Pramana: Definition, Types As Per Sushruta And Charaka

By Prof. Vd. Rangaprasad Bhat
Pramana is the means to gain knowledge. For example, we see an object and understand it as a bird. This is called Pratyaksha Pramana – knowledge gained through sense organs. 

The knowledge which provides the real or genuine experience (yath?rtha anubhava) is : pram?. The scale of measurement (s?dhana?) of that pram? is pram??a.
Pram??a is s?dhana? (tool) and pram? is the s?dhyaphala / jñ?na? (i.e., knowledge).

Different denotions of pram??a:
Upalabdhi, s?dhana?, jñ?na?, par?k?? pram??am though seems to be wrong meaning, the interpretations based on eloquent efficacy. The one that which gets examined and analysed before accepting it as a true knowledge is par?k?? pram??am. And by means of such par?k??, the measuring of the truth of the knowledge happens. hence is denoted as pram??a.

To understand the aihika & p?ralaukika  principles, the knowledge of pram??a becomes essential.
Categories of jñ?na?:
“???????-????? ???? ????????????, ?????? ???????? – ?????????? ???????; ??????????? ? ??????????? ?????? ?????????????? ?????? ?” – ?????????
“s?m?nya-vi?e?a r?pe buddhim?tre, jñ?na? dvividh? – vastum?tra dhyautaka?; nirvikalpa? | savikalpantu sa?jñ? vidhyotakatv?d anekadh? |” – ?abdastoma

Based on the commonality / similar and specificity / dissimilar features, the , jñ?na? is sub categorized into two.
1. Nirvikalpa?
2. S

Based on the lone factor of general appearence (vastum?tra), the illustrative knowledge (dhyautaka?) thus obtained is termed as nirvikalpa? (Definitive knowledge).

Contrast to above, based on the specific traits or characters of that partcicular object (sa?jñ? vidhyotakatv?d), when the differential knowledge gets recognised by the mind it gets termed as Savikalpam.
For example, recognition of v?tarakta becomes Nirvikalpa? and differential diagnosis of the same based on its presentation, area affected getting daignosed as utt?nav?tarakta & gambh?rav?tarakta

the knowledge thus obtained is considered to have been accrued through the savikalpa pram??a. Where in the common or provisional diagnosis of v?tarakta gets anekadha and gets categorised into more than one category.

Yath?rtha & Ayath?rtha jn?na:
 “yatra yad asti tatra tasya anubhava: pram?, tad vat tat prak?raka anubhavo v?” || Tatvacint?ma?i: ||

The pram? is the knowledge gained from the experience of cognition of objects or events as seen and felt in their actual form of manifestation or appearance.

The knowledge is also categorized based on the cognition level as Yath?rtha & Ayath?rtha jn?na. Out of these two sub types, the pram? (real perception) occurs only in the former category, the yath?rtha jn?na. For the pram? is directly proportional to the truth.

Sushrutokta four pram??as:
“???????? ??? ????? – ???; ?????????;??????; ??????: – ?????????? ???????? ??????” ? ??.??.?/??
“tasy??ga vara? ?dya? – ?gama; pratyak?a;anum?na; upam?nai: – aviruddham ucyam?na? upadh?raya” | su.s?.1/16
Ayurveda and its branches especially the surgical branch is obtained through the pram??as like ?gama(?ptopadesha); pratyak?a;anum?na; upam?nai.


????? ??.??.?/?? –
“????????????? – ??? ????????? ??????? ???????????? ?????? ???? ?????????? ? ?????- “?????????????????? ????? ????????????????? ???????????? ????????? ?????????? ????? ?????? ? ????????? ????????? ??? – ??????????????, ???????? ?????????? ?????????? ? ?????? ???????????? ?
?alhana su.s?.1/16  –
pratyak?amiti – yat kiñcideva arthasya s?k??tk?r? jñ?na? tadeva pratyak?a? | tath?hi- “mano’k?agatamabhr?nta? vastu pratyak?amucyate| indriy???? asa?jñ?na? vastutatve bhrama? sm?ta? | pratyak?a aviruddha? yath? – s?ry?valokan?t, n?s?nta? s?travarti prave?an?t ca k?uta? pr?durbh?va? |

Pratyak?am is the exact perception of knowledge of the object. The un-perplexed (abhr?nta?) observation and registration of the physical traits of the object over the axis of mind is pratyak?am. Example for pratyak?a aviruddha? (perceptible knowledge) is manifestation of sneezing (k?uta?) upon gazing the sun for a longer time and upon inserting a thread inside the tip of the nasal cavity.

???? ???? ???????? ???????? ??, ????? – ????? ??????? ?????????? ???? ? ???? ????? ? ?  ???? ???????? ???????? ?????? ???????? ?????? ? ????????????? ??? – ?????????? ??? ??????? ??????? ??????? ????????????? ??????????  ????????? ?
?gamo veda? ?pt?n??
??stra? v?, tath?hi – siddha siddhi? pram??astu hita? ca atra paratra ca |  ?gama? ??stra? ?pt?n?? ?pt?? tatv?rtha vedina? || ?gm?viruddha? yath? – pur?n?di?u api ?r?yate rudre?a yajñasya ?ira?cchinna? a?vibhy??  sa?hitamiti |

?gama is related to the ved?s, ??str?s and ?pt?vacana (authoritative statement from the learned and elderly persons). The inputs of Divine intellect (siddha siddhi?) from the nearby and elsewhere locations (ihaloka & paraloka) by means of ?gama?, ??stra?, ?pt?n??(words from Aptas) are referred to as ?gama / shabda pram?na.
Example for ?gama pram?na (?gm?viruddha? yath? ) is “ the story of decapitation of the head of dak?? by rudr? during brahma yajna, which was surgically reconstructed by Aswini Kumar?s, being heard through pur?n?s and other scriptures.

anupa?c?t avyabhic?r? (definite)  li?g?tli?g? (by characteristic traits recognising the signs)  m?yate (to fix) jñ?yate (knowing) yena tadanum?nam, tena anum?nena aviruddha? yath? – prana??a ?alye candana,gh?ta upadigdh?y?? tvaci vi?o?a?a ?jya vileyan?bhy?? anum?yate atra ?alya? iti,

– On observing the definitive; characteristic traits and        the  signs,begetting some  fixed and inferred knowledge  is termed as anum?nam.
Example:- In an impacted foreign body underneath the surface of skin, inferring the presence of the foriegn body by applying candana,gh?ta and observing for the drying and liquifaction of those dravyas, respectively is indicative of obtaining the knowledge through anum?nam.

???????? ???????????, ??????? ??????? ????????????????? ????? ?????? ? ??? ????????? ??? – ?????? ???:, ????????: ???????:, ????????????? ?????? ???, ???????? ????? ??? ?????? ?”
prasiddha s?dharmy?t, s?k?ma vyavahita viprak????rthasya s?dhana? upam?na? | tena aviruddha? yath? – m??avat m??a:, tilam?tra: tilak?laka:, vid?rikandavat vid?r? roga, ??l?kavat panasika iti ?dikam ||”

Based on the popular instrument or object, denoting an object which is away from that place having the similiarity or homogenousness of the popular object by means of comparison, the knowledge of upam?na? is achieved.

1. m??avat m??a :- The Kshudra roga ma?aka is named based on the comparison of the lesion rembling the black gram. Charaka explains so in the chapter KShudraroga nidAnam as ?????? ?????? ???????? ??????? ???? ?????

2. vid?rikandavat vid?r? roga :- The Kshudraroga named vid?r? gets it’s name so as it rembles the tuber of vid?r?. Charaka explains about it in the chapter KShudraroga nidAnam as,-

????????????? – ??????: ????? ??????? ?????? | ????? ????????? ???????? ??????? ???????????? ||??||

The reddish swelling of the lesion present over the axilla, groin & joints that which is round in shape resembling the underground tubers of the Pueraria tuberosa (vidarikanda), caused by the tridoshas is known as vid?r? kshudra roga (regional lymph node swellings).

Carakokta caturvidha pram??a: –
“???????? ?? ??? ????? ??? ???? ? ? ???? ????????? ??????? ? ?????????:, ??????????, ???????, ????????? ??? ?”
“dvividha? eva khalu sarva? sat asat ca | tasya caturvidh? par?k?? | ?ptopade?a:, pratyak?a?, anum?na?, yukti?ca iti ||” caraka sa?hit?.s?.11/17  |

The jñ?na is boadly of two types – sat jñ?na & asat jñ?na. The means of examining those jñ?nas are the four following pram??as –
1. ?ptopade?a:,
2. pratyak?a?,
3. anum?na? and
4. yukti – C.S.sU.11/17

ga?g?dhara: – “…….tasya bh?va abh?va r?pe?a siddhasya sarvasya dravyagu?akarma samav?y?khyasya s?m?nyavi?e?a bh?tasya par?k?? par?k?a?a hetu: caturdh? bhavati |
Ga?g?dhara commenting on the above verse states – The existing and non existing knowledge related to sat and asat jñ?na of the dravya (substance), guna (quality), karma (Action) based on the commonality and diffrentiative factors of traits gets examined through the par?k?a?a hetu (examining factors) named pram??as, which are 4 in number.

k? keti ?
What are those (four)?
1.” t?? viv??oti ?ptopade?a ity?di, ?ptai: upadi?yate yad ida? eva ida? na eva? iti upade?a aptopade?a: |?abda par?k?? pram??a ?abda ete anena iti ?abda: |”
?ptopade?a:- The definitive knowledge provided by the ?pt?s, through directives like “this is this”, “this is not that” etc, is known as  ?ptopade?a. Since it is carried over from eras back to centuries forward through the “mouth to ear” mode of Oral vocabulary and  syntaxes (?abda par?k?? pram??a), it is also known by another name ?abda pram??a

2.pratyak?amiti – ak?ayasya indriyasya prativi?aya? v?tti: pratyak?a? | v?ttistu sa?nikar?o jñ?na? v?, yad? hi sa?nikar?a: tad? jñ?na? paramiti: | yad? jñ?na? tad? n up?d?n apek?? buddhya: phalamiti |”
Pratyak?a?:- The definitive cognition of objects through the sensory organs with detailed observation of the characters and traits of the objects is referred to as pratyak?a? pram??a. The examination and resultant cognition of the object from its close quarters is understood to be known as para jñ?na?.

  1. “anum?n?miti – mitena li?gena upapasc?d arthasya m?na? anum?namiti |”
    Anum?nam:- The measurement of knowledge by means of firm inference is known as anum?nam pram??a.

    4. yukti?ca iti – yujyate yay? buddhy? s? par?k?? s?dhana? par?k?? | pram?yate anena iti k?ra?a artha abhidh?na: pram??a ?abda: |
    Yukti :- In conjunction with the incidences involving  the objects, examining them collectively, through the mind and obtaining the knowledge through reasoning is known as Yukti pramAna.

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