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Ancient Science of Life  Vol : XXII(3) January / 2003 3DJHV


Anuradha Singh

NISTADS, K.S. Krishnan Road, New Delhi

Received : 01.12.2002 Accepted : 30.12.2002
ABSTRACT: Method of theorization (Tantra Yukti-s given in Ayurvedic texts) is analyzed in the
backdrop of scientific method. Thirty six methodic devices are singled out from texts for analysis
in terms of truth specific, theory specific and discourse specific issues. The paper also points out
exact problems in conception of method in Ayurveda and Science.

Technological efficacy of Science has lead elaborate theory. “Experiment” is a

to wide acknowledgment of effectiveness of procedure to test a theory and not to test a
its method. Standards of testability, standalone hypothesis for which trial and
verifiability and more refined criteria of error procedure may be sufficient. It is for
falsifiability as filters for legitimate this reason that scientists all these years
knowledge have been brought about by have hesitated to grant “traditional
ceaseless development of science. Ingenuity medicine” a status of scientific knowledge.
of Science is seen in its method. Reason by
itself is not sufficient, it must get soiled by But Ayurveda is not just a collection of
matter through its verification by formularies that are medically efficacious
‘experiments’. It is experiments that give but is a theory. Ayurvedic theory is
impetus to scientific knowledge. elaborate. It deals with behavior of material
substances and specially behavior of body
Trial and error experimentation with on the intake of material substances with the
material formularies on the state of health is help of ac conceptual framework. It deals
a very old human practice. Earliest of with functionality – disfunctionality of body
medical practices would have relied on ‘trial and mind with the help of a conceptual
and error’ investigations (and intuitive framework. That Ayurveda has a theory can
understanding too) of plausible material hardly be disputed. But the theory of
formularies for curing diseases. Does ‘trial Ayurveda, if it is believed that it has one, is
and error’ procedure in evolving right not popularly regarded by scientists as a
knowledge a sufficient methodic tool? Does scientific theory. What is a basic intuition
it stand up to the criteria of experimental regarding this dismissive rejection. The
testing of knowledge? It does, if evaluation issue is whether Ayurveda has a testable /
of hypothesis by looking at its material verfiable theory. There can be theories that
implications is a sufficient criterion. are not testable or verifiable. Popperi
Science additionally demands that contrasted scientific method with
hypothesis be backed by a theory. Even ad Metaphysics, Psychoanalysis and Marxism
hoc hypothesis, not backed by elaborate precisely on the basis of such an
theory, can be tested by trial and error apprehension. There theories come out with
procedures. But scientific method involves hypothesis as their implications that are not
testing of hypothesis that is implied by falsifiable. There are simply no situations in

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which negation of such hypothesis can
obtain even in thought experiment. For In this essay we look into Ayurveda itself for
example, if psychoanalyst arrives at a insights into its method. Also what needs to be
particular diagnosis of a patient, and if noted is that Popperian apprehensions have
diagnosis is challenged as being not true, the their own problem within science. For example,
psychoanalyst can come up with reason one of a basic hypothesis in physics can be
from her theory as to why her diagnosis is shown to be non-falsifiable, namely, that -length
being challenged. Thus psychoanalysis is a of one second today is same as length of one
theory that can interpret any situation to its second tomorrow or yesterday. This
theoretical advantage. Thus Popper called it hypothesis is non-falsifiable simply because it is
a unfalsifiable theory. Since then not possible, even in thought experiment,
falsifiability has been accepted by working
to put one-second of today and one second of
scientists as a criterion of theory which
yesterday at one place to co-measure their
claims to give legitimate knowledge. Is
duration.iii Such problems in Popperian
Ayurvedic theory this type of unfalsifiable
theory? Is this the apprehension that criterion of legitimate knowledge do point
scientists have for the Ayurvedic theory? towards merit in looking into Ayurveda itself
for insights into method of legitimate
If Ayuraveda has a corpus of true knowledge knowledge. Ayurvedic texts do have
and if Ayurveda does have an elaborate theory, sufficient body of reflections into the
how is its methodology different from question of method and epistemology, which
scientific methodology. Ayurveda's we shall tap on for this inquiry. We shall look
difference with science is apprehended by more closely at theory construction
scientists and Ayurvedic acharya-s at various methodology rather than epistemic issue of
levels.. There is one difference of trait true knowledge in Ayurveda. This is
between theories in Science and Ayurveda, because scientific objection'to Ayurveda is
which may have methodological bearing. Popperian in spirit and not experiential or
Theories in Science keep changing, truth-claim related in spirit, Since many
developing, with time. But theory of Ayurveda efficacious formularies of Ayurveda are
does not seem to have changed significantly acceptable as 'true knowledge' but not its
ever since it has been enunciated in the great theory. Popperian objection is on the theory
antiquity. So here scientist can feel construction aspect of Ayurveda.
uncomfortable with the Ayurvedic theory. Well,
Ayurvedic knowledge did change as time passed Usually one would expect that
and from region to region. Numerous epistemological and methodological
Nighantu-sii composed in different periods reflections would be found in philosophies
and divergent live contemporary practices of culturally co-terminus with Ayurveda.
Ayurveda from region to region do stand Darsana-s have been popularly
testimony for change in content of understood as 'philosophies' since they deal
Ayurvedic knowledge. But this change in with issues of perennial concern to man. Thus
knowledge can be conveniently assigned to 'trial one would expect to turn to Darsana-s for
and error’ procedure. In any case, even advancing this inquiry. We shall not do that
Ayurvedic theoreticians proclaim that here. Relations of Darsana-s and Ayurveda
fundamentals of the theory do not change in apartiv, there are methodological and
these cases, though their application does and epistemological issues addressed explicitly in
could change. the codified literature of Ayurveda. The

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significance of such issues is although not methodology of theory
limited to the specific domain of Ayurveda construction. Discourse embodies
though they are situated within that domain epistemic norms in general but displays
primarily. In fact the three issues, given below, structural features significant for the
that can be singled out for exposition and advancement of knowledge which are not
reflection are issues that are valid more or less for internalized either inpramana sastra or
any domain of knowledge. But the answers that Tantra Yukti. Structure and norms of
Ayurveda has given for them are best justified debates grounded in oral discourse are an
within Ayurveda and might differ from answers that instance of these features. Ayurveda
are implicit in other traditions of knowledge tradition internalized methodological issues of
such as Vyakarana and Ganita. Broadly the discourse known as vada vidya. Analysis of
three sets of epistemic issues can be discourse in the context of the process
paraphrased as: Truth specific; Theory underlying advancement of knowledge is as
specific: Discourse specific. These are: philosophically relevant as is the analysis of
issues of truth and issues of theory
(1) Truth Specific Issues associated with construction.
Pramana Sastra: On what ground is the
security and the authenticity of knowledge
Three areas of inquiry into pramana (prama
ensured? As an answer to such an epistemic
karana: process of arriving at authentic
query Ayurveda propounds
knowledge), tantra(tantra yukti: methods
its own thesis on pramana-s. There is an
for theory building), and vada (vada
important suggestion regarding
vidhana: procedures for discourse and debate)
pramanatva of Yukti, which needs to be
are fairly exhaustive when dealing with the
philosophically examined, especially since it is a
subject of debate within the tradition of methodological issues in the Indian analytic
Ayurveda. traditions as well as other analytic traditions.
They deal with issues of truth, theory and
(2) Theory Specific Issues associated discourse respectively. If nature of truth
with Tantra: :Distinct from the epistemic acquisition is dealt in the first set of issues,
issue of truth are the issues related to theory community building around knowledge is
construction, composition and interpretation. associated with the third set of issues. Our
They deal concern is more with the issues associated with
not only with the structural properties of a theory theory building as are dealt in the second set of
but also with theory specific semantics and issues. Thus, we shall, for the rest of the essay,
evidencing of theoretical claims. Interestingly, deal in some details only with the second set of
Ayurvedic tradition stands distinguished in terms issues because of (1) their association with
of advancing an explicit thesis on theory Popperian apprehension, and (2) the novelty and
construction, composition and interpretation. uniqueness of their treatment in the corpus of
No other knowledge system except Artha Ayurveda.
Sastra deals explicitly with the methodology of
theory construction. Theory (Tantra) as such can be construed
as an entity (or a composite entity) for the
(3) Discourse specific Issues philosophical reflection. Such a construal can
associated with Vada Vidya: There is an be done relatively independent of the content
epistemologically separable realm of discourse of the theory at a meta-theoretic level. Indeed.
distinct from the issues of truth and issues of Tantra Yukti-s deals with meta-theoretic

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suggestions and investigation pertaining to such an 7. Nilamegha's Tantra Yuktivicarax (36
entity (or a composite entity). The subject Yukti-s)
matter of Tantra Yukti are the
methodological elements and devices (Yukti-
s) of theory (Tantra) that involves at once the 8. Anonymous Tantra Yukti (36 Yukti-s)
process of coming into being of a theory, the Besides these lists several other theoretical
rigor and structure of its presentation as well as work from the Indian analytic traditions refer to
its interpretative / hermeneutical aspects. or use Yukti-s, such as in Panini
Delineation of methodic elements (Yukti-s) Astadhayayixi(28 yukti-s)
of theory (Tantra) is challenging not only
because the meta-theoretic context itself is After compilation of all these Forty-one Yukti-s, a
multifaceted defying easy domestication but unanimous agreement about thirty-one Yukti-
also because working out mutual s was noticed. That is, thirty-one yukti-s are
independence, consistency and found in all the above mentioned texts. One
completeness of various methodic Yukti is not recorded in only one of the
elements involves entangling deep semantic knots. source. So thirty-two are near unanimous
It is a universal exercise since it involves Yukti-s. Rest of the nine Yukti-s were found
universal reflection across theories and in the mentioned only in one of the sources. Out of
universal context of man's theoretical these nine Yukti-s, four can be subsumed
endeavor. These would hold for all theories under one of the thirty-one unanimously agreed
whether in Indian analytic traditions or other on Yukti-s. This leaves us in all with thirty-seven
analytic traditions. yukti-s, which have mutually exclusive
methodic functions. One of the Yukti-
We would give textual reference to 37 such prayojanam or purpose, is mentioned explicitly
methodic elements proposed in the doctrine in only one of the sources. But this Yukti is a one
of Tantra Yukti in various classical Indian that can be taken for granted since Tantra Yukti-
texts. Though these 37 methodic elements are s by their nature deal with Prayojana
not given in one text, various listings are given in Sastra or purposive theories. Thus, we can
various texts, but on aggregation from all these regard independent exclusive Yukti-s as
texts figure of 37 is arrived at. These 37 Yukti-s thirty-six in number and one meta- Yukti of
are compiled from 8 sources: purpose. Among these 36 yukti-s, only 31 are
unanimously agreed to in the eight above
1. CarakaSamhitav, 8.12.41-50.(36 Yukti- texts and regarding five Yukti-s there is only a
s) partial agreement. Following table lists out thirty
seven of these methodic devices which have
2. Susruta Samhitavi, 63 chapter (32
mutually exclusive methodological functions.
3. Vigabhata 's Astangahrdayavii, 50th chapter -
In the table of Tantra Yukti-s we have classified
Uttarsthana (36 Yukti-s)
Yukti-s in accordance with the scheme that
4. Visnudharmattara Puranavi", 36 (32 we have evolved after studying them.
Yukti-s) Leaving mefa-Yukti apart, thirty-six of them
5. Kavitai?Lya'sArthasastraix, 3.2 32 Yukti-s) can be classified in accordance with a classical
6. Bhattaharichandra's carakanyasa on distinction of artha and vakya. Theory as an
Caraka Samhita, 8.12.41-50 (40 Yukti-s) individual is grounded on the 'purpose' for
which it is composed - prayojanam -

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{prayojanam nama yadartham sastradi Further, theory will involve evidential
pravartate: prayojana means the purpose interpretation of entities, theory will embody
for which theory is propounded). Such that any hermeneutics of claims regarding these entities.
theory would be called prayojana sastra. For Thus we have divided artha yojana into two
instance Ayurveda is aprayojana sastra for classes of Yuktis.
the purpose of establishing sarira dharma.
prayojana as a Yukti demarcates out the Vakyayojana deals (1 v) with domain decision
teleological ground of the theory as a source of theoretical constructs, and (2v) with technical
of its individuality. We leave aside here the structure typical to that theory. Once overall
question whether the rest of 36 Yukti-s are purpose of the theory is clear. Once domain of
valid for sastra-s, which can not be classed reality it deals with is clear, a theory knits
as prayojana satra like Darsana-s truth claims regarding its objects in a
(philosophies). If prayojana as an Yukti is seen presentation structure. This presentation
as a source of the individuality of a theory than structure has two elements. One that deals
one can neatly lay out rest of the 36 Yukti-s with segregation of subjects covered in the
establishing either arthayojana (entity plan) or theory, this part of a structure would involve
vakya yojana (structural plan). xii division into several sub-domains and sub-sub-
domains and their nesting in accordance with
The distinction between artha and vakya is subject matter of theoretical claims. Other
important. Any theory has two basic aspects, would deal with structural aspects that are
one dealing with entities it accepts and other typical of the theory, the technical aspect of the
dealing with linguistic organization of theoretical theory. Thus we have devided vakyayojana
statements. One is dealing with ontological aspect into two classes of Yuktis.
and other with presentation aspect. Laghava
or brevity, for instance, will depend on vakya This way of classifying methodic devices
yojana. This distinction is also analogous to de not only works fine with content of these 36
re and de dicto distinction in the Greco- methodic devices of theory building but also
European tradition of theorization. One deals makes meta-theory of Tantra Yukti intelligible
with reality and other with language. One for theories that lie outside Indian analytic
refers to entities considered as real and other to traditions, such as in modern science. Any
their systematization in the form of language. theory would have a prime defining delimitor.
Second one with words and the first with what namely, its purpose. Like Newton's mechanics
words refer to or meaning. will understanding motion of bodies as its
purpose. After that, theory would require to
At the next level we have classified thirty-six grasp two aspects (1) reality that it accepts
Yuktis in two categories each for artha as its subject matter, and (2) theoretic
yojana and vakya yojana. organization of the truth claims regarding
reality that are specific to the theory. In
Newton's mechanics, (la) reality of rigid
Arthayojana deals (la) with fixing of meaning
bodies and space-time etc.. is required, and
within the theory, and (2a) with evidential
(2a) laws, theoretic norms, mathematics etc, is
interpretation of meaning that is implicated in
required. This would hold for Allopathic
theory. Once overall purpose of theory is
theory of medicine as well. Further, de re
decided, entities that get involved in theory
aspect of theory would require (la)
are what theory constantly refers to,
methodic devices to delimit that reality, and
theoretical claims are about these entities.

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(2a) methodic devices to work out evidential context as classical Indian theories were as
interpretations of the theory. Similarly, de dicto well as for theories composed in written
aspect of theory building would require (1 v) context as modern theories are and rendering
domain stratifying devices, and (2v) technical of traditional theories are. We would not like to
structure that the theory would use to its go into efficacy of each methodic device in
advantage. Below is list of 36 such devices. any particular theory here. Such an exercise
for Ayurveda and Artha Sastra has been done
We are taking of 36 rather then 37 Yuktis in the texts of these theories. Nor is our attempt
because prayojana as a Yukti is not to render illustrations of each methodic device
unanimously agreed on and is advanced from modern theory. In fact, in the Indian
only by Caraka Samhita among the source analytic tradition, recourse to Tantra Yukti-s
of the doctrine of Tantra Yukti. Whether the is taken when correcting damaged theory. For
source of individuating of the theory itself can instance, Vaisesika theory is suspected to
be considered as a methodic element of be incomplete for very long. Vaisesika sutra,
theorization raises doubts, which can explain founding text of Vaisesika Darsana, is not
why other commentators of the doctrine did available in its prime form. Pt. Ananta Lai
not accept it as a Yukti. But they all agree that it Thakur from Calcutta has pointed out
isprayojana sastra which employs Yukti-s in several lacunas in the Vaisesika Sutra on the
the first place and that Tantra Yukti-s deal - basis of Tantra Yukti, specially forth class of
withyojana of artha, and vakya of any Yukti-s. He has a project to correct these
prayojana sastra. lacunas on the basis of Tantra Yukti-s.Qwte
different from such or other traditionally
Within arthajoyana we distinguish between justified uses, our p r i m e c o n c e r n i s
two classes of Yukti-s. to reflect on methodological
features of Tantra Yukti-s in the
1. Dealing with stationing context of methodologies adopted in the
(establishment) of meanings / objects of the
modern science.
theory thus establishing the semantic field of the
The doctrine of Tantra Yukti poses difficulty
2. Dealing with evidential hermeneutics thus
for understanding in the modem context
evidencing viewpoints advanced by the theory
primarily for two reasons:
and its relation with the other viewpoints.
(1) The relative independence of the Yukti-s
Similarly, Yukti-s classifiable under
and exhaustive completeness of the set of
vakyayojana are demarcated into two sets:
suggested Yukti-s is not obvious, and;
1. Dealing with the stratification of the domain of (2) The disposition underlying
theory thus bringing to lights the content structure formulation of the doctrine seems to be
of a theory. virtually orthogonal to the popular
2. Dealing with the technical structure of a disposition underlying modern scholarship on
theory in terms of the technical elements theory construction in the Anglo-American
and their relation, which constituted theory. tradition of historiography of science and
The tabular of the 37 (36+1) Tantra Yukti-s is analytic philosophy.
fairly exhaustive and would normally work
for theories that are composed in oral In the Ayurvedic tradition the issues of truthful
knowledge formulation {prama karana) are

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distinguished from the issues of theory with scientific theory defined on the basis of
construction {tantra prayojana) though 'unique method of science' thesis and is valid
no Tantra can last without the support of for large spectrum of theories in Indian
pramana. The distinction rests on the distinct tradition ranging from Aruthasastra,
epistemic support of the content of theory Alankarasastra to Ayurveda. The
and of the constitution of theory. The distinction difference on the underlying dispositions in
leads to the separating of methodological two traditions seems to be deep and calls for
investigation codified inpramana sastra and in further philosophical inquiry and we will not
Tantra Yukti. Anglo-American tradition, pursue the matter further here as it would demand
overlooking this meta-metho do logical detailed exposition beyond the
distinction strives to ascertain methodological introductory scope of the essay.
unity of scientific theories focussing on truth
ascertainment of theories. The distinction is not The problem of independence and
between form and content since Tantra Yukti-s completeness of Yukti-s is itself quite serious
do not deal with the formal aspect of theory within the Indian tradition of theory construction.
alone. The doctrine of the Tantra Yukti Can the structure of Panini's Astadhyayai be
instead proposes a methodological unity of understood on the basis of the doctrine of
theory construction, composition and these tantra Yukti-sl What is the relation of
interpretation distinct from methodological unity these Yukti-s with the Nyaya model of uddesa,
derived from the truth valuation of content. laksana, pariksal Perhaps a distinction needs
Again the methodological unity of theory to be drawn between two kinds of theories.
constriction, composition and interpretation
is difficult to accept within the Anglo- (1) Darsana-s, which are organized for the
American tradition since constructional and purpose of the teleological finality -
interpretational aspects are seen as subject matter moksa{purusartha). Domain of these is
of historical and sociological inquiry respectively universal and all - inclusive.
rater than of methodological inquiry. Besides (2) Prayojana sastra, which are organized
Anglo-American tradition places the idea of for the purpose of establishing a particular
experiment and experimental verification at the dharma. Domain of these theories is
helm of investigation into theory construction delimited by the restrictive object of
or investigation into scientific methodology and prayojana.
it is this idea which is not found explicitly
either in tantra Yukti or inpramana sastra. On In that case , perhaps, Tantra Yukti-s only deal
the other hand doctrine of Tantra Yukti has with the latter kind of theories.
significance beyond post-renaissance fetish


1. Karl Popper, Poverty ofHistoricism, Routledge, Reprint 1997.

2. Ashtanga Nighantu.(ed.) P. V.Sharma. Kuppuswamy Shastri Research Institute, Madras, 1973:

Madhav Dravya Guna Nighantu, (ed.) P. V.Sharma, Chowkhamba Orientalia, Varanasi. 1973:
Kaidava Nighantu, (ed.) P. V.Sharma, Chowkhamba Orientalia, Varanasi. 1976.

3. Navjyoti Singh. Anuradha Singh, Model ofMind,MSTADS91995, p.l9.

Pages 64 - 74
4. We have dealt with this issue in Anuradha Singh, “Theoretical Foundations of Ancient Indian
Medicine”, in Ancient Science of Life, Vol.8,No.2,1987, pp.69 - 75and Vol. 8,No.34. 1987,

5. Caraka Samhita. Gulabkunverba Ayurveda Society Publication. Jamnagar. 1949.

6. Susrutha Samhita. Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series. Varanasi. 1963.

7. Vagabhata's Astangahrdaya, ed. Hari Sadashiv Paradhkar, Sixth edition, Nirnaya Sagar Press, Bombay.

8. Visnudharmattara Purana, Gaekwad Oriental series No. 137, Baroda Otriental Institute, Baroda,
9. Kautaliyarthasastra, ed. Venkatanathacarya, Mysore University, Mysore, 4th edition, 1960.

10. Nilamegha's Tantra Yuktivicara, ed. Shrinarayana Misra, Kerala Government Ayurvedic
Publication Series No. I Trivendram, 1976.

11. V.S.Agarwal, India as Known to Panini, University of Lucknow, 1953, p. 309 gives reference to 14
Yukti-s. W.K.Lele, The Doctrine of Tantra Yukti, Chowkhamba Surabharati Prakashan,
Varanasi, 1981, p. 4, increases the list to 28 Yukti-s.

12. SusrutaSamhita, p. 858 – “Atrasam Tantra Yuktinam kimprayojanam? Vacyate- yakyayojanam

arthayojanamca ": "What is the purpose of Tantra Yukti? Vakyayojana andArthayojanan”,
Dalhana's commentary on it makes it more explicit
- “Vakyayojanamarthayojanam ceti vakyasyasambandhasaya yojanam
sambandhanam vakyoyojanam, tinasyasangatsya carthasya prakasanam
sangatikarana carthayojana.



TANTRA YUKTI : Methodic Devices

Prayojana : Purpose
Object Scheme : Entity Plan: Linguistic Scheme : Structural Plan:
Real Aspect Language Aspect

Meaning Fixing Evidential Domain Technical Structure

Hermeneutics Stratification
Adhikarana Drstanta Vidhana Svasamjna
Domain of Meaning Illustration Organization of Internal technical Terms

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Padartha Sansaya Uddesa Yoga
Fundamental Indetermination Sub-Domain Concomitance
Objects Declaration
Nirvacana Purvapaksa Nirdesa Niyoga
Derivation of Prime Facie Exposition of Sub- Commanding Injunction
Meaning Objection Domain
Upadesa Vyakhyana Adesa Vakyasesa
Authoritative Thesis Exposition Adducing Rational Interpretative Consistency
Hetvartha Nirnaya Pradesa Samuccaya
Causative Determinate Partial Adumbration Compatible
Reasoning Conclusion Conglomeration
Uhya Anumata Atidesa Ekanta
Theoretic Reasoning Thesis Consent Extension or Universal
Connection of Sub
Arthapatti Prasanga Vikalpa
Suppositional Connection Optionality
Implication according to
Context Extension
Viparyaya Apavarga
Consistency through Exception
opposite meaning
Backward Reference
Forward Reference

Upmana Uddhara Naikanta
Analogic Reasoning Elevating Thesis Variability
Sambhava Pratyutsara
Possibility Rebuttal of Central

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