Kaarya Kaarana Siddhanta

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The Sanskrit word ‘kaarya’ means action or effect and ‘kaarana’ means cause. The theory of kaarya-kaarana explains the cause and effect relationship. The principle of kaarya (action) kaarana (cause) is described in detail in Ayurveda with suitable examples. No action is possible without a cause. The cause is the dormant stage of the work and the work is the expressive stage of the cause. Thus, the action is within the cause in a dormant state. When that cause is expressed, it is called ‘action’. For example,‘avyakta’(primordial element) is the cause (kaarana) for the creation of the universe (kaarya) of the kaarana or cause.[Su. Sa. Sharira Sthana 1/3][1]

When the spermatozoa fertilize the ovum in the uterus, the fetus is formed. Spermatozoa and ovum are the causes (kaarana) of the formation of the foetus (kaarya). The cause of sustenance of living beings is food. When food is ingested, pachaka pitta [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/10][1] and samana vata [A. Hr. Sutra Sthana 11/8][2] act on it for digestion and further nourishment of body tissues. So, food is the cause for the nourishment of the body by the process of aharapaka (digestion) [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 15/6-8] and dhatupaka (metabolism)[Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 15/15]. This provides strength and colour, and oja to the body.[Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 46/3][1] These are examples to understand the principle of kaarya (action) and kaarana (cause).

Kaarya Kaarana Siddhanta
Section/Chapter/topic Concepts / Kaarya Kaarana Siddhanta
Authors Bhojani M.K.1, Kabadwal Dipti1, Tanwar Ankur kumar1
Reviewer Basisht G.2
Editor Deole Y.S.3

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

3 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
Date of first publication: February 06, 2022
DOI under process


Kaarya (effect)

In the medical context, the treatment is intended for the attainment of dhatu samya (health). This is termed as ‘kaarya’.[Code:SAT-A.310][3] Kaarya means that which is performed eventually. [Shabdakalpadruma] It is an effect, action, result, or purpose. Maintenance of the balanced state of the body components (dhatu) is the duty of the treating physician (Vaidya). Characteristics of kaarya (action or work) are subsiding the disease. Proper examination of ten factors including kaarya and kaarana leads to alleviation of pain, appearance of normal voice and complexion, nourishment of the body, increase in strength, desire to take food, good hunger, digestive power, normal sleep, absence of dreams indicating morbidity, happy awakening, proper passage of flatus (vata), urine (mutra), stools (mala) and semen (shukra), and normal functions of mind, intellect, and senses.[Cha. Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/89]

Kaarana (cause)

Kaarana is a cause, reason, source of anything. It is an instrument, means, motivating principle. [Shabdakalapadruma] In the medical context, the physician is kaarana (cause). He is the causative factor for the achievement of the object i.e. the maintenance of the equilibrium of dhatu. [Code:SAT-A.307][3] The one who does any work is kaarana (cause). Vaidya or doctor is the cause (hetu) or doer (karta).[Cha. Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/69] It is defined as the cause by which work is produced [Saptapadarthi],[Tarkasangraha].[4] The initial or dormant stage of work is known as kaarana or cause. All the factors that occur before the action or Kaarya can be called cause or kaarana.[4]

Characteristics of kaarana:

The kaarana should have three characteristics as described below.[4]

  1. Purva bhava (primordial existence): Purva bhava means the factors (bhava) which occur first. The bhava which comes after it is called ‘anuvarti bhava’or ‘kaarya’. It is present already just before the action. For example, the thread is the primordial causative factor for the cloth. Thread is the main building material for cloth without which cloth formation does not occur.
  2. Niyatatva (continuous existence): The cause (kaarana) is continuously present in the action (kaarya) is called ‘niyatatva’. Eg. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the causative organism for manifestation of tuberculosis.
  3. Ananyathasiddhi (mandatory existence): These are the mandatory factors without which the action (karya) cannot be initiated. These factors can't be replaced by any other factors. For example, fuel and fire are mandatory to cook food. Without them, preparation of food is not possible. Similarly, for the treatment (chikitsa karma), it is necessary to have all four factors viz. doctor (Vaidya), drug (dravya), nurse (upasthata) and patient (rogi).[Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 9/11,12]

Etiological factors:

Kaarana (cause) is also known as the ‘nidana’(cause) of the disease (vyadhi). [Cha. Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/3]

Types of kaarana as nidana: There are three types of kaaranas:[5]

  1. Samavayikaarana (inseparable concomitant cause)
  2. Asamavayikaarana (essential, but separable cause)
  3. Nimittakaarana (different than above)

Samavayikaarana (inseparable concomitant cause):

The cause (kaarana) which cannot be separated from the action (kaarya) is called ‘samavayikaarana’ (inseparable cause). For example, the relation of the cloth to its color (blue, red, yellow etc.) is inseparable because the color of cloth cannot be separated from it. The fragrance present in the flower has a samavayisambandha (inseparable relation ) with the flower, because the fragrance cannot be separated from the flowers. The genesis of disease due to dosha vaishamya.[A. Hr. Sutra Sthana 1/20][2] The relation of vata to its rukshadi guna is inseparable. Because the rukshadi guna cannot be separated from the vata. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/59] Relation of rakta dhatu to its panchabhautika (vistra dravya ragah spandanam laghuta etc.) quality is inseparable. [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 14/3][1]

Aasamavayikaarana (essential, but separable cause):

The cause which is not inseparable, but essential for completion of action is asamavayikaarana. For example, thread (tantu) is a asamavayi cause (essential, but separable cause) for cloth (pata).[5] When vata dosha combines with pitta, it produces heat (daha). When vata dosha combines with kapha, it produces cold (shita). Combination of vata with pitta and kapha is asmavayikaarana (separable causes) for heat and cold. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 1/38]

Nimittakaarana (different than above):

The reason which is different from the samavayikaarana (inseparable reason) and asamavayikaarana (separable reason), but it is also necessary for the completion of kaarya (work). For example, potter’s pendulum, wheel is nimittakaarana for making a pot.[5] Consumption of vata dosha provoking diet (prakopaka) leads to manifestation of vatavyadhi.[Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 28/18]

Supportive theories

Various theories and principles are described to support the relationship between cause and effect as below:


Sankhya Darshana and Ayurveda follow the theory of Satkaryavada. According to this theory, the cause exists in action even before the manifestation of action. Action is the expressive stage of cause.[6] The doctrine proposes that the effect always resides in cause even before its manifestation.[Code:SAT-A.104][3] For example, juice in the sugarcane exists in it in an invisible form or non-expressive form. The vata dosha dominant disease exists in a non-expressive stage (avyakta avastha). When we ingest the vata provoking diet, vata dosha gets vitiated and leads to vatavyadhi. So, vata dominant diseases already exist in the vata dosha. After intake of vata vardhaka ahara it is expressed in the form of vatavyadhi. The nutrients of body constituents are already present in diet. After taking the diet the nutrients nourish respective tissues. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 15/6-14] Sankhya Darshana gives the following reasons to support this Satkaryavada.

Asatkaranata: Sat (existent form) cannot be formed by the asat (non existant form). The substance in the kaarana is in non-expressed form. After action, the substance is expressed by the efforts of its kaarana.[6]

Upadanagrahanat (appropriate factors): Special types of kaarana or factors are chosen for the creation of a particular kaarya or work. Appropriate material (upadana) is chosen for the thing to be made.[6] For example, in case of depletion of blood (rakta dhatu) in the body, specific diet with nutrients to increase blood are chosen.

Sarvasambhavabhavat (specific causative role): Every action cannot be produced by every cause. There are specific roles of each factors related to their functions. Just as gold cannot be produced from silver, grass, dust, and sand, and all productions need their material causes. So, everything cannot be produced from everywhere the effect exists.[6]

Shakyasyashakyakaranata (specific potency): Every cause has a specific potency to create a specific action.[6] For example, sugarcane possess the capacity to produce the sugar upto its maximum potency.

Kaarana-bhavat (similarity in cause and effect): Action (kaarya) and cause (kaarana) are not different from each other. Action is an expressive stage (vyaktavstha) of cause and kaarana is non expressive or invisible form (avyaktavstha) of action.[6] For example, the mango seed is the cause for the mango tree. Mango seeds are non expressive stage and mango tree is expressive stage.


According to this theory, the transformation of kaarana into the kaarya is known as ‘parinaamavada’. For example, conversion of milk into curd.

It occurs intwo ways:

  1. Dharma parinama (changes in quality)
  2. Lakshana parinama (changes in external appearance)[4]

Dharma parinama:In includes changes in the quality (guna) of cause to form effect.[4] For example, when we ingest the food, after its complete digestion it gets converted into essence (saara) and waste (kittabhaga). The essence portion transforms into body constituents (rasadi dhatu). Here, the change in their quality occurs. [A. Hr. Sutra Sthana 12/11][2]

Lakshana parinama: It includes changes in the external appearance of the cause, but retains its quality. For example, in the process of transformation of milk into butter, both have same qualities but changes occur in the external appearance. Sankhya Darshana follow this theory.[4]

Different opinions:

Asatkaryavada: The doctrine states that the effect is non-existent in its cause before production. [Code:SAT-A.105] According to the theory, effect never exists in the cause. Action is a new creation that is expressed only after it is created. This theory is opposed to the ‘Satkaryavada’ it is also known as ‘ Arambhavada’. Nyaya, Vaisheshika, and Boudha darshana are against the theory of Satkaryavada.[6]

Vivartavada: The vivarta means illusion . When we see the rope, we feel that it is a snake but it is not a snake. Similarly the universe is asat, we assume it ‘sat’ which is not true. It is an illusion. According to this theory, kaarya does not exist in the kaarana, it also follows the theory of asatkaryavada.[7]


According to the theory, the origin of things is due to the cause, but the destruction occurs naturally. For example, the formation of the dhatu takes place from the diet. However, the destruction of dhatu occurs naturally (swabhava). This is the theory of Swabhavoparamavada (theory of natural destruction). [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 16/27-28]

Future area of research

The concept of kaarya kaarana siddhanta can be utilized in pharmacology to study drug, its dose and effect. The cause of every effect is important to be known in physiology, medicine, pathology, toxicology, preventive medicine, surgery, gynecology, and obstetrics. This principle is utilized in every branch of science and research based on yukti. Interrelationship of dosha-guna-karma is applied aspect of ayurvedic kaarya kaarana siddhanta. In the field of Ayurvedic pharmacology, this concept can be utilized in terms of dravya-rasa-guna-virya-vipaka and prabhava. Prospective (cause to effect) and retrospective (effect to cause) studies are examples of this concept. It is the basis of the classical method of research.

Theses done

  1. Subhash Chandra Kaushik (1987): Shadhdarshano me karyakaransidhanth- ek adhyayan. Department of Sanskrit, Maharishi Dayanand University, Haryana.
  2. Sai Gowthan D.: Concept of Karya karana siddhanta based on kusta nidana with special reference to vicharchika- A cross sectional survey study. Dept. of Basic principles, Sri Venkateshwara Ayurvedic College and Hospital, Vijayawada.
  3. Akaksha Anupama (2010): Conceptual and applied study of shatkaryavada in ayurveda. Dept of Basic principles, IPGT & RA, Gujarat. Study concluded that karya and karana are the same. The difference is only in unmanifested and manifested stages. The study also showed the applicability of satkaryavada based on anulomana effect of haritaki.
  4. Jyoti Alias Jyotsana (2012): Concept of sankhyadarshana w.s.r. to karya karana bhava in Ayurveda. Dept. of Basic Principles, Rajiv Gandhi University of health sciences, Bangalore.
  5. Chandani Goswami (2019): Applied aspect of Karyakarana siddhanta in context to ekakushta (Psoariasis) and its management with yuktivyapashya and satvavajaya chikitsa. Dept. of Basic Principles, IPGT & RA, Gujarat.

Current researches

Clinical applicability of kaarya kaarana siddhanta: In Ayurveda, chikitsa (management of diseases) is based on karya karana siddhanta. Only the Sat Karana (existent causes) make all actions conceivable. On this basis, a study was carried out as a control experiment on 38 anaha (abdominal distension) patients to investigate the anulomana (channelizing the vata dosha) karma of haritaki. The study's findings revealed that the medication Haritaki is capable to perform the effects of anulomana.[8]

Applicability of snigdha and ruksha Guna: The gunas can be used to treat diseases, and they can also be used to select medications for specific patients. A study on 150 people with rasa-raktagatasneha (hyperlipidemia) was conducted to support the aforementioned notion. Therapy was done with ruksha (dry) property medications. Finally, considering that hyperlipidemia is caused by an increase in snigdha guna (unctuous property), it was concluded that ruksha property medications can be used to cure it. The application of Ayurveda's karya karana siddhanta is demonstrated using the guna concept.[9]9

Application of samavaya concept: Samavaya (inseparable concomitance) provides an understanding of the relationship between dravya, guna, and karma. The understanding of kaarya kaarana siddhanta becomes a fundamental instrument in the field of diagnostics and drug selection. The study included a total of 23 patients suffering from ama state. The laghu (light to digest), ruksha (dry), and ushna (hot) guna, which were present in the herb Pippalimula, were identified as the causes of inseparable concomitance (samavaya) in the study. [10]

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