Tenets of Samkhya

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Aug 21 16:11:17 CDT 2002

On Thu, 15 Aug 2002, Jagannath Chatterjee wrote:

> It is somewhat like this, the sparks of the fire are
> numerous but not totally different from the fire.
> Purushas, as referred to here, are the sparks. The
> fire is Ishvara.

What you are describing is a later stage of Samkhya.  The problem is the
word has different meanings in different phases of history.

In the beginning Samkhya and Yoga just loosely mean "theory" and
"practice" not well-defined systems of philosophy.  This is the usage in
Shruti, Puranas, Gita etc.  Some of the basic concepts such as gunas,
prakrti etc. are there.  Because Vedanta comes from the same sources it
shares much of the same vocabulary.  So do many of the other
theistic darshanas such as Bhagavatas, Maheshwaras etc.

Next is the "classical" Samkhya/Yoga of the type we have been discussing
in this thread.  It is a full-blown darshana with its' own literature and
polemics against rival schools.  It must have been very influential at one
time because the oldest text we have is actually in Chinese.  It is called
SuvarNasaptati and forms part of the Tripithaka of the Chinese Buddhists.
It is a translation and commentary by one Paramartha of the Samkhyakarikas.

Largely due to the efforts of people like Shankaracharya, Samkhya/Yoga
went into a decline as an independent system and from Vachaspati Mishra
onwards became practically just a department of Advaita Vedanta.  Nowadays
people talk of "Yogavedanta" without even knowing that the two were once

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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