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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Pariṇāma literally means ‘change’.

General Classification of Pariṇāma[edit]

Sometimes the pariṇāmas are classified as three from another standpoint. They are:

  1. Dharma-pariṇāma - When an object like clay loses its lump form which is a ‘dharma’ (characteristic) for it and takes the form of a pot, the change is termed as ‘dharma-pariṇāma’.[1]
  2. Lakṣaṇa-pariṇāma - The word ‘lakṣaṇa’ is a technical term and means change of time. When the same change, i.e., the clay of the past becoms the pot of the present, is looked at from the standpoint of time, it is called ‘lakṣaṇa-pariṇāma’.[2]
  3. Avasthā-pariṇāma - The same pot is ‘new’ now but becomes ‘old’ after sometime. This change of state is called avasthā-pariṇāma.

Classification of Pariṇāma as per Sāṅkhya-Yoga Systems[edit]

According to the Sāṅkhya-Yoga systems of philosophy, any object can undergo two types of ‘pariṇāma’ or change. This is sometimes called as ‘vikāra’ also. They are:

  1. The first concerns the change of form and name, but not of the substance itself. For instance, when gold is converted into ornaments it changes only in form and name. The substance gold continues to remain the same. So is the case with a jar made of clay.
  2. The second concerns the change in the substance itself. As for instance, when milk becomes curds.

Classification as per Sāṅkhya System[edit]

Two more ‘pariṇāmas’ are mentioned in the Sāṅkhya works. They are:

  1. Svarupa-pariṇāma - When pradhāna, the matrix of all inanimate objects of this world, is in a state of equilibrium before creation, each of its three guṇas[3] is undergoing only internal change without interfering with the other two guṇas. Such a change is called ‘svarupa-pariṇāma’ or ‘change into the homogeneous’.
  2. Virupa-pariṇāma - When the guṇas start affecting one another, each getting the upper hand by turns, then, the change is called ‘virupa-pariṇāma’ or ‘change into the heterogeneous’.


  1. Dharma-pariṇāma means change of form or characteristic.
  2. Lakṣaṇa-pariṇāma means change in time.
  3. These Guṇas are sattva, rajas and tamas.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore