Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Tarka Mean?

Tarka is a Sanskrit word that means “reasoning,” “inquiry,” “conjecture,” “logic” or “speculation.” In yoga and Indian philosophy, tarka goes beyond conscious thinking and reasoning. It is a sort of reflective analysis that is only possible by turning inward and calming the mind. Once the mind is calm, the yogi can begin to see reality and the self as it truly is.

According to some schools of thought, tarka is divided into three types:

  • Tarka, described as sequential understanding that can change
  • Kutarka, which is wrong logic for the purpose of finding fault
  • Vitarka, a higher logic used to perceive truth

Yogapedia Explains Tarka

The Maitrayani Upanishad displays the early development of yogic thought, listing tarka as one of six angas (accessories). The others are:

  • Pranayama (breath control)
  • Pratyahara (restraint or withdrawal of the senses)
  • Dhyana (meditation)
  • Dharana (concentration)
  • Samadhi (deeper concentration or bliss)

The later Yoga Sutras list these five angas among the eight limbs of yoga with the addition of the yamas (moral discipline) and niyamas (moral observance), and the substitution of asanas (physical postures) for tarka. In some schools of thought, tarka is considered a part of samadhi.

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