Dravya

Definition - What does Dravya mean?

Dravya is a Sanskrit word that means “substances” or “entities.” It is used in Indian and yogic philosophy to describe the categories of being that comprise the substance of existence. In Jainism, dravya is made up of five or six categories of being (it varies by sect), while the Vaisheshika school of Hindu philosophy names nine substances.

In the traditional Indian medicinal practice known as Ayurveda, dravya can be a drug or other substance used to treat a disease or ailment or to promote health. The dravya has properties (guna) and action (karma). Dravya is, therefore, any mixture or substance applied externally or taken internally to treat disease, preserve health or ease pain.

Yogapedia explains Dravya

According to the Jains, dravya is composed of five eternal categories of being, known as astikayas. They are:

  • Dharma – a moral virtue and that which allows beings to move.
  • Adharma – the medium of rest and that which allows beings to stop moving.
  • Akasha – the space in which all exists.
  • Pudgala – matter.
  • Jiva – the soul.

Kala, or time, was added as a sixth category of dravya by the Digambara sect.

According to Vaisheshika, dravya refers to nine substances. Five of the dravya substances are physical elements: prthivi (earth), ap (water), tejas (fire), vayu (air) and akasha (ether). The remaining four substances that comprise dravya are kala (time), dik (space), Atman (Soul or universal Self) and manas (mind or internal organ).

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