Samanya Vishesha Theory

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Samanya and vishesha are among the six fundamental principles (padartha). These are samanya (similarity), vishesha (dissimilarity), guna (properties), dravya (substances), karma (action) and samavaya (inherence). [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 1/28-29] Samanya is mentioned on priority because knowledge of causes of diseases denote similarities (samanyamulak). The various objects under consideration possess a certain common principle known as ‘samanya’. Samanya is the cause of increase of all components. Samanya combines two or more components and is for the element of the similarity.[Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 1/44] It is noted that samanya leads to increase, only in the absence of an opponent. For example, barley and vata dosha have the same quality of dryness (rukshata). Therefore, excess consumption of barley generally causes vitiation of vata dosha. However, if a person consumes oily food with barley, then the increase in vata dosha is diminished. The unctuous quality of oily food is opposite to dry quality of barley. Samanya can be related to ‘community’ or ‘genera’ to which the substance is associated with. It resembles the concept of ‘jati’ (origin). It denotes similarities or oneness between concepts or substances. For example, there are many human personalities, but ‘humanity’ is common to all. This humanity is unique for the human species. It distinguishes it from other species like govatva (cow species) and ajatva (goats). Samanya is eternal (everlasting and endless), one in number, and remains in many matters like substance (dravya), quality (guna) and action (karma).

On the contrary, vishesha is the cause of decrease and it differentiates. It is opposite to samanya. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 1/44] For example, vishesha produces a distinction between muscle tissue (mamsa dhatu) and vata dosha. Thus mamsa is vishesha for vata dosha. Therefore, rise in vata dosha decreases mamsa dhatu and vice versa. Vishesha causes a decrease or lowering (hraas) only in the absence of an opponent. For example, when a person sleeps in the daytime, it generally increases kapha dosha. Still, when the same person keeps awake during the night (an action that decreases kapha dosha) along with day sleep, there is little or no increase in kapha dosha. Here night wakefulness acts as an opponent to daytime sleep. It refers to the dissimilarity of identity or sameness between substances.

The samanya and vishesha cause augmentation and diminution of body components in biology, respectively. The similar factors to the body components will get augmented, and the dissimilar will diminish. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 1/44]

Samanya Vishesha Theory
Section/Chapter/topic Concepts / Samanya Vishesha Theory
Authors Bhojani M.K.1, Yadav Vandana1
Reviewer Basisht G.2
Editor Deole Y.S.3
Affiliations

1 Department of Kriya Sharira, A.I.I.A. , New Delhi, India 2 Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India

3G.J. Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabh Vidyanagar, Anand, Gujarat, India
Correspondence email meera.samhita@aiia.gov.in, carakasamhita@gmail.com
Date of first publication: February 22, 2022
DOI under process

Derivation

Samanya: It is the principle of similarity and causes the augmentation of all factors (sarvabhaavaanam), including elements (dravya), attributes (guna) and function (karma); in all periods, whether associated with seasons (nityaga kala) or age and disease condition (avastha kala).

Vishesha: It is the principle of dis-similarity. It creates the distinction between similar substances.

Classification

Classification of Samanya

  1. Para Samanya: Samanya found in majority of population or place is known as ‘para samanya’.
  2. Apara Samanya: Samanya found in less number of people or fewer regions is known as ‘aparasamanya’. It is thus less extensive than para samanya. [Karikavali]

Three categories: Chakrapani, commentator of Charak Samhita has divided samanya in three categories:

  1. Dravya samanya (similarity of substances): Similar elements are responsible for their augmentation. Example, the consumption of flesh (mamsa) causes growth of muscles (mamsa dhatu).
  2. Guna samanya (similarity of qualities): Elements with similar attributes (guna) are responsible for their augmentation. Example, milk, though different from semen (shukra dhatu) is responsible for the development of shukra dhatu due to its typical sweet quality (madhura guna).
  3. Karma samanya (similarity of actions): Functions similar to qualities of elements is known as karma samanya. For example, sedentary nature, though being different from kapha dosha, causes an increase in kapha dosha.

Two classes:

  1. Ubhayavritti samanya: It is the samanya in which both the cause and effect belong to the same class. For example, the consumption of flesh nourishes the body's muscle tissue. Here both the flesh and the muscle tissue belong to same class, hence representing the example of ubhayavritti]samanya.
  2. Ekavritti samanya: It is the samanya in which both the cause and effect belong to a different class. For example, consumption of clarified butter/ghee (ghrita) causes an increase in digestive capacity (agni). Both ghee (ghrita) and digestive capacity belong to another category. The ghee (ghrita) increases the digestive capacity by a characteristic therapeutic effect called prabhava (influence). This represents the example of ekavritti samanya.

Bhattar Harishchandra has classified samanya into three classes:

  1. Atyanta samanya: Samanya found in all three factors of dravya, guna and karma.
  2. Madhyama samanya: Samanya found in any two factors among dravya, guna and karma.
  3. Ekadesha samanya: Samanya found in any one factor among dravya, guna and karma.

Classification of vishesha

  1. Dravya vishesha (dis-similarity in substances): Elements which are different or opposite, are responsible of their diminution. For example, horse gram or barley like dry substances (ruksha) cause depletion of kapha dosha and cholesterol in obesity.
  2. Guna vishesha (dis-similarity in qualities): Elements with different or opposite attributes (guna) are responsible for their diminution. For example, warm (ushna), unctuous (snigdha) and dense (guru) oil (tail) pacify vata dosha of opposite features.
  3. Karma vishesha (dis-similarity in actions): Functions opposite to qualities of elements is known as karma vishesha. For example, bloodletting (like siravedha) decreases blood impurities (rakta dosha).

Difference between samanya and vishesha

Table 1: Difference between samanya and vishesha
Samanya Vishesha
Samanya carries a sense of similarity Vishesha carries a sense of distinction
It is one It is more than one
Expresses a group or class Expresses individuality

Importance of concept

Therapeutic Importance

Samanya

When there is a depleted state of dosha, dhatu or mala, then their quantity is increased by elements or actions of similar substance (dravya), quality (guna), or action (karma). In cases of some deficiencies, the direct administration of the same element is not possible due to hateful nature, unsuitability, or any other cause. For example, in cases of deficiency of semen or malas, elements with similar qualities (like milk and ghee (ghrita) in shukra dhatu deficiency) are administered. The concept of samanya is practiced in conventional medicine widely. For example, consumption of vitamins in vitamin deficiency is done.

It is observed that samanya is not always the cause of increment. The increment is subjected to some conditions and factors. For example, the sweet taste consumption of food tends to increase kapha dosha. Because the qualities of kapha (one of three body humors) and sweet food are identical (both have heavy or guru, cold or sheeta, unctuous or snigdha, etc qualities). However, sweet food does not increase kapha in the summer season, because the kapha dosha is depleted in summer season. Similarly, sleep tends to increase kapha dosha. However, there is not much effect of sleep in old age on kapha dosha. In both the above cases, we observe that samanya is not significantly effective in increment always. It can be explained by the reason that in both above cases, the depletion (kshaya) has become steady. A situation in which samanya even though causes augmentation, it only balances the depletion already persisting. The theory also says that samanya do not cause augmentation in the presence of opposing circumstances.

Vishesha

Vishesha emphasis on specificity or particularity. Vishesha is used in maintaining the equilibrium of dosha, body tissues (dhatu) and body wastes (mala). The treatment shall be done in six stages of pathogenesis (shatkriyakala) to stop the progression of diseases. If dosha are not stopped through alleviation, the disease may progress to an incurable stage. Vishesha is used for the alleviation of dosha at this point. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/60-62] Also Vishesha principle is applied in emaciating therapies (apatarpana) in the cases of diseases caused by overnutrition (santarpana) and vice versa. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 23/25-26] Application of principles of samanya-vishesha in the therapeutic intervention leads to augmentation or diminution of body elements. These principles play an important role in treating diseases and preventing them from recurrence.

Importance in preservation of health

The primary objective of Ayurveda is preservation of health. Equilibrium of all body components can be attained and maintained by application of samanya and vishesha principles.

The seasonal dietary and lifestyles regimens (ritucharya) are prescribed on the basis of samanya and vishesha principles. These are generally opposite to environmental conditions characteristics to maintain the equilibrium of dosha in the body.

Daily regimens (dinacharya) is helpful in prevention of diseases. The various procedures in dinacharya are also based on principles of samanya and vishesha. Example, therapeutic smoking (dhumapana) helps in pacifying kapha dosha, massage (abhyanga) helps in pacifying vata dosha, etc.

The ‘agryadravyas’ (foremost factors) are used for treatment of diseases and maintenance of health. These act by the principle of samanya and vishesha. For example, the best way to pacify kapha dosha is therapeutic emesis (vamana). The best drug to kill worms inside body is Embelia ribes (vidanga).

In most cases, the disease is caused by ama. This is formed due to improper digestion and can be treated by improving digestive functions. Fifty groups of drugs with each group containing ten drugs, are listed. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 4] These groups are called ‘mahakashaya’. Some mahakashayas among these work by the principle of samanya. For example, jeevaniya, brihmaniya mahakashaya lead to nourishment of dhatus. Some groups work on the principle of vishesha. For example, vishaghna (eradicating poisons), krimighna (eradicating worms) mahakashaya.

The six therapeutic procedures (shadvidhupakrama like langhana, brimhana, rukshana, snehana, swedana, stambhana, purification therapies (samshodhana) and alleviating (samshamana) procedures are based on vishesha principle.

Contemporary approach

Synergistic effect relates to the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect more significant than the sum of their separate effects. Samanya shows synergistic effects and can be explained by the following example. A kapha prakriti person has predominant unctuous (snigdha) attribute. Individual application of day sleep and oily food separately increases unctuous (snigdha guna). But simultaneous application of day sleep and oily food together exponentially increases unctuous (snigdha guna). Here, the kapha dosha increasing feature of both day sleep and oily food belong to the same nature (samanya) and shows a synergistic effect.[1]

Contrarily, antagonistic effects are the interactions of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect to lower the sum of their separate effects. Vishesha relates to antagonistic effects and can be explained by following example – Autumn season (sharada ritu) has predominant hot (ushna), heavy (guru) and unctuous (snigdha) attributes. Also, vata dosha has cold (sheet), light (laghu) and dry (ruksha) attributes which are just opposite to the attributes found in sharada ritu. Although any of the single attribute of sharadaritu (ushna, guru or snigdha guna) is individually enough to lower the intensity of vata dosha, but in sharada ritu the antagonistic effect of all these three attributes lowers the strength of vata dosha to an exponential level, leading to lowering (shamana) of vata dosha. In a similar way, there is lowering of strength of pitta dosha in early winter (hemanth ritu) and kapha dosha in summer season (greeshma ritu).

The mechanism by which samanya and vishesha cause augmentation and diminution respectively can be explained as follows. When two identical substances are mixed, then their quantity increases. For example, if one liter of water is mixed with one liter of milk, then both the liquids being ‘homogenous’ and belonging to same class, easily get mixed raising the quantity of the mixture to two liters (samanya). Homogenous mixture is made up of parts that are all of same type and can be correlated to samanya.

On the other hand, if attempt is made to mix one liter of water with one kilogram of sand, then the volume of liquid will not rise because both the solutions being ‘heterogenous’ and will not get intermixed (vishesha). Heterogeneous consists of different types of people or things and can be correlated to vishesha.

Current researches

Various researches on applied aspects of Samanya Vishesha siddhanta have been carried out in past decade and presented in the form of articles and thesis. The summary of these researches is as follows.

1. Samanya Vishesha Principle- Key component in Ayurvedic treatment by Archana Mishra: This article narrates that samanya vishesha can be used in choosing the right medication. Due to samanya property, medications that can raise the decreased dosha and dhatu (due to similarities) can be used. Whereas due to vishesha, medications that can lower the increased dosha and dhatu (due to dissimilarities) can be used.[2]

2. Universal significance of the principle of samanya and vishesha beyond Ayurveda by Deep Narayan Pandey and Neha Pandey Prakash: This article indicates that Samanya Vishesha siddhanta has universal applicability beyond Ayurveda.[3] After illustrating the concept and features of samanya and vishesha few examples of universal applicability of samanya and vishesha beyond Ayurveda were portrayed as follows:

a) Children try to copy the acts of their parents. The good behaviour increases the good behaviour of the children and vice versa (by the property of samanya). Thus, the anger issues children, if tried to solve by angry behaviour of parents, is found to increase the angry nature of the child (samanya). Whereas solving the angry nature of child by calm behaviour of parents is found to pacify angry nature of the children (vishesha).

b) If people with similar wealth status (samanya) join a team and work with same strategy, then it leads to poverty reduction.

3. Application of samanya vishesha siddhant in management of ama by Temkal Shital and Sawai Rajesh: Ama (incompletely transformed or metabolised food) is formed as a result of insufficient digestive capacity (agnimandya). The prevention of causes of agnimandya (samanya), implementation of procedures that cause exaggeration of digestive capacity (jatharagni) and procedures that have opposite features to that of ama (vishesha) helps in pacification of ama. Application of vishesha bhava (dravya vishesha like Aconitum heterophyllum (ativisha), Cyperus rotundus (nagarmotha)) are important for digestion of ama (amapachana).[4]

4. Doctrines of samanya-vishesha siddhant in relation to the management of diseases by Ramteerth Sharma, Sunil K. Sharma, Mamta Tiwari, Anurag Pandey: Samanya Vishesha siddhanta helps maintain the equilibrium of vitiated dosha. Application of samanya leads to advancement of stages of diseases (shatkriyakala) and prevention of advancement of stages of diseases can be done by application of vishesha. More strength in visarga kala (rainy (varsha), autumn (sharada) and early winter (hemant season)) and decreased strength in adana kala (late winter (shishira), spring (vasanta) and summer (grishma) season) is due to samanyavishesha. Daily routine (dinacharya), if applied in context of samanya vishesha gives better results. The foremost drugs (agryadravyas) and mahakashayas mentioned in Charaka Samhita works with the principle of samanya vishesha. The increasing and decreasing of dosha and dhatus to prevent their imbalance is by the theory of samanya vishesha. This theory helps in the treatment of ama too.[5]

5. Concept of samanya vishesha siddhanta and its role in prevention of diseases - Ayurveda review by Sapna Jain and Seema Bahatkar: The samanya vishesha theory helps the dosha, dhatu and mala to attain the state of equilibrium. It helps in making choice of appropriate activities, diet and medicine.[6]

6. Conceptual study of samanya vishesh siddhanta in treatment of amlapitta (hyperacidity) by Uzma A. Qureshi and Arun U. Bhatkar: The causes of hyperacidity (amlapitta) like dravya samanya viz. Macrotyloma uniforum (kulattha), roasted grains, drinking excessive water newly made alcohol, fermented products like curd, idli, dosa, dhokla etc. increases pitta dosha. Guna samanya like consumption of hot potency (ushna) substances and liquid (dravagunatmak) foodstuff, sour (amla) and stuffs increase pitta dosha. Similar actions like excessive fasting, suppression of natural urges, eating at improper time when previous is not properly digested leads to vitiation of pitta dosha. Avoidance of these factors helps in pacifying amlapitta. Also, the use of dravyas having opposite properties of pitta, will decrease the vitiated potency of pitta, and consequently amlapitta.[7]

7. A study of samanya vishesha siddhanta w.s.r. to visheshasiddhanta in dietary & therapeutic management of madhumeha by Sumangala H.M.: A Study was carried out on 30 patients of madhumeha for a period of 45 days. It was found that applying treatment based on vishesha principle helps in the management of madhumeha.[8]

8. Conceptual and applied aspects of hrasaheturvisheshashscha in the context of sthaulya by Ritesh Gujarathi: In this study, the principle of samanya and vishesha was applied to study effect of gomutraharitaki in the patients of obesity (sthaulya).[9]

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References

  1. Upadhyaya Y, editor, (1st ed.). Commentary Vidyotini of Atrideva Gupta on Astangh Hridaya, Sutra Sthana; Doshabhediya Adhyaya: Chapter 12, Verse 19-29. Varanasi : Chaukhamba Prakashan, 2014: Varanasi, 215-218.
  2. Samanya Vishesha Principle- Key component in ayurvedic treatment- by Archana Mishra, IAMJ, April, 2018, ISSN: 2320 5091.
  3. Universal Significance of the Principle of Samanya and Vishesha beyond Ayurveda- by Deep Narayan Pandey and Neha Pandey Prakash, JAIM, 3 November 2018.
  4. Application of Samanya Vishesha Siddhant in Management of Ama- by Temkal Shital and Sawai Rajesh Volume 10, Issue 6, 595-600, ISSN 2277– 7105, 10 May 2021.
  5. Doctrines of Samanya-Vishesha Siddhant in Relation to Management of Diseases- by Ramteerth Sharma, Sunil K. Sharma, Mamta Tiwari, Anurag Pandey in Journal of Xi’an Shiyou University, Natural Science Edition, Volume 16 Issue 7 ISSN : 1673-064X
  6. Concept of SamanyaVishesha Siddhant and its Role in Prevention of Diseases - Ayurveda review- by Sapna Jain and Seema Bahatkar, Himalayan Journal of Health Sciences, 2021 ISSN: 2582 – 0737.
  7. Conceptual Study of Samanya Vishesh Siddhanta in Treatment of Amlapitta (Hyperacidity) - by Uzma A. Qureshi and Arun U. Bhatkar, International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Medical Sciences, Vol 3, Issue 1. (Jan-Mar 2020) ISSN: 2582-2748
  8. A Study of Samanya Vishesha Siddhanta w.s.r. to Vishesha Siddhanta in Dietary & Therapeutic Management of Madhumeha – by Sumangala H.M, Dissertation submitted to Rajiv Gandhi University of Medical Sciences, Karnataka, November 2010
  9. Conceptual and Applied Aspects of Hrasa Hetur-Visheshascha in the context of Sthaulya – by Ritesh Gujrati, Dissertation submitted to IPGT&R, Jamnagar, Gujarat, 2004