Aaptopadesha pramana

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Aaptopadesha means authoritative statement. It is verbal comprehension or testimony of knowledge. This testimony is assertion by a trustworthy or authority in the concerned filed of knowledge termed as ‘aapta’. It is also known as “shabda” (statement). It is knowledge obtained from the expert person in the respective field. It is the authentic source of literary knowledge or the primary source of information related to any subject. This includes manuscripts or published documents like samhita, articles, journals etc. It is the primary and foremost means of knowledge that forms a base for other pramana and further knowledge. In ancient times, the medium of knowledge transfer through generations was mainly verbal communication. The disciples had to memorize everything in the form of auditory memory (shruti). Thereafter, the veda (source of knowledge) were created in the form of manuscripts. Aaptopadesha or shabda includes the testimony of vedas with revealed knowledge that is obtained traditionally. Aaptopadesha or aapta pramana can be utilised as both a source of knowledge and tool to examine the collected, compiled or obtained knowledge. In current era, this authoritative form can be seen in the form of scientific lectures, research articles with a high impact in society.

Section/Chapter/topic Concepts / Aaptopadesha pramana
Authors Bhojani M.K.1, Joglekar A.A.2
Reviewer Basisht G.3
Editor Deole Y.S.4

1 Department of Sharir Kriya, A.I.I.A. , New Delhi, India

2 Department of Samhita Siddhant, A.I.I.A. , New Delhi, India

3 Rheumatologist, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.

4 Department of Kayachikitsa, G.J.Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabhvidya Nagar, Anand, Gujarat, India
Correspondence email meera.samhita@aiia.gov.in, carakasamhita@gmail.com
Publisher Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India
Date of first publication: February 09, 2022
DOI 10.47468/CSNE.2022.e01.s09.087

Etymology and derivation

The verbal testimony or the knowledge given by higher authority ‘aapta’ is termed as ‘shabda’. Aapta is the one having absolute, authentic and authoritative knowledge about the subject matter.

The word Aaptopadesha is made by combination of two words ‘Aapta’ and ‘upadesha’.

Aapta: Aapta as one disseminating authentic knowledge (yathartha vakta).[Tarkasangraha][1] Aapta is a fit credible, authoritative person. It is also referred to guarantee, warrantee, clever, trustworthy, fit exact, credential individual. [Monnier Williams dictionary p.142][2]

Upadesha: It refers to the teachings and instructions put-forth by learned authority. It literally means to instruct, specify, teach, inform, advice or to point out. [Monnier Williams dictionary p.199][2]

Aagama: The term aagama denotes acquisition of knowledge, traditional doctrine, percept.[Monnier Williams dictionary p.129][2]

Shabda: Upadesha (instructions) of learned are termed as ‘shabda’. [Nyayavartika],[3][Tarkasangraha][1] The term that can be read and spoken is termed as ‘shabda’.[Amarkosha][4]

Synonyms of aaptopadesha

  1. Aagama [Su.Sa.Sutra Sthana 1/16][5]
  2. Aitihya [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/41] Aitihyaisalaukika aaptopadesha (differing from the veda). [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/41]
  3. Shabda (Tarkasangraha , Shabdalakshana)[6]
  4. Shishtha [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 11/19]
  5. Vibuddha [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 11/19]
  6. Aaptavachana [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 4/4]

Definition of aapta

Aapta are enlightened and knowledgeable individuals absolutely free from rajas and tamas (psychological doshas). Hence, they possess knowledge of past, present and future (trikala) and are known as authorities (aapta). They are also known as the wise (shishtha) and enlightened (vibuddha) individuals. Their words are considered absolute truth without any doubt. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 11/18-19] Here rajas are root cause of attachment or aversion and tamas is shadowing of ignorance both of which may hinder the knowledge in its true sense. This makes the knowledge obtained from aapta authoritative and reliable.

Aapta are free from doubts, they have unimpaired memory; they know things in their entirety by determinate experience. They see things without any attachment or affection (nishpriti and nirupatap). These qualities make their statements authentic and authoritative. On the other hand, the statements either true or false made by intoxicated (matta), mad (unmatta), illiterate (murkha) people and people with attachments are not to be considered as authoritative.[Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 4/4]

Aagama is defined as shastra or science preached by the aapta or knowledgeable people that can be validated or proved with the help of pramana and is universally applicable. It gives true meaning or essence of the science. [Dalhana on Su.Sa.Sutra Sthana 1/16][5]


Aaptopadesha is included in the 41 vaadamarga as ‘aitihya pramana’ along with the other pramana like pratyaksha pramana, anumana pramana, upamana etc.[Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/41]

Characteristics of authentic source or science (shashtra lakshana)

As the shastra or the textual knowledge is source of aaptopadesha pramana, the criteria for the examination of texts is described to assess the authenticity. These are eighteen criteria useful of assessment of credibility of any science. These include comprehensive text providing all information, followed by prominent and wise men (successful practitioners), meaningful, regarded by authorities, useful for learners of all intellectual capacities (with good, moderate and poor intellect), devoid of the deformity of reiteration, descending from the sages (which is written by experienced, intuitive person), with well- formed discussion and conclusion, having informative title and firm base free from weak and difficult words, having comprehensive knowledge of subject, with proper sequencing of its contents committed principally to arriving at the essence of thoughts, which reveals clear meanings and concrete conclusion, focused on the particular subject without wavering ideas and irrelevant content, quickly understandable with separated topics, effectively comprehensible, and having definitions showed with examples.[Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/3]

Types of aaptopadesha

There are two types or categories of aapta namely, laukika and alaukika. [Tarkasangraha] Laukika aaptopadesha are statements of unauthentic people or lay people who may not have authoritative knowledge of the subject. Alaukika shabda are statements from the veda like atharvaveda that are time tested and traditional.[1]

Types of shabda

The shabda is a collection of syllables (varna). It is of four types: Observable, visible facts (drishtartha), unobservable (adrishtartha), factual or truth (satya) and false, nonfactual (asatya).[Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/38] These can be understood as:

a) Drishtartha shabda: Observable phenomena like dosha vitiation due to three dosha and alleviation of dosha with the six major therapies (shadvidha upakrama).

b) Adrishtartha shabda: These are phenomena that cannot be observed or perceived like emancipation (moksha, pretyabhava).

c) Satya: This is the knowledge consistent with facts or factual knowledge which can be observed like there are remedial measures for the curable diseases and there exists a result of every action.

d) Asatya: Contrary to satya (that which is not consistent with facts).

Applications of aaptopadesha

Aaptopadesha can be applied in the examination and treatment of diseases. Following can be observed through the means of aaptopadesha pramana [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 4/6]:

  1. Roga- disease condition
  2. Prakopana- vitiation of dosha
  3. Yoni – etiology of (prakopana) vitiation of dosha
  4. Utthana- onset of disease
  5. Aatmanam- cardinal signs and symptoms of dosha
  6. Adhisthana- site of occurrence of disease.
  7. Vedana- sign and symptoms
  8. Sansthana- location of the origin of vitiation like stomach (amashaya), intestine (pakwashaya), other internal organs (avayava vishesha) or micro-channels of the body (sukshma strotasa)
  9. Shabda, sparsha, rupa, rasa, gandha- the function and pathology of senses.
  10. Upadrava- complications
  11. Vriddhi, sthana, kshaya- the increased, balanced or decreased state of dosha.
  12. Udarka- prognosis
  13. Naama- nomenclature of disease
  14. Pravritti- indicated treatment
  15. Nivritti-contraindicated treatment.

Using the above framework, one gather knowledge regarding any disease condition.

Importance of concept

Understanding aaptopadesha is important for interpretation of pratyaksha pramana and anumana pramana. Aaptopadesha as primary or preliminary source of previously gathered knowledge followed by pratyaksha pramana and anumana pramana.[Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 4/5] A physician can only be successful in his endeavors if he possesses the authentic scientific and textual knowledge coupled with the practical aspects. One who possess practical knowledge but is devoid of the scientific background does not get validation from the society and the authority. [Su.Sa.Sutra Sthana 3/48-50][5] Thus the scientific knowledge plays a key role in shaping the career of physician.

Importance of aaptopadesha pramana in diagnosis of diseases

Aaptopadesha is amongst the three pramana indicated for the rightful study of any disease. Aaptopadesha gives valid information about any disease with respect to its causes, symptomatology, location prognosis, nomenclature according to Ayurveda. The five means of knowledge (nidana panchaka) of different diseases mentioned in the texts is the basis of knowledge of any particular disorder. The basic principles of Ayurveda mentioned in the text are helpful in diagnosis of any disease irrespective of its mention in classics.

Importance of aaptopadesha pramana in prevention of diseases

Ayurveda holistically explains different aspects of preventive medicine in terms of dinacharya, ritucharya, sadvritta, vega-avidharana etc. The fundamental principles related to each of the above are explained in the samhita. Thus, the aaptavachana or aaptopadesha is source of prevention of diseases and maintenance of health. The knowledge of the prescription of authoritative sages as important aspect in disease prevention. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 7/55] ‘Aaptopasevi’ or the person who is devoted or serves the authorities or respected population seldom falls prey to disease manifestation. [Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 2/46] The following the guidelines of preventive and promotive health explained in the Ayurveda texts can contribute to the preservation of health.

Importance of aaptopadesha pramana in treatment of diseases

Physicians should follow the treatment principles mentioned in the science without doubt for successful treatment of diseases. These are validated by aagama pramana and are observable and experienced with the help of pratyaksha pramana.[Su.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 1/75][5] The principles mentioned in the samhita should be incorporated in practice as they are valid and pure as vedic mantra. The Ayurveda is directed towards the purpose of disease treatment and the principles of treatment of various diseases mentioned in the texts are applicable in clinical scenario. The principles of shodhana, shamana, nidana Parivarjana, different medications and herbal/herbomineral compounds. Also the principles of drug selection, drug identification and administration mentioned in the texts are the testimony of application of aaptopadesha.

Aaptopadesha pramana as a research tool

Aaptodesha pramana is considered as a primary tool for research. It is the base for literary and conceptual research. The aaptopadesha forms the major step of review of literature and previous work done on the subject. A substantive, thorough, sophisticated literature review is a precondition for undertaking and commencing any kind of research. It is process of inductive research where there is acquirement of new theory. The aaptopadesha thus provides knowledge or literature base for the accessible information. It can be compared to literature review, desk reviews, narrative reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analysis on the subject. It is the theoretical basis of knowledge formation. It is the foundation for further information and research on any subject. Literature review can be considered as more or less a systematic way of collecting and synthesizing previous knowledge.[7] A literature review integrates the findings and perspectives from many empirical findings to address research questions with a power that no single study can completely establish. It helps to compile the dispersed knowledge at various instances in the literature to provide a summary or zest of authentic knowledge. The narrative reviews or literature reviews give broader knowledge regarding the available information and extend the horizons for synthesis of novel information. Thus it sensitizes the researcher regarding the theory development, existing literature and gaps in the knowledge process.[8] However, the narrative reviews often include a component of selection bias. These are more descriptive and focus on hypothesis formation rather the testing of hypothesis.

Systematic reviews thus provide the highest level of evidence as they extract the relevant and reliable information from dispersed empirical data.[9] They give thorough knowledge regarding the research performed and future scope pertaining to any particular subject. Systematic reviews typically involve a detailed and comprehensive plan and search strategy derived a priori, with the goal of reducing bias by identifying, appraising, and synthesizing all relevant studies on a particular topic.[10] Systematic reviews often include a meta-analysis component which involves using statistical techniques to synthesize the data from several studies into a single quantitative estimate or summary effect size.[11]

The samhita, commentaries on samhita, sangraha grantha, nighantu grantha, kosha, vyakhya, textbooks, archival texts, published research works can be considered as sources of aaptopadesha according to Ayurveda.

Importance of aaptopadesha pramana as teaching and learning tool

The advent of art of writing, invention of paper and printing technology was preceded by the verbal communication of Acharya and Rishi in the Samhita period. The knowledge was largely communicated through oral or verbal form. The Ayurveda avatarana (hierarchy of transfer of knowledge of Ayurveda) also suggests that the science of Ayurveda was passed on by Brahma through the means of verbal communication.[Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 1/4) Thus the shabda pramana was the primary source of knowledge since times immoral. This also highlights the extensive usage of question-answer based teaching and learning methodology in Ayurveda classics as suggested by ‘Na-prushtwa-guravo-vadanti nyaya'. [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 18/4] It is the foundation for the trividha dnyanopaya or means of learning about any subject matter is largely based on aaptopadesha.[Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/6] All the three aspects study (adhyayana), teaching (adhyapana) and discussion (tadvidya sambhasha) involve the derivation of knowledge from the aapta or texts. The initial or theoretical study (paatha), understanding of the concepts (avabodha), application of the knowledge (anusthana) are also dependant on aaptopadesha. [A.Hr.Uttara Sthana 40/82][12] The basics of understanding of the texts or literary matter explained in the samhita like tantrayukti, tacchilya, vadamarga, pramana, arthashraya, siddhant are derived from aaptopadesha and can help to testify the concepts mentioned in the samhita as well. Acharya Sushruta advises every individual to be well versed with different types of sciences and texts in order to become a proficient vaidya. [Su.Sa.Sutra Sthana 4/7][5] This underlines the importance of learning the science directly from the teachers. [Su.Sa.Sutra Sthana 4/8][5] The aaptopadesha explores and strengthens the cognitive and memory based domain of the pedagogy.

Importance of aaptopadesha pramana for being a good vaidya

Proficiency in theoretical knowledge (shrutam paryavadatatwam) obtained from the guru or teacher as an attribute of a good vaidya. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 9/6] [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/4] According to Chakrapani, it is considered as the best quality of vaidya. [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 9/6] The pranabhisara vaidya (life saviour physician) should possess four qualities. One of the qualities is shashtra-artha vidnyana or indulgence and clear understanding of the science. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 9/18] The other attributes like learning process (vidya), scientific knowledge (vidnyana), memory (smriti), all denote the importance of aaptopadesha. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 9/21-22] Shastra or the scientific knowledge provides light for illumination (to remove darkness of ignorance or to know things) and one’s own intellect is like eyes. The physician who uses both (scientific knowledge and own intellect) properly, does not commit mistakes during treatment because in treatment, the other three components are dependent on the physician. Hence the physician should make all efforts to enrich his qualities.[Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 9/24]

Further reading

  1. Dr. Sreelekshmi VS et al discussed the application of the trividha pareeksha i.e. pratyaksha, anumana and aaptopadesha in the article entitled “A Comprehensive review on Trividha Pareeksha in current scenario”. where they described aaptopadesha as a tool to understand difficult concepts.[13]
  2. Prof. Rangaprasad Bhat has described the features, concepts, definition and classification of aaptopadesha pramana on a blog on aaptopadesha.[14]
  3. Chauhan et al. explained the aaptopadesha pramana as a tool for conduction, execution of a research work in the research entitled Ayurvedic research and methodology: present status and future strategies.[15]
  4. Patil and Kumar have explained the aspects of clinical diagnosis in Ayurveda as the methods used for the understanding the stage, state and site of dosha; state of dushya and the site of dosha-dushya sammurchana.[16]
  5. Somik Raha, in the article entitled foundational principles of classical Ayurveda research has explained the aaptopadesha as process of inductive learning and the principles of Samhita as ‘rishi principles’.[17]
  6. Chandran et.al have explained the aaptopdesha as an important tool for the textual study in their article entitled “Literary Research Methodology In Ayurveda - An Epitome”.[18]
  7. Stephen H Philips on his prologue on Shabda pramana has explained the philosophical basis of shabda pramana.[19]
  8. PV.Ashwini et al. have explained the aaptopadesha as a tool for correct cognition in their article entitled Shabda Pramana or Aptopdesha: A Tool of Correct Cognition (Prama).[20]
  9. Dr.Manisha Dunghav and Dr.Krishna Rathod have explored the various aspects of shabda pramana in the light of teaching and learning methodology on the article entitled Application Of Shabdapramana (Verbal Testimony) in scientific teaching and learning methodology in Ayurveda.[21]
  10. Bhalerao S.et al. has correlated the aaptopadesha pramana as cognitive domain and memory-based aspect of obtaining knowledge in letter to the editor entitled “Bloom's taxonomy reiterates Pramana”.[22]

Related chapters

Tistraishaniya Adhyaya, Rogabhishagjitiya Vimana, Trividha Roga Vishesha Vijnaniya Vimana Adhyaya, Pramana, Pratyaksha pramana, Anumana pramana,Yukti pramana, Upamana pramana, Apamarga Tanduliya Adhyaya, Concepts and Contemporary Practices Naveganadharaniya Adhyaya

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