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Table of Contents
REVIEW ARTICLES
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 104-110

Understanding Charaka Samhita in light of Samanya-Vishesha Siddhanta: a bird’s eye view


Department of Samhita and Maulika Siddhant, National Institute of Ayurveda, Deemed to be University, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Date of Submission13-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance27-May-2022
Date of Web Publication28-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Shailza Bhatnagar
Department of Samhita and Maulika Siddhant, National Institute of Ayurveda, Deemed to be University, Jaipur, Rajasthan
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jism.jism_97_21

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  Abstract 

The concept of Samanya-Vishesha (similarity and dissimilarity) is one of the major ideologies of Ayurveda. These are widely described and implemented in Charaka Samhita and are mentioned under six factors required for the action of Dhatusamya (equilibrium) in the body. Many scholars face difficulty in understanding the meaning and implementation of these principles. Elementary knowledge and clear understanding of the fundamental principles is very necessary and of utmost importance for their practical implementation. So, it is mandatory to understand these principles in a descriptive manner. An effort has been made to comprehend Charaka Samhita in the light of Samanya-Vishesha Siddhanta in this study. The facts have been collected from Charaka Samhita along with Ayurvedadipika Sanskrita commentary and its Hindi and English translations. Indian philosophical texts have also been referred. The matter has been extensively explored, systematically organized followed by rational analysis. After exploration and analysis it was concluded that the systematic organization of Charaka Samhita, etiology, symptoms and treatment of the diseases are basically dependent on these principles.

Keywords: Dissimilarity, generalization, Samanya-Vishesha, similarity, specification


How to cite this article:
Meghwal S, Bhatnagar S. Understanding Charaka Samhita in light of Samanya-Vishesha Siddhanta: a bird’s eye view. J Indian Sys Medicine 2022;10:104-10

How to cite this URL:
Meghwal S, Bhatnagar S. Understanding Charaka Samhita in light of Samanya-Vishesha Siddhanta: a bird’s eye view. J Indian Sys Medicine [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 13];10:104-10. Available from: https://www.joinsysmed.com/text.asp?2022/10/2/104/348480




  Introduction Top


Meaning of Samanya-Vishesha

The word “Samanya” means equal, like, similar common to, universal or general.[1] It is cause of Vriddhi[2] which means growth, increase, augmentation or rise.[3] The word “Vishesha” means distinction, difference, distinguishing or specifying.[4] It is cause of Hrasa[2] which means diminution, decrease, deterioration, reduction or lessening.[5]

Background

Ayurveda has a number of theories and concepts which provide knowledge in the perspective of life. The principle of similarity and dissimilarity or generalization and specification are one of the most important fundamental principles. These principles have universal acceptance. Sage Charaka has mentioned Samanya (similarity), Vishesha (dissimilarity), Guna (attributes), Dravya (substance), Karma (action) and Samavaya (perpetual co-inherence) as factors required for maintaining equilibrium in human body which has been mentioned as the aim of Charaka Samhita.[6] The placement of Samanya-Vishesha prior to other four factors indicates their importance.[7] These precede others as Hetu (etiological factors), Linga (symptomatology) and Aushadha (treatment) of diseases are dependent on these principles.[8] These principles provide the foundation to many other doctrines.

Aim

The aim of this study was to comprehend Charaka Samhita in the light of Samanya-Vishesha Siddhanta.


  Materials and Methods Top


Materials

The facts have been collected from Charaka Samhita along with Ayurvedadipika Sanskrita commentary and its Hindi and English translations. Indian philosophical texts have also been referred.

Review method

The matter was explored verse to verse, systematically organized followed by rational analysis.


  Concept ofSamanya-Visheshain Philosophical Texts Top


Samanya-Vishesha are two Padartha (matters/objects of knowledge) among six matters mentioned in Vaisheshika philosophy. These are based on perception of someone in accordance to the particular context and hence are relative terms.[9] When one perceives similarity in objects, it is known as Samanya and when the perspective of Samanya is limited or specific to some particular object, it is known as Vishesha. On the basis of this concept Samanya is of two types, that is, Parasamanya (generalization/having wide perspective) and Aparasamanya (specification/having limited perspective). The former is Samanya and the latter one is Vishesha actually. As per Karikavali a third type Paraapara Samanya is also there. The Padarthathvajati in Dravya, Guna and Karma are example of Parasamanya. The example of one particular Dravya or Guna is Aparasamnaya. The example of Paraaparasamnya is Dravyatva which has a place between Para and Aparasamanya.[10]Samanya is eternal, one and resides in many, whereas Vishesha is innumerable residing in eternal substances. It resides in Paramanu (indivisible particle-atom) of Prithvi (earth), Jala (water), Teja (fire), Vayu (air), Akasha (space), Kala (time), Dik (direction), Atma (soul) and Mana (mind). It means that the differentiation of all these is due to Vishesha only.[9]

Concept of Samanya-Vishesha Siddhanta in Charaka-Samhita

There is vivid and wide description and application of these principles in ancient medical literature. Charaka Samhita is well known for its concern with implementation of fundamentals of philosophy in health and related perspective. The characteristic features of Samanya-Vishesha principle are mentioned in first chapter of Sutrasthana (section dealing with fundamentals) in 44–45 verse. The extensive description and area of implementation are very well illuminated by the commentator Chakrapani.

Tulyarthata (similarity) leads to Samanyam (generalization), whereas Viparyaya (dissimilarity) leads to Vishesha (specificity)

Samanyam refers to similarity between or common features among many different things, whereas Vishesha refers to distinctive features which separate them from each other.[11]Ekatvabuddhi (consistency/uniformity) is developed because of similarity in many people or things which are different from each other, whereas Prithakatvabuddhi (distinctiveness) is developed by Vishesha.[12] For example, all the human beings belong to same class but everyone is different from each other. They are perceived different due to their distinctive features.

Characteristic features of Samanya and Vishesha– Uniformity and non uniformity

Samanyamekatvakaram is characteristic feature of Samanya, whereas Visheshastuprithaktvakrita is characteristic feature of Vishesha.[12] Uniformity and discreteness among objects are due to similarity and dissimilarity among them. Objects having similarity in characteristics are kept in one class and in that class, identification of more distinctive features leads to further classifications. The perception which develops Ekatvabuddhi (uniformity) is characteristic feature of Samanya. On the other hand, the perception which develops Prithaktva (separation) or Bhinnata (differentiation) is characteristic feature of Vishesha.[13] For example, Animal kingdom is classified into phylum, class, order, suborder, infraorder, family, subfamily, tribe, genus and species based on specifications.[14]Homo sapiens share common characteristics which make them belong to same class.

Samanya is not limited to objects and living beings only, it is cause of knowledge in case of similarity in Kriya (action) and similarity in Guna (quality).[12] For example, the action of treatment of diseases done by one physician may not be exactly similar to action of the other physician but in both physicians similarity in action is there which gives them an identity and name based on the action done by them. The same should be understood in case of medicinal substances also.

Samanyam leads to Vriddhi (increase) and Vishesha leads to Hrasa (reduction)

This quotation may particularly be understood in the purview of clinical application of Samanya and Vishesha. Similarity in factors is always a cause of increase in them, whereas distinctiveness is a cause of decrease.[2] The basis of increase is presence of similar features in substances or their properties and action. The basis of decrease is presence of dissimilar or opposite features in substances or their properties and action. Additionally, increase and decrease does not only depend on presence of similar or dissimilar features but also on their Pravritti (use in body).[2] As per the commentator Chakrapani another important factor in increase of something is the absence of obstructive or counter factor of that particular thing. For example, Embellica officinalis possesses sour taste and cold potency. Because of sour taste it should increase sourness of Pittadosha resulting in vitiation of Pittadosha but this action is not produced when Embellica officinalis is used internally which happens because of dominance of its cold potency which is opponent to hotness of Pitta. Here similarity in sourness does not result in increased state of Pitta because of presence of strong opponent.[12] It has also been made very clear here that different things or activities are also cause of increase by their special effect. For example, Ghrita (clarified butter) increases intellect and digestive power but it does not have any similarity either with intellect and digestive power. Likewise, excessive thinking increases Vata, applying paste of aphrodisiac substances on sole of feet increases semen. All these actions are done by special effect where the increase or effect is not being performed by Samanya.[14] Hence it can be concluded that similarity among objects or attributes causes increase in objects and attributes, if used regularly and when there is absence of strong opponent. But sometimes the cause of increase may not be attributed to similarity only; there may be some hidden phenomenon behind.

The concept of Viruddhavishesha (direct opposition) and Aviruddhavishesha (absence of direct opposition)

Reduction or decrease is on the basis of dissimilar features in substances or their properties and action. The decrease occurs by two phenomenon, that is, Viruddhavishesha and Aviruddhavishesha. It happens in absence of opponent as it was in case of Samanya. The Vishesha which cause Hrasa is basically Viruddhavishesha.[12] This particular mechanism is understood in case of treatment by use of opposite substance, property or any other modality.[15] The example is pacification of Vata by oil and so on in case of other Dosha.[16]

Aviruddhavishesha is not a direct cause of either increase or decrease. Sage Chakrapani has made the phenomenon clear by citing an example. When a water stream flows from one part to other part and a dam is made at former part of water stream then decrease in amount of water in latter part of stream will be there. The cause of decrease in water in this case is not due to any dissimilar or opposite feature but a kind of obstruction. So, if we have to increase water in the latter part of the stream, either we have to remove obstruction or we will have to put water in that part.[2] So reduction in body tissues or at other instances may not be due to some dissimilarity but other causes also may be responsible for such condition. Hence, Vishesha is not the only cause of decrease but there can be other associated causes also.

Pravrittirubhayasyatu––use of substance in body

Pravrittirubhayasyatu means action of Samanya and Vishesha occurs only when physical intake of the substance is there. Dhatuvriddhi (nutrition of the body tissues) and Hrasa (depletion of the body tissues) occurs when use of a substance in the body is there. In absence of regular physical intake of similar or opposite substance, there will not be any increase or decrease phenomenon. This can also be understood in the process of treatment. When a physician diagnoses a disease and prescribes a treatment for acquiring Dhatusamya (homeostasis in body) but it not taken by the patient either as prescribed or till the achievement of Dhatusamya. When the patient does not take medicines, there is no effect of the treatment even if the medicine is there. Hence contact with the body or use of substance inside the body and that too for a specific period of time (till the properties of the substance overpower the opposite properties of vitiated Dosha), is of utmost importance for achieving Dhatusamya.

The term Pravritti has also been explained as Ucitadhatupravritti (appropriate disposition of body tissues) or Dhatusamya. It indicates about the proper use of Samanya and Vishesha both.[2] Regular use of only similar substance will lead to specific Dhatuvriddhi resulting in state of Dhatuvaishamya (disequilibrium) in the body. It means that only specific Dhatu (relating with or nourished by that substance which is in use) will increase and others may be in deficient state. This is seen in the case of Santarpananimittajavikara (disorders arising due to over nutrition).[17] Regular use of only opposite substance will lead to Dhatukshaya (deficiency of that tissue to which substance is opposite) which again will develop Dhatuvaishamya. This is seen in the case of Aptarpananimittajavikara (disorders arising due to under nutrition).[18] Hence, appropriate use of similar and dissimilar substance results into proper nutrition of body tissues and therefore homeostasis in the body is maintained.

The concept of Dravyasamanya-Dravyavishesha, Gunasamanya- Gunavishesha and Karmasamanya-Karmavishesha

Chakrapani has mentioned other scholars’ opinion too in his commentary on verse 45 of first chapter. As per that reference some scholars opine that there are three types of Samanya and three types of Vishesha, that is, Dravyasamanya, Gunasamanya and Karmasamanya; Dravyavishesha, Gunavishesha and Karmavishesha. Dravyasamanya and Dravyavishesha are indicated by verse 44. Gunasamanya and Gunavishesha are indicated by first part of verse 45 and Karmasamanya and Karmavishesha are indicated by second part of verse 45. Gunasamanya is understood by the example of increase of semen by use of milk. Milk and semen are different substances but due to similarity in their properties, milk increases semen. Karmasamanya is understood by the example of increase of Kaphadosha by inactive lifestyle where there is no similarity between the two but it is observed that habit of oversleeping or leisureliness produces Kaphadosha. It is due to similar function of the both despite no apparent similarity between the two.[12],[19]

The concept of Atyanta, Madhya, Ekdesha Samanya and Ubhayavritti, Ekvritti Samanya

Some scholars classify the Samanya as Atyanta, Madhya and Ekdesha Samanya. Atyantasamanya again shows the wide perspective indicating the increase as an outcome of Samanya always. Madhyasamanya indicates the Ekatvakarivritti i.e uniformity and Ekdeshasamanya indicates about similarity between the two factors. Another classification termed as Ubhayavrittisamanya and Ekvrittisamanya has also been mentioned in this context. In Ubhayavrittisamanya high similarity is there between the two factors (nourishing agent and the thing which is to be nourished) and in Ekvrittisamanya the action of Vriddhi is there despite dissimilarities in factors. Here in this type the nourishment or enhancement of the particular tissue or element is not based on the similarity between nourishing agent and the thing which is to be nourished.[12]

Clinical application of Samanya and Vishesha in Dhatusamya and Dhatuvaishamya

The healthy and the diseased state of the body are dependent upon the equilibrium and disequilibrium of the Dhatu (body tissues), respectively. The disequilibrium means either the increased or the decreased state of body tissues.[20] The term Dhatu refers to Dosha and Dhatu both. The three different states of Dosha and Dhatu are Kshaya, Sthana and Vriddhi. When Dosha and Dhatu are in state of normalcy and perform normal function, they are said to be in Sthana, this condition is known as Dhatusamya which maintains the health. Kshaya and Vriddhi refers to the state of decreased functions and aggravation, respectively. The condition of Kshaya or Vriddhi is known as Dhatuvaishmya which is responsible for manifestation of diseases. Dhatusamya and Dhatuvaishmya have also been termed as Prakriti and Vaikriti Gati. The Shariradhatu which are in their normal physiological state or which are increased after having administration of some treatment (e.g., increase in Shukradhatu as a result of intake of aphrodisiac substance) but does not produce a disorder, they are said to be in the Prakrita maan (normal state) only.[20] The Vriddha Dosha leaves its place in the state of aggravation and vitiates Dushya and produces diseases. It shows symptoms as per its vitiation. The higher the vitiation more are the manifestations. The Kshina Dosha shows decrease in its normal functioning but is not able to produce a disease.[21] The Vriddha Dosa is pacified using the Vishesha principle and Kshina Dosha is braught to normalcy using Samanya principle. The Vaishmya produced because of physiological variations in regard to food and stages of day or night is minimal and does not cause discomfort or the feeling of Dukha in the individual and hence considered as physiological one. It does not need to be corrected with the treatment.

Mechanism of action of Samanya and Vishesha

Well planned and executed treatment produces homeostasis in body by applying these principle. When a food or medicinal substance is used internally, it increases the tissue of its similar properties and decreases the tissues having opposite properties to it. Thus, Samanya and Vishesha act simultaneously in body means the phenomenon of enhancement and reduction occur simultaneously in the body. The substance which is taken for nourishment of one particular Dhatu, the same subatance will decrease the Dhatu which is having opposite properties to that substance. For example milk increases Kapha and Shukra because of similarities in the properties but simultaneously decreases Vayu because of having opposite properties. This also shows that the increase and decrease phenomenon occurs through the Guna only.[22] This can be understood with other some examples. If there is administration of a Snigdha substance, for example, Ghee or butter, it will increase Snigdhata in the body and decrease Rukshata. Administration of a hot substance will increase hotness in the body and simultaneously decrease coldness as the Shariraguna are opposite to each other. Similar is the case with Guru-Laghu etc. For the maintenance of health, the food containg six types of Rasa are considered to be taken which maintains the Dhatusamaya in body. If only one Rasa is consumed regularly and in excess, it may lead to imbalance and manifestation of disease in the body. When only Snigdha Dravya are consumed then Snigdhta will increase and Rukshta will decrease resulting in manifestation of Kaphajavikara. In this pathological state Rukshana Karma should be done which will increase Rukshata and decrease Snigdhta simultaneously.

The action of Samanya and Vishesha takes place through the properties of the substances by the mechanism of assimilation. The nourishment occurs as a result of taking either Samanadravya or Samanagunabhuyishtadravya. Intake of non vegetarian food nourishes Mamsadhatu because both have high extent of similarities (Samanadravyatva). Intake of milk also increases Shukradhatu because both have some similar properties (like Drava, Snigdha, Shita). Here milk and Shukra do not have the high extent of similarity as in the case of non vegetarian food and Mamsadhatu).[23] Where a Samanadravya is not available for use then Samanagunabhuyishtadravya can be taken. For example, milk and purified butter and other sweet, cold substances should be taken in case of deficient Shukra. Additionally, the activities which are useful for nourishment or reduction of body tissues are also advised.[24] Likewise, tissues get depleted by the use of either Viparitagunadravya (food having hifh extent of opposite properties) or Viparitagunabhuyishtadravya (substance having some opposite properties).

Use of Samanadravya i.e Dravyasamanya is known as Sajatiya Samanya whereas Samanagunabhuyishtadravya or Gunasamanya is known as Vijatiya Samanya. Atyantasamanya and Ubhayavrittisamanya can also be considered as Sajatiya Samanya, whereas Karmasamanya, Ekdeshasamanya and Ekatvakarivritti Samanya can be considered as Vijatiya Samanya


  Discussion Top


Samanya and Vishesha are relative terms and are based on perception of someone in accordance to the particular context. When one perceives similarity among different objects, it is Samanya and when the perspective of Samanya is limited or specific to some particular object, it is known as Vishesha.

Application of Samanya and Vishesha principles in different contexts

From Generalization to Specification

Every broad classification or categorization is based on Samanya and further sub-types are based on Vishesha. It can be seen in systematic organization of the concerned text and in other contexts also.

Application in systemic organization of Charaka Samhita

It is categorized into 8 sections. Each section contains the subject matter showing similarities in the contents. For example Sutrasthana decribes all the basic principles related to maintainence and health and treatment of diseases. It is further divided into seven quadrants (Sapta Chatushaka). Each quadrant have four chapters and all the chapters have the related contents. For example, Swasthchatushka have four chapters containg all the information about maintainence of health. This organization is based on Tulyarthta. The details are given in [Table 1].
Table 1: Application of Samanya principle

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Using Vishesha principle, every section is further divided into many chapters and every chapter consists of detailed description of matter. Every section is different from each other in relation to subject matter. Every chapter is different from each other in relation to subject matter. The examples of application of Vishesha are given in [Table 2].
Table 2: Application of Vishesha principle

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This is how Charaka Samhita has been organized systematically using these particular principles.

Application in classification of different substances on the basis of features, properties or actions

The classification of similar food articles or drugs, substances having similar properties and actions are the examples in this context [Table 3].
Table 3: Classification of substances on the basis of similarity in basic features, properties and action

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Application in the concept of the best and the worst

The concept of Agryadravya (selection of best drug for treatment), best wholesome and the worst unwholesome food is on the basis of peculiar features of substances.[36]

Application in concept of Trisutra (causation, manifestation and treatment of diseases)

Knowledge of these principles in the perspective of Hetu (causation), Linga (manifestation) and Aushadha (treatment) is mandatory [Table 4].
Table 4: Application in concept of trisutra

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Causation, manifestation and variety of diseases

The different mechanism of causation and manifestation of diseases are due to Vishesha. Use of substances having similar properties as of Dosha increases that Dosha on the basis of Samanya principle. Use of substances having dissimilar properties as of Dosha decreases that Dosha on the basis of Vishesha principle.[37] Symptoms are manifested in accordance to the properties of Dosha on the basis of Samanya principle at most of the instances. This can be seen in characters of different Prakriti (body constitution).[41] A disease is diagnosed on the basis of peculiar features only on the basis of Vishesha principle.[42] Moreover, variety of diseases is because of variation in body constitution, site of manifestation and various other causes.[43]

Specific treatment modalities

Charaka Samhita describes treatment for all in general but gives emphasis on treatment considering individual characteristics. Every individual is different having different temperament and constitution and so should be treated keeping into view his own individual characteristics.[44] Specific treatment of specific diseases using specific substances and other treatment modalities are on the basis of Vishesha principle. The specific treatment for different diseases is on the basis of Vishesha, whereas treatment on the basis of properties of Dosha is on the basis of Samanya principle. The treatment is broadly classified into Shodhana (purification) and Shamana (pacification) types. Purification is different from pacification because of the difference in treatment modality. All the therapies under one classification are different to each other. Further there are a number of formulations for each of the therapy. Each therapy has special indications and contraindications. This description is again on the basis of Samanya-Vishesha principle.

Strengths, limitations and scope

This study was carried out in the direction of understanding the basic concept of Samanya and Vishesha with special reference to Charaka Samhita. It is just a bird’s eye view of application of these principles. The epidemiological and applied clinical studies may be planned further for understanding the various aspects of Samanya-Vishesha principles.


  Conclusion Top


After exploration and analysis of all the sections of Caraka Samhita it was established that all the contents of this text are organized as per Samanya-Vishesha principles. Classification of substances, individual properties, the concept of the best and worst; diagnosis and differential diagnosis of diseases, general line of treatment, specific individualistic treatment are based on these particular principles. Elementary knowledge and clear understanding of these fundamental principles is mandatory for their practical implementation and hence the achievement of homeostasis in the body.

Financial support and sponsorship

Not applicable.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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