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 (5): Reason (hetu)

Caraka defines reason as the cause of valid knowledge.[1] In syllogism, reason is the second statement consisting of the grounds for inference. The causes thus stated for such inferential knowledge are the pramāṇas of perception, (2) inference, (3) tradition and (4) anology.[2] Here, what Caraka implies is that a cause can be perceived, inferred, or known by analogy, or from scriptures. That is, when one says that the mountain possesses fire because it possesses smoke (parvato vahnimān dhūmavatvāt), the reason is smoke and it is a directly perceived one. But when one says that he is ill because of poor digestion (ayamāturo mandāgnitvāt), the reason is not directly perceived but inferred. Similarly, when it is said that puruṣa is eternal because it is “not created” (nityaḥ puruṣo akṛtatvāt), the reason “not created” is neither perceived nor inferred. On the other hand, it is known by tradition (aitihya). Again, in cases like his face is beautiful because it resembles moon (asya mukhaṃ kāntatamaṃ candropamatvāt), the reason resemblance of moon is an analogical one.[3]

Akṣapāda explains reason as that which is offered for proving what it is to be proved, on the basis of the homogeneity or the heterogeneity of the examples.[4] Vātsyāyana says that it is the means of demonstration of the attribute in question through the generic nature of the attributes shown by its existence in the examples.[5] He adds that reason is inference.[6]

Kaṇāda, who considers it as instrumental cause of inference, uses apadeśa (description), liṅga (sign), pramāṇa (proof), and kāraṇa (instrumental cause) as synonymous to reason (hetu)[7] and calls the inferential knowledge laiṅgikaṃ. Praśastapāda calls reason by the name apadeśa and defines it as the statement about the inferential reason.[8]

According to the Buddhists, valid reason must fulfill three conditions such as, existence of “major term” (sādhya) in the minor term (pakṣa), existence in the locus where the presence of the major term has been ascertained (sapakṣātvaṃ), and non-existence in the locus where the nonexistence of the major term is decidedly known (vipakṣāsatvaṃ).[9]

In brief reason helps to prove what is to be proved. In other words, inferential knowledge owes to the knowledge of reason. It has got an important place among the members of syllogism because inferential cognition mainly depends on it.

Footnotes and references:


heturnāmopalabdhikāraṇaṃ CS, Vimāna - sthāna, VIII. 33.




CSJ, Vol. III. p.1580.


udāharaṇasādharmāyt sādhyasādhanaṃ hetuḥ. Nyāyasūtra., I. i. 34.


udāharaṇasādharmyāt sādhyasya dharmasya sādhanaṃ hetuḥ Vātsyāyana on ibid., Nyāya-Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana., p.55.


heturanumānaṃ, Vātsyāyana on Nyāyasūtra., I. i. 1, Nyāya-Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana., p. 9. See also Nyāya-Vārttikatātparyaṭīkā of Vācaspati Miśra., p. 57


heturapadeśo liṅgaṃ pramāṇāṃ karaṇamityanarthāntaraṃ. Vaiśeṣikadarśana., IX. ii. 4.


liṅgavacanamapadeśaḥ, Praśastapādabhāṣya., p. 575.


tatra svārthaṃ trirūpalliṅgādyadanumīyate jñānaṃ tadanumānaṃ, Nyāya Bindu of Dharmakīrti., p. 21; trirūpalingākhyānāṃ parārthānumānaṃ. Ibid, p. 46.

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