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...

Darśanas (philosophical speculations)

The Darśanas are the philosophical speculations which sprang up in continuation of the Upaniṣads with the aim of accomplishing the higher knowledge of enlightenment culminating in ultimate freedom. The word darśana literally and technically means either of two things: (1) literally means sight and technically reflective knowledge[1] as well as (2) literally sense organs and technically that by which the real nature of things is seen.[2] According to the second technical meaning, it refers to the source of true knowledge (tattvajñāna) of the nature of reality. The name Darśana, thus, is used in the second technical sense for the knowledge systems, which present a reflective knowledge of man and the world in total. They are recognized as various philosophical systems.[3]

The usual way of explaining the word Darśana is to point out that, in the Vedas, there is a prescription for seeing the self, the threefold method of hearing (śravaṇa), thinking (manana), and meditation (nididhyāsana). But this explanation is not adequate, for all philosophical systems do not prescribe methods for realizing the self. The Buddhists and the Cārvākas refute the existence of the self, yet they are not deprived of the name Darśana.[4] Haribhadrasūri, the Jaina philosopher, who introduced the term Darśana in the sense of philosophy, mentions six philosophical systems: Bauddha, Nyāya, Sāṃkhya, Jaina, Vaiśeṣika, Jaiminīya and includes the non-Vedic Cārvāka.[5]

Sāyaṇa Mādhava, who speaks of sixteen Darśanas, classifies them into two groups namely Vedic (āstika) and Non-Vedic (nāstika).[6] The āstika Darśanas are those which accept the authority of the Vedas.[7] They prescribe methods for realizing the self and in that sense they are self-centric philosophical schools. The present list of six systems, namely Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Pūrvamīmāṃsā, and Uttaramīmāṃsā (Vedānta) form this group.[8]

Though there are differences between these systems, the basic factors that impelled the philosophers to make such an enquiry are common. The fundamental cause of the enquiry is the realization of the fact that the sum total of everyone's life in this world is painful and that this pain is due to attachment caused by ignorance. The endeavor of the philosophers was to find out a way to root out pain eternally.[9] In order to achieve the end, they formulated a fourfold enquiry. The four common factors that became the subject of their investigation are (1) attachment (bandha), (2) cause of attachment (bandhakāraṇa), (3) freedom (mokṣa) and (4) cause of freedom (mokṣakāraṇa). Thus, the Indian Darśanas which focused on the above mentioned aspects are really philosophical systems which made systematic speculations on man and universe with the aim of realising the highest truth for transforming and spiritualizing human life.

Footnotes and references:


dṛśr “prekṣṇe” iti dhātorbhāvārthe lyuṭi niṣpanno'yamdarśanaśabdaḥ, Darśanamāla of Narayanaguru (with Guruprasadaṃ commentary of Prof. M.H. Śastri, D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd., New Delhi, 1998, P. 15.


dṛśyate aneneti darśanaṃ.


The word Philosophy or rather the word philosopher was coined by Paythagoras in the sixth century BC. Since Plato Philosophy in its widest and broadest sense has meant a reflective and reasoned attempt to infer the character and content of the universe, taken together in its entirety and as a whole, from an observation and study of the data presented by all its aspects. FM, Contents I, p.1.


ātmā vā are draṣṭavyo mantavyo nididhyāsitavyaḥ, Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad.., II, iv, 5; see also ibid.


Ṣaḍdarśanasamucaya of Haribhadra. p. 3; “Introduction”, HSPCIC, Vol. III, Part -- 3, p. 5.


darśanakārāḥ dvividhāḥ nāstikāḥ āstikāśca. “Upodghāta”, Sarva-Darśana-Saṃgraha of Sāyaṇa-Mādhava., p. 84. Based on the source of knowledge another three types of classification, namely ādhyakṣika, tārkika, and śrauta are also mentioned. See ibid., p. 79; pp. 82 - 83;Madhavasarsvati (1350 AD) classifies Darśanas into two: (1) Vedic (vaidika) and (2) Non-Vedic (avaidika)., For details see Sarvadarśanakaumudī of Madhavasarasvatī, Anandaśayana saṃskṛtagrandhāvalī No. 135 (No date), p.4.


nāstiko vedanindakaḥ Manusmṛti., II. 11. “The word nāstika is differently interpreted. The derivative meaning from the Sūtra of Pānini is taken to be he who does not accept paraloka or existence after death. The second interpretation is that by nāstika we mean the person who does not accept the existence of īsvara and the third meaning is that nāstka indicates the man who denies the authority of the Vedas”. EJ, pp. 204-05. “........āstika nāstika distinction is a fluid and interchangeable mode of classification and differs in its meaning and application according to context”. IHBT, p. 43. See Nyāyakośa., p. 408.


“Nobody knows who first originated the tradition of grouping these six as the six Hindu philosophies, Ṣaḍ Darśana. The first book which enumerates them thus seems to be Viswasāratantra, believed to be written in the twelfth century AD.”, Ṣaḍdarśanasamucaya of Haribhadra., p. vi; see also p. 99; HSPCIC, Vol. III, Part -- 3, p. 5.


heyaṃ dukhamanāgataṃ, Y. Su, II. 16; atha trividhaduḥkhātyantanivṛttirapavargaḥ. Sāṃkhya-sūtra,, I. 1.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: