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Caturdaśa vidyāsthānam

The term ‘caturdaśavidyāsthāna’ refers to fourteen branches of traditional Indian knowledge. These 14 branches or abodes of knowledge are comprehensive, in the sense that they cover all the various knowledge fields. Tradition also holds that these branches or abodes of knowledge could be 18 in number too, that is ‘aṣṭādaśavidyāsthāna’.

The Manu-smṛti1 enumerates the caturdaśavidyāsthāna −

अङ्गानि वेदाश्चत्वारो मीमांसा न्यायविस्तरः ।
पुराणं धमर्शास्त्रं च विद्या ह्येताश्चतुदर्श ॥

1. ऋग्वेद
2. यजुर्वेद
3. सामवेद
4. अथर्ववेद
The above four are the Vedas, the Foundation of the Sanātana-dharma — वेदोऽखिलो धमर्मूलम् (मनुस्मृति)

5. शिक्षा — Phonetics, the science of articulation and pronunciation
6. व्याकरण — Grammar
7. छन्दस् — Prosody
8. निरुक्त — Etymology
9. ज्योतिष — Astrology
10. कल्प — Science of Ritual
These six — शिक्षा, व्याकरण, छन्दस्, निरुक्त, ज्योतिष, कल्प — are called the Vedāṅgas.
(शिक्षा व्याकरणं छन्दो निरुक्तं ज्योतिषं तथा । कल्पश्चेति षडङ्गानि वेदस्याहुर्मनीषिणः ॥)

11. पुराण — The 18 Purāṇas such as Brahma-purāṇa
12. न्याय — The science of Logic (सतर्कः)
13. मीमांसा — The enquiry in the Veda-vākyas (वेदवाक्यविचारः)
14. धर्मशास्त्र — The Smṛtis such as the Manusmṛti (मन्वादिस्मृतिः)
The Purāṇa, Nyāya, Mimāṁsā and Dharmaśāstra are collectively called the Upāṅga.

To this list of 14, theViṣṇu-purāṇa adds four more and thus makes the total list 18 – aṣṭādaśavidyāsthāna –
अङ्गानि वेदाश्चत्वारो मीमांसा न्यायविस्तरः । पुराणं धमर्शास्त्रं च विद्या ह्येताश्चतुर्दश ॥
आयुर्वेदो धनुर्वेदो गन्धर्वश्चेति ते त्रयः । अर्थशास्त्रं चतुर्थं च विद्या अष्टादशैव ताः ॥

15. आयुर्वेदः — Science of Medicine
16. धनुर्वेदः — Science of Weapons
17. गन्धर्ववेदः — Fine Arts
18. अर्थशास्त्रम् — Political Science (a section of the Indian Tradition substitute अर्थशास्त्रम् with स्थापत्यवेद — The science of Architecture)
The above four – Āyurveda, Dhanurveda, Gandharvaveda, Arthaśāstra/ Sthāpatyaveda – are collectively termed the ‘Upaveda’.

Traditions sometimes consider the 6 Vedāṅgas to also include the Upavedas within their broad ambit and
hence opine the total Vidyāsthānas as fourteen alone, that is ‘caturdaśa’ alone. Thus the Indian Knowledge Tradition comprises of either the caturdaśavidyāsthānas or aṣṭādaśavidyasthānas.

What about the 18 Upapurāṇas? What about the Itihāsas like Rāmayaṇa? What about darśanas like the Yoga, Vedānta and so on? Are they not included in the vidyāsthānas? Śrī Madhusūdana Sarasvatī in his commentary on the Mahimnastotra (verse 7), following the Tradition, clarifies: “The Upapurāṇas are to be included within the Purāṇas; the Vaiśeṣika-darśana with Nyāya; Vedānta-darśana in Mīmāṁsā; Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa, Sāṅkhya and Yoga, Pāśupata and Vaiṣṇava — all within the Dharmaśāstra. Thus the total number of the Vidyāsthānas become

The following tabulation gives an overview of the caturdaśavidyā-sthāna:

S.No विद्यास्थान Broad heads To be included within the broad head
1 ऋग्वेद वेद None
2 यजुर्वेद
3 सामवेद
4 अथर्ववेद
5 शिक्षा वेदाङ्ग The four Upavedas: आयुर्वेद,धनुर्वेद, गन्धर्ववेद, अथर्शास्त्रम्/स्थापत्यवेद
6 व्याकरण
7 छन्दस्
8 निरुक्त
9 ज्योतिष
10 कल्प
11 पुराण उपाङ्ग 18 Upapurāṇas
12 न्याय Vaiśeṣika
13 मीमांसा Vedānta
14 धमर्शास्त्र The two Itihāsas — Rāmāyaṇa and  Mahābhārata; Sāṅkhya and Yoga, Pāśupata and Vaiṣṇava-śāstras etc.

1 The Yājñavalkya-smṛti (1.3) too enumerates these: पुराणन्यायमीमांसाधमर्शास्त्राङ्गिमिश्रताः। वेदाः स्थानानि विद्यानां धर्मस्य च चतुदर्श॥
2 अत्रोपपुराणानामपि पुराणेष्वन्तर्भावः । वैशेषिकशास्त्रस्य न्याये, वेदान्तशास्त्रस्य मीमांसायां, महाभारतरामायणयोः सांख्यपातञ्जलपाशुपतवैष्णवादीनां च धमर्शास्त्रेष्विति मिलित्वा चतुदर्शिवद्याः ।

Unless we have a definite faith in the goal of our existence, and unless we believe, work for, and actually come to experience the goal positively as an existent factor, there is no hope of any plan becoming successful. —Swami Chinmayananda
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