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Method of knowledge building in Ayurveda

Ayurveda studies only what exists and ultimately eliminates imaginary and speculative assumptions from its field of enquiry. It provides knowledge of existent phenomena related to the life process in an objective manner. Most important of all, it chalks out an operational scheme to personally verify the knowledge gained about the life process. Finally, it emphasizes experience and verification as the ultimate criteria to validate a knowledge system. This is the classical interpretation of the term veda that denotes sattA (existence), jJAna (knowledge), vicAra (inquiry) and lAbha (attainment).

The classical textbooks of Ayurveda declare that true knowledge reveals things as they are and does not distort reality. The sun dispels darkness and reveals the world as it rises on the horizon. Even so the sun of Ayurvedic knowledge reveals to us the nature of life, health and disease. The veracity of this statement has to be verified through a fresh inquiry with an open mind that respects, loves and promotes life.


All Indian knowledge systems emphatically declare that experience is the true basis of knowledge. Therefore, knowledge is experiential - anubhava. However, the ancient sages realized that experience in itself does not constitute knowledge. Experiences have to be validated through the process of verification. Verified experiences are valid and constitute the true source of knowledge. Thus, experience is of two types - valid - yathArtha anubhava or invalid - ayathArtha anubhava. Technically, the understanding gained out of rigorous observations is called as pramA and that gained out of improper observations is called as apramA. The source of knowledge in Ayurveda, therefore, is rigorous and systematic observation. This is indicated by sattA, meaning existence, one of the meanings of the root from which the word veda is derived.


Before attempting to verify, one has to properly understand a technical presentation. In other words, a technical presentation has to be analyzed and understood properly first. Otherwise, the process of verification will be defeating its purpose. This is indicated by vicAra, meaning to analyze, one of the meanings of the root from which the word veda is derived.

Verification Verification adds value to the knowledge and in due course of time, generates a body of knowledge that has been rigorously tested again and again. Ayurveda distinguishes between jJAna and vijJAna, the former denoting understanding and the latter experience. Ayurvedic texts say that one needs both understanding and experience and neither understanding nor experience by itself can lead to complete knowledge. Therefore, the student is advised to first gain understanding by study of authoritative texts and then confirm the understanding personally through the process of investigation called parIkSA. This is indicated by the word lAbha, meaning to obtain, one of the meanings of the root from which the wordveda is derived.