SAmkhya and VedAnta

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Feb 14 13:07:35 CST 1999

I first remember seeing a translation of SAmkhya KArikA of Ishwara
Krishna at the RAmakrishna Mutt in Madras. On the back cover it said
it was on the basis of the doctrines of the SAmkhya that VedAnta was
able to reach its ethreal heights!

OK, let's first consider the basic position of SAmkhya and Vedanta.

SAmkhya :

The world is split up into PrAkriti (primal matter) and innumerable
PurushAs (Souls).

PrAkriti is matter in its most base form which is beyond description.
The SAmkhya describes PrAkriti the same way Brahman is described in
the shruti - beyond logical conception and the senses - literally

There's neither creation or destruction with respect to PrAkriti. It
evolves into some form and later dissolves into itself. This evolution
and dissolution is due to the three gunAs present in it - sattva, rajas
and tamas.

All the world that we see, the body, the senses and our mental faculties
are prakriti.

Purusha is the knower. It is the Self. It's unaffected by prAkriti. It's
with the SAmkhya where the concept of superimposition, first arose. It's
due to this that the Purusha is deluded into thinking that it is the

The seperation of PrAkriti from Purusha, brings about liberation.

That to my knowledge sums up the basic philosophy of the SAmkhya.

Pre Shankara VedAnta, if it was not non-dualistic was definitely
That is identity is accepted with difference. Brahman is the whole and
the whole there're changes, but these don't affect the wholeness of

The Atharva Veda says, "all this is verily Brahman." So VedAnta cannot
the concept of PrAkriti apart from Purusha. Everything is Purusha or
Brahman. Besides
the dual concept of PrAkriti and Purusha is beset with logical
baring the SAmkhyan theories to the attacks of other schools - nAstika
and Astika.

Since Brahman is declared to be the absolute and since the definition of
the absolute denies change, the Advaitins knock off parinAma and make
all change
vivarta (appearance). All difference is mithyam (unreal) and only an
illusion (mAyA). ShankarAcharya so beautifully uses the concept of
adhyAsam (superimposition) to press home his point.

SAmkhya is acknowledged to be the oldest darshana in BhArath. So its
that VedAnta represents a more vigorous and logically consistent form of

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