The origin of the concept of Gun is to be taken from the different philosophies especially the SHAD DARSHANAS. The concept of SHAD PADARTHAS that were formulated by these philosophies are those that have been considered as precursors for those that have been used and mentioned in Ayurveda. Among the six Padarthas, GUNA is the second one as enumerated by the philosophies while it is the the third one among the order mentioned in CHARAKA SAMHITA after SAMANYA & VISHESHA. Thus it assumes more importance than the concept of Dravya as the components mentioned in the concept of GUNA are being most used into the application of the various substances. Basically, the concept of GUNA is mentioned to be a single entity which imbibes into it all the properties that can be seen or observed in any substance that is present in this creation. But for a better understanding, it is important to have the most useful  along with categorizing the nearest possible ones into a group. Hence, the concept of GUNA gave rise to 4 more concepts namely RASA, VIPAKA, VEERYA and PRABHAVA. These four along with GUNA totally were grouped as the PANCHALAXANA of DRAVYA. But the basic character of all these groups is the same namely the purpose of attracting, recognising and understanding the substance. Thus these five concepts together used for explaining the Pharmacodynamics of various medicinal substances that are used in AYURVEDA.


गुण्यते आमन्त्र्यते लोके अनेन इति गुणाः ।

‘गुण आमंत्रणे’

The features or the factors of the substance that results in the attraction of the world around towards it is to be understood as GUNA.

This clearly shows that all the features or factors that may be physical, chemical or even cause of the activities taken up by the substance will be considered as GUNA as these are all responsible to attract one towards the substance. 


समवायी तु (द्रव्य) निश्चेष्टः कारणं गुणः । (च.सू. 1)

अथ द्रव्याश्रितः ज्ञेया निर्गुणा निष्क्रिया गुणाः । (कारिकावली)

The feature or factor that is present within the substance in an inseparable (समवायी) relationship and doesn’t have the capability of performing any activity of its own but in turn is one of the prime cause (कारण) for an activity demonstrated by the substance is known as GUNA.

These definitions are apt from any point of view as they clearly demarcate the scope and feature of the concept regarding GUNA. 


Based on the philosophical references and the references from the classical Ayurvedic texts it can be noted that the concept of GUNA classifies the different properties into 2 main groups namely आदिभौतिक गुण (Adibhautika Guna) & आध्यात्मिक गुण (Adhyatmika Guna). It is to be noted again that all the properties that are enumerated are themselves representatives of a certain class of properties which are either very close to the property mentioned in terms of presentation but will have varying degrees of similar effects or actions. The आदिभौतिक गुण (Adibhautika Guna) group of GUNA is again classified into सामान्य गुण (Samanya Guna) and विशिष्ट गुण (Vishishta Guna). Finally the सामान्य गुण (Samanya Guna) is reclassified into गुर्वादि गुण (Gurvadi Guna) & परादि गुण (Paradi Guna). Thus the final classification chart will be as illustrated below:

सार्था गर्वादयो बुद्धिः प्रयत्नान्ता परादयः । गुणाः प्रोक्ताः …………………॥ (च.सू.१)

The classification of GUNA is being enumerated and the four groups are named here namely 

  1. सार्था – Refers to the five perception by sense organs.
  2. गुर्वादयो – The ten set of opposites that are present in every material in the universe.  
  3. बुद्धिः प्रयत्नान्ता – Refers to the set of properties enumerated for आत्म (ATMA) which consists of 10 properties but as the limit is upto PRAYATNA the total to be considered here becomes only 6. The mention of BUDDHI refers to assimilation of Chetana, Dhruti, Smriti and Ahankara into BUDDHI that are mentioned in the list of 10 आत्मज गुण.
  4. परादयः – Refers to the list of properties that starts with PARA GUNA. They are enumerated in the same chapter of Charaka Samhita and are 10 in number. 
Guna Classification
The flow chart mentioned is based on the reference from the text Dravya Guna Vignyan Part -1 by Prof P V Sharma.

Among the four groups, the two namely the Gurvadi Guna and the Paradi Guna is more emphasized and explained in detail in the branch of Dravyaguna while the remaining two are not explained in detail as they have very less applications in the branch. It is not that they are never used but only the application is very less. Hence we will be having a short description of the two groups namely Adhyatmika and Vishishta Guna with reference to Dravyaguna only. These two groups find more elaborate description in the context of Padartha Vignyana or Shareera branch of Ayurveda than the present one. 

विशिष्ट गुण (VISHISHTA GUNA)

The properties that are specially perceived by the sense organs are known as Special properties or VISHISHTA GUNA. These are five in number namely शब्द (Shabda), स्पर्श (Sparsha), रूप (Rupa), रस (Rasa) and गन्ध (Gandha). These are the special properties of the Five Mahabhutas and correspond to its respective receptors (Indriya) in the body. Among this five, the रस (Rasa) property is the most elaborately explained in the context of Dravyaguna to the extent that it has been developed into a separate concept under the main category of GUNA itself. This is due to the fact that the said property is one that is being perceived when taken internally and is the first point of interaction of any substance with the body whether food or medicine other than that of touch. Thus the two properties are very important from the point of view of DRAVYAGUNA in particular. While the remaining three namely शब्द (Shabda), रूप (Rupa) and गन्ध (Gandha) are having their use for the purpose of identifying the various physical characteristics of the substance. They have their utility more on the section of the नामरूप विज्ञान (NAMARUPA VIJNYANA) present in branch of DRAVYAGUNA. 

With respect to रस (Rasa) and स्पर्श (Sparsha), the former is a more elaborate concept which will be discussed in detail in its context while the latter is the main identification for the property of वीर्य (Veerya) where the action is seen not only by ingestion but even through touch sensation. Other than these the perception of touch has only physical attributes present in the substance like the remaining three properties.

आध्यात्मिक गुण (ADHYATMIKA GUNA)

The set of these properties are also known by the name आत्मज गुण because these are those which are enumerated as the properties of आत्म (Atma). They are actually 10 in number as enumerated in the Shareera Sthana of Charaka Samhita they are इच्छ (Iccha), द्वेष (Dwesha), सुख (Sukha), दुःख (Dukha), प्रयत्न (Prayatna), चेतन (Chetana), धृति (Dhruti), बुद्धि (Buddhi), स्मृति (Smriti) and अहंकार (Ahankar). As explained by Chakrapani in his commentary, the enumeration of आध्यात्मिक गुण is only 6 where बुद्धि (Buddhi) includes and represents the other four चेतन (Chetana), धृति (Dhruti), स्मृति (Smriti) and अहंकार (Ahankar) along with itself. Thus, the total number of the properties are reduced to 6. 

This set of properties are present only in living creatures and has nothing to do with the non-living. They are mostly emotional and is under the domain of mental faculties. As the context of Dravyaguna deals with substances that are used as food or medicine, the application of these properties becomes more or less obsolete. Even though references regarding psychological implications the properties are described, these are some stray aspects that are being applied. Undoubtedly, psychological aspects play a very important role in the treatment but as the point of view is from the angle of the substance making it to be center of discussion, these set of properties have negligible or absolutely no role to play. 

गुर्वादि गुण (GURVADI GUNA)

The set of properties that starts with the property Guru at the outset. It is present in every substance that is present in the universe. These consist of 10 sets of opposites thus making it into 20 in number. To know in detail CLICK HERE.

परादि गुण (PARADI GUNA)

The set of properties that are present all over the place and is used in our daily lives. They are 10 in number and is more towards helping us to perform various transactions that we carry out in our daily lives like fixing a dose, evaluating the various situations and objects. To know in detail CLICK HERE.



  1. Very interesting theme Sir! Helpful concept of DRAVYA GUNA.

    According the samhitha’s The concept of formation dravya & it’s properties are clearly stated.
    How the dravya has bonded it’s properties! & why according to season properties make process in it?

    1. The dravya or substance and the properties have their origin together because without properties there is no substance and vise versa. It is because of the properties that we understand and identify the substance. So the aspect as why it changes according to season is due to the effect of the other properties and development or maturity of the substance that results in change of properties too.

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