Last Updated: June 4, 2017

Definition - What does Padartha mean?

Padartha is a word used in Hindu philosophy to describe objects that can be thought and named. The term comes from the Sanskrit, pada, meaning “subject,” “word,” “part” or “division”; and artha, meaning “object,” “sense” or “meaning.” It is typically translated as “category” or “material object.”

More specifically, the padarthas are the six categories of being in the Vaisheshika school of Hindu philosophy. In the related Nyaya school, these six padarthas are recognized as a subcategory of prameya (an object of valid knowledge), which itself is one of Nyaya's 16 points of understanding, sometimes also called the 16 padarthas.

Yogapedia explains Padartha

The six padarthas that are associated with reality are:

  • Dravya (substance) – This includes the nine realities of earth, air, water, fire, ether, space, time, soul/spirit and mind.
  • Guna (quality or characteristic) – This includes appearance, taste, smell, feel, number, size or quantity, separateness, conjugation, divisions, remoteness/superiority, nearness/inferiority, intelligence/judgment, happiness, unhappiness, desire, aversion and effort.
  • Karma (action) – This includes motion, activity or work done.
  • Samanya (common) – The genus, or categorizing objects by their similarities.
  • Vishesha (specific) – This categorizes objects by their specific differences, noting the uniqueness of an object within a class.
  • Samavaya (inherent) – This category includes things that are inseparably connected.

Sometimes a seventh padartha, which was added later than the original six, is included: abhava, which is nonexistence or absence.

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