Influence Of Ayurveda in Darshanas: Analysis, Explanation

Article by Dr Manasa, BAMS
Darshanas are 6 important systems of Hindu Philosophy. These are the intellectual sections of the Hindu writings. Darshanas are philosophies, world views or teachings that emerged in Ancient India.


The mainstream Hindu philosophy includes 6 systems and therefore called shad dharshanas (shad meaning 6, darshanas meaning philosophies) or simply darshanas. These 6 philosophies are also called as Astika Darshanas (orthodox philosophical traditions). They accepted Vedas as authoritative and important source of knowledge.

ancient scriptures

In the history of Hinduism, the 6 orthodox schools (astika darshanas) were in existence by sometime between the start of the Common Era and the Gupta Empire (about 4th century).

Meaning of Darshanas –
The word Darshana is derived from the root ‘Drishyate’ or ‘Dris’ means to see.

‘Drishyate Anena Iti Darshanaha’ means that which facilitates to visualize the facts pertaining to the universe is known as Darshana.
‘Sarve Darshanaha Jgnanartha saadhanaaha’

All the Darshanas are the means or instruments of knowledge. They were born out of Upanishads.

(Upanishad – Collection of texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts of Hinduism, some of which are shared with Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. They are considered by Hindus to contain utterances (sruti) concerning the nature of ultimate reality (Brahman) and describing the character of and path to human salvation (moksha or mukti). The Upanishads are commonly referred to as Vedanta, variously interpreted to mean either the ‘last chapters or parts of Veda’ or ‘the object, the highest purpose of the Veda’).

There is a difference of opinion regarding the number of Darshanas and varied from 108 and up to 300.
Though there are many a number of Darshanas, the following 9 are having great influence on Ayurveda. These 9 darshanas have been classified under two heads such as:

Astika Darshana

Astika Darshana (Theistic philosophies)
This section of Darshanas has utmost faith in the eternity of Vedas. They believed that the Vedas are Apourusheya (not created by man or beyond the intellectual capacities of a common man). They believe in the existence of Atma (soul), Paramatma (supreme soul), Janana (birth), Marana (death), Moksha (salvation) and Ishwara (creator).

Asthika Darshanas are 6 in number. They are:

  • Sankhya Darshana – written and composed by sage Kapila Maharshi
  • Vaisheshika Darshana – written and composed by sage Kanada Maharshi
  • Nyaya Darshana – written and composed by sage Goutama Maharshi
  • Yoga Darshana – written and composed by sage Patanjali Maharshi
  • Poorva Darshana – written and composed by sage Jaimini Maharshi
  • Uttara Mimamsa – written and composed by sage Vyasa Maharshi

Nastika Darshana

Nastika Darshanas (Atheistic philosophies)
This section of Darshanas doesn’t have faith in or believe in supremacy of the Vedas. These Darshanas doesn’t believe in the Atma, Paramatma, Janana, Marana, Moksha and Ishwara, the entities believed by Asthika Darshanas.

They are 3 in number. They are as mentioned below –
Charvaka Darshana – written and composed by sage Brihaspati
Bouddha Darshana – written and composed by Goutama Buddha
Jaina Darshana – written and composed by Rishabha Dev

Ayurveda and Darshanas

Influence of Darshanas on Ayurveda
In general, all the Darshanas have influence on Ayurvedic theories to some extent. Sankhya and Vaisheshika Darshanas have their influence not only on Ayurveda but on all contemporary sciences. Mainly the Tatwika Vivechan of Sankhya and Nyaya Darshanas have greatly influenced the theories of Ayurveda. Some of the scholars opined that several theories mentioned in Ayurveda were borrowed and adopted from the Darshanas as it is. But it is not true. Though some concepts were adopted from Darshanas, those have been utilized according to the necessity of the science.

Ayurveda and Sankhya Darshana

The similarities between Ayurveda and the philosophies explained in Sankhya Darshana indicate suggest that they are mutually influenced systems of knowledge. Both these systems have similarities regarding the below mentioned theories which confirm the relationship between both these sciences.

Description of Pramana – Pratyaksha (knowledge through direct perception), Anumana (knowledge through inference) and Aptopadesha (knowledge from ancient teachings and treatises) are the testimonials of knowledge. They are means to acquire the real knowledge of an object. These concepts have been explained in a similar way in both these sciences.

The types of misery – Sankhya Darshana has explained 3 types of miseries namely Adhyatmika, Adhidaivika and Adhibhoutika. Even in Ayurveda we can find these terms (Sushruta’s classification of diseases). The diseases have grossly been classified under these 3 categories and have explained in similarity with Sankhya Darshana.

Equality in Realm – Number of Realms in the evolution of the universe is mentioned in similar ways in both the sciences.

Purusha Vivechana (composition and formation of purusha, the human being or inner self) – Purusha was discriminated in Ayurveda as well as in Sankhya philosophy. Sushruta has stated ‘Bahavastu Purusha’ while Sankhya Darshana also mentioned ‘Purusha Bahutwam Siddham’.

Parinama Vada (theory of transformation) – Parinama Vada or the ‘transformation theory of evolution’ is mentioned in Sankhya philosophy. Similarly, in Ayurveda we can find the explanation of ‘Dhatu Parinama Siddhanta’ theory corresponding to and in the same lines of Parinama Vada of Sankhya Darshana.

Satkarya Vada (Cause and effect relationship in the creation) – Ayurveda adopted the theory of Satkarya Vada from Sankhya Darshana. Sankhya Vada means the relationship between Karya (effect) and Karana (cause). According to this theory, the Karya is manifested from Karana. Ex, Sesame oil already existed in the sesame seeds; therefore we could extract the oil from the seeds.

Description of Trigunas – The Trigunas or 3 vital qualities of cosmic nature, responsible for the creation of the universe are also responsible for the creation of human beings and all life. We have components of the Trigunas (micro-nature) within us. They are Satwa, Rajas and Tamo Gunas. They are explained in Ayurveda on the same lines as explained in Sankhya Darshana.
Read related: Jainism and Ayurveda Connection, Contribution

All Darshanas have an influence on Ayurvedic theories to some extent. The science of Ayurveda believes in the existence of Vedas, soul (Atma), supreme soul (Paramatma), birth (Janana), death (Marana), salvation (Moksha) and the creator (Ishwara).
Master Charaka and Sushruta have explained the origin of human body with the help of 25 tatwas (factors) as explained in Sankhya Darshana.
Ayurveda has adopted various concepts of Darshanas in various places.
For example, atomic theory (paramanu vada) of Vaisheshika Darshana,
four means of knowledge of Nyaya Darshana,
theory of relativity (Satkarya vada), Trigunas – Satva, Rajas and Tamas of Sankhya Darshana
theory of Karma, sleep, mental control, memory, practise, parinama vada (theory of conversion) of Yoga Darshana are accepted by Ayurveda.

Ayurveda and Vaisheshika Darshana

Vaisheshika Darshana was the first one to explain about Padarthas (materials and substances which comprise the creation). Significantly Vishesha Padartha was described elaborately. Ayurveda too describes the same six Padarthas but in a different order according to the utility of the science.

Ayurveda and Nyaya Darshana

One can find lot of influence of Nyaya Darshana in Charaka Samhita. Charaka has described the theories of Nyaya Darshana in detail.

Pramanas are the speciality subject of Nyaya Darshan. Nyaya Darshana has given much emphasis on Pramanas in general and Anumana Pramana (learning through inference) in particular.

‘Pramanaihi artha parishanam Nyayaha’ is the definition of Nyaya Darshana. Its meaning is ‘examination of anything with the help of pramanas is called nyaya’. This shows that most of their approach was through Pramanas.

Ayurveda too has adopted the Pramanas in their science. According to Ayurveda, the utility of Pramanas is mostly in the diagnosis of the diseases and in the treatment of diseases.

The concept of Tadvidya Sambhasha (symposium of like minded personalities and discussion of common topics within the science), Sambhasha Parishad (organisation or symposiums for discussions and deliberations), Varieties of Parishads (varieties of organisations), 44 types of Vada margas (methods of discussions and arguments, favourable or hostile) etc are explained in detail in Ayurveda treatises. All these concepts are borrowed from Nyaya Darshana.

Ten types of Karya Abhinivritthi Ghatakas (factors helping in accomplishment of Karya or work) have been adopted from Nyaya Darshana and have been explained in Charaka Samhita. They are – Kaarana, Karana, Karyayoni, Karya, Karyaphala, Anubandha, Desha, Kala, Pravritthi and Upaya. According to Ayurveda, the karya is chikitsa or treatment. Ayurveda adopts these 10 ghatakas explained by Nyaya Darshana and translates them into factors helping in accomplishment of successful treatment.

The Tantrayuktis (factors and principles which help in comprehensive learning, i.e. learning tools) mentioned in Ayurveda are also taken from Nyaya Darshana.
Read related: Ayurveda in Chanakya’s Arthashastra

Ayurveda and Yoga Darshana

The Pramanas, Nidra, Smriti, Abhyasa, Eshwara Samanatwa, Ashtasiddhis etc concepts are mentioned and elaborated on similar lines in Ayurveda and Yoga Darshana.
The statement on Yoga ‘Yogah Saha Samyoga Uchyate’ mentioned in Ayurveda according to Yoga Darshana.
The methods and ways for practicing Yoga mentioned in Charaka Samhita are also taken from Yoga Darshana.

Ayurveda and Poorva Mimamsa Darshana

Poorva Mimamsa believed that a person will attain Moksha or salvation if he or she follows the rituals like Yagna, Yaga etc. in Ayurveda, Charaka states that the health is important to attain the Purusharthas viz, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Without good health, it is said that nobody can reach the ultimate goal.

Ayurveda and Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta Darshana

While describing the theory of ‘Loka Purusha Samya’ (similarities between nature or creation and human being), Acharya Charaka has stated that ‘Brahma Padartha’ mentioned in ‘Vedanta Darshana’ is the ‘Antaratma’ or soul in our body.

The effects of the past deeds (purva karma), theory of Panchikarana, Srishti, Laya, Jivatma, Moksha and the methods of attaining Moksha etc were described by Charaka as mentioned in Vedanta Darshana.

Ayurveda and Jaina Darshana

Various Pramanas, Karma, Bandha, Moksha, Jiva Bahutwa, Akasha, Kala, Ahimsa, Dharma, Adharma etc are identically explained in both Ayurveda and Jaina Darshana

Ayurveda and Buddha Darshana

The prominent theory of Buddha Darshana is ‘Kshana Bhangura Vada’ and the same was described as ‘Swabhavoparama Vada’ in Ayurveda by Acharya Charaka.
The theory of ‘Ahimso Paramo Dharmaha’ (The best religion and practice is that of non-violence) has been borrowed by the Acharyas (teachers and preachers) of Ayurveda and considered Himsa as one of the 10 sinful acts.

Ayurveda and Charvaka Darshana

Ayurveda has never accepted the views of Charvaka Darshana directly. But Charaka while explaining the protection of health indirectly accepted the views of ‘Charvaka Darshana’ as under –
‘Sarvamanyat Parityajya Shareeram anupalayet Tad abhave hi bhavanam sarvabhava shareerinam’

Meaning – ‘Health should be maintained by leaving other matters aside. If health is not maintained properly one cannot lead a happy life’.

Summing up –
Ayurveda and Darshanas are interrelated, some concepts being found explained in similar way in both the sciences. Though Ayurveda has adopted some of the theories from various Darshanas (to fulfil the aims and objectives) and has been influenced in bits and parts, Ayurveda has never lost its identity and independent status. Ayurveda has adopted the theories of Darshana without deviating from its basic concepts and thus preserving its sanctity and uniqueness as a comprehensive and unparalleled health science.

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