A text dealing with Ayurveda

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 21 21:32:02 UTC 1999

I'm going to indulge in what seems like a minor
nitpick, but turns out to be a point that often goes

Vielle Christophe <vielle at ORI.UCL.AC.BE>

>... Here is an abstract, in
>which sAMkhya/Ayurveda conceptions are exposed (e.g. "form"-rUpa as one of
>the five "subtle elements"-tanmAtra, corresponding to the fire as one of
>the five "gross elements"; dhAtus or principles etc.). Here is an abstract
>babhUva rUpatanmAtraM puruSecchApracoditAt

It is incorrect to label this as a sAMkhyan
conception. In the sAMkhya school, the
transformations of material nature are for the
sake of purusha (purushArtha), but never due to
the desire of the purusha (purushecchA). The
purusha is devoid of any agency, so that any
desire or will would be ascribed by sAMkhya to
a transformation of the internal organ
(antaHkaraNa-vRtti). And as the antaHkaraNa is
itself composed of transformations of prakRti
(avyakta, mahat and ahaMkAra), all agency is
removed from purusha.

It is not right to ascribe a "sAMkhyan" origin to
every passage that uses terms like tanmAtra,
purusha, prakRti etc. They are as likely to be
vedAntic terms, for example. Indeed, the use of
purushecchA in the above extract seems to
resonate more with the brahmasUtra (kAmAc ca
na anumAna-apekshA) than with any sAMkhyan
conception. Unless of course, one uses
"sAMkhya" to refer not to a school of
philosophy, but to any system of knowledge that
is said to lead to liberation.

>It is also mentionned in the same chapter that the semen introduced into
>the womb of the woman by the man at the time of coition will get mixed with
>the blood in the womb, and that the issue will be male, female or
>hermaphrodite (napuMsaka) according to the proportion of the mixture: if
>blood exceeds semen the issue will be a girl, if semen exceeds it will be a
>boy, and if both are equal the child will be a hermaphrodite.

This is probably to be found in Ayurvedic texts,
but I doubt if sAMkhyan texts refer to it.
vAcaspati miSra's sAMkhyatattvakaumudI
mentions that the hair and blood come from the
mother, while arteries, bones and marrow come
from the father. However, it sounds like a
generic enough description that could have
parallels or ancestors in other purANic texts.
Also check the Mahabharata. There is bound to
be something in it. SikhaNDin and bRhannala
offer sufficient context to introduce a discussion
on the causes that normally determine a child's


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