Logic in Sanskrit – Tarka Sastra

In the time before knowledge got written down, codified, popularized,  the work of Philosophers, Scientist, Scholars, Writers were different. The epistemological study was to be done in painstaking manner, starting from observation, understanding, query, analysis, dialogue, discussion, discourse, deliberation, debate, dialectic, decision and finally conclusion to avoid confusion, And for successful debate, specially between conflicting ideas, philosophy and thought,  dialogue and debate was an option to reach conclusion. To this the scholars of ancient India, the Sanskrit scholars have researched and came to an inference that the primary need is common understanding of the words, their association and method of understanding. This is the starting point of logic. The scholars had written what is called “Nigandu” (Thesaurus), “Tarka Sastra”, and “Nyaya Sastra” as first step towards logical understanding.

Tarka is the process of questioning and cross-questioning that leads to a particular conclusion. It is a form of supposition that can be used as an aid to the attainment of valid knowledge. Tarka Sastra is a science of dialectics, logic and reasoning, and art of debate that analyzes the nature and source of knowledge and its validity

Sanskrit is stated to be the ideal language for computer processing because of its structure. It is one of the ancient language, constructed by human being (all languages are created by human being). The fact that it was well deliberated, with concise grammar for expanding the language in case of future requirement is one of the reason for its popularity till date. Understanding philosophy, especially philosophy and Sanskritic writings makes it difficult because of the subjects dealt there in and the concise manner in which it is written. Of course it was need of the time that it has to be written in short forms for the oral tradition was in prevalence for imparting knowledge and in many cases may predate writing and printing. Logic thus becomes imperative to understand these texts and that was also written down somewhere along the way. By writing down the way in which it is constructed decoding the knowledge becomes easier to that extent.

Tarka Sangraha” by Annam Bhatta is one such book on Logic. The book in its original, or should I say thesis, in Sanskrit is just of fifteen pages. But is a great aid in understanding or processing of concepts so that clear understanding of the same can be obtained. The similarity between current day computer language constructs of DDL (Data Definition Language), SQL (Structure Query Language), RDBMS (Relational Data Base Schema) is evident. The book had clear classification, data description, structure, linking between data sets, context and way to manipulate and manage the data. Such is format of this book.

To give an overview, there are primarily seven categories to describe in which anything and everything in the world can be fit in. From there it starts like this.

Data Sets

  • Categorie is of seven types which is – substance, quality, action, genus, difference, co-inherence and non existence.
  • Substance in turn is classified into nine type which are earth, water, fire/light, air, ether, time, place, soul and mind.
  • Quality has 24 attributes
  • Actions are of five types
  • Genus are 2
  • Difference are of five types
  • Coinherence is one and
  • Non existence has seven data points.

To give an example let us take the case of earth which is the first data point mention in the category substance.

Data Definition : Description of a substance: Earth has an inherent odour. In can be in its atomic structure or can be used with other substance to produce various things. In body part it is present in the nose for it is the organ on smell, in its mass form it is prevalent everywhere. Its primary color is brown but can take other colors. It has a taste, it is tangible. It is measured in dimension and so on. This is essentially achieved by linking the various data sets.

Knowledge Creation: Having identified the various categories and related data sets it also specifies how knowledge of any subject can be achieved. Knowledge is gained by understanding. Primarily there are two ways. One is remembrance for which prior knowledge and memory is needed. The other is Notion for unknown aspects. Notion is of four types. Notion could be right or wrong. And the right notion is obtained in the following means – Perception, Inference, conclusion by similarity, and assertion by authority. And further if you take the example of Inference, Inference could be obtained for two reasons. For self-understanding or for the purpose of instruction to others. And the way of doing it by proposition, reason, example, application and conclusion. Thus the various ways of knowledge acquisition in systematic manner if expounded.

Thus they have a system of both inductive and deductive reasoning based on data. The reasoning is methodical, scientific, investigative and rationalistic. Considering the timeline of these literature and how ancient it is and yet modern logically it becomes our duty to understand what our ancestors thought in various subjects and restore it to its natural glory. And this is sure to facilitate us to understand the frontiers of knowledge, which are extensive in a conscious, constructive and consensual way.


Ref: Tarka Sangraha Annam Bhatta


The Fountain

I will always return

What is life?

what is Death?

Why are we born

Why do we die

Can we stop ageing

Can we stop death

Is immortality possible

Tree of knowledge do we know it

Tree of life do we know it


Is there purpose to life?

Or are we born to  die

Do we come as we go

Are de we grow, learn

And mature in each birth

Like rings of tree that grow with each year

Picking up knowledge with each birth

Burning immaturity and darkness in every life


Is every life the same

Is every path the same

Can medicine break this life and death cycle

Is it ever possible

Has it not been the quest for man from time immemorial

But have we not as our life expectancy increases

Prone to more disease, sorrow and pain

Are we running in circle

Or are we growing in sphere

Up and up with every ring

To reach to sky to be part of eternity


What is life

Is it mundane living, eating, running to earn a living

Or is there more to life

Is it not what the philosophers spent time

Did they find something that is beyond us now

If Death is the road to awe

Then what is life


What defines where we are born

What we do and where we go

Why is that some traverse hard path

Other have it easy

Like musical notes that rise and fall

Like waves that have ebb and flow

Is there a pattern to life


Death and life are two sides of the same coin

For in death life is reborn

Death of ignorance is life of knowledge

Death of toddler is youth

Death of youth is Adult

Death of Adult is Old

Death of Old is start of new era,


Death of seed is start of a tree

Falling of branch is blossoming of new life

Change of seasons is death and life

And death of night is birth of day

For billions of stars die

Billions of stars born

Each by coming together and going apart

For each has its time

For time is the ultimate winner


P.S: “The Fountain” (2006) iz the movie that started this rant. Check it out.