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Indian Philosophy:

Sankhya School

Sem. Ian Bravo

Sem. Zeus
- Means Number
Oldest School of Hindu Philosophy
- Founded by Kapila (8-6th Century B.C.E)
- Attempts to harmonize Vedic Philosophy through reason.
- First systematic account of process of cosmic evolution.
-Not purely metaphysical but logical account based on principal of
conservation, transformation and dissipation of energy.
-Teaches discriminative knowledge which enables to distinguish
between sprit and matter.
-Literal meaning of Sankhya is "discrimination"
between purusha and prakriti so as to show the
liberation of purusha. The focus is to discriminate
between purusha and the higher mental states:
manas and buddhi, which are part of prakriti. Prakriti
is a fully real material substance, and not the
creation of Brahman's uncanny power.

-Metaphysical "realism," i.e., the external world is

real. Metaphysical pluralism, too--i.e., there are
many individual souls that will remain individual and
isolated even after their liberation from prakriti.
Unlike Advaita Vedanta, pure purusha selves are
indissolvably many.
- At the liberation of the last purusha from prakriti,
prakriti will return to its primoridal state. Its manifold
appearance depends on our ignorance that we
basically belong to it. But with proper knowledge and
discrimination one can use prakriti for one's liberation.

- Purusha has no attributes except that "it is" and that

"it knows." "The spirit is what is sees, it is isolated,
indifferent, a mere inactive spectator." (Quoted in
Eliade, 27) It has no intelligence (this is located in
buddhi.) and it is without desire. It is pure freedom.
How then did it get enslaved? Originally, the three
gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas) are in perfect equilibrium
in prakriti. But under purusha's influence
disequilibrium and evolution begin.
1. Metaphor of the lame woman (prakriti)
being carried by the blind man (purusha).

2. Spectator (purusha) entranced by the

dancer (prakriti).
Prakriti is the source of the world of
"becoming" (change and motion) and
sensation. Purusha represents true being:
inactive, unchanging, and pure.
Sattvaguna is the "stuff" of consciousness
and all higher mental states (associated with
Hindu god Vishnu and the goddess Lakshmi);
rajasguna is the source of activity, sensation,
and emotion (associated with Brahma and
the goddess Sarasvati); and tamasguna is
the source of resistance, inertia, and
tecedent of Sankhya Philosophy
The Sankhya school of thought is based on the teaching of sage Kapila which
is were preserved in the form of 22 aphorism by his disciples Asuri in the tattva
Samsa. The actual period of Kapila is unknown. According to some he was the
son of Brahman while some believe him to be an incarnation of Vishnu.
Mahabhraata considers Sankhya as very ancient system, while some historians
tend to place him in the century preceding that of the Buddha. The aphorisms
of Kapila formed the basis for the work of Panchashika, who composed nearly
60000 verses explaining the concepts of Sankhya which is mentioned in the
chinese buddhist canon (Tripitaka).

Panchashikass disciple was Uluka. He was the teacher of Isvara Krishna who
summarized the philosophy of Sankhya in 70 aphorism in his Sankhya Karika,
which is probably the only authoritative acient text on the subject. In the
subsequent times several commentaries were written on the work of isvara
Krishna by both Buddhist and Vedict scholars such as Vasubandhu and
Guadapada. The Famous Tamil literary work Manimekhalai also contain
information on the Sankhya from the Dravidian perspective.
Adhyatmika- intrinsic cause disorder of body
and mind.
Adhibhutika- Extrinsic cause, men, beast,
birds or inanimate objects.
Adhidevika- Supernatural cause,
atmosphere or planets.
Cause of Misery:
- Soul is free from suffering.
- Body is the seat of suffering.
- Soul suffers due to intimate association of soul and
- Bondage is illusion due to lack of true nature of soul
or Ignorance.
- Knowledge of true natural soul removes bondage
and suffering.
pistemology of Sankhya
-Skhya recognizes only three valid sources of information: perception,
inference and reliable tradition. The ordering is important: we use inference
only when perception is impossible, and only if both are silent do we accept
tradition. A valid source of information (pramn a) is veridical, yielding
knowledge of its object.

-Perception is the direct cognition of sensible qualities (such as color and

sound), which mediate cognition of the elements (such as earth and water).
Perception, on the Skhya account, is a complex process: the senses (such
as sight) cognize their respective objects (color and shape) through the
physical organs (such as the eye). And these senses are themselves the
objects of cognition of the psyche (which in turn is comprised of three faculties
the mind (manas), the intellect (buddhi), and the ego (ahakra).
The mind for its part internally constructs a
representation of objects of the external world
with the data supplied by the senses. The ego
contributes personal perspective to knowledge
claims. The intellect contributes understanding
to knowledge. The purus a adds consciousness
to the result: it is the mere witness of the
intellectual processes. According to a simile,
thepurus a is the lord of the house, the tripartite
psyche is the door-keeper and the senses are
the doors.
For Skhya , perception is reliable and supplies most of
the practical information needed in everyday life, but for
this very reason it cannot supply philosophically
interesting data. Things that can be seen are not objects
of philosophical inquiry. There are many possible reasons
why an existent material object is not (or cannot be)
perceived: it may be too far (or near), or it is too minute or
subtle; there may be something that obstructs perception;
it may be indistinguishable from other surrounding objects
or the sensation produced by another object may be so
strong as to overweigh it. A fault of the sense-organs or
an inattentive mind can also cause a failure of perception.
Metaphysics of Sankhya
Skhya is very fond of numbers, and in its classical form
it is the system of 25 realities (tattva-s). In standard
categories it is a dualism of purus a (person) and Prakrti
(nature); but Prakrti has two basic forms, vyakta,
manifest, and avyakta, unmanifest, so there are three
basic principles. Purus a and the avyakta are the first two
tattva-s; the remaining twenty-three from intellect to the
elements belong to the manifest nature.
The relation of the unmanifest and manifest nature is
somewhat vague, perhaps because there were conflicting
opinions on this question. Later authors understand it as
a cosmogonical relation: the unmanifest was the initial
state of Prakrti, where the gun a-s were in equilibrium.
Due to the effect of the purus a-s this changed and
evolved the manifold universe that we see, the manifest.
This view nicely conforms to the standard Hindu image of
cosmic cycles of creation and destruction; but it is
problematic logically (without supposing God) and
varakr s n a without directly opposing it does not
seem to accept it. He says that we do not grasp the
unmanifest because it is subtle, not because it does not
exist; and that implies that it exists also at present, as an
imperceptible homogenous substrate of the world.
It is a notable feature of Skhya that its dualism is
somewhat unbalanced: if we droppedpurus a from the
picture, we would still have a fairly complete picture of the
world, asPrakrti is not inert, mechanical matter but is a
living, creative principle that has all the resources to
produce from itself the human mind and intellect.
Skhya thus looks like a full materialist account of the
world, with the passive, unchanging principle of
consciousness added almost as an afterthought.
Nature of Duality:
Purush: Supreme Self, Pure consciousness,
Inactive, Unchanging, A passive witness and

Prakiti: Pure objectivity, phenomenal reality, Non-

conscious and one mulprakiti in equilibrium.
Both more transcendental
Theory of Existence:
Satkaryavada- The effect pre-exists in
the cause. Nothing can really be
created from.

Prakiti Pariman Vada- Parinama-

denotes effect is a real transformation
of the cause. Prakiti- transformed and
differentiated into multiplicity of objects.
Concepts of Sankhya:
Five Sense
- Hearing
- Sensation
- Vision
- Taste
- Smell
Five Action Organs:
- Speaking
- Grasping
- Walking
- Excreting
- Procreating
Mhabutes Cosmic Substance:
- Tanmara- Sound, touch, form, taste, and
- Mahabhut- Space, air, fire, Water, Earth.
Five Elements:
- Prithvi- earth
- Akash- eter
- Apas- water
- Vayu- air
- Tejas- fire
Concept of God:
- Atheistic- An unchanging Ishvara as the cause
cannot be source of a changing world as the
- Theistic- Late influence of Yoga and Puranic