Ayurveda Philosophy and Ideology

The reflection of Indian Philosophy in Ayurveda


India has a rich and diverse philosophical tradition dating back to ancient times. Traditionally schools (darsanas) of Indian philosophy are identified as orthodox (aastika) or non-orthodox (naastika) depending on whether they regard the veda as an infallible source of knowledge.

There are mainly six schools of orthodox hindu philosophy and three heterodox schools. The orthodox are Nyaaya, Vaiseshika, Saankhya, Yoga, Poorva mimaamsa, and Vedaanta. The heterodox are Jaina, baudha, and caarvaka.

Of these it is the saankhya philosophy that has influenced Ayurveda the most in developing its fundamental theory of humoral pathology. According to this theory, the human body is composed of five elements – aakasa (space), vaayu (air), agni (fire), jala (water) and prdhvi (earth) which is various combinations from three somatic homours – vaata, pitta and kapha.

Ayurveda propounds that when these humours are in equilibrium, the body enjoys perfect health. It is their state of disequilibrium that leads to ill health. Panjca mahaabhoota sidhaanta has a special place in Ayurveda.

This is a moulika sidhanta ( basic principle) on which the entire Ayurvedic, philosophy depends. According to Ayurveda all the substances (dravyaas) whether they are oushadha dravyas or aahara dravyas are paanjcabhoutika.

“sarvam dravyam paanja bhoutikam asminnevardhe” ( cha.su)


All the materialistic substances ( kaarya dravyas) of the universe are produced from panjamahaabhootas. The prime aim of Ayurveda is “swasthasya swaasthya samrakshanam, aaturasya vikara prashamanam” Preserving health of the healthy and healing illness of the sick.

This is fulfilled through panjamahabhootas itself. The treatment is given to the living body (sareera) which is paanjabhoutika. The dravyas used for the treatment are also paanjcabhoutika. The purpose of Ayurvedic treatment cannot be achieved if the sareera and aushadhas are not paancjabhoutika.

Dosha, dhaatu, mala of the body which are paanjcabhoutika are receptacles to the body and not directly perceivable through the senses ( pratyaksha pramaana).

The essentiality of the existents can be inferred (anumaana) through their properties and qualities. Likewise, the essentiality of other substances also can be inferred through their respective properties and qualities since they are also paanjcabhautika.

Sankhya darsana accepts and describes three pamanas, viz., pratyaksha, anumaana, aaptopadesa, which are the means to acquire complete, relevant knowledge of an object. Caraka states that a disease can be diagnosed with the help of the above three pramanaas.

The signs which the patient shows are perceived direcly (pratyaksha), and the vaidya diagnose the disease by identifying those lakshanas with the help of wisdom of knowledgeable faculties (aaptopadesa) and inference (anumaana pramaana).

The six padaarthas mentioned in Vaiseshika Darsana is of great importance in Ayurveda. They are dravya(substance), guna(attribute or quality), karma(action), saamaanya (generic concomitance), visesha(variant factor) and samavaaya(inseparable concomitance).

The dravyas are made use to cure the diseases and maintain health. All the dravyas are having gunas also; accompanied with the gunas dravyas act on the body accordingly.

The saamaanya visesha sidhanta is one of the fundamental, and very prominent principle of Ayurveda in general and in particular in the treatment of Ayurveda. The formation, development, vitiation, aggrevation, alleviation of doshas, dhaatus, malas and the entire treatment is based on this principle only.

The main responsibility of the vaidya is to increase the decreased dhaatus, doshas, and decrease the increased ones, by using proper medicines, food and keep the doshas and dhaatus in normal state.

Caraka described that “samaana gunaabhyasohi dhaatoonam vridhi kaaranam”- the consumption of aahaara which is identical with the attributes of the dhaatus can increase the dhatu.

Basing on the above scholastic view, the decreased dhaatus can be increased. Visesa is quite contarary to saamaanya. Doshas get vitiated because of unwholesome food and habits,as a result diseases will manifest. Then the treatment will be given with visesha padartha only.

For the alleviation of dosha vaishamya, the increased dhaatus should be decreased and decreased should be increased, or the vitiated doshas can be let out, and normalcy of doshas is maintained. So for that visesha padaartha is utilized.

Paramaanu vaada (atomic theory) is one of the eminent theories in vaiseshika darsana. Caraka accepted the existence of parmaanus in the body. He stated that the minute parts of the body are innumerable and invisible, as they are in paramaanu form. “shareeraavayavastu paramaanu bhedena aparisankhyeyaani bhavanti”.

It can be considered that the kana or cell mentioned in modern science and the paramaanu mentioned by caraka is identical.

According to Ayurveda the utility of pramanas is mostly in the diagnosis of the diseases and in treatment. Pramanas were adopted in Ayurveda from nyaaya darsana.

The methods and ways for practicing yoga mentioned in caraka are taken from yoga darsana. The theory of bhootaanuguna pravesa or pancheekarana theory mentioned in Ayurveda is adopted from Vedaanta darshana.

The various pramaanas, karma, bandha, moksha, kala, ahimsa, dharma, adharma etc are identical in Ayurveda and Jaina darsana. The prominent theory of boudha darsana, kshana bhangura theory was described as swabhaavoparama theory by caraka.

The himsa mentioned in Ayurveda as one of the dashavidha paapaas is also identical with the ahimsa of boudha darsana.

Though Ayurveda adopted some theories from darshanas to fulfill the main aim of Ayurveda, it however, maintains its fundamental identity and its independence on the view point and method of approach in addressing various aspects. It is this uniqueness that makes it stand out of the conventional philosophical considerations.


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