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...

Attribute (guṇa) [in Charaka philosophy]

The third among the categories enumerated in Carakasaṃhitā is designated by the Sanskrit term guṇa. Its categorial sense is attribute. Even though attribute is the preferred expression, the word quality is also intermittently employed, for it is in common usage.[1]

The word guṇa is mainly used in two senses: (1) strand and (2) attribute. One of the earliest books in which the word guṇa appears in a clear sense is the Taittirīyasaṃhitā of Kṛṣṇa-Yajurveda. There it means a strand.[2] The Sāṃkhya system of philosophy has almost retained the same sense.[3] Yāskā is the earliest known author to use the word guṇa in the sense of attribute, quality, and property. He says that sound is the guṇa of ākāśa, and compared to ākāśa, air posseses two guṇas including touch and so on.[4] Pāṇini has also used the word guṇa in the sense of attribute.[5] Patañjali, who gives a detailed account of the various meanings of the term guṇa, enumerates attributes even if it is not in a systematic order.[6]

Definition of Attribute (guṇa):

In the grammatical literature, it was Patañjali to define guṇa first in the sense of attribute. He says that attribute is that which resides in substance, perishes, is found in different classes, is a super stratum, is not produced by action, and is distinct from substance.[7] At the same time, as a category, it was Kaṇāda who was the first to give a comprehensive explanation of the characteristic features of attribute. He says that it subsists in substance; it is not endowed with a further quality, and it does not become an independent cause in conjunction and disjunction.[8] Further, it is stated that one attribute originates another attribute.[9] Different commentators interpret this sūtra in different ways. Candrānanda is of opinion that the attribute like colour of the yarn produces colour of the cloth, for attributes of the yarn and the cloth are not the same. Śankaramiśra opines that the attribute of the final aggregates (antyāvayaviguṇās), duality (dvitva), the separateness of duals (dvipṛthaktva), priority, and postriority should be excluded from this characteristic of being originators.[10] Some others argue that this specification refers to those attributes that belong to the cause which produce attributes homogeneous to them, and it does not refer to all attributes. But, Srīdhara, who rejects this says that if a single attribute could not produce an attribute, conjunction produced by conjunction would become absurd.[11]

Caraka defines attribute as that which exists in substance by the relation of inherence (samavāyi), which is devoid of action (niśceṣṭa) and which becomes a cause (kāraṇa).[12] According to Cakrapāṇi, the expression (samavāyi) has been included in the definition to exclude the all-pervading motionless substances like ākāśa, for they never exist anywhere by the relation of inherence. The term niśceṣṭa denotes one without motion as well as the one different from motion. So it serves to exclude motion as well as the finite substances (mūrtadravyas) which become the substrate of motion.[13]

The expression “being a cause” serves to exclude universal, particularity, and inherence, since they cannot become causes. Here it may be argued that the definition is unconvincing as it does not pervade all attributes like the dimension of the ubiquitous substances, and colour of the final aggregate substances for they cannot be causes.[14] So “being a cause” is partly unproved. Therefore its meaning should be to have universal which is invariable in the causes (bhāvarūpakāraṇāvybhicāri sāmānyāṃ) as it is a positive entity. This type of causality pervades all attributes and also excludes universal as they cannot have any further universal.[15]

Another explanation given by Cakrapāṇi for being a cause (kāraṇa) is that all attributes other than the dimension of the ubiquitous substance and colour of the final aggregate substances are cognized. Hence the efficiency of being causes in the unseen cases is also to be admitted. Moreover the dimension of the ubiquitous substances can be the cause of the yogic perception, and so causality cannot be negated. Therefore, there is no chance of being partly unproved of the causality of quality. Even though such causality exists in universal, they are excluded by the expression samavāyi. Samavāyi means a substratum (ādhāra) in which something exists by the relation of inherence and also means the contained (ādheya) that resides in somewhere by the relation of inherence. So the ubiquitous substances that can only be the substrate in relation to inherence and the universal that can only be the “contained” of the same relation are excluded as attributes.[16]

The Mīmaṃsakās are of the opinion that one attribute can exist in another attribute.[17] But, both Caraka and Vaiśeṣikas reject this. It is true that on certain occasions attributes are further ascribed to attributes like taste.[18] But, it should be understood that attributes are free of further attributes.[19] The attributes like conjunction which are often assigned to taste actually belong to their substrates.The Vaiśeṣikas also express the same opinion in this matter.[20]

From the above description, it can be concluded that the definition of attribute given by Caraka is akin to that of Kaṇāda. Even though the term which means that, it does not become an independent cause in conjunction and disjunction is not found in the definition of Caraka, the expression niśceṣṭa serves the very same purpose with more perfection.[21]

Later on, Praśastapāda defines attribute thus: qualities like colour are those which are endowed with the universal attributeness (guṇatva), exists in substances, and are devoid of further attributes and motion.[22] For Sivāditya, attribute is that which possesses attributeness.[23] Again, it is said that being endowed with the universal it is devoid of motion and is not a substantial cause.[24] Keśavamiśra who expresses more or less the same idea, makes it clear that guṇa is only an efficient cause (asamavāyikāraṇa).[25] Annabhaṃbhaṭṭa defines it thus: attribute is that which possesses universal and at the same time different from substances and motion, or it is that which possesses attributeness.[26] From the point of view of the Mīmāṃsakas, attribute is that which is distinct from motion, has subgenises and is excluded from the substantial causes (upādānakāraṇa).[27]

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Attribute, quality, characteristics, and property are synonyms, See Websters Encyclpedic Unabridged Dictionay of the English Language, New York, p. 96, 1175. The term quality narrows down the scope of guṇa. “A quality denotes what a thing really is in some one respect; an attribute is what we conceive a thing to be in one respect; while attribute may, quality must express something of the real nature of that to which it is ascribed”. Standard Comprehensive International Dictionary, Illinois, 1973, p. 94. See also EIPK, Vol. II, p. 112; ENVC, pp. 132-133.

[2]:

yadhā guṇo guṇamanvasyati, evameva talloke lokamanvasyati, dhṛtyā, aśithilaṃbhāvāya. Taittirīya- Kṛśṇa-Yajuḥ-Saṃhitā, with Mādhava's Vedārthaprakāśa, Bibliolitheca Indica, Asiatic Society of Bengal, Culcutta, 1899, VII, ii. 4. 2, Vol. VI, p. 247. Patañjali also refer to the meaning of strand for guṇa.

[3]:

Loc, cit., F. Note, 59.

[4]:

ākāśaguṇaḥ śabdaḥ ākāśādvāyurdviguṇaḥ sparśena vāyorjyotistriguṇaṃ rūpeṇa jyotiṣa āpaśaturguṇā rasenādbhyaḥ pṛthivī pañcaguṇā gandhena pṛthivyāḥ bhūtagrāmasthāvara-jaṇgamāḥ...” “Pariśiṣṭa”, 2, Nirukta, p. 148.

[5]:

voto guṇavacanāt, Aṣṭādhyāyī-sūtrapāṭha of Pāṇini., IV. i. 44; sattvaṃ dravyaṃ samavāyikāraṇaṃ tatraiva niveśite samavaiti yaḥ sa guṇa ityanvayaḥ”. Bālamanoramā on ibid., Strīpratyayaprakaraṇa, Vaiyākaraṇasiddhāntakaumudī of Bhaṭṭojidīkṣita.,Vol. I, p. 559.

[6]:

guṇaśabdo'yaṃ bahvarthaḥ. Astyeva sameṣvavayaveṣu vartate. tadyatha-dviguṇā rajjuḥ, triguṇā rajjuriti........... asti saṃskāro vartate. tadyathā - saṃskṛtamannaṃ guṇavadityucyate. Vyākaraṇamahābhāṣya of Patañjali., Vol. IV, V. i. 2, p. 299; “ke punarguṇāḥ? śabdasparśarūparasagandhā guṇā”, see also Ibid., p. 297. Ibid., Vol. II, I. ii. 3, pp. 98-99.

[7]:

satve niveśite'paiti pṛthagjātiṣu dṛśyate ādheyaścākriyaśca so'sattvaprakṛtirguṇaḥ. Vyākaraṇamahābhāṣya of Patañjali., Vol. IV, IV. i. 2, p. 62.

[8]:

dravyāśrayyaguṇavān saṃyogavibhāgeṣvakāraṇamanapekṣa iti guṇalakśaṇaṃ. Vaiśeṣikadarśana., I. i. 16.

[9]:

“.....guṇāśca guṇāntaraṃ”, Ibid., I. i. 10.

[10]:

See Śaṅkaramiśra on ibid., Vaiśeṣikopaskāra of Śaṅkaramiśra., p. 47.

[11]:

saṃyogasyaikasya saṃyogajanakatve guṇāśca guṇāntaramārabhanta iti sūtravirodhaḥ? na sūtrārthāparijñānāt guṇānāmapi.... tadaśrutavyākhyātṛṇāṃ prakṛṣṭadhīyāmeva nirvahati nāsmākaṃ, Nyāyakandali, Praśastapādabhāṣya., p. 352.

[12]:

samavāyī tu nśceśṭaḥ kāraṇaṃ guṇaḥ. CS, Su, I. 51.

[13]:

See Cakrapāṇi on Ibid.

[14]:

This interpretation is in consonance with the Nyāya - Vaiśeṣika. Viśvanātha has pointed out that dimension of paramāṇus and ubiquitous substances, unperceivable universal and particularity as entities devoid of causality. (“aṇuparimāṇaṃtu na kasyāpi kāraṇaṃ.... evaṃ paramamahatparimāṇamatīndriyasāmānyaṃ viśeśāca bodhyāḥ”.) NSMK, pp. 74 - 76. It has been pointed out by Śaṅkaramiśra that attributes of final aggregates are not causes. See Vaiśeṣikopaskāra of Śaṅkaramiśra., p. 47.

[15]:

See Cakrapāṇi on CS, Su, I. 51.

[16]:

Ibid.

[17]:

Mānameyodaya of Nārāyaṇa., p. 268.

[18]:

For instance see CS, Su, XXVI. 73-79.

[19]:

guṇā guaśrayā noktāstasmādrasaguṇān bhiṣak vidyādravyaguṇān karturabhiprāyāḥ pṛthagvidhāḥ. CS, Su, XXVI. 36.

[20]:

bhrāntaṃ tat”, Vaiśeṣikadarśana., VII, ii. 4. 5. see also Śaṅkaramiśra on ibid., Vaiśeṣikopaskāra of Śaṅkaramiśra., pp. 400 - 401 ekārthasamavāyādeva tādṛśavyavahāropapattau guṇe guṅānaṅgīkārāt. TSA, p. 4. Thus, the idea implied in Caraka’s articulation recalls the expression "aguṇaṃ' in Kaṇādas definition.

[21]:

Kaṇāda had set the condition “saṃyogavibhāgeṣva-kāraṇamanapekṣa” to exclude motion which becomes an independent cause to conjunction and disjunction. For details see HSPCIC, Vol. II, 4, p.30. Similarly Carak has set the condition “one without motion” (niśceśṭa) to exclude motion. See supra, p. 39.

[22]:

rūpādīnāṃ guṇānāṃ sarveṣāṃ guṇtvābhisaṃbandho dravyāśritatvaṃ nirguṇatvaṃ niṣkriyatvaṃ. Praśastapādabhāṣya., p. 227.

[23]:

guṇatvajātiyogī guṇaḥ, Saptapadārthi of Śivāditya., p. 48.

[24]:

jātimatve acalanātmakatve sati samavāyikāraṇarahitaśceti, ibid.

[25]:

sāmānyavān asamavāyikāraṇaṃ aspandātmā guṇaḥ, Tarkabhāṣa of Keśavamiśra.., p. 191. In the text, instead of aspandātmā it is printed spandātmā. However it is a discrepancy.

[26]:

dravyakarmabhinnatve sati sāmānyavān guṇaḥ guṇatvajātimān vā. TSA, p. 5.

[27]:

karmaṇo vyatiriktatve satyāvāntarajātimān upādānatvanirmukto guṇo guṇavidāṃ mataḥ. Mānameyodaya of Nārāyaṇa., p. 244.

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