got isolated from them in course of time.

Footnotes and references:


FM, Contents I, p.15.


Physics and Chemistry did not take firm independent root until after the Renaissance. Ibid., p.16

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