Sankhya versus Yoga
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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

Sankhya versus Yoga

The understanding of the Bhagavad Gita (chapter five in particular) and of  the Vedanta philosophy will be greatly enhanced by getting to know "The path of knowledge of the Sankhyas and the path of action
of the Yogis."

Click on underscored words to open paragraph

Sankhya Philosophy

From the Mahabharata
There is no knowledge that is equal to this
The knowledge, which is described in the system
of the Sankhyas, is regarded as the highest.

What is the difference between the Sankhya
and the Yoga system of philosophy?

From the Mahabharata

The Sankhya Philosophy of Kapila
By Swami Abhedananda, Ramakrishna Math, Culcutta
The Sankhya system does not believe in any God
This philosophy (Jaina) is most intimately connected with
the Sankhya philosophy. The fundamental principles of the
Buddhist philosophy also depend upon the Sankhya theory.

Sankhya versus Yoga

From the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10, Verse 26:

The Blessed Lord said:
"Among all the trees, I am the Peepul; among the divine sages, I am Narada; among Gandharvas, Chtraratha; among the munis (the perfected), I am sage Kapila."
[Note: Muni is one who does manana or reflection; one who meditates.]

From the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3, Verse 3:

The Blessed Lord said:>
"In this world there is a twofold path, O sinless one;
the path of knowledge of the Sankhyas and the path
of action of the Yogis."

Sankhya versus Yoga
From the Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCCI
[Notes and comments by
the translator Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli]
Unabridged

Yudhishthira said: It behoveth thee to explain to me, O sire, what the difference is between the Sankhya and the Yoga system of philosophy. O foremost one of Kuru's race, everything is known to thee, O thou that art conversant with all duties!

Bhishma said: The followers of Sankhya praise the Sankhya system and those regenerate persons that are Yogis praise the Yoga system. For establishing the superiority of their respective systems, each calls his own system to be the better. Men of wisdom devoted to Yoga assign proper and very good reasons, O crusher of foes, for showing that one that does not believe in the existence of God cannot attain to Emancipation. Those regenerate persons, again, that are believers in the Sankhya doctrines advance good reasons for showing that one, by acquiring true knowledge of all ends, becomes dissociated from all worldly objects, and after departing from this body, it is plain, becomes emancipated and that it cannot be otherwise. Men of great wisdom have thus expounded the Sankhya philosophy of Emancipation.

When reasons are thus balanced on both sides, those that are assigned on that side which one is otherwise inclined to adopt as one's own, should be accepted. Indeed, those words that are said on that side should be regarded as beneficial. Good men may be found on both sides. Persons like thee may adopt either opinion. The evidences of Yoga are addressed to the direct ken of the senses those of Sankhya are based on the scriptures. Both systems of philosophy are approved by me, O Yudhishthira. Both those systems of science, O king, have my concurrence and are concurred in by those that are good and wise. If practised duly according to the instructions laid down, both would, O king, cause a person to attain to the highest end. In both systems purity is equally recommended as also compassion towards all creatures, O sinless one. In both, again, the observance of vows has been equally laid down. Only the scriptures that point out their paths are different.

Yudhishthira said: If the vows, the compassion, and the fruits thereof recommended in both systems be the same, tell me, O grandsire, for what reason then are not their scriptures (in respect of the paths recommended) the same?

Yoga System of Philosophy

Bhishma said: By casting off, through the aid of Yoga, these five faults, viz., attachment, heedlessness, affection, lust and wrath, one attains to Emancipation. As large fishes, breaking through the net, pass into their own element (for ranging in felicity), after the same manner, Yogis (breaking through lust and wrath, etc.) become cleansed of all sins and attain to the felicity of Emancipation. As powerful animals, breaking through the nets in which hunters enmesh them, escape into the felicity of freedom, after the same manner, Yogis, freed from all bonds, attain to the sinless path that leads to Emancipation. Truly, O king, breaking through the bonds born of cupidity, Yogis, endued with strength, attain to the sinless and auspicious and high path of Emancipation. Feeble animals. O monarch, entangled in nets, are without doubt, destroyed. Even such is the case with persons destitute of the puissance of Yoga.

As weak fishes, O son of Kunti, fallen into the net, become entangled in it, even so, O monarch, men destitute of the puissance of Yoga, encounter destruction (amid the bonds of the world). As birds, O chastiser of foes, when entangled in the fine nets of fowlers (if weak) meet with their ruin but if endued with strength effect their escape, after the same manner does it happen with Yogis, O chastiser of foes. Bound by the bonds of action, they that are weak meet with destruction, while they that are possessed of strength break through them. A small and weak fire, O king, becomes extinguished when large logs of timber are placed upon it. Even so the Yogi that is weak, O king, meets with ruin (when brought in contact with the world and its attachments). The same fire, however, O monarch, when it becomes strong, would (without being extinguished) burn with the aid of the wind, the whole earth. After the same manner, the Yogi, when grown in strength, burning with energy, and possessed of might, is capable of scorching the entire Universe like the Sun that rises at the time of the universal dissolution. As a weak man, O king, is swept away by a current, even so is a weak Yogi helplessly carried away by objects of the senses. An elephant withstands a mighty current. After the same manner, a Yogi, having acquired Yoga-puissance, withstands all objects of the senses.

Independent of all things, Yogis, endued with Yoga-puissance and invested with lordship, enter into (the heart of) the very lords of creation, the Rishis, the deities, and the great Beings in the universe. Neither Yama, nor the Destroyer, nor Death himself of terrible prowess, when angry, ever succeeds in prevailing over the Yogi, O king, who is possessed of immeasurable energy. The Yogi, acquiring Yoga-puissance, can create thousands of bodies and with them wander over the earth. Some amongst them enjoy objects of the senses and then once more set themselves to the practice of the austerest penances, and once again, like the Sun (withdrawing his rays), withdraw themselves from such penances. The Yogi, who is possessed of strength and whom bonds bind not, certainly succeeds in attaining to Emancipation. I have now discoursed to thee, O monarch, on all these powers of Yoga. I shall once more tell thee what the subtle powers of Yoga are with their indications.

Hear, O chief of Bharata's race, the subtle indications of the Dharana and the Samadhi of the Soul (such as Yoga brings about).

[Note: Dharna is holding the soul in self-reflection, preventing it a while from wandering. Samadhi is complete abstraction.]

Dharana and Samadhi

As a bowman who is heedful and attentive succeeds in striking the aim, even so the Yogi with absorbed soul, without doubt, attains to Emancipation. As a man fixing his mind on a vessel full of some liquid (placed on his head) heedfully ascends a flight of steps, even so the Yogi, fixed and absorbed in his soul, cleanses it and makes it as effulgent as the Sun. As a boat, O son of Kunti, that is tossed on the bosom of the sea is very soon taken by a heedful boatman to the other shore, even so the man of knowledge by fixing his soul in Samadhi, attains to Emancipation, which is so difficult to acquire, after casting off his body, O monarch. As a heedful charioteer, O king, having yoked good steeds (unto his car) takes the car warrior to the spot he wishes, even so the Yogi, O monarch, heedful in Dharana, soon attains to the highest spot (viz., Emancipation) like a shaft let off from the bow reaching the object aimed at. The Yogi who stays immovably after having entered his self into the soul, destroys his sins and obtains that indestructible spot which is the possession of those that are righteous. That Yogi who, heedfully observant of high vows, properly unites, O king, his Jiva-soul (embodied-soul) with the subtle Soul in the navel, the throat, the head, the heart, the chest, the sides, the eye, the ear, and the nose, burns all his acts good and bad of even mountain-like proportions, and having recourse to excellent Yoga, attains to Emancipation.

Yudhishthira said: It behoveth thee to tell me, O grandsire, what the kinds of diet are by taking which, and what the things are by conquering which, the Yogi, O Bharata, acquires Yoga-puissance.

Bhishma continued: Engaged, O Bharata, in subsisting upon broken grains of rice and sodden cakes of sesame, and abstaining from oil and butter, the Yogi acquires Yoga-puissance. By subsisting for a long time on powdered barley unmixed with any liquid substance, and by confining himself to only one meal a day, the Yogi, of cleansed soul, acquires Yoga-puissance. By drinking only water mixed with milk, first only once during the day, then once during a fortnight, then once during a month, then once during three months, and then once during a whole year, the Yogi acquires Yoga-puissance. By abstaining entirely from meat, O king, the Yogi of cleansed soul acquires puissance.

By subjugating lust and wrath and heat and cold and rain and fear and grief, and the breath, and all sounds that are agreeable to men, and objects of the senses, and the uneasiness, so difficult to conquer, that is born of abstention from sexual congress, and thirst that is so terrible, O king, and the pleasures of touch, and sleep, and procrastination that is almost unconquerable, O best of kings, high-souled Yogis, divested of attachments, and possessed of great wisdom, aided by their understandings, and equipped with wealth of contemplation and study, cause the subtle soul to stand confessed in all its glory.

This high (Yoga) path of learned Brahmanas is exceedingly difficult to tread. No one can walk along this path with ease. That path is like a terrible forest which abounds with innumerable snakes and crawling vermin, with (concealed) pits occurring everywhere, without water for slaking one’s thirst, and full of thorns, and inaccessible on that account. Indeed, the path of Yoga is like a road along which no edibles occur, which runs through a desert having all its trees burnt down in a conflagration, and which has been rendered unsafe by being infested with bands of robbers. Very few young men can pass safely through it (for reaching the goal). Like unto a path of this nature, few Brahmanas can tread alone the Yoga-path with ease and comfort. That man who, having betaken himself to this path, ceases to go forward (but turns back after having made some progress), is regarded as guilty of many faults. Men of cleansed souls, O lord of Earth, can stay with ease upon Yoga-contemplation, which is like the sharp edge of a razor. Persons of uncleansed souls, however, cannot stay on it. When Yoga-contemplation becomes disturbed or otherwise obstructed, it can never lead the Yogi to an auspicious end even as a vessel that is without a captain cannot take the passengers to the other shore.

That man, O son of Kunti, who practises Yoga-contemplation according to due rites, succeeds in casting off both birth and death, and happiness and sorrow. All this that I have told thee has been stated in the diverse treatises bearing upon Yoga. The highest fruits of Yoga are seen in persons of the regenerate order. That highest fruit is identification with Brahma. The high-souled Yogi, possessed of greatness, can enter into and come out of, at his will, Brahma himself who is the lord of all deities, and the boon giving Vishnu, and Bhava, and Dharma, and the six faced Kartikeya, and the (spiritual) sons of Brahmana, the quality of Darkness, that is productive of much pain, and that of Passion, and that of Sattwa, which is pure, and Prakriti which is the highest, and the goddess Siddhi who is the spouse of Varuna, and all kinds of energy, and all enduring patience, and the bright lord of stars in the firmament with the stars twinkling all around, and the Viswas, and the (great) snakes, and the Pitris, and all the mountains and hills, and the great and terrible oceans, and all the rivers, and the rain-charged clouds, and serpents and trees, and Yakshas, and the cardinal and subsidiary points of the compass, and the Gandharvas, and all male persons and all female ones also.

This discourse, O king, that is connected with the Supreme Being of mighty energy should be regarded as auspicious. The Yogi has Narayana for his soul. Prevailing over all things (through his contemplation of the Supreme deity), the high-souled Yogi is capable of creating all things.

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Sankhya Philosophy
From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CCCII
Unabridged
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Yudhishthira said: O grandsire thou hast duly propounded unto me, in the way in which it should be, the path of Yoga which is approved by the wise, after the manner of a loving preceptor unto his pupil. I ask now about the principles of the Sankhya philosophy. Do thou discourse to me on those principles in their entirety. Whatever knowledge exists in the three worlds is known to thee!

Bhishma said: Listen now to what the subtle principles are of the followers of the Sankhya doctrine that have been established by all the great and puissant Yatis having Kapila their first. In that doctrine, O chief of men, no errors are discoverable. Many, indeed, are its merits. In fact, there is no fault in it. Comprehending with the aid of knowledge that all objects exist with faults, indeed, understanding that the objects-so difficult to cast off- with which human beings and Pisachas and Rakshasas and Yakshas and snakes and Gandharvas and Pitris and those that are wandering in the intermediate orders of beings (such as birds and animals) and great birds (such as Garuda and others) and the Maruts and royal sages and regenerate sages and Asuras and Viswedevas and the celestial Rishis and Yogis invested with supreme puissance and the Prajapatis and Brahma himself are engaged, and understanding truly what the highest limit is of one’s period of existence in this world, and apprehending also the great truth.

O foremost of eloquent men, about what is called felicity here, having a clear knowledge of what the sorrows are that overtake when the hour comes, all those that are concerned with (transitory) objects and knowing full well the sorrows of those that have fallen into the intermediate orders of beings and of those that have sunk into hell, perceiving all the merits and all the faults of heaven, O Bharata, and all the demerits that attach to the declarations of the Vedas and all the excellencies that are connected with them recognising the faults and merits of the Yoga and the Sankhya systems of philosophy, realising also that the quality of Sattwa has ten properties, that of Rajas has nine, and that of Tamas has eight, that the Understanding has seven properties, the mind has six, and Space has five, and once more conceiving that the Understanding has four properties and Tamas has three, and the Rajas has two and Sattwa has one, and truly apprehending the path that is followed by all objects when destruction overtakes them and what the course is of self knowledge, the Sankhyas, possessed of knowledge and experience and exalted by their perceptions of causes, and acquiring thorough auspiciousness, attain to the felicity of Emancipation like the rays of the Sun, or the Wind taking refuge in Space.

[Note: The ten properties included in Sattwa or Goodness are gladness, cheerfulness, enthusiasm, fame, righteousness, contentment, faith, sincerity, liberality, and lordship.]

The nine properties included in Rajas or Passion are belief in the deities, (ostentatious) charity, enjoyment and endurance of happiness and sorrow, disunion, exhibition of manliness, lust and wrath, intoxication, pride, malice, and disposition to revile.

The eight qualities included in Tamas or Darkness are unconsciousness, stupefaction, excess of stupefaction, muddiness of the understanding, blindness (of results), sleep, heedlessness, and procrastination.

The seven incidents of Buddhi or the Understanding are Mahat, consciousness, and the five subtle essences. The six incidents of Mind are Mind and the five senses. The five incidents appertaining to Space are space, water, wind, light and earth. According to a different school of philosophy, Buddhi, or the Understanding is said to have four incidents appertaining to it, viz., doubt, ascertainment, pride, and memory. Tamas (darkness) also is otherwise regarded to have only three incidents, viz., inability of comprehension, partial comprehension, and totally erroneous comprehension. Rajas (passion), (according to this school) is regarded as having only the two incidents of inclination (to act) and sorrow. Sattwa has but one incident viz., Enlightenment.]

Vision is attached to form; the sense of scent to smell, the ear to sound, the tongue to juices, and the skin (or body) to touch. The wind has for its refuge Space. Stupefaction has Tamas (Darkness) for its refuge. Cupidity has the objects of the senses for its refuge. Vishnu is attached to (the organs of) motion. Sakra is attached to (the organ of) strength. The deity of fire is attached to the stomach. Earth is attached to the Waters. The Waters have heat (or fire) for their refuge. Heat attaches itself to the Wind; and the wind has Space for its refuge; and Space has Mahat for its refuge, and Mahat has the Understanding for its foundation. The Understanding has its refuge in Tamas; Tamas has Rajas for its refuge; Rajas is founded upon Sattwa; and Sattwa is attached to the Soul.

The soul has the glorious and puissant Narayana for its refuge. That glorious deity has Emancipation for his refuge. Emancipation is independent of all refuge. Knowing that this body, that is endued with six and ten possessions, is the result of the quality of Sattwa, understanding fully the nature of the physical organism and the character of the Chetan that dwells within it, recognising the one existent Being that live in the body viz., the Soul, which stands aloof from every concern of the body and in which no sin can attach, realising the nature of that second object, viz.; the acts of persons attached to the objects of the senses, understanding also the character of the senses and the sensual objects which have their refuge in the Soul, appreciating the difficulty of Emancipation and the scriptures that bear upon it knowing fully the nature of the vital breaths called Prana, Apana, Samana, Vyana, and Udana, as also the two other breaths, viz., the one going downward and the other moving upward indeed, knowing those seven breaths ordained to accomplish seven different functions, ascertaining the nature of the Prajapatis and the Rishis and the high paths, many in number, of virtue or righteousness, and the seven Rishis and the innumerable royal Rishis, O scorcher of foes, and the great celestial Rishis and the other regenerate Rishis endued with the effulgence of the Sun, beholding all these falling away from their puissance in course of many long ages, O monarch, hearing of the destruction of even of all the mighty beings in the universe, understanding also the inauspicious end that is attained, O king, by creatures of sinful acts, and the miseries endured by those that fall into the river Vaitarani in the realms of Yama, and the inauspicious wanderings of creatures through the diverse wombs, and the character of their residence in the unholy uterus in the midst of blood and water and phlegm and urine and faeces, all of foul smell, and then in bodies that result from the union of blood and the vital seed, of marrow and sinews, abounding with hundreds of nerves and arteries and forming an impure mansion of nine doors, comprehending also what is for his own good what those diverse combinations are which are productive of good beholding the abominable conduct of creatures whose natures are characterised by Darkness or Passion or Goodness, O chief of Bharat’s race- conduct that is reprehended, in view of its incapacity to acquire Emancipation, by the followers of the Sankhya doctrine who are fully conversant with the Soul, beholding the swallowing up of the Moon and the Sun by Rahu, the falling of stars from their fixed positions and the diversions of constellations from their orbits, knowing the sad separation of all united objects and the diabolical behaviour of creatures in devouring one another, seeing the absence of all intelligence in the infancy of human beings and the deterioration and destruction of the body, marking the little attachment creatures have to the quality of Sattwa in consequence of their being overwhelmed by wrath and stupefaction, beholding also only one among thousands of human beings resolved to struggle after the acquisition of Emancipation, understanding the difficulty of attaining to Emancipation according to what is stated in the scriptures, seeing the marked solicitude that creatures manifest for all unattained objects and their comparative indifference to all objects that have been attained marking the wickedness that results from all objects of the senses, O king, and the repulsive bodies, O son of Kunti, of persons reft of life, and the residence, always fraught with grief, of human beings, O Bharata, in houses (in the midst of spouses and children), knowing the end of those terrible and fallen men who become guilty of slaying Brahmanas, and of those wicked Brahmanas that are addicted to the drinking of alcoholic stimulants, and the equally sad end of those that become criminally attached to the spouses of their preceptors, and of those men, O Yudhishthira, that do not properly reverence their mothers, as also of those that have no reverence and worship to offer to the deities, understanding also, with the help of that knowledge (which their philosophy imparts, the end that of all perpetrators of wicked acts, and the diverse ends that overtake those who have taken birth among the intermediate orders, ascertaining the diverse declarations of the Vedas, the courses of seasons, the fading of years, of months, of fortnights, and of days, beholding directly the waxing and the waning of the Moon, seeing the rising and the ebbing of the seas, and the diminution of wealth and its increase once more, and the separation of united objects , the lapse of Yugas, the destruction of mountains, the drying up of rivers, the deterioration of (the purity of) the several orders and the end also of that deterioration occurring repeatedly, beholding the birth, decrepitude, death, and sorrows of creatures, knowing truly the faults attaching to the body and the sorrows to which human beings are subject, and the vicissitudes to which the bodies of creatures are subject, and understanding all the faults that attach to their own souls, and also all the inauspicious faults that attach to their own bodies (the followers of the Sankhya philosophy succeed in attaining to Emancipation).

Faults That Attach to One’s Body

Yudhishthira said: O thou of immeasurable energy, what are those faults thou seest attaching to one’s body? It behoveth thee to expound this doubt to me fully and truly?

Bhishma said: Listen, O slayer of foes! The Sankhyas or followers of Kapila, who are conversant with all paths and endued with wisdom, say that there are five faults, O puissant one, in the human body. They are Desire, Wrath, fear, sleep and breath. These faults are seen in the bodies of all embodied creatures. Those that are endued with wisdom cut the root of wrath with the aid of Forgiveness. Desire is cut-off by casting off all purposes. By cultivation of the quality of Goodness (Sattwa) sleep is conquered, and fear is conquered by cultivating heedfulness. Breath is conquered by abstemiousness of diet, O king. Truly understanding Gunas by the aid of hundreds of Gunas, hundreds of faults, and diverse causes, ascertaining that the world is like the froth of water, enveloped by hundreds of illusions flowing from Vishnu, like a painted edifice, and as unsubstantial as a reed, beholding it to be (as terrible as) a dark pit, or as unreal as bubbles of water, for the years that compose its age are as short lived (compared to the duration of eternity) as bubbles, seeing it exposed to immediate destruction, bereft of happiness, having certain ruin for its end and from which it can never escape, sunk in Rajas and Tamas, and utterly helpless like an elephant sunk in mire,- noting all this- the Sankhyas, O king, endued with great wisdom, casting off all affections arising from one’s relation towards one’s children, by the aid, O king, of that extensive and all-embracing knowledge which their system advocates and cutting off quickly, with the weapon of knowledge and the bludgeon of penances, O Bharata, all inauspicious scents born of Rajas and all scents of a like nature arising from Tamas and all auspicious scents arising from Sattwa and all pleasures of the touch (and of the other senses) born of the same three qualities and inhering to the body,- indeed, O Bharata, aided by the Yoga of knowledge, these Yatis crowned with success,- cross the Ocean of life. That Ocean, so terrible has sorrow for its waters. Anxiety and grief constitute its deep lakes. Disease and death are its gigantic alligators. The great fears that strike the heart at every step are its huge snakes. The deeds inspired by Tamas are its tortoises. Those inspired by Rajas are its fishes. Wisdom constitutes the raft for crossing it. The affections entertained for objects of the senses are its mire. Decrepitude constitutes its region of grief and trouble.

[Note: The Sanskrit word ‘Durga’ is an inaccessible region such as a forest or wilderness, which cannot be passed through except with great pain and danger.]

Knowledge, O chastiser of foes, is its island. Acts constitute its great depth. Truth is its shores. Pious observances constitute the verdant weeds floating on its bosom. Envy constitutes its rapid and mighty current. The diverse sentiments of the heart constitute its mines. The diverse kinds of gratification are its valuable gems. Grief and fever are its winds. Misery and thirst are its mighty eddies. Painful and fatal diseases are its huge elephants. The assemblage of bones is its flights of steps. And phlegm is its froth. Gifts are its pearl-banks. The lakes of blood are its corals. Loud laughter constitutes its roars. Diverse sciences are its impassability. Tears are its brine. Renunciation of company constitutes the high refuge (of those that seek to cross it). Children and spouses are its unnumbered leeches. Friends and kinsmen are the cities and towns on its shores. Abstention from injury, and Truth, are its boundary line. Death is its storm-wave. The knowledge of Vedanta is its island (capable of affording refuge to those that are tossed upon its waters). Acts of compassion towards all creatures constitute its life buoys, and Emancipation is the priceless commodity offered to those voyaging on its waters in search of merchandise. Like its substantive prototype with its equine head disgorging flames of fire, this ocean too has its fiery terrors. Having transcended the liability, that is so difficult to transcend, of dwelling within the gross body, the Sankhyas enter into pure space. Surya (the sun) then bears, with his rays, those righteous men that are practicers of the Sankhya doctrine. Like the fibres of the lotus-stalk conveying water to the flower into which they all converge, Surya, drinking all things from the universe, conveys them unto those good and wise men.

[Note: The sense seems to be that by practising the Sankhya doctrine men cease to have any regard for even their gross bodies. They succeed in realising their existence as independent of all earthly or heavenly objects. What is meant by the Sun bearing them in his rays and conveying to them all things from every part of the universe is that these men acquire great puissance. This is not the puissance of Yoga but of knowledge. Everything being regarded as being unsubstantial and transitory, the position of Indra (king of gods in heaven) himself is looked upon as unworthy of acquisition. Sincere conviction of this kind and the course of conduct that is conformable to it is literally puissance of the highest kind, for all the purposes of puissance are capable of being served by it.]

These attachments all destroyed, possessed of energy, endued with wealth of penances, and crowned with success, these Yatis, O Bharata, are born by that wind which is subtle, cooling, fragrant, and delicious to the touch, O Bharata! In fact, that wind which is the best of the seven winds, and which blows in regions of great felicity, conveys them, O son of Kunti, to that which is the highest end in space.

[Note: This is taken as meaning that the Sankhyas are conveyed to the firmament of the heart. Perhaps, what is intended by it is that they become withdrawn from external objects and even the impressions of all external things.]

Then space into which they are carried, O monarch, convey them to the highest end of Rajas.

[Note: Perhaps, this means the pleasure of heaven.]

Rajas then bear them to the highest end of Sattwa. Sattwa then bears them, O thou of pure soul, to the Supreme and puissant Narayana. The puissant and pure-souled Narayana at last, through Himself, bears them to the Supreme Soul. Having reached the Supreme Soul, those stainless persons who have (by that time) become the body of (what is called). That attain to immortality, and they have never afterwards to return from that position, O king! That is the highest end, O son of Pritha, which is attained by those high-souled men who have transcended the influence of all pairs of opposites.

[What the truth is in respect of the following statement by Yudhishthira?]

"Certain scriptures on the topic declare that consciousness disappears in the emancipate state, while other scriptures declare the very reverse of this."

Yudhishthira said: O sinless one, have those persons of firm vows after they have attained to that excellent position which is fraught with puissance and felicity, any recollection of their lives including birth and death? It behoveth thee to tell me properly what the truth is in respect, O thou of Kuru’s race. I do not think it proper to question anyone else than thee! Observing the scriptures bearing upon Emancipation, I find this great fault in the subject (for certain scriptures on the topic declare that consciousness disappears in the emancipate state, while other scriptures declare the very reverse of this). If, having attained to this high state, the Yatis continue to live in consciousness, it would seem, O king, that the religion of Pravritti is superior. If, again, consciousness disappears from the emancipate state and who has become emancipate only resembles a person sunk in dreamless slumber, then nothing can be more improper than to say that there is really no consciousness in Emancipation (for all that happens in dreamless slumber is that one’s consciousness is temporarily overshadowed and suspended, but never lost, for it returns when one awakes from that slumber).

Bhishma said: However difficult it may be to answer it, the question that thou hast asked, O son, is proper. Verily, the question is such a kind that even they that are possessed of great learning become stupefied in answering it, O chief of Bharata’s race. For all that, hear what the truth is as expounded by me.

The high-souled followers of Kapila have set their high understandings on this point. The senses of knowledge, O king, planted in the bodies of embodied creatures, are employed in their respective functions of perception. They are the instruments of the Soul, for it is through them that subtle Being perceives.

[Note: Yudhishthira’s question seems to be this: Is there or is there not consciousness in the emancipate state? Different scriptures answer this question differently. If it be said that there is consciousness in that state, then why discard heaven and its pleasures, or the religion of Pravritti or acts, which lead to those pleasures? Where is the necessity then of Sannyasa or the religion of Nivritti or abstention from all acts? On the supposition of there being consciousness in the emancipate state, the Religion of Pravritti should be taken as superior. If, on the other hand, the existence of consciousness were denied, that would be an error].

Disunited with the Soul, the senses are like lumps of wood, and are without doubt, destroyed (in respect of the functions they serve) like the froth that is seen on the bosom of the ocean.

[Note: The word ‘perceived’ is used in the translation, yet remembering that the mind is included among the senses and regarded as the sixth sense, the functions of recollection, representation, etc., are also implied by the Sanskrit word ‘pasyati’.]

When the embodied creature, O scorcher of foes, sinks into sleep along with his senses, the subtle Soul then roves among all subjects like the wind through space.

[Note: The simile of froth is introduced in consequence of its disappearance with the disappearance of water.]

The subtle Soul, during slumber, continues to see (all forms) and touch all objects of touch, O king, and taken in other perceptions, as well as when it is awake. In consequence of their inability to act without their director, the senses during sleep, all become extinguished in their respective places (and lose their powers) like snakes deprived of poison. At such times, the subtle Soul, repairing into the respective place of all the senses, without doubt, discharges all their functions. All the qualities of Sattwa, all the attributes of the Understanding, O Bharata, as also those of Mind, and Space, and Wind, O thou of righteous soul, and all the attributes of liquid substances, of Water, O Partha, and of Earth,- these senses with these qualities,- O Yuthishthira, which inhere to Jiva-souls (embodied souls), are along with the Jiva-soul itself, overwhelmed by the Supreme Soul, or Brahman. Acts also, good and bad, overwhelm that Jiva-soul. Like disciples waiting upon their preceptor with reverence, the senses too wait upon the Jiva-soul transcends Prakriti, it attains to Brahman that is without change, that is highest, that is Narayana, that is beyond all pairs of opposites, and that transcends Prakriti. Freed from both merit and demerit, the Jiva-soul entering the Supreme –Soul which is divested of all attributes, and which is the home of all auspiciousness, does not return thence, O Bharata. What remains, O son, is the mind with the senses, O Bharata. These have to come back once more at the appointed season for doing the bidding of their great master.

[Note: For the Soul, in dreams, sees and hears and touches and smells etc., precisely as it does while awake.]

Soon after, O son of Kunti, (when this body is cast off), the Yati striving after Emancipation, endued as he is with knowledge and desirous as he is of Guna, succeeds in attaining to that Peace of Emancipation which is his who becomes bodiless.

[Note: The sense seems to be that a person who becomes emancipate in this life becomes so in Samadhi. When the state of Samadhi is over, his mind and senses return; and returning they do the bidding of the Supreme, i.e., bring about both happiness and misery, which, of course, are the consequences of the acts of past lives though that happiness and misery are not felt. In the next verse is said that these men very soon leave their bodies and become freed from rebirth.]

There is no knowledge that is equal to this

The Sankhyas, O king, are endued with great wisdom. They succeed in attaining to the highest end by means of this kind of knowledge. There is no knowledge that is equal to this. Do not yield to any kind of doubt. The knowledge, which is described in the system of the Sankhyas, is regarded as the highest. That knowledge is immutable and is eternally fixed. It is eternal Brahman in fullness. It has no beginning, middle and end. It transcends all pairs of opposites. It is the cause of the creation of the universe. It stands in fullness. It is without deterioration of any kind. It is uniform, and everlasting. Thus are its praises sung by the wise. From it flow creation and destruction and all modifications. The great Rishis speak of it and applaud it in the scriptures. All learned Brahmanas and all righteous men regard it as flowing from Brahman, Supreme, Divine, Infinite, Immutable, and Undeteriorating. All Brahmanas again that are attached to objects of the senses adore and applaud it by ascribing to it attributes that belong to illusion.

[Note: The Sanskrit word ‘Vadanti’ is ‘Stuvanti’. Such men hymn its praises by regarding it as Supreme Deity possessed of attributes. Those attributes, of course, are the result of illusion, for in its real nature there can be no attributes in Brahman.]

The same is the view of Yogis well observant of penances and meditation and of Sankhyas of immeasurable insight. The Srutis declare, O son of Kunti, that the Sankhya form of philosophy is the form of that Formless One. The cognitions (according to that philosophy) have, O chief of Bharata’s race, been said to be the knowledge of Brahman.

[Note: Brahman is knowledge without duality i.e., knowledge without the consciousness of knower and known. The knowledge or cognition of an object, when object is annihilated, assumes the form of that knowledge which is called Brahman.]

There are two kinds of creatures on Earth, O lord of Earth, viz., mobile and immobile. Of these those that are mobile are superior. That high knowledge, O king, which exists in persons conversant with Brahman, and that which occurs in the Vedas, and that which is found in other scriptures, and that in Yoga, and that which may be seen in the diverse Puranas, are all, O monarch, to be found in Sankhya philosophy.

[Note: The object of this verse is to show that among mobile creatures those endues with knowledge are superior, and among all kinds of knowledge, the knowledge occurring in the Sankhya system is the highest.]

Whatever knowledge is seen to exist in high histories, whatever knowledge occurs, O king, in the sciences appertaining to the acquisition of wealth as approved by the wise, whatever other knowledge exists in this world,- all these,- flow, O high souled monarch, from the high knowledge that occurs among the Sankhyas.

Tranquillity of soul, high puissance, all subtle knowledge of which the scriptures speak, penances of subtle force, and all kinds of felicity, O king, have all been duly ordained in the Sankhya system. Failing to acquire, O son of Pritha, that complete knowledge which is recommended by their system, the Sankhyas attain to the status of deities and pass many years in felicity. Lording it over the celestials as they will, they fall, upon the expiration of the allotted period, among learned Brahmanas and Yatis.

[Note: If in consequence of any defect of practice or Sadhana, the Sankhyas fail to attain to Emancipation, they at least become translated into gods.]

Casting off this body, those regenerate ones that follow the Sankhya system enter into the superior sate of Brahma like the celestials entering into the firmament by devoting themselves wholly to that adorable system which is theirs and which is worshipped by all wise men. Those regenerate persons that are devoted to the acquisition of that knowledge which is recommended in the Sankhya system, even if they fail to attain to eminence, are never seen to fall among intermediate creatures, or to sink into the status of sinful men. That high-souled person who is fully conversant with the vast, high, ancient, ocean-like, and immeasurable Sankhya system that is pure and liberal and agreeable, becomes, O king, equal to Narayana.

I have now told thee, O god among men, the truth about the Sankhya system. It is the embodiment of Narayana, of the universe as it exists from the remotest time. [Note: i.e., it is everything.] When the time of creation comes, He causes the creation to start into life, and when the time comes for destruction, He swallows up everything. Having withdrawn everything into his own body he goes to sleep,- that inner Soul of the universe. [Note: That Narayana, who does all this is the embodiment of the Sankhya system.]
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What is the difference between the Sankhya
and the Yoga system of philosophy?

Sankhya and Yoga
Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCCI
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Yudhishthira said: It behoveth thee to explain to me, O sire, what the difference is between the Sankhya and the Yoga system of philosophy, O foremost one of Kuru’s race, everything is known to thee, O thou that art conversant with all duties!

Bhishma said: The followers of Sankhya praise the Sankhya system and those regenerate persons that are Yogis praise the Yoga system. For establishing the superiority of their respective systems, each calls his own system to be the better. Men of wisdom devoted to Yoga assign proper and very good reasons, O crusher of foes, for showing that one that does not believe in the existence of God cannot attain to Emancipation. Those regenerate persons, again, that are believers in the Sankhya doctrines advance good reasons for showing that, one, by acquiring true knowledge of all ends, becomes dissociated from all worldly objects, and, after departing from this body, it is plain, becomes emancipated and that it cannot be otherwise. Men of great wisdom have thus expounded the Sankhya philosophy of Emancipation. When reasons are thus balanced on both sides, those that are assigned on that side which one is otherwise inclined to adopt as one’s own, should be accepted. Indeed, those words that are said on that side should be regarded as beneficial. Good men may be found on both sides. Persons like thee may adopt either opinion. The evidences of Yoga are addressed to the direct ken of the senses; those of Sankhya are based on the scriptures. Both systems of philosophy are approved by me, O Yuthishthira. Both those systems of science, O king, have my concurrence and are concurred in by those that are good and wise. If practised duly according to the instructions laid down, both would, O king, cause a person to attain to the highest end. In both systems purity is equally recommended as also compassion towards all creatures, O sinless one. In both, again, the observance of vows has been equally laid down. Only the scriptures that point out their paths are different.

Yudhishthira said: If the vows, the purity, the compassion, and the fruits thereof recommended in both systems be the same, tell me, O grandsire, for what reason then are not their scriptures (in respect of the paths recommended) the same?

Bhishma said: By casting off, through the aid of Yoga, these five faults, viz., attachment, heedlessness, affection, lust, and wrath, one attains to Emancipation. As large fishes, breaking through the net, pass into their own element (for ranging in felicity), after the same manner, Yogis (breaking through lust and wrath, etc.) become cleansed of all sins and attain to the felicity of Emancipation. As powerful animals, breaking through the nets in which hunters enmesh them, escape into the felicity of freedom, after the same manner, Yogis, freed from all bonds, attain to the sinless path that leads to Emancipation. Truly, O king, breaking through the bonds born of cupidity, Yogis, endued with strength, attain to the sinless and auspicious and high path of Emancipation.

Feeble animals, O monarch, entangled in nets, are without doubt, destroyed. Even such is the case with persons destitute of the puissance of Yoga. As weak fishes, O son of Kunti, fallen into the net, become entangled in it, even so, O monarch, men destitute of the puissance of Yoga, encounter destruction (amid the bonds of the world). As birds, O chastiser of foes, when entangled in the fine nets of fowlers (if weak) meet with their ruin but if endued with strength effect their escape, after the same manner does it happen with Yogis, O chastiser of foes. Bound by the bonds of action, they that are weak meet with destruction, while they that are possessed of strength break through them. A small and weak fire, O king, becomes extinguished when large logs of timber are placed upon it. Even so the Yogi that is weak, O king, meets with ruin (when brought in contact with the world and its attachments). The same fire, however, O monarch, when it becomes strong, would (without being extinguished) burn with the aid of the wind, the whole earth. After the same manner, the Yogi, when grown in strength, burning with energy, and possessed of might, is capable of scorching the entire Universe like the sun that rises at the time of the universal dissolution. As a weak man, O king, is swept away by a current, even so is a weak Yogi helplessly carried away by objects of the senses. An elephant withstands a mighty current. After the same manner, a Yogi, having acquired Yoga-puissance, withstands all objects of the senses. Independent of all things, Yogis, endued with Yoga-puissance and invested with lordship, enter into (the hearts of) the very lords of creation, the Rishis, the deities, and the great Beings in the universe. Neither Yama, nor the Destroyer, nor Death himself of terrible prowess, when angry, ever succeeds in prevailing over the Yogis, O king, who is possessed of immeasurable energy.

The Yogi, acquiring Yoga-puissance, can create thousands of bodies and with them wander over the earth. Some amongst them enjoy objects of the senses and then once more set themselves to the practice of the austerest penances, and once again, like the sun (withdrawing his rays), withdraw themselves from such penances. The Yogi who is possessed of strength and whom bonds bind not, certainly succeeds in attaining to Emancipation. I have now discoursed to thee, O monarch, on all these powers of Yoga. I shall once more tell thee what the subtle powers of Yoga are with their indications. Hear, O chief of Bharat’s race, the subtle indications of the Dharana and the Samadhi of the Soul (such as Yoga brings about).

[Note" Dharna is holding the soul in self-reflection, preventing it the while from wandering. Samadhi is complete abstraction.]

As a bowman who is heedful and attentive succeeds in striking the aim, even so the Yogi with absorbed soul, without doubt, attains to Emancipation. As a man fixing his mind on a vessel full of some liquid (placed on his head) heedfully ascends a flight of steps, even so the Yogi, fixed and absorbed in his soul, cleanses it and makes it as effulgent as the sun. As a boat, O son of Kunti, that is tossed on the bosom of the sea is very soon taken by a heedful boatman to the other shore, even so the man of knowledge by fixing his soul in Samadhi, attains to Emancipation, which is so difficult to acquire, after casting off his body, O monarch. As a heedful charioteer, O king, having yoked good steeds (unto his car) takes the car warrior to the spot he wishes, even so the Yogi, O monarch, heedful in Dharna, soon attains to the highest spot, (viz., Emancipation) like a shaft let off from the bow reaching the object aimed at. The Yogi who stays immovably after having entered his self into possession of those that are righteous. That Yogi who, heedfully observant of high vows, properly unites, O king, his jiva-soul with the subtle Soul in the navel, the throat, the head, the heart, the chest, the sides, the eye, the ear, and the nose, burns all his acts good and bad of even mountain-like proportions, and having recourse to excellent Yoga, attains to Emancipation.

Yudhishthira said: It behoveth thee to tell me, O grandsire, what the kinds of diet are by taking which, and what the things are by conquering which, the Yogi, O Bharata, acquires Yoga-puissance.

Bhishma continued: Engaged, O Bharata, in subsisting upon broken grains of rice and sodden cakes of sesame, and abstaining from oil and butter, the Yogi acquires Yoga-puissance. By subsisting for a long time on powdered barley unmixed with any liquid substance, and by confining himself to only one meal a day, the Yogi, of cleansed soul, acquires Yoga-puissance. By drinking only water mixed with milk, first only once during the day, then once during a fortnight, then once during a month, then once during three months, and then once during a whole year, the Yogi acquires Yoga-puissance. By abstaining entirely from meat, O king, the Yogi of cleansed soul acquires puissance. By subjugating lust, and wrath, and heat, and cold, and rain, and fear, and grief, and the breath, and all sounds that are agreeable to men, and objects of the senses, and the uneasiness, so difficult to conquer, that is born of abstention from sexual congress, and thirst that is so terrible, O king, and the pleasures of touch, and sleep, and procrastination that is almost unconquerable, O best of kings, high-souled Yogis, divested of attachments, and possessed of great wisdom, aided by their understandings, and equipped with wealth of contemplation and study, cause the subtle soul to stand confessed in all its glory.

This high (Yoga) path of learned Brahmanas (Brahmins) is exceedingly difficult to tread. No one can walk along this path with ease. That path is like a terrible forest which abounds with innumerable snakes and crawling vermin, with (concealed) pits occuring every where, without water for slaking one’s thirst, and full of thorns, and inaccessible on that account. Indeed, the Path of Yoga is like a road along which no edibles occur, which runs through a desert having all its trees burnt down in a conflagration, and which has been rendered unsafe by being infested with bands of robbers. Very few young men can pass safely through it (for reaching the goal). Like unto a path of this nature, few Brahmanas can tread alone the Yoga-path with ease and comfort. That man, who, having betaken himself to this path, ceases to go forward (but turns back after having made some progress), is regarded as guilty of many faults. Men of cleansed souls, O lord of Earth, can stay with ease upon Yoga-contemplation which is like the sharp edge of a razor. Persons of uncleansed souls, however, cannot stay on it. When Yoga contemplation becomes disturbed or otherwise obstructed, it can never lead the Yogi to an auspicious end even as a vessel that is without a captain cannot take the passengers to the other shore.

That man, O son of Kunti, who practises Yoga-contemplation according to due rites, succeeds in casting off both birth and death, and happiness and sorrow. All this that I have told thee has been stated in the diverse treatise bearing upon Yoga. The highest fruits of Yoga are seen in persons of the regenerate order. That highest fruit is identification with Brahma. The high-souled Yogi, possessed of greatness, can enter into and come out of, at his will. Brahma himself who is the lord of all deities, and the boon giving Vishnu, and Bhava (Siva), and Dharma, and the six-faced Kartikeya, and the (spiritual) sons of Brahmana, the quality of Darkness that is productive of much pain, and that of Passion, and that of Sattwa which is pure, and Prakriti which is the highest, and the goddess Siddhi who is the spouse of Varuna, and all kinds of energy, and all enduring patience, and the bright lord of stars in the firmament with the stars twinkling all around, and the Viswas, and the (great) snakes, and the Pitris, and all the mountains and hills, and the great and terrible oceans, and all the rivers, and the rain charged clouds, and serpents, and trees and Yakshas, and the cardinal and subsidiary points of the compass, and the Gandharvas, and all male persons and all female ones also. This discourse, O king, that is connected with the Supreme Being of mighty energy should be regarded as auspicious. The Yogi has Narayana for his soul. Prevailing over all things (through his contemplation of the Supreme deity), the high-souled Yogi is capable of creating all things.
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The Sankhya Philosophy of Kapila
By Swami Abhedananda, Ramakrishna Math, Culcutta

The philosophy of Raja Yoga is based upon the Sankhya system of philosophy of Kapila. The Sankhya system is so called because it describes twenty-five categories or principles of the whole universe. The word ‘Sankhya' comes from the Sanskrit word, which means ‘number’, and sometimes it is called ‘the philosophy of numbers’. But there is a meaning to this word, and it means right discrimination between the true nature of things and the apparent nature as well as discrimination between the natural and the spiritual, and hence it is called the Sankhya System i.e. the system that describes the proper discrimination and right knowledge of things. It gives the names of twenty-five principles of the universe, and describes the methods, by which we can know and analyze these principles and their nature. This system of philosophy was discussed in ancient times in India, and it was systematically thought out by Kapila.

Kapila is known as the father of the doctrine of evolution because he is the first who gave the logical arguments for the support of the doctrine. It is believed that Kapila lived long before the Greek philosophers Plato and Pythagoras were born. Some of the Oriental scholars are of opinion that the Greek philosophy drew a great deal from the philosophy of Kapila, and Kapila’s psychology as well as the principle of cosmology are most ancient ones in the world. Though the idea of evolution existed long before Kapila and also before Plato and Pythagoras, yet Kapila was the first who taught by observation and experiment how to solve the mysteries of this universe. He scientifically studied the process of evolution of things, and tried to trace the real cause of the phenomenal universe. It was well known in India that these material objects were made up of atoms and molecules, is known as the system of Sankhya or number. Kapila was a great supporter of the atomic theory, but he was not satisfied with the dead and unconscious atoms, though he described the atoms to be the cause of the phenomenal universe. He said that mere dead matters (atoms) cannot be the cause of everything in the universe, and so he studied in his own way of tracing the cause of atoms, and he thought that atoms were not the primary cause of the universe, but there must be some cause behind the atoms, out of which the atoms are produced. So he studied the process of evolution in a scientific way, and discovered the real cause of the phenomenal universe, some of the laws, which harmonize, with those of the modern science. By scientific investigation Kapila came to the conclusion that something can never come out of nothing. And so, though he discovered that Prakriti is the cause of evolution, yet he found that Purusha, the shining intelligence is really the cause behind the dead and inert Prakriti, and finally concluded that the unintelligent Prakriti, coming in contact with the intelligent Purusha, becomes the cause of evolution of the phenomenal universe.

(In Herbert Spencer’s philosophy, you will also discover this fundamental principle of evolution).

In fact, Kapila discovered that when the unintelligent inert (jada) i.e. unconscious Prakriti comes in contact with the intelligent conscious Purusha, evolution of the phenomenal universe begins. He said that Prakriti and Purusha are conjoined together like lame and blind (pangu-andhavat) men, and when the insentient Prakriti comes in contact with the sentient Purusha, the universe evolves. The insentient Prakriti itself is inactive, and so action or vibration of evolution begins in Prakriti, when it is associated with the intelligent Purusha. It is true that in the Rig-Veda and Upanishad (Taittiriya Upanishad), the gradual process of evolution of the phenomenal universe has been described, but Kapila’s method of investigation into the theory of evolution is more systematic and scientific.

Now the word ‘Prakriti’ is sometimes translated in English as Nature. But we use the word Nature in a variety of senses. Modern scientists may call it the eternal energy, which is beginningless, endless and eternal. The modern scientists have come to the conclusion that everything of the universe has come out from a primordial substance, and the forces are correlated to one another. By ‘energy’ they mean ‘the potential state of all things’ and potential means latent. A tree is potential or latent in a seed form. When we are handling a seed, we are handling the potential tree. The tree exists in the seed in a causal form, and all the peculiarities which will come out and make up any particular tree, are there already in the seed. If we call the seed cause, the cause will mean the unmanifested form of the tree, and when the seed is manifested in the form of a tree, we call it the effect. Therefore nothing comes from the outside. Environments may bring out a certain thing, but the tree is already there in the seed, otherwise any seed may produce all kinds of tree, and therefore, there would not be anything to control the nature and kind of the tree. As for example, an elm would produce a fig, or a fig seed would produce a mango, and there would be a great want of regularity.

It has been said before that according to Kapila, an effect lies in the cause, and so there ought to be no difficulty in understanding the nature of the manifold universe. We see today with our senses the outcome or effect of an unmanifested cause, known as Prakriti or eternal energy. The eternal energy would be the sum-total of all the conditions, and everything that exists in the universe exists, in latent state. So if we try to trace the cause of the universe, we will have to conceive of that substance which includes everything, for nothing will come from outside of that substance. Everything of the universe comes out from Prakriti in the form of a gradual process, and it has already been said that Prakriti is eternal, beginningless, and endless. But it has no self-consciousness. It becomes one of the conditions of self-consciousness, when it comes in contact with the sentient and intelligent Purusha. If we can imagine that this whole universe is an ocean of ether and the vibration of ether produces waves, which are called the objects of senses, then we will find that everything which our senses perceive as odours, sounds, etc. all are the expressions of the waves of the ethereal motion or vibration. Again if we can imagine that the ethereal motion existed at a certain time in a motionless state, where there was no vibration, then all the phenomenal appearances will vanish in a moment and the whole universe would go back to its primordial state, and that would be called an ‘involution’. Involution is quite opposite to evolution. But it should be remembered that evolution (sristi) and involution (nasha or pralaya) are no other than the manifested (vyakta) and unmanifested (avyakta) forms of the same Prakriti.

Kapila said that the process of evolution and involution exists throughout eternity, and there is no beginning and no end of that state or condition. All thoughts come out of that state. The moment you ask the question: "Where is the beginning?" you are in state of vibration, and your thought is included in that state. That is, it includes mind and ego and all other objects of sense powers, and everything which we can think of. All things are included in that one substance of Purusha-Prakriti combined. All these different forces are latent, and when they are called into action, there is manifestation. When the Prakriti is disturbed, then it begins to be set into motion, and produces a state, which possesses all the potentialities of self-consciousness. That is, it (Prakriti) is illumined by a spiritual light, and when it is illumined by a spiritual light of the Purusha, it becomes conscious, and that state is described as Mahat, the first state before the evolution of the phenomenal object. To make it more explicit, it can be said that the moment the Prakriti is illumined by the spiritual light of the Purusha, it is possessed of self-consciousness, and then begins the evolution. Kapila said that Prakriti is the combination of the three qualities, Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas, and when these qualities remain in a balancing state, the Prakriti remains in its own form, and there begins no evolution or creation; but as soon as that balance is disturbed (gunakshobha), evolution begins and the subtle and material things begin to manifest.

It has been said before that Prakriti creates everything of the universe through the process of evolution, when it comes in contact with the Purusha, but the moment that illuminated intelligent Purusha becomes conscious of itself, the subjectivity begins. That is, there must be a subject and an object. The moment the Purusha begins to be conscious of it, there comes the division between the subject and the object. But that subject and object are the combination of the spiritual life. If you study your own nature, you will find that there is something which is constantly changing, and something that does not change. In fact, our consciousness has been manifested as or related to the subject and the object which are changing, but the light of consciousness or the consciousness that underlies them and forms the background of them, is constant and not changing. That is, the primordial substance that forms the background of the universe, is not subject to change. But the relational knowledge or phenomenal consciousness is always changing. Now, when we say "I", we mean not only that light of shining self-consciousness, but also the mind and the thinking principle. So we think generally of the mind of the sense powers, and of the physical forms which are known as the son or daughter of Mr. or Mrs. or so and so. Now, when you think of the body, you become one or identified with the body. If there be any heat or cold, you identify yourself with those feelings of heat and cold. You also always identify yourselves with hunger or thirst, pain or pleasure, etc., and you feel them, and take upon yourself all those changes, and, consequently, you cannot separate those changes from yourself.

So there are two things, the one is unchangeable Self, and the other is subject to changes. Kapila analyzed it scientifically, and discovered the secret that there is an unchangeable something behind the changing things, and it is the source of all changes, and that unchangeable something is the Purusha. He said that when the Purusha contacts the Prakriti, the pure consciousness of the Purusha is transformed into Buddhitattva or the state of mind. Here you will find a little difference between the system of Kapila and that of the modern scientists, because the scientists of modern times do not differentiate between the unchangeable one and the changeable something. The atoms are on the subject side, and on the other side would be the mind as well as the power of hearing, seeing, smelling, etc. Kapila also analyzed the method of perception (pratyaksha-jnana). As for example, he said that we see some colours and the things and there must also be something, which produces the sight.

We are possessed of five senses, and we cannot perceive more objects than our five senses allow. We feel, see, hear, smell and touch. As there are five senses for perception, so whatever we would perceive with any of these senses, would be the combination of these five. We can see hundreds of colours, but the sense of colour is in itself. It is called in Sanskrit the Tanmatra. It is not differentiated and is not seen with our eyes. We also find that there may be great varieties of sound, but the essence of sound is one. We may have a high or low pitch of the sound of a flute or a piano or any other instrument, but all these do not exist in the essence of sound, and that must be considered by itself. The sense of sight and the sense of colour and that which produces colour have also produced the power of seeing the colour, and it is some relation to the organ of the sight. In this way, we see the relation between the external objects and the subjective state and also the condition of the object through which sense objects are perceived or sensed. The power of seeing, the object of sight and the organ of vision, are only the different states of that something which possesses the sense of colour, or sight, or potentiality of perception, and the potentiality of perception exists in that primordial substance, known as the Prakriti. So the whole universe can be summed up in this way, and the manifestation of substance and the study of the universe become very simple.

There are twenty-four states of evolution. It has been said that there is a primordial state of evolution i.e. the state where the primordial substance is illumined by the spiritual light. Then comes the bifurcation of the subject and the object; then comes the essence of things; then come the mind, the sense organs, and the organs of action, such as moving power and power of speech, and last of all come the gross forms of different things. But these twenty-four states or principles (tattvas) are changeable, and that which knows these twenty-four states or principles, is unchangeable, and that is called the Purusha, or the real Self. That is the source of consciousness as well as the source of all intelligence. We cannot think of its beginning, or its end. It is not affected by any of the changes or conditions of the different stages of evolution, but it is above all these changes, and so it cannot die, and cannot be born, but it is free and above all relativity. It may be called immortal, and it gives the life to that which evolutes. It is the source of activity, but it is not our soul. Our body may move, but how can we say that our soul is moving? If we go from here to any other city, do we think that our soul is moving with us? If that spirit moves with us, where is the seat of that spirit? Is it confined like an atom in our body, or is it out of all the conditions of space and time?

These questions do not bother many minds, but these are the problems of the philosophers. The philosophers try to trace relation between the soul and the external object and its condition. But the Sankhya system says that the Purusha has no relation to space. It is absolute, and yet it is many. Because each individual has a true spirit, which is beyond space, time, and changes of body and mind. It is beyond thought and word. In truth, the word Purusha cannot be translated into English with its equivalent term. The word ‘soul’ does not convey the proper meaning of the Purusha. There is no other way of expressing the idea. The ego is subject to evolution, but that which is the Soul of souls, is the Purusha, who is not subject to evolution or it can be said that evolution cannot touch the Purusha. These two eternal things are admitted by the Sankhyas. These two are separate, and that which is subject to evolution, produces all these changes and varieties of phenomena so long the Purusha or knower does not realize the nature of the Prakriti.

How long does this world exist in relation to you? This question disturbed the minds of the Hindu philosophers in ancient times. The answer was that as long as we are thinking of the world, so long this question exists. This answer may appear mysterious to us. But if we think of the answer for some time, we will see that it is true. As long as we are looking at the world, it exists for us. But if we go beyond thought, then the world will not exist in relation to us.

There is a beautiful illustration given in the Sankhya philosophy. The eternal Energy (Prakriti) is compared to a dancing girl in a theatre, and the observer is the Purusha. The girl dances as long as the observer is there, but the moment the observer ceases to look at her and understands the dance perfectly, it fails to amuse him. Similarly at the opera, if there were no observer, of what use would it be? As long as the audience is there, there will be dancing and performances. There would not be any manifestation, if the people did not go to see it. Such is the case with the evolution or manifestation of the universe. This evolution is for the pleasure of the Prakriti and also for letting the Prakriti know what powers she possesses.

In studying this universe, we are astonished to see how many things are there. If everything exists in a primordial state, we would not know that there could be such variety of colours, or so many beautiful flowers, and at the same time, we know nothing of ourselves, and we do not know how we have got this body. We do not think of it; we do not know what this thought is, or where it came from. We are working constantly to get something, but we do not know what that thing is. This is the result of the charm and fascination of the powers of the Prakriti. Prakriti is fascinated and charmed, when it is reflected by the Purusha.

As long as that state continues, so long the world exists, and we will be bound to see and talk about these things. But the moment we go beyond thought, all pain vanishes, and all suffering ceases, and we enjoy a state which cannot be described by anything of the world, because anything of the world cannot reach it, and we are in a state of perfect peace and rest. By knowing ourselves, we will know the nature of that which deluded ourselves for a long time. That which made us unhappy, does not belong to us, and we say: "Now we are above feeling, and anything cannot delude us". In fact, all feelings exist in relation to us, but when we feel that we are above feeling and emotion, nothing can affect us.

The power of seeing may exist in relation to me, but I am not the power of seeing. I never had any eyesight, and never have had, but, for the time being, I have come in contact with the instrument, which is the power of eyesight. If it changes, I call myself blind, because something has happened in the instrument, and I think that, I am blind. If the body grows, I say that I am stout, and if I do not grow stout, I say that I am thin, but the knower is beyond all space relations. Such is the difference, when we have the perception of our true nature. We have hypnotized ourselves, taking upon our shoulders all the changes and thinking that they are our properties. All sufferings proced from this lack of discrimination and right knowledge. To know ourselves and our true nature as well as the true nature of that which is changing, is the right knowledge, and this right knowledge destroys all suffering, misery, and sorrow.

The Sankhya philosophy tries to show to the world that everything exists in the world, produces some kind of suffering and sorrow. We cannot have absolute happiness in this world of change. This is only the transitory relation to certain things which produces a favourable condition in our mind. The same thing will produce a different feeling in some other person. The heat, which is very desirable in winter, is unbearable in summer. We cannot expect a constant pleasure in an external gross object, and if we expect that, we will delude ourselves. We may go on and on, and that expectation will not be realized. The philosopher knows this, so he stops all such foolish expectations. He goes to the extreme, and expects that which he is sure to get. The philosopher goes below the surface of things, and sees the true nature of things, and does not delude himself. But an ordinary man will have to go through all these experiences and different states of evolution. By gaining all these experiences, we know that this is a changeable condition.

The ultimate object of this process of evolution is to make the Purusha realize his true nature and glory, and this Purusha is the real spirit and the true nature of every individual. We should know that all these do not exist in Purusha, but exists in Prakriti, and when that is done, the Purusha or the Soul begins to manifest its true nature and glory, and that is emancipation where all senses cease and all sense objects are transformed.

The Sankhya system does not believe in any God, the Creator. In the Sankhya, it is not necessary to think of a creator, as everything is explained by the process of evolution of one substance, who is going to be the Creator. So this idea of a creator was thrown overboard one thousand years before the birth of Christ. However, the Sankhya, being a system was based entirely upon the doctrine of evolution, rejected the idea of a creator of the universe. This philosophy again includes all stages of suffering in the Purusha.

There are places, where we feel as though we had come to heaven. But all these are included in the different stages of evolution, and so we need not think of any heaven as a place outside the universe. This idea is considered to be a very simple one, which comes to ordinary persons who do not understand the real nature of things.

As the Sankhya system did not believe in any such creator, it accepted the Purusha as an immortal and all-knowing shining principle. Out of this system grew different sects in India. The Jaina is one of them. This philosophy (Jaina) is most intimately connected with the Sankhya philosophy. The fundamental principles of the Buddhist philosophy also depend upon the Sankhya theory. In fact, all systems of Indian philosophy believe in the doctrine of evolution. Even the Buddhists do not believe in the existence of the phenomenal universe, and still they believe in the doctrine of evolution. All those who believe in God, also believe in the theory of evolution. The word ‘creation’, which is generally used in the sense of bringing something out of nothing, does not find a place in any of the philosophies in India. We do not find a single exception, which conveys this meaning. The Yoga philosophy accepts all these descriptions of the twenty-five categories (chaturvimshati-tattvas) of the Sankhya system, and at the same time it has a conception of God. The fact is this that Kapila rejected the utility and existence of God, but Patanjali, the propagator of the Yoga system, admitted for many reasons the utility and existence of God, the Creator, and he said: "Purusha-vishesah Isvarah" i.e. the Purusha, described by the Sankhya, is known as Isvara, the Creator, in the Yoga system, and for this reason Patanjali’s Yoga system is known as the ‘Seshvara-Sankhya’ i.e. the Sankhya philosophy that admits the existence of God. Patanjali’s system of Yoga is a new, or rather an original addition to the domain of Indian philosophy.
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Related Topics: 
Raja Yoga
Gita Chapter 2 & Chapter 5
Philosophy
Yoga
Schools of Vedanta
Buddhism

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