Samkhya Theory - The Philosophical base of Yoga
The Proponent of Sankya (Also written as Samkhya) Philosophy was Rishi (Saint) named Kapil, who composed a text called ‘Samkhyasutra’ which is believed to be the original book of this philosophy.Saint Kapil is mentioned in many of the ancient Indian texts and is believed to have born as a ‘perfect being’ (Siddha) and also believed to be the first guru in this tradition ,who passed this knowledge for the first time to his disciple named Asuri.This original text composed by Kapil is no more available now and at present ‘Samkayakarika’ composed by Isvarkrishna in 5thcentury AD is accepted as the primary source of knowledge about this system by the scholars. According to Shri Bhagwad PuranKapila Muni is the fifth incarnation of Vishnu.There are innumerable references to this great philosopher in almost all the philosophical scriptures of India.
Samkhya Philosophy in varying degrees have influenced many of the philosophical systems evolved later in India and yoga is not an exception to this. The Samkhya theory is very helpful in understanding the fundament concepts behind yoga and its various practices and also to envision position of self in context of world surrounding us.
The philosophical base of Patanjali yoga sutra is the Sankhya philosophy.The knowledge envisaged in the sankhya theory was very descriptive , so patnajali structured it into a Eight fold path and named it Asthana Yoga (‘Ast’ in Sanskrit means Eight).
According to Sankhya Philosophy the evolution of universe is due to interaction between ‘Prakriti’ (Primordial form of Nature) and ‘Purusha’ (Self or Soul) and their interaction further creates 23 more elements in this process of evolution. The cause assumed behind this process of expansion is ignorance (avidya), which according to Kapila is the lack of the ability to discriminate (Vivek-khayti) between real (sat) and unreal (asat).This situation resulting out of indiscrimination is caused by Vritties (tendencies) or restlessness of mind. The Soul (Purusha) gets itself discriminated from various gross and subtle forms of Prakriti by acquiring wisdom (discriminatory power) through practicing a rigorous Yogic path and as a result, it is no more subjected to the limitations posed by the Prakriti. After realizing himself as a distinct identity Purusha is no more subjected to worldly sufferings.
Thus Sankhya System has outlined the objective and the process of liberation and Yoga has provided a clear and structured road map for achieving Libration, enlightenment or Mokhsa,which literally means to escape the endless cycle of life and death.All the steps prescribed in Yoga (Yoga-sadhana) are basically aimed at achieving wisdom envisaged in Sankhya Philosophy.
Although Sankhya and Yoga are having similar objective, but there is a minor difference in both, which is about their conception of God.The yoga system given by Patanjali accepts authority of a God and believe God as the primal teacher, possessing different attributes, but according to Sankhya philosophy God is simply a ‘perfect’ (Siddha) individual.
In other words, it can be concluded that whatever principles Sankhya philosophy have propounded, Yoga has arranged them in a structured and adoptable path for realizing these principles in life. Due to this inseparability both systems are often treated as ‘supplementary’ to each other.
It is rightly said by lord Krishna in Bhagwat Gita theta “There is No knowledge comparable to Sankhya and No action superior to Yoga”
According to Sankhya theory there are a total of 25 elements and the whole universe is created out of different combination and permutation of these 25 elements. According to Sankhya Philosophy, an individual Yogi has to experience the nature of all these elements to attain them. Among these 25 elements only Purusha is beyond transformation, other remaining 24 remaining elements evolve in the following mentioned sequence.
24 ELEMENTS OF SANKHYA THEORY
According to Sankhya philosophy ‘Purusha’ is the only conscious entity in universe and is all pervasive. ‘Prakriti’ on the other hand is the unconscious entity (Material world) and is cannot manifest itself automatically.Its further evolution and manifestation becomes possible only after coming into contact with Purusha.
As soon as Purusha comes into contact with Prakriti three Gunas (basic qulities )of prakariti are activated and all the compounds further produced by Prakriti, without exception are embedded with these Gunas (qualities),These three Gunas are namely Satoguna, Rajoguna and Tamoguna. As Mana is also a part of Pratiriti, so it is under influence of all these three Gunas. When it is overpowered by Tamoguna,it is subjected to illusions and becomes infatuated, when Rajoguna is dominant, it leads to indecisiveness and state of confusion, when, it is under the influence of Satoguna, it becomes quite, relaxed and non-violent. This particular state of Chitta is the favorable condition for Yoga. The thing that is evolved out of Prakariti produced will have one of these three qualities as a dominant one and other two as recessive. In this way Prakriti is the original cause of all evaluates and all the evolutes posses these three qualities in different proportions.In following paragraphs these evolutes are briefly described.
Mahat (Bhuddhi/Intelligence) - In the process of evolution of Prakriti it is first compound produced due the interaction between Purusha and Prakriti. In the terminology of Sankhya Philosophy, this is the first ‘distortion’ of Prakriti. Mahat can be translated as a synonym of intelligence (Bhuddhi) and is the source for all the mental activities like logic, determination, discrimination, conceptualization etc.
Ahamkar- It is the second evolute produced by Mahat. This composition of Ahamkar due to different proportion of Gunas varies from individual to individual and due to this Ahamkar or Ego, one gets the sense of being a distinct personality or an individual. Ahamkar makes one conscious of self.
Mana - Mana in Sankhya philosophy is described as something similar to “mind’ in the modern psychology. It is considered as storehouse of memories and perceptions, which are used by intelligence (Mahat) as a reference frame to make decisions and interpret, the world around. Mana is considered as the controller of the senses and it keeps the senses always engaged in different external objects. This Mana is also one of the higher evolutes of Prakriti ,butstill belongs to the material world.
Five Jyananedriyan (Instruments for knowledge) - These are the senses through which one receives external sensations stimuli.
Five Karmendriyan (Instruments for action) - These are the organs of action for taking actions necessary for survival.
Fivev Tanmatras - Ahamkar in course of evolution produces five Tanmatras, corresponding to five senses having Tamoguna as the primary quality. These five Tanmatras are ‘Shabda’ (sound), ‘Sparsh’ (touch), ‘Roopa’ (shape) ,’Rasa’ (taste) and ‘Ganddha’ (smell).
Five Panchabhoots (Gross elements) -These five Tanmatras further give rise to the five basic (Gross) element of nature. Each of these Bhootas (elements) have an immediate connection with one of these five Tanmatras and also each one of them in general is connected to other four Tanmatras.
The figure below shows above relationship among Tanmatras and Bhootas.
|Vayu||Shabda + sparsha|
|Teja||Shabda + sparsha + roopa|
|Jala||shabda + sparsha + roopa + rasa|
|Prithavi||shabda +sparsha + roopa + rasa + ganddha|
The pradhana is the unmanifest three modes (Trigunnas) of nature (Calmness, passion and ignorance). The three subtle elements constitute the subtle (astral) body, and the five gross elements (Mahabhootas) constitute the outward body.The living being has five knowledge-acquiring senses and five working senses, each of which relates to one of the five elements and the corresponding sense object.In this way Purusha is bound to Prakriti through a definite sense mechanism, which keeps it under control (entrenched) due to its own ignorance. First Purusha realises its independent existence (Knowledge given by Sankhya) and gradually through Sadhna (Path prescribed by Yoga) gets liberated from the bondage posed by the Prakarti.In this way, ‘Sankhya-yog’ is the highest spiritual path leading to self-realisation.
The Twenty Four Cosmic Principles Of Samkhya Philosophy