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...

Inherence (samavāya) [in Charaka philosophy]

Now let us recall the peculiar function of inherence (samavāya), the sixth and final category. The word samavāya is derived from the root “ay” by prefixing “sam” and “av” and by suffixing “ghañ”. It is found to be used in Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī[1] and Mīmāṃsā-Sūtra[2] in the sense of aggregation. In Vyākaraṇa-Mahābhāṣya it is juxtaposed with vyavaya. There vyavāya signifies separateness and samavāya, coming together. One of the examples cited by Patañjali is that Ministers are not free as far as their relation of samavāya is concerned and are free as far as their vyavāya is concerned.[3] Based on similar observations, Harsh Narain states that aggregation is both external, that is, caused by external pressure and internal, that is caused by internal necessity. Their phenomenon of external aggregation gave rise to the concept of conjunction as a quality, while that of internal aggregation, to the concept of inherence.[4]

In the present context, as has been discerned through the doctrine of categories to know things as a conglomeration of various entities, there arises a question as to what holds the categories together and connects them to a unit. It is not possible to consider conjunction (saṃyoga) as the relation, for it is a quality which has been defined as a union of things not formerly united.[5]

“It had been recognized that conjunction originates only through movement of things which connects themselves with one another and is abrogated again through the separation of things. But this does not hold true in the case of categories. There is, therefore, no union of earlier separated things, for they only occur together”.[6]

It is, therefore, assumed that there is an indwelling connection or aggregation different from conjunction which binds the categories to a unit. It is called inherence (samavāya).

The Vaiśeṣika-sūtra refers to samavāya on several occasions, while the main sūtra in which it appears in the categorial sense defines inherence as that which brings about the comprehension of “this is here” (iha idam iti) - something resides in a locus with regard to cause and effect.[7] It implies that inherence is a relation of cause and effect which have “container contained” relation. Śaṅkaramiśra clarifies that the cause and effect are devoid of conjunction and disjunction being non-separables.[8] Kaṇāda does not say whether inherence is eternal or not in clear terms. But we can infer that inherence as posited by him is eternal in spite of the transient nature of its related entites because, for him, that which exists and is without a cause is eternal.[9] This is further attested by the fact that there is no cause or source of knowledge to establish it's ephemerality.[10]

On the basis of this concept of inherence, Kaṇāda recognizes two causes:

  1. inherent cause (samavāyi kāraṇa)[11] ,
  2. non-inherent cause (asamavāyi kāraṇa).[12]

However, he also speaks of the inherence of attribute and action with substance,[13] the inherence of many entities in the same locus (ekārthasamavāyasaṃbandha),[14] and inherence in the conjunct (saṃyuktasamavāya).[15]

In Carakasaṃhitā, inherence is being described as an inseparable connection of substances with their qualities. He adds that it is eternal where there is the substance not devoid of its distinctive qualities.[16] Accordingly, inherence is a relation different from conjunction which always presupposes the separatability of its related entities. It pinpoints the relation of "identity in difference' (bedhābedha). As has been pointed out by Cakrapāṇidatta, the given examples are suggestive of the container (ādhāra) and contained(ādheya); the two related entities of inherence.[17] Thus, according to Caraka, inherence is an eternal relation of the related entities which are not capable of existing separately, because they involve a relation of the container and the contained. In particular he refers this association only to substances with their qualities. The significant thing to be noted in this connection is that it was Caraka who was the first make it explicit that inherence is eternal.

Cakrapāṇidatta, taking into consideration the later innovations in the classical Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika thought, states that inherence is the relation of part and whole, the substrates with their qualities, motion, and universal.[18] But he consciously omits the relation of eternal substance with their ultimate particularities found refered to in the Nyāya - Vaiśeṣika philosophy because of the fact that Caraka himself has not referred to such ultimate particularities. However, it is doubtful whether Caraka has envisaged the inherence of all the relatas cited above. His main purpose has been to reveal the binding relationship of substances with their qualities which have a high significance in the maintenance of health and the treatment of diseases. At the same time the definition is worthy enough to accommodate them all within its purview.

In this context it may be of great relevance to recall the opinion of the later Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas. A probe into the later Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika system shows that the explanation given by Caraka has a high influence on them. The very definition given by Praśastapāda is vindictive of this fact. He defines it as a relationship between inseparable things having a “container-contained” relation.[19] He, further defines inherence in clearer terms removing the mist and veil of Kaṇāda's notion of "this is here'.[20] Accordingly, Praśastapāda describes the nature of inherence as the relationship of substance, quality, action, universal, and particularity; whether it can be in the form of effect and cause or vice-versa; is one in which they are inseparably united and they exist in the form of the substrated and the substratum, by which the notion arises “this resides here” and by which there is the interdependence of the separate things of limited extension.[21] Keśavamiśra defines it as the relationship of inseparables.[22] Almost all later Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika thinkers emphasizes the eternity of inherence.[23]

Candrakānta Tarkālaṅkāra defines inherence as complete combination (saṃyogavapti).[24] He recalls the definition given by Caraka[25] and says that inherence is the counter opposite of separateness just like disjunction is the counter opposite of conjunction.[26] He further states that it is a peculiar type of conjunction of the soul with apūrva, body, sense organs, and feelings called birth. The puruṣa thus constituted by the body, senseorgans, and mind by a peculiar conjunction and which is inseparably related with the self experiences all kinds of sufferings and the cessation of this state of affairs constitutes the ultimate liberation from all kinds of sufferings. This type of conjunction is particular type of quality and so it is treated as a separate entity.[27] But this view is not tenable because inherence is eternal for Caraka. Moreover, if it had been a quality, Caraka would have included inherence in the group of qualities along with pṛthaktva and would not have given a categorial status. Above all, a relation of quality to its substrate cannot be a quality.

The Sāṃkhyas, the Bhaṭṭamīmāṃsakas, and the Vedāntins do not accept inherence as a separate category. The Prābhākaras and the modern Naiyāyikas consider inherence as eternal and varied.[28]

It was Caraka who was the first to construe inherence as an ontological category just as universal. As far as Kaṇāda is concerned, only substance, quality, and action have ontological existence. That is why he called them by the name artha. In addition to that it was Caraka who first gave a definition distinguishing it from saṃyoga. It is saṃyoga that represent individual instances of conjunction. He has clearly stated that it is eternal and will not be destroyed by the behaviour of the related tentities. So it was Caraka who was the first construe inherence as eternal.

Footnotes and references:


samavāyān samavaiti. Aṣṭādhyāyī-sūtrapāṭha of Pāṇini., IV.iv. 43; saṃsvāye ca, ibid.,VI. i.138.


M. Su, XII. ii. 24.


evam tarhi pradhānena samavāye sthālī paratantrā, vyavaye svatantrā. tadyathā amātyānāṃ rajñā saha samavāye paratantryaṃ vyavāye svātantryaṃ. Vyākaraṇamahābhāṣya of Patañjali., Vol. II, I. iv. 3, p. 245.


ENVC, Vol. I, p. 218.


aprāptayoḥ prāptiḥ saṃyogaḥ. Praśastapādabhāṣya., p. 347; “aprāptayostu yo prāptiḥ saiva saṃyoga īritaḥ”. NSMK, p. 413.


EFW, Vol. II, p.106.


ihedaṃ iti yataḥ kāryakāraṇayoḥ sa samavāyaḥ, Vaiśeṣikadarśana.. VII. ii. 26.


yutasiddyabhavāt karyakaraṇayoḥ saṃyogavibhago na vidyate. Ibid., 13; see also Śaṅkaramiśra on ibid., Vaiśeṣikopaskāra of Śaṅkaramiśra., p. 426.


sadakaraṇavannityaṃ,Vaiśeṣikadarśana., IV. i. 1.


CSP, p. 205.


kriāyguṇavat samavāyikāraṇamiti dravyalakṣaṇaṃ. Vaiśeṣikadarśana., I. i.15; kārṇamiti dravye kāryasamavāyāt. Ibid., X. i. 1; kāraṇe samavāyāt karmāṇi, ibid., 3.


karaṇaṃ tvasamavāyino guṇāḥ. Ibid., V, ii, 24. karaṇasamavāyāt saṃyogah paṭasya. Ibid., X. ii. 5. kāraṇākāraṇasamavāyācca. Ibid., 6.


niṣkriyāṇāṃ samavāyaḥ karmabhyo nṣidhaḥ, Vaiśeṣikadarśana.,V. ii. 23.


ekārthsamavāyikāraṇāntareṣu dṛṣṭatvāt. Ibid., X. i. 6. samanvyaikārthsamavāyi virodhi ca. Ibid., III. i. 9.


saṃyuktasamavāyat agnervaiśeṣikaṃ. Ibid., X. ii. 7.


samavāyo'pṛthakbhāvo bhūmyādīnāṃ guṇairmataḥ sa nityo yatra hi dravyaṃ na tatrāniyato guṇaḥ. CS, Su, I. 50.


“.......tenādhārāṇāmādheyairyo'apṛṭhakbhāvaḥ sa samavāyaḥ”, Cakrapāṇi on Ibid.


Cakrapāṇi quotes the explication given by Praśastapāda, Ibid; See also Dīpikā, TSA, p. 61.


ayutasiddhānāmādhāryādhārabhūtānāṃ yaḥ sambandhaḥ ihapratyayahetuḥ sa samavāyaḥ, Praśastapādabhāṣya., p. 37.


See supra, p. 81.


dravyaguṇakarmasāmānyaviśeṣāṇāṃ kāryākāraṇabhūtānāmakaryakāraṇabhūtānāṃ vā yutasiddhānāmādharyādhārabhāvenāvasthitānāmihedamiti buddhiryato bhavati, yataścāsarvagatānāmadhigatānytvānāmaviṣvakbhāvaḥ sa samavāyākhyaḥ saṃbandhaḥ, Praśastapādabhāṣya., pp. 773-74.


ayutasiddhayoḥ saṃbandhaḥ samavāyaḥ, Tarkabhāṣa of Keśavamiśra., p. 220.


Praśastapāda says that even though the related entities are ephemeral inherence is not so, since it exists and is with out a cause. See Praśastapādabhāṣya., p. 782. nityasambandhaḥ samavāyah, TSA, p. 61.


samavāyastu samyagāvāptirekībhāvaḥ, Vaiśeṣikabhāṣya of Candrakānta Tarkālaṅkāra., p. 17.


athāpyetaduktaṃ samavāyo'apṛdhakbhāva iti. Ibid.


yathā khalu saṃyogapratidvantī vibhāgaḥ, pṛthaktvaṃ cāyogo nāma guṇāntaraṃ, tathaiva vailakṣaṇyalakṣaṇasyānekatvalakṣaṇasya vā pṛthaktvasya pratidvantī guṇaḥ samavāyo nāma. Ibid.


yaśca apūrvaśarīrendriyavedanābhiḥ saṃyogaviśeṣo janma, tataḥ śarīradibhirapṛthakbhāvo ātmano bhimanyate........ so'yam samavāya evamarthaṃ prthagucyate gunantarbhūto'pi. Ibid.


Nyāyakośa., pp. 961-62; CSP, p. 263.

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