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...

Methodological inadequacy of modern sciences

The notion that scientific knowledge is the best form of knowledge is wrong for various reasons.[1] The Western sciences, which jerked away from philosophy with its specialized investigations, got estranged themselves from the general nature and behaviour of the universe and from the transcendental objectives of life. In the closing decade of the last century the Western scientists were persuaded to say that their theories were probable explanations. They admit that a theory is simply a hypothesis[2] that has been tested often enough to convince scientists that it is probably correct. They speak of the acceptance of a theory, confidence in a theory, and probability of its correctness but never the proof of its correctness. If proof means the establishment of an eternal and absolute truth, then proof has no place in natural sciences. A theory is always open to disproof.[3]

In fact, the mechanical view of nature often creates crisis in science. In 1910 Max Plank wrote, noting the existence of a crisis in physics:

“No physical theorem is at present beyond doubt, all and every physical truth is considered disputable. It often seems almost as if theoretical physics is about to be plunged again into chaos”.[4]

There is a conviction that progress of science depends upon the use of mathematics. This also is not tenable. ""Mathematical models rarely agree exactly with physical reality.... All the "laws' of physics that we arrogantly impose on the universe seem condemned to remain partial models, approximate mental representations that we ceaselessly improve''.[5] “Mathematicians generate an enormous amount of pure mathematics. Only a small part of it will ever be useful in physics. There is thus an overproduction of mathematical solutions from which physicists select those that seem best adapted to their discipline”.[6] In fact the credibility of mathematics itself is questionable. David Herbert holds that “the existence of the mathematical objects is meaningless. Mathematics is only a game in which one manipulates symbols according to precise formal rules. Mathematical objects such as numbers have no relation to reality; they are defined merely as a set of symbols that satisfy certain axioms”.[7]

Another thing is that all sciences deal with different parts of Nature. Some times the same thing is studied from two different points of view. For instance, both physics and chemistry deal with matter. But the scientists make a distinction between physical properties of matter and chemical properties of matter. All these distinctions are abstract in the sense that they are not so in reality.[8]

The greatest distortion of sciences is their spiritual inadequacy arising from objectivism.[9] “Science strives to discover the laws of the objective—its goal is to state the truth about the objective nature of the universe.[10] What happened is that they have failed to concentrate on human subjectivity;human aspirations and hopes”.[11]

Subjectivity and objectivity are the two poles implicit in knowledge. They are the ontological extremities into which almost every knowledge situation is analysable.[12] The basic assumption of science is that objective knowledge is the only valid kind of knowledge, for it is definite, exact, and unambiguous. Science tries to know the universe objectively and keeps out of its consideration the elements that constitute subjectivity.[13] Science like physics, chemistry, and biology offer an objective materialistic explanation of the empirical world by observation, analysis, experimentation, and proof.[14] This empirical analytical approach does not give attention to human consciousness or the mechanism of knowledge beyond trying to find out its physiological correlates. It is consciousness that causes happiness, pain, interests, insights, and volitions which are the very sign of one's existence. But these deeper human elements are neglected in science. That is, the question of how physical process in the brain gives rise to subjective experience remains unsolved. Science has consistently overlooked the elan of man.[15]

The extrinsic explanation of man without knowing the inner self fails to understand the real nature of man and the universe and their interrelationship. Human science identifies man with his immediate physical and physiological identity, forgetting his deeper and far reaching spiritual identity. These external institutional human sciences are methodologically inadequate.[16] Science deprives man of his inner being, his search for the meaning of his life out there in the world.[17]

Modern medicine is also not an exception to what has been stated above. Like any other science, modern medicine has the tendency to discard or reject the whole notion of life force, and this is rooted in a philosophical perspective of empiricism and analysis. Hence modern medicine seeks to reduce the art of healing to the psychochemical manipulation of the body as directly as possible.[18]

Footnotes and references:


Sibajiban Bhattacharyya, “Some Considerations on Philosophical Consciousness and Scientific Knowledge: Conceptual Linkages and Civilizational Background”, HSPCIC, Vol. XI, Part—1, p. 3.


“A hypothesis is a possible explanation based on a hunch and inspiration. Whatever it is, it is not a hypothesis unless it can be tested—validated or invalidated—by an experiment or observation”. BLS, p. 27.




“The place of Modern physics in the Mechanical View of Nature”, Max Plank. Quoted from “Principles of the Theory of the Historical Process in Philosophy”, Trans., Campbell Creighton (Oxon), Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1986, p. 12.


NSS, p. 251


Ibid., 251.


Sibajiban Bhattacharyya, “Some Considerations on Philosophical Consciousness and Scientific Knowledge: Conceptual Linkages and Civilizational Background”, HSPCIC, Vol. XI, Part—I, p. 4. There are three types of theories regarding the nature of Mathematical objects namely, Platonism, Formalism and Intuitionalism. David Herbert was the head of the Formalist Movement. Ibid.




Objectivism—The factual sciences study the physical objects. These disciplines try to find out laws of such subjects, in particular their laws of change. The law statements of the factual scientists tell us what the really possible states of things are as well as what the really possible changes of state, of concrete objects are. For details see SM, pp. 162 - 63.


See Ramakant Sinari, “The World as the Ontological Project of Man”, PIP, p. 198.


Subjectivity is the core of ones very existence in the sense that within one's inner self, he is aware of his personal identity, his unique reality, freedom to manipulate his own thoughts, feelings, volitions, attitudes. Ibid., p. 199. See also p. 204.


Ibid., p.199.


Ibid., p. 198.


Ibid., p. 200.


Ibid., p. 205.


KFL, p. 163.


Ramakant Sinari, “The World as the Ontological Project of Man”, PIP, p. 205.


FIC, 243.

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