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...

Indian sciences (the eighteen disciplines)

The search for mundane happiness progressed on a par with the task of realising the ultimate truth for the utmost freedom. Gradually, various progressive sciences developed. Śankarācārya, who is the author of Prapañcasāra says that the Lord constructed eighteen such vidyas and Darśanas.

The eighteen disciplines (vidyas) are:

  1. Ṛg Veda,
  2. Yajur Veda,
  3. Sāma Veda,
  4. Atharva Veda,
  5. Śikṣā (a treatise for teaching the proper tone in which the Vedas are to be recited),
  6. Kalpa (a treatise for teaching the rules of rituals),
  7. Vyākaraṇa (grammar),
  8. Nirukta (etimology),
  9. Jyotiḥśāstra (astronomy and astrology),
  10. Chandaḥśāstra (metrics),
  11. Purāṇa,
  12. Nyāya,
  13. Mīmāṃsā,
  14. Dharmaśāstra,
  15. Āyurveda,
  16. Dhanurveda,
  17. Gandharva (a treatise on music),
  18. Arthaśāstra.[1]

It should be noted in this context that Śankarācārya includes all the four Vedas within the lower knowledge (aparā vidyā) while maintaining at the same time that the Upaniṣads, the last part of the Vedas, impart knowledge of the Brahman. According to his followers, the empirical knowledge (viṣayavidyā) or the ritualistic part of the Vedas, which is not directly related to the knowledge of the Brahman, is referred to by Śankarācārya as lower knowledge.[2] This shows that there developed philosophy on the one side and the sciences on the other side distinctly in India. The science of life thus developed came to be called Āyurveda.

Footnotes and references:


“Introduction”, HSPCIC, Vol. III, Part-3, p. 4. Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad.., speaks of only the four Vedas and six ancillary disciplines (Vedāṅgas) as aparā vidyā. Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad.., I, 5. For more details see Nyāyakośa., pp. 752 - 53.


Amita Chatterjee, “Aparā vidyā -- A Reconstruction Towards an Objective Phenomenology of Consciousness”, HSPCIC, Vol. XI, Part -- I, p. 78.

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