Tantra Dosha: Errors In Treatises, Traditional Text Books

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) and Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Nothing is perfect in the world. Well established and popular treatises and study materials also might have some errors. It is very difficult to create a treatise or write a book devoid of errors. 

Tantra means Shaastra (science, medical science or Ayurveda in this context). The errors in the Tantra are called ‘Tantra Doshas’. Any Tantra or Shastra written or documented avoiding these doshas or errors shall be regarded as ‘perfect tantras’ or treatises.

In this article we shall discuss about Tantra Doshas, the mistakes and errors which might occur in a Shastra or Tantra and which could probably be avoided to make the Tantra a perfect one.

Definition of Tantra Dosha
दूषयति तन्त्रं इति दोषः।
That which contaminates a tantra is called Tantra Dosha

दुर्लक्षण विहीनत्वं अङ्गानाम् अपि भूषणम्।
इति अलङ्कार सम्बन्धाद् दोष विज्ञानम् ईयते॥(तन्त्रयुक्ति)

When the body parts are devoid of durlakshana / dosha bhaava (morbidity, disease etc) it is called alankaara (ornaments). This means to tell that a ‘disease free body’ is nothing short of a valuable ornament. Thus the dosha (defect, error) is related to alankara (normalcy). Therefore it is important to know about the dosha also. (In this context the dosha is tantra dosha and alankara is dosha rahita tantra or flawless treatise or science).

Thus, to know what is a flawless and error free tantra, we should also know what defects might contaminate the tantra. Only then we would be able to isolate the doshas from the Tantra and make it palatable and acceptable.

Classification and number of Tantra Doshas
According to Sahitya Darpana (by Acharya Vishwanatha) –
Tantra Doshas are of 5 types:

  • Pada Dosha
  • Padamsha Dosha
  • Vakya Dosha
  • Artha Dosha
  • Rasa Dosha

According to Charaka (Vimana Sthana 8/54),

Vakya dosha or Tantra Doshas are of 5 types. They are:

  • Nyoona
  • Adhika
  • Anarthaka
  • Apaarthaka
  • Viruddha

According to Arunadatta (commentator of Ashtanga Hridaya),
Tantra Doshas are of 15 types. They are –

  • Aprasiddham, Dushpraneetam, Asangataartham
  • Asukhaarohi, Viruddham, Ativistrutam
  • Atisamkshiptam, Aprayojanam, Bhinnakramam
  • Sandigdham, Punaruktam, Nishpramaanakam
  • Asamaaptaartham, Apaarthakam, Vyaahatam

Tantra Doshas
अप्रसिद्धं दुष्प्रणीतम् असुखारोह्यं असङ्गतम्।
विरुद्धं अतिविस्तारम् अतिसंक्षिप्तम् एव च॥
सन्दिग्धं पुनरुक्तम् च निष्प्रमाण प्रयोजने।
असमाप्त अक्षरं तद्वत् व्याहतं स्याद् अपार्थकम्॥(तन्त्रयुक्ति)

Aprasiddha Shabdam
अप्रसिद्ध शब्दं नाम यत् लोके न अतीव प्रसिद्धम्।

Words or examples which are not famous (in conversation) in the world i.e. uncommon words or examples are called Aprasiddha Shabdam.

Example – A statement telling ‘Having physical relation with Udakya is harmful for health’. Here the word Udakya is used to denote Rajaswala stree or women in menstruation. The word Udakya is not used in general conversation and it is neither known to many nor is popular. Use of such words in the Tantra makes understanding the treatises difficult.

दुष्प्रणीतं नाम सूत्र भाष्य प्रयोजन रहितम्।

Improper presentation is called Dushpraneeta. This becomes an error of a Tantra. Here the sutra (basic concepts) and bhaashya (contextual explanation of topics, commentaries) are not presented properly in the Tantra. Or the Tantra is devoid of Sutra and Bhasya which are souls of a Tantra.

असङ्गतार्थं नाम यत् सूत्रेण असम्बद्धम्।

Incoherence in a Tantra is its Asangataartha dosha. Here the basic principles don’t have connectivity with the explanation of the topics. They both appear heading in opposite ways making a Tantra weird and senseless.

असुखारोहिपदं यत् पद सन्निवेशस्य विषमतया दुःखेन उच्चार्यते चर्करीतादिप्रायम्।

An awkwardly narrated sentence or topic is considered as Asukha Aarohi Padam. These words or statements are haphazardly explained due to awkwardness of the situation / context. in the treatise. We can tell that they are ‘awkwardly said or accidentally said critical words or sentences’. These words are pronounced with difficulty. Example words like ‘Dhaataryaripadam’ etc

विरुद्धं नामयद् दृष्टान्त सिद्धान्त समयैः विरुद्धम्।
Anything which is said antagonistic (opposite to) to Drushtaanta (example), Siddhanta (concept, basic concepts of the science) and Samaya (time or context) is called Viruddham.

Drushtanta Viruddham – Here, an antagonizing example is given to explain a context. The example given doesn’t justify the desired explanation. (An example should aptly explain a situation which is related to it, for which the example has been given. An example should not contradict the context. In Drushtanta Viruddham, the example contradicts its own context).

Example – Telling ‘Purusha (man, soul) is Nitya (immortal, eternal, indestructible) because of being akrutaka (natural), just like Ghata (pot)’.

In this example Ghata or pot which is destructible (anitya) and krutaka (not natural, artificial) is given as an example to explain the nature of Purusha or soul which is eternal and natural. Thus the example doesn’t justify the explanation or is opposite to the context of the subject i.e. Purusha.

Siddhanta Viruddham – Telling – Madhura (sweet), Amla (sour) and Lavana (salt) tastes pacify Kapha while they actually are the tastes which vitiate Kapha is Siddhanta Viruddham (Opposite to the basic theory or textual content).

Samaya Viruddham – Opposing some theory keeping in pace the time factor or evolutionary changes is called Samaya Viruddham. Example, the ancient Acharyas (teachers) have said – Never cut the grass with your nails. There may not be any logic associated with this concept but has been followed along the timeline of evolution. Not following the instruction given by the Acharyas being ahead in the timeline of evolution is called Samaya Viruddha.

Anything which is unnecessarily elaborated is called Ativistruta Dosha. This will unnecessarily elaborate the treatise with unnecessary details. Example – In the context of explaining Madhura Skanda or Category of herbs having sweet taste, explaining in detail all the available sweet things in the universe in elaboration would be considered as Ativistrutam.

Anything which is very briefly explained is called Atisankshipta dosha. When something is explained too briefly it doesn’t convey the desired meaning. It doesn’t give the clarity of the topic under discussion. Ultimately the topic is not understood properly.

Example – After the mention of Hetu-Linga-Aushadha the statements giving explanation of these terms not being elaborated is considered as Atisankshiptam Dosha.
(Note – Hetu=Causative factor of a disease, Linga=Signs and symptoms of a disease, Aushadha=Medicines)

Prayojana means benefit, Aprayojana means No-benefit. None of us do any task if there is no utility from that task. If the Tantra (shaastra, science, Ayurveda in this context) is devoid of benefit, it is called as Aprayojana dosha.

Example – While explaining Sadachara (righteous conduct and activities) if it is just said Iti Aachaaraha Samaasena (i.e. Do these activities regularly) without mentioning its benefits as – If you do these activities, you would be gaining good and quality ayu (life span), aarogya (health) and aishwarya (good virtues, wealth etc) no one will be interested in following the Sadachara. Thus the benefits of anything should be highlighted. The prayojana not being explained or highlighted becomes Aprayojana Tantra Dosha.

Bhinna kramam
In any Tantra when a particular subjects of discussion are not presented in a pleasing pattern (krama) but instead is done in a haphazard pattern (different patterns breaking the desired pattern) it is called Bhinna Krama Dosha (haphazard pattern or interrupted chronology / frequency). Similarly if the presentation of chronology of a subject is abruptly ended without completion and a new topic or subject is haphazardly started following some other pattern it is called as Bhinna krama.

Example – In the context of explanation of Vata, the discussion of Pitta being started abruptly even before the completion of the explanation of Vata is considered as Bhinna Krama Dosha.

Sandigdha means complicated or controversial. When any complicated topics are discussed in detail in a Tantra it becomes Sandigdha dosha.

Example – Discussing about the possibility of Akaala Mrithyu or untimely death. Discussion of controversial topics like ‘Is untimely death possible or not, does something like it exist or not?’ is considered as Sandigdha.

Punaruktam means repetitions. If many things are repeatedly told in a Tantra, it becomes Punarukta Dosha.

Nishpramaanakam means without proof. Anything explained in the Tantra without a substantial proof is considered as Nishpramaanakam. Such subjects of hypothetical forms shall not be accepted as subjects of learning and will not provide comprehensive knowledge.

Asamaaptartham means incomplete explanation. Any topic explained in the Shastra in an incomplete way is called asamaaptaartham dosha. When the subject is not explained in a complete form it doesn’t provide a comprehensive  knowledge. 

Anarthakam means Meaningless. If something is explained in the Shastra doesn’t provide desired meaning or gives the meaning of something else, it is called Anarthakam dosha.

Vyaahatam means contradicting. If there are many topics explained in the Tantra wherein the first part of the explanation contradicts the meaning or purpose of the next part of the statement, it will be considered as Vyaahata Dosha.

Example – After telling – Mehi Anaasthaapya (Ashtanga Hridaya Sutra 19/4) i.e. Decoction enemas should not be given for patients suffering from Meha (diabetes, urinary disorders) the author explains the Asthapana (decoction enemas) treatment procedure for patients of Meha (Ashtanga Hridaya Kalpa 4/40) wherein both statements contradict each other is called Vyaahatam dosha.

Just Before Finishing
Any treatise, literature or study material should be free from faults. The above said 15 errors, when present in a Tantra will be called Tantra Doshas and will be an insult for that science. This would make things presented in a Shastra un-understandable and confusing.

Therefore these faults should be avoided while writing the Tantra or corrected before publishing a Tantra. This article is to give an account of the Tantra Doshas explained in Ayurveda which could possibly be avoided while writing a Tantra so as to make it perfect and comprehensive.
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