सामान्यं च विशेषं च गुणान् द्रव्याणि कर्म च  । समवायं च तज्ज्ञात्वा तनत्रोक्तं विधिमास्थिताः।।

The science of Ayurveda is basically based on various concepts that have been taken from the philosophies called as दर्शन (Darshana). These philosophies have formulated concepts that are helpful in the explanation of their respective goals and imply for all in general sense. But with respect to Ayurveda, these concepts are modified in such a way that the basic meaning and explanation of the concepts are not altered but are suitable to explain the facts and theories of Ayurveda. These concepts are known as पदार्थ (Padartha) and are 6 in number, hence are known as षड्पदार्थ (SHADPADARTHA). These 6 concepts are सामान्य (Samanya), विशेष (Vishesha), गुण (Guna), द्रव्य (Dravya), कर्म (Karma) and समवाय (Samavaya). The concept is taken directly from the philosophies but the arrangement is modified in such a way that it suits the basic objective of Ayurveda. 

पदेनोच्छार्यमाणेन यद्वस्तु प्रतिपद्यते ।
तत्पदस्य हि तद्वस्तु पदार्थ इति कीर्तितः ।। सु.उ. 65/7
A group of alphabets or a sentence that is used to denote or explain a substance, situation or anything that is meaningful in a particular given context is known as PADARTHA.

There can be innumerable words formed from the alphabets by just combining them. But it is not necessary that they have a meaning. Even if they do possess a meaning, then they should be more suitable to the sentence or the point where they are being used. Thus, mere jumbled words can hardly be considered as PADARTHA. But these words when they give a definite meaning with respect to the situation and sentence where it is being mentioned. In the present context, Padartha refers to those words which define the concepts. These concepts are those which explain the various components of the universe. They are 6 in number and represent the individual component of the universe. 

षड्पदार्थ (SHADPADARTHA)

The term SHAD refers to 6 and PADARTHA are the concepts. When seen in different Darshana or philosophy which the science of Ayurveda has referred, consists of different opinion with a conclusion being done on six. The six concepts infact refer to those which any entity can be classified into. In total, the whole universe can be classified into these 6 concepts giving a summarised outlook of the whole. This holds good with respect to every entity in the universe. The concept is taken directly from the philosophies with the modification in their arrangement. The six concepts and their arrangement are as follows:

  1. DRAVYA – Substance
  2. GUNA – Property
  3. KARMA – Action
  4. SAMANYA – Similarities
  5. VISHESHA – Specialities
  6. SAMAVAYA – Intimacy or intimate relationship

Here the main priority is how the knowledge of these concepts are obtained. In the list except the substance all are intangible in nature. Thus, without the substance the remaining concepts are only rudimentary. Hence, substance assumes the most important concept. All substances are understood and identified by their properties, thus giving it the second place, followed by action and others in the order as mentioned. With respect to Ayurveda, the arrangement is altered because the priority here is the efficacy of treatment and not the substance. Hence, the priority is given to Similarities and Specialities of the properties, substance or action between different components or substances. Thus the order of these 6 concepts are as mentioned in the list below

  1. SAMANYA – Similarities
  2. VISHESHA – Specialitites
  3. GUNA – Properties
  4. DRAVYA – Substance
  5. KARMA – Action
  6. SAMAVAYA – Intimacy or intimate relationship.

The difference in the arrangement is resulted due to the emphasis that the particular philosophy gives. Hence, as per Ayurveda, the priority is not the substance but their similarities and specialities that are more important than a substance such that one can be replaced by the other. Among the remaining four also Guna is considered important as the assessment of similarities and specialities is primarily based on the property of the substance which is always present in the substance. This is followed by the substance which is the base for all the properties. The action is understood by effect which is another entity that is emphasised but the priority given is after the substance because the assessment of action is dependent on the properties followed by the substance. Lastly the intimate relationship between these concepts which cannot be ignored to complete the classification of the universe or any matter.


Analysis of the universe is important to understand the functioning and its influence on our body. This not only gives an idea of how to cope up with the environment around us but also to improvise over it without harming it or causing any imbalance to its equilibrium. Thus, the analysis has given rise to the six concepts known as SHAD PADARTHA which refers to the six primary concepts. These concepts form the basis of our understanding of the universe and Ayurveda or any other philosophy that have originated in India. The explanation of each concept is as below:


The term Samanya refers to similarities. The concept is based on the comparison between two or more substances, its qualities and actions. The concept is considered to be of prime importance in Ayurveda. It is because the similarity between the substances with respect to the qualities and actions are mainly helpful in the process of substitution. Substitution of a substance to another will lead to more alternatives, thus resulting in the successful completion of treatment. Based on the criteria of assessment it is of 3 types namely

  1. दर्व्य सामान्य (Dravya Samanya)
  2. गुण सामान्य (Guna Samanya)
  3. कर्म सामान्य (Karma Samanya)

These three are the important basis for understanding the effects of different substances on individual with respect to several diseases. To know in detail……………………………….click here.


The term is another important concept like the previous one. Infact, it is the opposite of the concept of सामान्य (Samanya). Thus, it stands for the concept of dissimilarities. Wherever, there is similarity, there also co-exists the aspect of dissimilarity or speciality. It is that feature or concept that results is distinguish of the substance from others either within the group or any other group. As this is an opposite to सामान्य (Samanya), this also has been classified into 3 types based on the criteria of assessment namely

  1. दर्व्य विशेष (Dravya Vishesha)
  2. गुण विशेष (Guna Vishesha)
  3. कर्म विशेष (Karma Vishesha)

Like सामान्य (Samanya) even these three are the important basis for understanding the effects of different substances on individual with respect to several diseases. To know in detail…………………… here.


Guna denotes properties of the substance. It forms the most important concept among the lot as it is the one that gives all the other concepts its meaning and importance. The property of the substance is the one that gives it the identity, understanding, features and ability to act also. Thus, without a property there is no existence of the substance. Among the 6 concepts this is placed in the third position because compare to the rest this assumes a greater importance. It is due to the fact that the basic criteria of a comparison between two or more is the property itself which may be either physical or chemical. Hence, this concept is placed before the rest of them but after सामान्य (Samanya) and विशेष (Vishesha). This concept is again elaborated in आयुर्वेद (Ayurveda) so as to have a better and detailed understanding of drug action and its relative effects on the individual. There is no classification of this concept by the philosophies but Ayurveda has classified the same. Basically the concept of गुण (Guna) is classified into 3 groups namely

  1. सामान्य गुण (Samanya Guna)
  2. विशिष्ट गुण (Vishishta Guna)
  3. आध्यात्म गुण (Adhyatma Guna)

These are further classified and elaborately explained in the text Charaka Samhita which belongs to the field of Ayurveda. To know in detail………….click here.


The concept of Dravya is the one that represents the Substance. In the philosophical concept, it is the first one that is being perceived. In Ayurveda it assumes the fourth position. This is because, the substance’s property and its similarities and peculiarities are more important than the substance itself. If we have a clear knowledge of what property we want to use for an effective treatment, the differentiation on the basis of similar or peculiar characteristic features will make the attainment of treatment goals easier. Thus the concept has the fourth position after Guna or properties. As per the concept the substances are basically of two types namely

  1. कारण द्रव्य (Karana Dravya)
  2. कार्य द्रव्य (Karya Dravya)

The कारण द्रव्य (Karana Dravya) are those fundamental elements that provide the base for every living or non-living matter in this creation. These are identified as 9 in number namely ख or आकाश (Akasha), वायु (Vayu), अग्नि (Agni), जल (Jala), पृथ्वि (Prithvi), आत्म (Atma), मन (Mana), काल (Kala) and दिक् (Disha). These nine elements are responsible to the manifestation of the कार्य द्रव्य (Karya Dravya). Among the 9 the first five together form the Panchamahabhuta and in them except आकाश (Akasha) all other are having a perceivable form. The rest four and आकाश (Akasha) are those which are non-perceivable or minute in form. It is the five Mahabhutas that form the second set of substances namely कार्य द्रव्य (Karya dravya).

The set कार्य द्रव्य (Karya Dravya) are those elements which are formed by the various permutations and combinations of कारण द्रव्य (Karana Dravya). These substances include all living and non-living substances that are present in the universe. Those which are associated with आत्म (Atma) are known as चेतन द्रव्य (Chetana Dravya) or living substances while those which are not associated with आत्म (Atma) are known as अचेतन द्रव्य (Achetana Dravya) or Non-living substances. These substances are then classified into many classifications based on different criterion. To know in detail ……………… here.


कर्म (Karma) or actions is the term that denotes all types of actions which are preformed by different substances (either living or non-living) in general. Even though the actions are manifested mainly due to the properties present in the substances, it is known that mere presence of the property will not result in their manifestation. There are many other factors like the threshold of property concentration, ability of the area or substance, medium of manifestation, etc that play an important role in the manifestation of the actions. Thus, the texts have bifurcated the कारण or causes for actions as three namely समवाय कारण (Samavaya karana), असमवाय कारण (Asamavaya karana) and निमित्त कारण (Nimitta karana). Only a suitable confluence of these three will lead to the manifestation of any action. These actions based on the predominance and degree of manifestation are of two types namely

  1. प्रधान कर्म – Main Action
  2. गौण कर्म – Subsidiary Action

The main action is that which is seen in every condition of the substance and is an inherent one. The action is a sure one with the use of the substance. The subsidiary action on the other hand is only manifested when there is a situation that is conducive for its exhibition. These lay inert in the substance and manifest under certain circumstances. When the same is explainable then it is said to be caused by them else it is understood to be caused by the inert nature of the substance known as “प्रभाव (Prabhava)”.  To know in detail …………….click here.


All the components in the universe are inter-related to each other. This inter-relation is a symbiotic one. This relationship of mutual existence is known as समवाय (Samavaya). This relationship is mainly between the property and the substance. This relationship is both physical and chemical properties which give it the physical identity and potential to produce an action respectively. The relationship is a symbiotic one where one exists only when the other is present. Thus, if at all the property of a substance is destroyed then the substance itself get destroyed. Hence, a substance is always a different entity from its derivatives or its chemical isolates. They are to be taken as a separate independent entity only. To know more in detail…………click here

The video representation of the concept is presented in the video attached below:


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