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 (22): Quibble (chala)

A quibble (chala) signifies a response in which the statement of the opponent is intentionally misinterpreted to defeat him. It is a speech consisting of mere words creating the sense that it is meaningful while it is actually fraught with irrelevant and improper meanings.[1]

It has got two divisions:

  1. verbal quibble (vākcchala),
  2. generalizing quibble (sāmānyacchala).[2]

Akṣapāda, who recognises quibble as a category, defines it as an assail on one's speech by a deliberate misinterpretation of it,[3] and adds one more to the division called figurative quibble (upacāracchala). This is further attested by Vātsyāyana[4] and Udyotakara.[5]

Though Caraka classifies quibbles, he does not define each one of them. He only illustrates them. However, the examples given for the two types of quibbles agree with the definitions given for them by Akṣapāda.

1. Verbal quibble (vākcchala).

A verbal quibble (vākcchala), according to Akṣapāda, is the assuming of a meaning by the opponent other than that intended by the speaker since he has not specified his meaning.[6]

Example: The word navatantra has got two meanings: one who has learned his new books and one who has learned nine books. Thus, when a person says about his opponent: “This is a navatantra” with the intention that he has learned new books, the opponent takes the second meaning and replies, “1 haven't nine books; I have only one book”. Then the former objects: “I did not say, you have nine books; 1 say that you have newly learned the books (navabhyastatantra)” and then the opponent retorts: “I have read the book many times”.[7] A similar example is cited by Vātsyāyana also. The word navakaṃbala has the meaning one who weares nine cloth and also one who wears new blanket. Thus,when one says “navakaṃbalo'sya” to mean the young boy bears new blanket, the opponent replies: “This boy has only one blanket; where are the nine blankets?” Here also the opponent misinterprets the word navakaṃbala as intended by the speaker.[8]

2. Generalizing quibble (sāmānyacchala):

A quibble in respect of generalities (sāmānyacchala) is giving an absurd meaning which is rendered possible by generalising the terms where a particularised meaning is intended.[9] When a person says that medicine cures diseases the opponent takes the most general characteristic of the words and asks whether he intends to say that an existing entity cures another existing entity, and, if so, the disease bronchitis (kāsa) being an existing entity must cure the disease consumption (kṣāya), for it is also an existing entity.[10] Here also the quibbler is fully aware of the intended meaning of the speaker. But he deliberately tries to find fault with the speaker.

Vātsyāyana also cites a similar example.[11]

3. Figurative quibble (upacāracchala):

Akṣapāda adds one more division called figurative quibble (upacāracchala) as a third division. Accordingly, upacāracchala consists in discarding one's statement as senseless by taking its primary sense where the secondary sense is intended.[12] It is notable that Akṣapāda himself raises the objection that vākcchala is upacāracchala itself because alteration in meaning is a common feature in both the cases.[13] Further, he himself clears out the objection by pointing out that there exists specific differences between the two beyond their minor similarities.[14] Referring to this, Dasgupta suggests that the objection raised reveals his disagreement with the classification given in Carakasaṃhitā.[15] However, Akṣapāda is found to be very weak to establish his argument. The hair splitting specific difference that he claims for them to have is not convincing.

Footnotes and references:


chalaṃ nāma pariśaṭhamarthābhāsamanarthakaṃ vāgvastumātrameva. Ibid., 56.




vacanavighāto'rthavikalpopatyā cchalaṃ, Nyāyasūtra., I. ii. 10.


Vātsyāyana on ibid., Nyāya-Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana., p. 71.


vacanavighato yaḥ kriyate sāmānyasya śabdasya viśeṣānekasaṃbandhitve sati avivakṣitāropeṇa cchalaṃ tadveditavyaṃ., Nyāya-Vārttika of Udyotakāra., p.178.


aviśeṣābhihite'arthe vakturabhiprāyādarthāntarakalpanā vākcchalaṃ. Nyāyasūtra., 1. ii. 12.


CS, Vimāna - sthāna, VIII. 56.


Vātsyāyana on Nyāyasūtra., 1. ii. 12, Nyāya-Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana., p. 80.


saṃbhavato'rthasyā'pratisāmānyayogādasaṃbhūtarthakalpanā sāmānyacchalaṃ Nyāyasūtra., I. ii. 13.


CS, Vimāna - sthāna, VIII, 56.


see Vātsyāyana on Nyāyasūtra., I. ii. 13, Nyāya-Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana., p.52.


dharmavikalpanirdese'rthasadbhāvapratiṣedha upacāracchalaṃ. Nyāyasūtra., 1. ii. 14.


vākcchalamevopacāracchalaṃ tadaviśeṣat, Nyāyasūtra., 1. ii. 15.


Nyāyasūtra., I. ii. 16, 17; See also Vātsyāyana on ibid., Nyāya-Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana., p. 85.


HIPS, Vol. II. p.386.

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