Dr. M.S. Valiathan
The motivations of all human actions are the desire for long life, the desire for wealth and the desire for the future life. In adopting this clear-cut view, Charaka differed from the traditional systems of Indian philosophy. The Vaiseshika looked upon the attraction to pleasure and aversion to pain as the motivations for human action; Nyaya went beyond attraction and aversion and traced their mutual source to delusion (moha); yoga of Patanjali held that virtuous actions arose from the tendency towards emancipation and sinful actions from ignorance and egoism; Advaita Vedanta insisted that all actions arose from ignorance (avidya). Charaka departed from all these views which identified false knowledge as the cause of all our troubles and upheld the realisation of the higher truth as the ultimate answer to the pain of existence. He urged that evil and suffering arose through our errors in judgement and imprudent conduct (Prajnaparadha) which had no philosophical significance. It was entirely within our non philosophic capability to give up errors and adopt virtuous conduct (Sadvritta). Ayurveda – the science of life – was always more than medicine and spoke of life which is good (hita) or bad (ahita), happy (sukha) or unhappy (dukha). A good and happy life is nothing without good health, but it is far more: it demands prudent and virtuous conduct that is conducive to the good of the individual, his surroundings and the society of which he is a part.