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...

Universal (sāmānya) and Particularity (viśeṣa) [in Charaka philosophy]

Even though the Carakasaṃhitā presupposes the categorial schema of Kaṇāda it has got its own purpose, consistency, and uniqueness. Naturally, the two categories namely, sāmānya and viśeṣa included in the schemata have got their own differences. The prima fascie evidence that reveals their importance in Āyurveda is that Caraka places sāmānya and viśeṣa instead of substance and qualities as the first and second categories.

The terms sāmānya and viśeṣa appear in a wide variety of translations in English in both the Western and the Eastern presentations of Vaiśeṣika system of philosophy. The various terms used by different writers to denote sāmānya are community, genus, commonness, commonality, generality, similar constituents, similar characteristics, invariable concomitance, and universal. Particular, particularity, difference, differential, dissimilar constituents, dissimilar characteristics, and variant factor are the terms used to signify viśeṣa.[1] However, the terms universal and particularity are used in this paper to denote sāmānya and viśeṣa respectively, for they are the most commonly used terms in modern times.

The experienced world of ours consists in name and form,[2] and so naturally there arises the problem of the relationship between sense objects, thought and language.[3] Thought and language work closely together in building up sense perceptions. Though they present themselves fragmentarily they are grouped together and structured according to a form which makes them intelligible. It is this form which makes us possible the recognition or identification of an object with something previously known or thought. This fact being admitted, our general cognitions like “this is a cow”, “this is a pot” imply the existence of a generic property “cow-ness” and “potness”. These cognitions of unity being distinct from the individuals, their objects must also be distinct from the individuals. The individuals as such cannot explain unity or identity. Thus there evolved the class concept of unity or identity. In Sanskrit it is called sāmānya.

The concept of the universal and the problems arising from it forms one of the most fundamental and crucial topics of discussion. It is a common subtle and difficult topic which has been debated for a long time in both the West and the East. But still it remains a matter of philosophical controversy. There is not much space to explain them in detail with all its implications and differences. However, it would be relevant to cite some of the basic differences in theory in this regard. There are mainly three major positions.

They are:

  1. Nominalistic,
  2. Conceptualistic,
  3. Realistic.

According to nominalism, individual things in nature and individual ideas in mind alone are real. They have nothing in common but the name or sign given to them for the sake of reference. The generality of the name or sign consists in the representative function of the word. That is, universal is neither conceptual nor real but nominal.[4] It is fictitious. “According to conceptualism, individual things are the only reals in nature. But there are also ideas and concepts which are based on reality and not on mere fiction”.[5] This shows that universal is absolutely conceptual. It is neither fictitious nor real. According to realism, there are not only general names and general ideas or concepts expressed by them but also universals in nature to which general names and concepts correspond and which, existing outside time and space, pervade in and inform the things in time and space.[6] To be precise, universal exists both in mind and nature for the realists.

In the Indian intellectual tradition all these various positions are being discussed with nuances. In the philosophical domain, the Buddhists represent the nominalists. They refuse to accept the reality of the universal.[7] The universe, according to them, is in a flux of momentary particulars. There is nothing identical or similar in the momentary particulars. Identity and similarity are nothing but fancies of our imagination.[8] There is no recurrence in reality, for the momentary particulars (svalakṣaṇas) constituting it are non-repetitive.[9] The Jaina thinkers accept sāmānya. But, according to them, nothing is known as purely universal or pure particularity. In their conception the object of valid knowledge is of the nature of both universal and particular.[10] They are also of the opinion that it is multiform, non-eternal, and limited.[11] The Mīmāṃsakas, both the Bhāṭṭas and the Prābhakaras, opine that universal is eternal. It subsists in individuals by the relation of “identity in difference” (bhedābheda).[12] The Advaita -Vedāntins hold that universals are categories of existence generated by primordial nescience lending unity to our-knowledge of particulars. They are not mere concepts or fabrications of our mind. They are forms of existence apprehended in empirical experience. Thus, for the Advaidins, universals are, empirically real though ultimately illusory.[13]

The Sāṃkhyās also admit the existence of universals. But, for them, universals are not eternal even though they have a certain consistency. A universal, in the Sāṃkhyā's view, is a positive apprehension of inclusion, and is not an apprehension of exclusion.[14] Recognition is based on universals. Even though the individuals are ephemeral there arises a consistency in the recognition of the individual. The entity that forms the basis of the consistency in recognition is the universal.[15] They also hold that the notion of similarity (sādṛśya) is a kind of universal and is not a separate principle as the Mīmāṃsakas and some Buddhists assert. One understands similarity by perceiving sameness in a greater number of parts of two things. In other words, similarity is the cognition of an innate characteristic, which is the same in two things.[16]

In the present context, we are mainly concerned with the concept of sāmānya and viśeṣa in the Carakasaṃhitā which shows close affinity with Vaiśeṣika system of philosophy and which is in sharp contradistinction with the Buddhists. A critical reading does not ask “What does the statement mean?” but, “Where is it being made from?” “What does it presuppose?” “Are its presuppositions compatible with, independent of or anterior to it?” So it is a primary need to have an idea of the concept of universal and particularity in the Vaiśeṣika-sūtra from which the Saṃhitā is supposed to have received its idea of the six fundamental categories.

The initial doctrine of philosophical controversy about universal and particularity was provided by Kaṇāda. The term sāmānya is derived from the word samāna (meaning—similar / equal) by adding the suffix ṣyañ and it occurs in various sūtras of Kaṇāda with different shades of meaning. Primarily the word is used in the sense of similarity or resemblance (sādharmya).[17] The word appears in its categorial sense in the sūtrasāmānyam viśeṣa iti buddhyapekṣaṃ”,[18] which means sāmānya and viśeṣa depend on cognition. However, it cannot be treated as the definition of universal and particularity. In fact, Kaṇāda does not introduce universal with a definition.[19] We shall come to the sūtra later on.

In relation to universal he further states that, that which brings about the notion of “is” (sat) in substance, quality, and action is “being” (sattā)[20] and it is different from them.[21] Substance-ness (dravyatva), quality-ness (guṇatva) and motion-ness (karmatava) are universals as well as particularities.[22] He also makes the following observations: the cognition of substance, quality, and action occurs through and in relation to universal,[23] while universal and particularity are known independent of their further relation since both are devoid of further universal and particularity.[24] Existence or being (bhāva/satta) is absolute universal, because it causes the notion of inclusiveness only.[25] Though these observations are elusive and problematic, the entire section suggests a hierarchy of more or less inclusive universals with being as the most inclusive one and hence the highest of all universals. Of these observations the last one deserves special attention because it opens a way to understand Kaṇāda's position.

Accordingly, the first universal to be deduced is “being” (sat). The sign by which the cognition of “being” is inferred is the cognition of “is” (sat).[26] That is, along with the cognition of substance, quality, and motion, we have the cognition that they do exist. The entity that leads to this cognition of existence cannot be a substance, quality or motion because it is different from them.[27] Substances, as a matter of fact, are of two types. Of them the first are those things having two or more substances as substrates (anekadravyavat). A jar, for example, is a product of many atoms. The second are those which do not have any other substance as substrates (adravyavat). For instance, the atoms of physical elements, time or space. But “existence” which we apprehend is an uninterrupted whole in each single substance (ekadravyavat.) So “being” cannot be a substance. In the same way, “being” can neither be a quality nor motion because it exists in both quality and motion. But, by definition a quality cannot inhere in another quality and a motion cannot exist in another motion.

Since the cognition of “is” is not fragmented by any differential sign, Kaṇāda arrives at the conclusion that “being” is one and the same everywhere. It is the “absolute universal”, for “being” causes only the notion of inclusiveness.[28] It is on the ground that the cognition of “is” (asti) is apprehended in substance, quality, and action without fragmenting. So they are called by the common term artha.[29]

In the same way Kaṇāda deduces the existence of substanceness (dravyatva), quality-ness (guṇatva), and motion-ness (karamatva). Naturally such entities like substance-ness thus deduced can be counted as lower or inferior universals. Taking account of this fact, his commentator Praśastapāda calls the absolute universal parā which means the superior and all others aparā, inferior. It is in relation to the inferior universals that Kaṇāda makes the statement: sāmānya and viśeṣa depend on cognition. Here the term viśeṣa is not used in the categorial sense of viśeṣa. On the contrary, it is used to denote the universal itself. What is intended is that the inferior universals like substanceness can be treated as either universal or particularity depending on our cognition.[30] For instance, in the case of substanceness, if we take into consideration inclusive function leading to the apprehension of a substance, then it can be called a universal. And if the same substanceness does the exclusive function giving raise to the differentiating knowledge that substance is not quality then it can be called particularity. Since the inferior universals function as both universal and particularity, Kaṇāda calls them “universal particularities” (sāmānya viśeṣa).[31] Thus Kaṇāda construes universal on the basis of cognition. Accordingly, Kaṇāda's position can be concluded as conceptualistic. This is further accepted by his followers like Praśastapāda[32] and

Srīdharācārya.[33] Taking account of this fact, modern scholars like Harsh Narain opines that the notions of the universal and the particularity are relative notions and represent notional or logical categories rather than ontological ones.[34]

In the Kaṇāda-sūtra, the category viśeṣa[35] denotes “ultimate particularity” (antya-viśeṣa). They are the ultimate factors of individual identity. In comparison with “being”, substance-ness'' is particularity. At the same time, it is a universal when compared to earth-ness. Similarly, in comparison with substance-ness, the universal earth-ness is a particularity. In comparison with jar-ness, it is universal. In this way Kaṇāda finally arrives at the lowest strata of the hierarchy and calls it ultimate particularity (antya-viśeṣa) which gives rise to the cognition of distinction or exclusion only. Praśastapāda says that the ultimate particularities are entities residing in ultimate eternal substances, namely the atoms of the first four elements (earth, water, fire, and air), ākāśa, time, space, self (ātmā), and mind giving raise to the cognition of differentiation of each one.[36] Thus the ultimate particularity forms the contrasting borderline cases which occur in eternal individual substances differentiating each one of them. They reside exclusively in the eternal, non-composite substances and account for the irreducible identity of each one of them.

Universal and particularity in Carakasaṃhitā

Now let us come to Carakasaṃhitā. It is true that Caraka indiscriminately deals with the world en masse, its general nature and behaviour, and the nature of occurrences of particular events without separating scientific and philosophical fields and methods of investigation from one another. Its main purpose is not to fulfill the purpose of philosophy, to unveil the first and last ground of "existents', but to kindle the practical business of maintaining humane health. So it is essential to discern how universals and particularities are being construed in such a treatise on a practical science.

The most important articulations that explain the universal and particularity are two in number.[37] Some scholars like P.V. Sharma opines that sāmānya and viśeṣa, in Āyurveda, differs from Vaiśeṣika in the sense that the latter uses the terms of sāmānya and viśeṣa for class (jāti) and individual (vyakti) respectively, but in the former they denote similarity (tulyārthata) and dissimilarity (viparyaya).[38] This creates some confusion. So, in order to know the real concept we must primarily know whether the terms, sāmānya and viśeṣa, are used in the literal sense of similarity and difference or in their technical sense of universal and ultimate particularity.

There is a difference between similarity and universal. Similarity can exist in objects belonging to different categories such as substance, quality, and action. Universals, on the other hand, reside only in objects of the same class or category. They are class essences as told earlier.[39] Caraka describes sāmānya as an entity which brings about unification or oneness (ekatvakaraṃ sāmānyaṃ) and as that which recurs in similar things (tulyārthata hi sāmānyaṃ). Commenting on the first exposition Cakrapāṇidatta says that universal is that which brings about the notion of oneness (ekatvabuddhikaraṃ). Referring to the second articulation he says that tulyārthata means a single entity that subsists in many individuals by a single relation, and there by brings about the cognition of identity though the individuals are different.[40] Thus, for him universal is an entity which is instrumental in cognition. Actually speaking, Caraka does not say that the unification is only at the conceptual level. On the contrary, what he intends is the unification at the conceptual level as well as at the objective level.[41] Thus universal is a recurring generic property inherent in numerically different individuals and brings about the unification of individuals at the cognitive level and objective level. So it is very clear that the term sāmānya is used not in a mere literal sense of similarity. It is in the sense of universal.

Similarly, in the case of viśeṣa also if it is in the sense of difference it can exist in any individual object. If it is in the sense of ultimate particularity, as told in Vaiśeṣika, it can exist only in eternal substances. Caraka defines particularity as that which generates differentiation (viśeṣastu pṛthaktvakṛt) and as such it is antagonistic (viśeṣastu viparyayaḥ). So particularity is the cause of differentiating knowledge (vyāvṛttabuddhikṛt). According to Cakrapāṇi, viśeṣa of Caraka does not refer to the ultimate particularities but refers to the “universal particularity” when they generate relative sense of distinction. For instance, when the universal cow-ness causes distinction of cow with other objects like horses it can be called particularity depending upon the cognition. Thus, sāmānya and viśeṣa of Caraka refer to one and the same entity which brings about the sense of identity with the objects of the same class and which is also responsible for the sense of difference from the objects belonging to other classes. So the entity construed here recalls the “universal particularity” of the Vaiśeṣikas which keeps conformity with the genus (jāti) of the Nyāya-sūtra.[42] On the basis this, it can be concluded that ultimate particularity (antyaviśeṣa) of Vaiśeṣika has no place in the Carakasaṃhitā.

Though Caraka presupposes the categorial schema of Kaṇāda, he makes a shift from the Vaiśeṣika theory of the universals and particularities. The most important improvement is the alteration from the conceptualistic position to the realistic position. Moreover he is neither concerned with the superior universal “being” (parasāmānya/satta) nor the ultimate particularity (antya-viśeṣa), but the “universal particularity” (sāmānyaviśeṣa).

It is on the basis of this paradigm shift that Caraka gives a pragmatic orientation to the philosophical concept of the universal construed by Kaṇāda. Dasgupta has remarked:

“In the Vaiśeṣika system the word sāmānya means a class concept; but here it means the concrete things which have similar constituents or characteristics; and viśeṣa which means in Vaiśeṣika, ultimate specific properties differentiating one atom from another, means in Caraka concrete things dissimilar and opposite constituents or characteristics”.[43]

Though the statement is confusing, the point that sāmānya and viśeṣa are not conceptual is quiet evident. Vinayaka Jayananda Thakkar also expresses the very same idea. He says that ekatvakara means not only the unification at the conceptual level but also at the practical level in such a way that, universals brings about the equipoise of the dhātus from the point of view of treatment.[44] Unless they have an ontological existence, they would not have a practical relevance.

The crux of the paradigm shift is that Caraka assumes a dichotomic function of the said property at the objective level which in turn gives a more logical and scientific orientation to Āyurveda. It is on the basis of this dichotomic function of the “universal particularities” that he evolves the theory of increase (vṛddhi) and decrease (hrāsa) of the entities of the physical world. In other words, it is the final determinant of the equilibrium of man and nature. In Āyurvedic context it is applied as the cardinal principle of treatment.

We know that if the delicate balance between śleṣma, pitta, and vāta is disturbed, the body is visited by some or other disease; therefore freedom from illness is contingent upon by two types of balance internal and external. This equipoise can be made possible by increasing dhātus which have fallen and by decreasing dhātus that exceeds the normal state.

Caraka construes universal and particularity as the cause of increase and decrease respectively. He says that sāmānya always is the cause of increase and viśeṣa is the cause of decrease of everything provided the two are in conjoined action.[45] The classical example is that “meatness” (maṃstva) while functioning as a universal will be the cause of increase of the flesh, and it will be a cause of decrease of vāta while functioning as a particularity. One of the most important things that Cakrapāṇi points out in this connection is that an entity will cause decrease only if the universal particularity of the thing that “nourishes” and the “nourished” are extremely antagonistic. If it is not so, it will not cause decrease. For example, meat-ness, the universal of meat, is a particularity when compared to blood-ness of blood. But it is not an extremely antagonistic particularity. So meat will not cause the decrease of blood. On the other hand, because of the presence of the identical nature of the universal in their qualities, it will lead to augmentation of blood. This explanation is aimed at making the point clear in the Āyurvedic context that viśeṣa means an “antagonistic particular” (viruddhaviśeṣa).

The part of the 44th articulation—but the action of both (pravṛttirubhayasya tu)—is somewhat difficult to discern and so has given rise to controversial interpretations. However the main points to be noted in this articulation is that increase and decrease are possible only when the two are in action. A.Comba, by citing the interpretation of the Cakrapāṇi, suggests that it can be interpreted in two ways. Of them the first is that pravṛtti of the universal and particularity is their connection (abhisambandha). Such pravṛtti of the universals and particularities with the body constituents is the cause of increase and of decrease. In the second, pravṛtti means the balance of the bodily constituents (dhātusāmya); this balance is an effect both of the universals and of the particularities.[46]

Now, the question is what is the real sense of the part “but the action of the both (pravṛttirubhayasya tu)” in the articulation. The doubt is whether it refer to the action of the universal and particularity or to the action of some other entities. As a matter of fact, sāmānya and viśeṣa have no independent action of their own. It is substance that has action. So what is implied is that when two substances are in conjoined action, increase and decrease in the substances, their inhering qualities, and also actions will take place due to the presence of “universal and particularity”. Thus, it is clear that the action referred to as the cause of increase and decrease is the action of substances and not of universal and particularity. This has been well clarified by Cakrapāṇi. He quotes Praśastapāda-bhāṣya and point out that universal is neither a cause (substantial cause) nor a non-substantial cause of increase. If so eternally present fleshness in the flesh of the body would increase the body flesh itself even of the vegetarians. So he concludes that universal serves only as an indicator of the actual cause of increase, which is a substance-ness, quality-ness or action-ness.[47] Thus, what is implied is that universal and particularity only refer to a property or characteristic which functions as the causal determinant (prayojaka) of increase and decrease.[48] That is though the substance quality and action are the real causes of increase and decrease of their corresponding entities, there resides in them a property which functions as a “causal determinant”.

It is to be remembered in this connection that, universal and particularity refered to by Caraka are not different entities, but the “universal particularity”. Sāmānya and viśeṣa are not independent and equal entities. On the other hand they are two terms given to signify one and the same property based on the function it does. The term viśeṣa refer to a negative version of the universal at the functional level. If an entity functions as “causal determinant” of increase it is called universal and if the very same entity functions as “causal determinant” of decrease it is called particularity. That is, according to Caraka, the properties that reside in substances, qualities and actions have a dicotomical function of determining both increase and decrease. Dasgupta, while dealing with growth and disease brings out this idea. He remarks that, what ever that leads to increase of a particular dhātu automatically leads the decrease of other dhātus.[49] In fact, Caraka himself has emphatically explained this double edged function as simultaneous. He says that a thing that increases a particular dhātu is also responsible for the simultaneous decrease of other dhātus which are extremely antagonistic in nature.[50]

Now the question arises as to how the simultaneity of augmentation and diminution can be justified. Cakrapāṇi says that this simultaneity is just like simultaneous production of many sounds from a single sound or like the simultaneous production of light and heat by fire.[51] In fact, Caraka has made it explicit when he says that proper administration of drugs will simultaneously cause increase of the reduced dhātus and decrease of the increased dhātus and thereby maintain the equipoise.[52] It is relevant to note that he applies the very same principle in psychic therapy also. Caraka when declares that emotions like desire (kāma), anger (krodha), fear (bhaya), and the like can be conveniently directed at one another to counter the ill-effects on the individual, he was actually applying the principle that viśeṣa diminishes the antagonistic in psychic therapy also.[53]

Thus, it is evident that Caraka's metaphysical doctrine does not consist of bare particulars or simple entities as causes. On the contrary, it must have a definite characteristic feature which is uniform in all things. Such things will fall into a class and behave in the same way. This characteristic content is the “causal determinant” of increase and decrease. As such, the characteristic which is of the widest or smallest extension cannot be a causal determinant. That is, “absolute universal” (sattā/bhāva) and "ultimate particularity' (antya-viśeṣa) are neither causal determinants of increase nor a causal determinant of decrease. Hence it is the “universal particularities” which reside in substances, qualities, and actions that serve as the causal determinants of increase and decrease. Probably it was Caraka who was the first to construe “universal particularities” as causal determinants.

Various interpretations of the universal and particularity of Caraka

Universal and particularity construed by Caraka are interpreted variously. Some of them are quoted and refuted by Cakrapāṇi. One such interpretation is that there are three types of universals and particularites namely, dravyagocara, guṇagocara and karmagocara.[54] Accordingly, the first, that is, dravyagocara is referred to by the 44th verse of Sūtrasthāna.[55] The first part of the 45th verse of sūtrasthāna refers to the second, and the second part of the same verse refers to the third. Bhaṭṭarahariścandra rejects this classification because, according to him, all the three were implied by the 44th verse.[56] Cakrapāṇi points out that this has been already refuted by Bhaṭṭarahariścandra. If it is accepted that all the three are mentioned by the first verse then, the verse forty-five would become futile.[57] Actually speaking, universals inhere only in substance, quality, and action. The categories, namely universal, particularity, and inherence have no universal and particularity. So there is no need of such a classification because it would be misleading. But, in order to avoid this anomaly some others give another three types of classification, namely (1) the absolute universal (atyanta-sāmānya) referred to by the verse 44, (2) middle universal (madhyasāmānya) denoted by the first half of the verse 45 and partial universal (ekadeśa-sāmānya) denoted by the second half of the verse 45. But this classification is also rejected by Cakrapāṇi on the basis that such a classification is not consistent and is of no use.[58]

But still, there is given two other types of divisions. Of them the first one is universal existing in both objects (ubhayavṛtti-sāmānya)for example, meatness(māṃsatva). Meatness exists in both meat and flesh of the body, and thereby its consumption increases the flesh of the body. The second one is the universal existing in single object (ekavṛtti-sāmānya) for example, gheeness (ghṛtatva). Though gheeness is only in ghee, it augments the dissimilar organic fire of the body. Here, gheeness is counted as the cause of increase and so it is called partial universal. Cakrapāṇi, however, rejects this theory because it is against the concept of universal that it is a class essence. If so, the instances like the above-mentioned will remain as exceptions to the general rule that universal is the cause of increase. According to Cakrapāṇi, augmentation has no invariable relation with universal. On the other hand, universal is invariably related to augmentation.[59] In other words, universal is not the only cause of increase. Other entities can also become the causal determinant of increase.

He attributes a new cause called “specific power” (prabhāva) for increase in places where increase is caused by a different thing. Accordingly, one thing can increase another thing even when they are not identical, because of the presence of specific power. So there is nothing wrong in maintaining that dissimilar things can also cause increase.[60] Thus, it is clear that the general rule that universal is the cause of increase is not without exceptions. But this anomaly is solved by attributing prabhāva to the cause.

Similarly, it is an established fact that bodily exercises will increase vāta. For example running increases the vāta but they have nothing in common. So there arises the difficulty to explain how action increases bodily elements. Even though Caraka illustrates universals inherent in substance and quality,he has consciously refrained from illustrating the casualty of physical activity. Cakrapāṇi says that, in the case of physical activity it is the “specific power” that causes increase. This does not mean that Caraka does not admit the universal of motion. Caraka says that vāta which is naturally qualified by motion will be augmented by actions like physical exercise and will be decreased by inaction.[61] Dream is not a direct cause of the augmentation of kapha. But it causes increase of kapha through decreasing the motion. What is implied is that whenever there occurs a lapse in the invariable relation between universal and increase prabhāva should be inferred as the cause of increase.[62]

If the above-mentioned cases are instances of the lapse of “negative invariable relation” (vyatireka-sahacāra) of universal and increase, there are also instances of the lapse of the affirmative “invariable relation” (anvaya-sahacāra). In certain cases even if the universal is found to exist in both “the thing that nourishes” and “the nourished”, augmentation is not seen to be caused. For example, even if an old man who is wearing out gets nourished by food which has the same qualitiy as his body, that nourishment will not make him fatter. Similarly, even if sweet things are consumed in grīṣma it would not augment kapha. Cakrapāṇi settles this anomaly by saying that it is due to the presence of the obstructions, old age and the heat of grīṣma respectively.[63] The same is the case with particularity also. It also will cause decrease only in the absence of an obstruction. For example, the unctuous substances like the mandaka[64] the nikuca[65] do not alliviate vāta and other pathogenic elements even though they are antagonistic to them, because of the presence of noxious prabhāva of these substances. Thus it is concluded that, universal is capable of causing increase and particularity is capable of decrease in the absence of an obstruction[66] . Actually, this explanation is put forth on the basis of the theory formulated in the later period in the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika system and not based on the Carakasaṃhitā. Udayana (AD 991),[67] one of the greatest exponents of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika, in his book Nyāyakusumāñjalī says that “the production of an effect does not happen only by the presence of the three causes. But the absence of an obstruction is also essential for the production”.[68] However it is a fact that the general rule that the universal causes increase is not without exception.

Caraka formulates the definition of universal and particularities in a way which differs from Vaiśeṣika-sūtra by metonymies and ellipses and construes “universal particularities” as the causal determinants of increase and decrease. But the other fundamental medical texts do not use them in the same sense. Suśrutasaṃhitā mentions neither universals nor particularities. He does not speak of even similarities or differences in the first chapter of sūtrasthāna where it is expected to appear. While discussing the remedy for pathological conditions Suśruta says that, diseases due to the diminution of doṣas can be cured by applying drugs which have same origin of the doṣas.[69] Thus, it is clear that they are not used in the technical sense of universals and particularities as explained in the Carakasaṃhitā. Probably this may be because Suśruta being a surgeon, the fundamentals were not his main concern.

When we come to Aṣṭāṅgasaṃgraḥa and Aṣṭāṅgahṛdaya the subject of increase and decrease is discussed with great importance in the first chapter of sūtrasthāna itself. But there is a difference. Both the texts place “similar” (samāna) and “dissmilar” (viparīta) respectively for universals and particularity. Thus, the increase of a thing is caused by the similar and decrease is caused by the dissimilar.[70] However, this innovation may be because of the reconciliation attitude adopted by these thinkers towards the predecessors or it may be an attempt for a more empirical perspective as pointed out by A. Comba.[71]

In this context, it would not be improper to recall the impact of the concept of universal and particularity in the Carakasaṃhitā, in the later development of the causation theory. It would help us to understand the cross currents between philosophy and science in Indian intellectual tradition in their development which have been lost at certain point of history.

A survey of the later classical Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika philosophy bears witness to the fact that its causation theory has been highly influenced by the concept of universal and particularity of Carakasaṃhitā. The modern exponents of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika school lay emphasis on the logical necessity of accepting the existence of universals at the objective level rather than their cognitive nature in perception. They are of the opinion that the causality of a thing cannot be undermined and the determinant of causality must be a universal.[72] Later followers of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika describe universals as indispensable conditions for the regulation of causal linkages (karaṇatavacchedaka and kāryatavacchedaka).[73]

Udayana argues for the very existence of universal on the basis of the principle of causality. His chief argument is that causal relation being necessary and uniform, it cannot be said to exist between particulars as such but between particulars having a class nature (jāti). A denial of this will be contrary to the nature of things as discovered by us.[74] “If causal relation is supposed to hold between bare particulars or then we cannot explain the notion of the potential (svarūpa yogya) cause. We search for the specific material which has the potentiality for the desired effect. This potentiality or causal efficiency (karaṇatva) is possessed by a thing by virtue of its class nature (jāti)”.[75]

Visvanatha, the author of Nyāya Siddhanta Muktāvalī, proves the very existence of the universal substanceness (dravyatva) on the basis that it is inevitable as a causal delimiter (karaṇatavacchedaka) of the inherent causality of an effect (kārya) or of conjunction (saṃyoga) and distinction (vibhāga).[76] Thus it is clear that the idea of causality as a consistent and essential relation between things necessarily implies the existence of universal.

Another significant development in the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika school is that they do not conceive all universals as causal delimiters (karaatavacchedaka). Only eternal class essences like cow-ness (gotva), red-ness (raktatva) are conceived as causal delimiters. Such universals are called genus (jāti). Other general adventitious characteristics such as cookness (pācakatva) are called imposed property (upādhis).[77]

Udayana enumerates six impediments called jātibādhakas. They are (1) Unity of the object (vyakterabheda). Example: the ākāśa being one allpervading thing, there is no jāti as ākāśatva. (2) Identity of objects (tulytva). Example: khaṭatva and kalaśatva are not different jātis as both words denote the same thing. (3) Cross-division (saṅkara). Example: bhūtatva and mūrtatva are not jātis since they constitute cross division. (4) Want of finality or regresses in infinitum (anavasthiti). Example: jātis like manhood (manuṣyatva) itself cannot have further jāti, for in that case, there being jāti over jati ad infinitum, there will be no finality. (5) Violation of nature (rūpahāni). Example: even though particularities (viśeṣas) are innumerable they cannot have the jāti viśeṣatva, because such an assumption is essentially opposed to the very conception of jāti; and (6) Want of connection (asambandha). Example: samavāyatva cannot be accepted as the jāti of samavāya because samyatva cannot have any connection with its substratum samavāya.[78]

Now, from the facts furnished above we can conclude that what Caraka has done is a critique of the then existing concept of the universal. It is a critique in the sense that it is designed to generate a better pragmatic concept, so that it can be applied for human projects of health and cure. It is an analysis which focused on the betterment of removing the imperfections and flaws of the then existed curative system which was confined to etiology (hetu), symptomatology (liṅga) and medicine (auṣadha).

Kaṇāda provided the initial doctrine of the ultimate universal, “universal particularity” and ultimate particularity in a conceptualistic way. Caraka has sorted out the “universal particularity” after excluding the ultimate universal “being” (sattā) which is of the widest extension and the ultimate particularity (antyaviśeṣa) which is of the smallest extension. Further, they are recognized as intrinsic, non-accidental entities inhering in substances, qualities and motions functioning as causal determinants or causal delimiters of increase and decrease. In essence, it is construed as the causal determinant of equipoise.

This was actually a shift in perspective. It was a shift which made possible the actualization of a philosophical abstraction to a pragmatic orientation which gave Āyurveda a scientific temper and made it move. But it was not without exceptions. Certain lapses are found to affect the negative and positive invariable relation between increase and universal. Cakrapāṇi, by attributing specific power (prabhāva) and absence of obstruction, has tried to remove such imperfections taking into consideration some of the later developments in the Nyāya - Vaiśeṣika system of philosophy.

Footnotes and references:


BWT, p.115; See trans., CST, Vol. I, p. 21; HIPS, Vol. II, p. 371; Antonella Comba, Universal (sāmānya) and Particular (viśeṣa) in Vaiśeṣika and Āyurveda, Journal of the European Āyurvedic society1, 1990, p. 19.


“Existence, manifestation, agreeableness form, and name are the five aspects of phenomena. Of these the first three are the characteristics of the Brahman and the last two are the characteristics of the universe”, See Eng. Trans. Vedāntaparibhāṣa of Dharmarāja Adhvarīndra., p. 157.


“.......words and language are not wrappings in which things are packed for the commerce of those who write and speak. It is in words and language that things first come into being and are”. IM, p. 13.


ENVC, Vol. I, p. 173.






Indian Realism, Jadunath Sinha, Motilal Banarsidass Pvt. Ltd., Delhi, Reprint 1999, p.134; See “apoha-vāda tathā uskā nirākaraṇ”, Vaiśeṣika Darśan: Ek Adhyayan, Sri Nārāyaṇa Miśra, Varanasi,1968, p. 223.


PUIP, p. 61


Tattvasaṅgraha, Śāntarakṣita with Tattvasaṅgrahapañjikā by Kamalaśīla, Baroda: G.O.S, 1926, p. 2-3; also see Pañjikā on ibid., p. 11.


sāmānyaviśeṣātmā tadartho vicayah”, Parīkṣāmukhasūtra, Māṇikyanandi, ed., and Trans., Mahendra Kumar Shastri, Bombay, 1941, IV. 1.


VTA, p.151; ENVC, Vol. I, p. 175.


Ibid., pp. 149-150.


PUIP, pp. 153-154.


EIPS, IV, pp. 365-66.


S. Su, V. 91-92; see also Vijñāna Bhikṣu on it, Sāṃkhyadarśana (with Sāṃkhyapravacanabhāṣya of Sri Vijñana Bhikṣu)., pp, 167-68.


Sāṃkhya-sūtra,, 94-95, see also Vijñāna Bhikṣu on it, Sāṃkhyadarśana (with Sāṃkhyapravacanabhāṣya of Sri Vijñana Bhikṣu)., p. 68; EIPS, p. 366.


See Vaiśeṣikadarśana., I. i. 18, 23.


Ibid., I. ii. 3.


BWT, p. 116.


Vaiśeṣikadarśana., I. ii. 7.


Vaiśeṣikadarśana., I. ii. 8.


dravyatvaṃ guṇatvaṃ karmatvaṃ ca sāmānyāni viśeṣācca, Ibid., I. ii. 5.


sāmānyaviśeṣāpekṣaṃ dravyaguṇakarmasu, Ibid.,VIII. i. 6.


Ibid., VIII. i. 5.


Ibid., I. ii. 4.


tathā ca dravyādiṣu triṣu satsaditi- prakārko yataḥ pratyayaḥ sadidaṃ sadidamityākārakaḥ śabdaprayogo vā yadadhīnaḥ sā sattā, Śaṅkaramiśra on ibid., I. ii. 7. Vaiśeṣikopaskāra of Śaṅkaramiśra., p. 90.


dravyaguṇakarmabhyo'rthāntaram, Vaiśeṣikadarśana., I. ii. 8; Loc. cit., I. ii. 4.


Bhāvaḥ sattā anuvṛttereva hetuḥ na tu vyāvṛtterapi hetuḥ, Śaṅkarāmiśra on Vaiśeṣikadarśana., I. ii. 4, Vaiśeṣikopaskāra of Śaṅkaramiśra., p. 85.


dravyādīnāṃ trayāṇāmapi sattāsaṃbandhaḥ, sāmānyaviśeṣavatvaṃ, svasamayārthasabdābhidheyatvaṃ dharmādharmakartṛtvañca, Praśastapādabhāṣya., pp. 43 - 44. vaiśeṣikaiḥ svayaṃ vyavahārāya yaḥ saṅketaḥ kṛto'smin śāstre'arthaśabdād dravyaguṇakarmāṇi pratipattavyāni, iti; see Nyāyakandalī on ibid., p. 45.


Vaiśeṣikadarśana., I. ii. 5; sāmānyāni viśeṣāścetyatrā'samāsaḥ sāmānyatve satyeva viśeṣatvaṃ yathā jñeyata tadarthaṃ, Śaṅkarāmiśra on Ibid; Vaiśeṣikopaskāra of Śaṅkaramiśra., p. 86; dravyatvādyaparaṃ, alpaviṣayatvāt. tacca vyāvṛtterapi hetutvāt sāmānyaṃ sadviśeṣākhyamapi. Praśastapādabhāṣya., p. 30. Latter thinkers like Viswanātha classifies universal into two: Higher (para) and Lower (apara) and calls the “universal particularities” by the term parāpara: “dravyādikajātistu parāparatayocyate”, NSMK, p. 43.


Actually this is the intended sense of the Vaiśeṣikadarśana., I. ii. 3, See supra, p. 61.


sāmānyādīnāṃ trayāṇāṃ svātmasattvaṃ buddhilakṣaṇatvaṃ, Praśastapādabhāṣya., p. 49.


buddhireva lakṣaṇaṃ pramāṇaṃ eṣāṃ te buddhilakṣaṇāḥ, vipratipannasāmanyādisadbhāve buddhireva lakṣaṇaṃ nānyat, Nyāyakandalī on ibid., Praśastapādabhāṣya., p. 50.


ENVC, Vol. I, p. 211.


The word viśeṣa is derived from the root “śiṣ” by prefixing “vi” and adding the suffix “ghañ”. CSP, p. 195.


vināśaraṃbharahiteṣu nityadravyeṣvākāśakāladigātmamanassu pratidravyamekaikaśo vartamānā atyantavyāvṛttibuddhihetuḥ. Praśastapādabhāṣya., p.766; see also ibid., p. 36; NSMK, p. 50; nityadravyavṛttayo vyāvartakāḥ viśeṣāḥ., TSA, p.61.


sarvadā sarvabhāvānāṃ sāmānyaṃ vṛddhikāraṇaṃ, hrāsahetur-viśeṣaśca ca pravṛttirubhayasya tu, C Sāṃkhya-sūtra,, I. 44 sāmānyamekatva-karaṃ, viśeṣastu pṛthaktvakṛt, tulyārthatā hi sāmānyaṃ, viśeṣastu viparyayaḥ, Ibid., 45.


“Here also Āyurveda differs from Vaiśeṣika in the sense that the latter uses sāmānya and viśeṣa for class (jāti) and individual (vyakti) respectively but in the former they denote similarity (tulyārthatā) and dis-similarity (viparyaya).......”, PVS, p.166; LC, p. 6. Probably this opinion might be due to the influence of the articulation regarding increase and decrease in Aṣṭāṅgasaṅgraha of Vāgbhaṭa. and Aṣṭāṅgahṛdaya of Vāgbhaṭa.. vṛddhiḥ samanaiḥ sarveṣāṃ viparītairviparyayaḥ, Aṣṭāṅgasaṅgraha of Vāgbhaṭa., p. 11; Aṣṭāṅgahṛdaya of Vāgbhaṭa., Su, I. 13.


“..........universal is present only in objects belonging to one and the same category........, a similarity exists also in objects belonging to different categories......”, Antonella Comba, Universal (sāmānya) and Particular (viśeṣa) in Vaiśeṣika and Āyurveda, Journal of the European Āyurvedic society1, 1990, p. 19. Viśvanātha, refuting similarity as a category, states that similarity is not a category, but it means the possession, by a thing which is different from some other thing, of many of the attributes of the latter. For instance, the similarity of a face to the moon co-exists in its being different from the moon and at the same time possessing the gladdening and other attributes of the latter. See NSMK, pp. 31 - 32.


Cakrapāṇi on CS, Su, I. 45.


yataḥ sarvabhāvānāṃ sāmānyamekatvakaraṃ melanamekībhāvaṃ karoti, tasmāt teṣāṃ vṛddhikāraṇamiti”. Jalpakalpataru on C Sāṃkhya-sūtra,, I. 45, C SJ, Vol. I, p. 40.


samānaprasavātmikā jātiḥ. Nyāyasūtra., II. ii. 70. “.........yacca keṣāṃcidabhedaṃ keṣāṃcit bhedaṃ tat sāmānyaviśeṣo jātiritiVatsyayana on Ibid., Nyāya-Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana., p. 215.


HIPS, Vol.II, p. 371; see ENVC, p.110.


ekatvakaramityasya na ekatvabuddhikaramityevārthaḥ kintu prayogānantaraṃ sātmyībhāvena dhātunā saha ekarūpatāpādakamityarthaḥ cikitsādṛṣṭyā kartumucitaḥ iti, AMS p. 255.


Loc. cit., F. Note, 260.


Antonella Comba, Univresal (sāmānya) and Pariticular (viśeṣa) in Vaiśeṣika and Āyurveda, Journal of European Āyurvedic Society 1, p. 24.


etacca sāmānyaṃ sāmānyavato māṃsadravyādeḥ vṛddhikāraṇasya lakṣaṇtvena vṛddhikāraṇamityuktaṃ. yato na sāmānyāṃ māṃsatvajātirūpaṃ vṛddhau kāraṇaṃ bhavati,.....ata eva vaiśeṣike'pyuktaṃ:trayāṇāmakāryatvamakāraṇatvañca”, Cakrapāṇi on CS, Su, I. 44, p. 9. See supra, p. 32-33.


sarveṣāṃ bhāvānāṃ dravyaguṇakarmāṇāṃ sāmānyaṃ vṛddhikāraṇaṃ hetuḥ prayojakamityeko arthaḥ, Jalpakapataru on CS,Su, I. 44; CSJ, Vol.I, p. 35.


HIPS, Vol. II, p.320


yaugapadyena tu virodhināṃ dhātūnāṃ vṛddhihrāsau bhavātaḥ. yaddhi yasya dhātorvṛddhikaraṃ tattato viparītaguṇasya dhātoḥ pratyavāyakaraṃ saṃpadyate. CS, Śārīra - sthāna, VI. 5.


śabdo yugapadanekāneva śabdenekakālamārabhate, tathagniḥ prakaśadāhau yugapatkaroti. Cakrapāṇi on CS, Su, I. 45.


CS, Śārīra - sthāna, VI. 6.


kāmaśokabhayakrodhaharṣerṣyālobhasaṃbhavān parasparapratidvandvairebhireva śamaṃ nayet......, CS, Cikitsa - sthāna, IX. 86.


Cakrapāṇi on CS, Su, I. 45.


Loc. cit., F. Note, 260.




anye tu vyākhyānayanti yat trividhaṃ sāmānyaṃ, viśeṣaśca trividhaḥyathā drvagocaraḥ guṇacoraḥ karmagocaraśca tatra sarvadetyādinā... tadetadbhaṭṭāraharicandreṇaiva dūṣitaṃ, yataḥ sarvadetyādinaiva lakṣaṇena trividhamapi sāmānyaṃ labhyate, tenāsmin pakṣe sāmānyamekatvakaramityādyavācyaṃ syāditi kṛtvā. Cakrapāṇi on C.Sāṃkhya-sūtra,.1.45.


anye tu paśyanti- yastrividhaṃ sāmānyaṃ- atyantasāmānyaṃ, madhyasāmānyaṃ ekadeśasāmānyaṃ ca..... ceti nātiśraddhākaraṃ. Cakrapāṇi on CS, Su, I. 45.


asmanmate tu sāmānyaṃ vṛddhau kāraṇameva bhavatīti sāmānyaṃ vṛddhikāraṇatvena niyamyate; na tu vṛddhiḥ sāmānykāraṇikaiveti niyamyate tenāsamānādapi vṛddhirbhavati nirdoṣā., Cakrapāṇi on CS, Su, I. 45.




yattūcyate-karmasāmānyaṃ neha tantre vṛddhikāraṇamasti, yato na dhāvanena vāyuḥ samāna iti;......atra brūmaḥ- karmaṇāṃ prāyaḥ prabhāvenaiva vṛddhihetutvāt sāmānyānupagrahaḥ kṛtaḥ——niṣkriyatā cāsya vātasya hrāsaḥ. Ibid.


yatra tu evaṃ kāraṇaṃ cintayituṃ na pāryate tatra prabhāva eva varṇanīyaḥ. Ibid.




A kind of yoghurt (dadhi) not completely mature, obtained by a slow process of curdling. See CS, Su, XXVII. 228; Cikitsa - sthāna, XXI. 18.


Artocarpus Lacoocha Robux. T.B. Singh and K.C. Chunekar, Glossary of Vegitable Drugs in Bṛhattrayī, Varanasi, 1972, pp. 224, 346, 351.


asati ca virodhake sāmānyaṃ vṛddhikāraṇamiti siddhāntaḥ”; Cakrapāṇi on CS, Su, I. 45.


EIPK, Vol. II, p. 523.


bhāvo yathā tathā'bhāvaḥ kāraṇaṃ kāryavanmataḥ, pratibandho visāmagrī taddhetuḥ pratibandhakaḥ”, Nyāyakusumāñjali of Udayanācārya., I. 10, p. 35.


tatra svayonivarthanānyeva pratīkāraḥ, Suśrutasaṃhitā of Suśruta., Su, XV. 8, 10. svayonivardhanamapi samānena dravyeṇa samānaguṇena samānaguṇabhūyiṣṭena vā. Dalhaṇa on Ibid., 10.


vṛddhiḥ samānaiḥ sarveṣāṃ viparītairviparyayaḥ, Aṣṭāṅgahṛdaya of Vāgbhaṭa., Su, I. 14. Aṣṭāṅgasaṅgraha of Vāgbhaṭa., Su, p.11


Anetonella Comba,, Universal (sāmānya) and Particular (viśeṣa), in Vaiśeṣika and Āyurveda, Journal of the European Āyurvedic Society 1, 1990, p. 30.


PUIP, p. 19.


BWT, p. 118.


tathāpi vyaktyapekṣayā niyamo'stu, na jātyapekṣayeti cenna. niyatajātīyasvabhāvavyāghātāt”, Nyāyakusumāñjali of Udayanācārya., p. 21


PUIP, pp. 19-20.


kāryasamavāyikāraṇatāvacchedakatayā, samyogasya, vibhāgasya, vā samavāyikāraṇatāvacchedakatayā dravyajātisiddhiriti”, NSMK, pp. 34 - 35.


sāmānyaṃ jātirūpaṃ upādhirṃpaṃ ca. Saptapadārthi of Śivāditya., p. 39.


Kiraṇāvalī of Udayanācārya., p. 321; See NSMK. pp. 46 - 48.

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