Karya Kaarana Bhava: Cause and Effect Relationship

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) and Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Many things in the creation, including the creation itself happens due to the ‘cause and effect’ relationship.
If there is a ‘work done’ or ‘eventual effect’, there ought to be a reason or cause behind it which is responsible for the happening of effect. 

Darshana Shastras (philosophical sciences of ancient times) and Ayurveda have mutual impact on each other. Certain theories and principles in both these sciences appear to have been mutually influenced by one over the other. One of the theories is ‘Karya Karan Bhava’ or ‘Cause and Effect Relationship’. The theory postulates that no event (Karya) occurs in the creation without the causative factor (Kaarana) behind it. i.e. A Kaarana is inevitably needed for a Karya to be accomplished.

Karya Kaarana Bhava is also used in Ayurveda as a strong theory to address many diseases. The knowledge of Karya Karana Bhava helps the physicians to diagnose the disease, know the causative factors leading to the manifestation of a disease, to isolate these factors and plan an effective treatment protocol.


तत्र कारणं नाम तद् यत् करोति स एव हेतुः स कर्त्ता।(च.वि.८/६९)
कार्य नियत पूर्व वृत्ति कारणम्।(तर्क संग्रह)

Anything which independently performs a Karya is called a Kaarana.
That is to tell ‘Anything which has a capacity to perform a work or cause an event to happen is called Kaarana’.

In short – ‘Kaarana causes Karya or leads to accomplishment of a Karya (effect, work done or event).

Kaarana is that which essentially (mandatorily) exists before the manifestation of a Karya i.e. the Cause (Kaarana) has to exist before the manifestation of its Effect (Karya).
Example, Ghata – Pot is a Karya (effect or work done). Mrit (mud), Danda (stick), Chakra (wheel) and Kulala (potter) take part in making a pot. They exist even before the pot is made.

In this example, pot is the Karya. The potter, mud and stick which are present before the event or effect (karya) i.e. pot and take part in making the pot are Kaaranas.

Types of Kaarana

Types of Kaaranas
समवायि कारणं च तद् यत् स्व समवेतं कार्यं जनयति।
समवायि कारणे आसन्नं प्रति आसन्नं कारणं द्वितीयम् असमवायि कारणम् इत्यर्थः।(कारिकावली)

Kaaranas are of 3 types. They are –
Samavayu Karana
Asamavayi Karana
Nimitta Karana.

Samavaayi Kaarana

It is the Kaarana with the help (combination, association) of which the Karya is accomplished. It will indulge itself in accomplishing the Karya.

Example, Samavayi Kaarana of Pata (cloth) is Tantu (threads, fibers) and that of Ghata (pot) is Kapala (portion of earthen pot). Here Pata and Ghata are the Karyas.

Asamavaayi Kaarana

Another Kaarana which is closely embedded within the Samavaayi Kaarana and helps the Samavaayi Kaarana to accomplish the Kaarya is called Asamavaayi Kaarana. Asamavaayi Kaarana is mandatorily needed for the Samavaayi Kaarana to accomplish a Karya.

In the example of formation of Ghata, Kapala Dwaya Samyoga i.e. the association or assembling of both Kapalas (2 earthen portions of a pot) leading to the formation of Ghata is called Asamavaayi Kaarana.

In short, pot is made up of 2 earthen portions (kapalas). Each earthen portion is the Samavaayi Kaarana of the Pot (Kaarya). But the portions by themselves do not form the Pot. Both these portions should be assembled or should get associated into a single unit so as to form the full pot i.e. Kapala Dwaya Samyoga is called Asamavaayi Kaarana.

Nimitta Kaaranas

All the Kaaranas other than Samavaayi Kaaranas and Asamavaayi Kaaranas taking part in accomplishing the Karya are called Nimitta Kaaranas. Example, Danda (stick), Chakra (wheel) and Kulala (potter) which construct the pot are called Nimitta Kaaranas.


कार्यं तु तद् यस्य अभिनिवृत्तिम् अभिसन्धाय कर्त्ता प्रवर्तते।(च.वि.८/७२)
Kaarya is the work done. The person who does the Karya (doer) is called Karta.
Karya is that which happens when the Karta with a predetermined work consciousness seriously indulges himself in its accomplishment.

This means to tell that ‘When a duty conscious Karta (doer) indulges himself in certain activities using the needed amenities (Kaaranas) Kaarya appears as the end product (work done).

Karya Kaarana Siddhanta

Karya-Karana Siddhanta
There are certain theories which establish the relationship between Kaarya and Kaarana. They are called Kaarya Kaarana Siddanta. They are –

नासतो विध्यते भावो नाभावो विध्यते सतः।(गीता २/१६)
तत्र कारण अनुरूपं कार्यम् इति कृत्वा सर्वं एव एते विशेषः सत्त्व रजझ् तमोमया भवन्ति।(सु.शा.१/११)
तत्र सर्व एवाचेतन एष वर्गः।(सु.शा.१/८)
सर्व एव एष वर्गो अव्यक्तादिको अचेतनत्वेन तत् कार्यस्य महदादेः अचेतनत्वात्।(डल्हण)

Sat-karya Vaada

This theory explains the ‘Kaarananurupa Karya’ i.e. before its manifestation, the kaarya is present in an unmanifested (feeble, latent, minute) form in the Kaarana or Kaaranas which are responsible for that Kaarya to happen. Since Kaarya was present (within its Kaarana) before its manifestation, the Kaarya comes into existence i.e. manifests.

This Vaada is subdivided into 2 types. They are –

Parinaama Vada

According to this theory the Kaarana itself gets transformed into Karya. Example, the Curd (Karya) is formed from the milk (Kaarana). The curd seems to be existing in a latent form within the milk.

Vivarta Vaada

Vivarta Vaada (Atatvika Anyatha Pratithi) – According to this theory, a particular material is seen or perceived in a different form than what actually it is. Example, assuming snake by seeing the rope is vivarta or illusion. The rope doesn’t get converted or transformed into the snake nor did the snake exist in the rope. But a rope seen in the dark gives the impression of a snake.

Asatkaarya Vaada

According to this theory, the Kaarya never exists within its Kaarana before its manifestation. In spite of not existing prior to manifestation, the Kaarya gets manifested from its Kaaranas.

Other theories postulating Kaarya Kaarana relationship in different aspects

Kshana Bhangura Vaada

Kshana=second, Bhangura=destruction
This theory explains that the materials are produced (made) in a kshana (second), stays intact in other kshana (second) and gets destructed in another kshana. This explains the temporary existence of anything that is created and also tells that everything is bound to be destroyed after a particular span of time. Here kshana shall be taken as a stipulated time of existence of a particular matter. Here the relationship between Karya and Kaarana is momentary.

Adwaita Vaada

This theory is postulated by Shankaracharya (ancient philosopher in India). It explains that only Brahma or creator is Nitya (real) and everything we see around us (matter or creation) i.e. the universe and its components are mithya (false, virtual and illusion). Here the kaarya is itself illusion.

Anekanta Vaada

This theory explains that ‘No theory is fixed and conclusive’. If the knowledge or theories are debatable, obviously there will be many conclusions which may be accepted by a mass of people and may be opposed by others. But this gives a perspective of ‘differential thinking’. Nothing is proved wrong and nothing is proved correct. Like telling ‘This is true, that is also true’.

In Ayurvedic treatises, we can come across various instances wherein the teachers met at a place to debate on some controversial topic. After lot of discussions they could reach to some possible conclusion which would be accepted by all and documented as a conclusive theory, but not before having difference of opinions, discussions and arguments related to the same topic.

According to this, there may be different kaaranas for a kaarya or different kaaranas may lead to different kaaryas and all theories may be true by their own virtue.

Saamya Vaishamya Siddhanta

This theory explains the concept of similarities and differences (dissimilarities).
Factors (or things) having similar nature brings about an increase (in quality or quantity) of another factor (or thing) which has similar qualities. This is in accordance to the addition of virtues. This is called Saamya or equity.

Vaishamya is the cause of depletion. This principle follows the unlike or dissimilar characters which deplete the opposite characters in another substance. Example, heat is antagonistic to cold.

In this, Samya and Vaishamya are the causes which bring about increase (vriddhi) and decrease (kshaya) of virtues in other things. Every Karya has kaaranas which brings about its increase / decrease.

Swabhavo parama Vaada

Swabhava = natural, Uparama = destruction
This theory tells that the tissues in the body are constantly undergoing destruction in a natural way. But they are compensated by the food we take. This shows that the destruction is natural and takes place as a cyclic process. This probably is the earliest explanation of ‘natural wear and tear phenomenon’.
According to this theory, the causes (kaarana) of destruction (kaarya) of any material are natural.


Karanas are basic amenities needed for a Karya to be accomplished. We discuss this term in relation to Kaaranas. (Note – Karana is one alphabet short of Kaarana, one ‘a’ missing). If knowledge is a Karya (work done), does is the Karta, the karanas are those which help in getting the knowledge. They are special kaaranas (asaadhaarana kaaranas) for anubhava (experience, knowledge). They are of 4 types:
Read related: Karana (Pramaana): Amenities For Comprehensive Knowledge

Pratyaksha rupa karanas – helps in acquiring direct knowledge as learnt by perception of senses
Anumana rupa karanas – helps in acquiring inferential knowledge based on guess works
Upamana rupa karanas – helps in acquiring comparative knowledge
Shabda rupa karanas – helps in acquiring theoretical knowledge

Just Before Finishing –
The Karya-Kaarana Sambandha or Cause and Effect relationship is like 2 sides of the same coin. Every effect has a cause which makes it happen. Ayurveda tells that the best and easiest way of treating any disorder is ‘Nidana Parivarana’ (Nidana=Kaarana) or isolation of causative factors which cause the disease (disease being the kaarya or effect). Most of the activities in the universe depend on this phenomenon including the formation of a disease and also its cure. This article focuses on highlighting the ancient wisdom related to the knowledge of cause and effect relationship.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

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