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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Kāraṇa literally means ‘that by which something is accomplished’.

Philosophical systems have highlighted the problem of kāraṇa or cause and kārya or effect and their mutual relationship. Kāraṇa or cause is of various kinds:

  • Upādānakāraṇa is the material cause like the clay for a pot.
  • Nimittakāraṇa is the efficient cause like the potter’s wheel, stick and the potter for the pot.
  • Samavāyikāraṇa is the inherent cause and the threads are for the cloth out of which it is woven.

Other examples for samavāyikāraṇa are the existence of a part in a whole. It is a quality in a qualified object or movement in a moving object. Asamavāyikārana is the non-inherent cause like the color of the threads which causes the color of the cloth after it is woven. Color is related to the threads directly and indirectly to the cloth. Mulakaraṇa is the original cause of the universe, i.e., Brahman or God.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore