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...

Dialectical terms [in Charaka philosophy]

Caraka was circumspect about the fact that it is essential for every medical man to be conversant with logic and dialectical terms. The awareness of logic and dialectical terms are needed not only for becoming an efficient physician with ability and discretion but also for engendering dialectical competency that would enable one to take active part in academic activities. In fact dialectics is the soul of Āyurveda which makes it innovative as in the case of any other discipline.

Caraka speaks of forty-four dialectical terms in connection with the discussion of the procedure of a debate. The dialectical terms discussed here are not seen in any literature other than in the Nyāya-sūtras. The dialectical terms thus enumerated are:

  1. debate (vāda),
  2. substance (dravya),
  3. quality (guṇa),
  4. action (karma),
  5. universal (sāmanya),
  6. particularity (viśeṣā),
  7. inherence (samavāya),
  8. proposition (pratijñā),
  9. demonstration (sthāpanā),
  10. counter argument (pratiṣṭhāpana),
  11. reason (hetu),
  12. example (dṛṣṭānta),
  13. application (upanaya),
  14. conclusion (nigamana),
  15. false rejoinder (uttara),
  16. tenet (siddhānta),
  17. word (śabda),
  18. perception (pratyakṣa),
  19. inference (anumāna),
  20. tradition (aitihya),
  21. analogy (aupamya),
  22. doubt (saṃśaya),
  23. purpose (prayojana),
  24. inconclusive reason (savyabhicāra),
  25. investigation (jijñāsa),
  26. determination (vyavasāya),
  27. presumption (arthaprāpti),
  28. probability (saṃbhava),
  29. imperfect statement (anuyojya),
  30. infallible statement (ananuyojya),
  31. question (anuyoga),
  32. counter question (pratyanuyoga),
  33. defective statement (vākyadoṣa),
  34. excellent assertion (vākyapraśaṃsā),
  35. quibble (cchala),
  36. fallacy of reason (ahetu),
  37. illogical order (atītakāla),
  38. criticism (upālaṃbha),
  39. resolve (parihāra),
  40. violating the proposition (pratijñāhāni),
  41. criticism (abhyanujñā),
  42. dodging with a wrong reason (hetvāntara),
  43. offering irrelevant statement (arthāntara),
  44. point of defeat (nigrahasthāna).[1]

These terms cover almost all the topics of logic and dialectics. But they are not arranged in a systematic way as we see in the Nyāya-sūtra. The first category vāda, refers to the unbiased discussion which aims at discerning how things really are and all the other categories are its related items in one way or the other. The six fundamental categories and all kinds of the source of knowledge included in the enumeration were explained earlier in detail. So their description is excluded in the present chapter. A rearrangement is also made here for the convenience of description.

Footnotes and references:


CS, vi, VIII. 27.

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