Sankhya vs. Advaita Vedanta

Vivekananda Centre vivekananda at BTINTERNET.COM
Sun Feb 14 13:26:15 CST 1999

Further response to Sri Rama's contention that Samkhya and Vedanta is
greatly different.

jay wrote:
>>Scholars (pandits) like to make a great deal of the possible
>>between these two schools of philosophies. The only real difference
>is in
>>the final conclusions both these philosophies draw.
Ram wrote>What is this supposed to mean? If I look at you and say you are
>being and some other guy comes and looks at you and says that you are
>a tiger, does that make both of them right?
>>Samkhya perhaps can be considered to be the first rational philosophy
>>world ever saw. Other schools of philosophy - specially the Yoga and
>>philosophies have drawn a lot from the Samkhya of Kapila. They just
>made few
>>final adjustments in the conclusions.
Ram wrote>"adjustments"??!!
>>The maya of Advaita and prakriti of Samkhya are interchangable.
Ram wrote>This is completely incorrect.
Let us examine this in more detail
>>Whenever I study Samkhya,  I get a thrill,  the findings of Samkhya
>are that
>Whenever I read a Dortmunder novel by Donald Westlake I get a thrill
What Samkhya has to offer is very close to the very heart of modern Physics
today  not worth making funny quips about!

>>Kapila - this ancient sage - after acquiring perhaps the highest
>>known to mankind  - sat down and imparted this highest of
>philosophies to
>>his mother!
>>How poetic and sweet. Kapila was not bothered to rush out and impress
>>masses, he decided to share this first with his mother!!
Rama wrote>?!!! Sha.nkara ridicules this kind of sentimentalistic regard of
>kapila explicitly.  As a pUrva-paxa argument he states that kapila is
>held as a revered sage in some smr^iti texts and hence sA.nkhya cannot
>be incorrect. He basically laughs at this and says there is no proof
>that it could not have been some other person named kapila.

Shankara also rushed to his mother when she was on death bed.!!

Let us now make comparision about the teachings of Samkhya and Vedanta and
why we say the only difference is in it's conclusions. (this comes from
Vivekananda not me!)

(1) Samkhya talks of two main constituents of the universe. Akash and Prana
Akash is explained as all penetrating existance - this is same as the Asti
of Vedanta

(2) Then Samkhya says there is disturbance in existance - this is called
The only thing that can disturb existance can be - variations in existance.
This is called prana.  The more contemporary definition of word maya is not
illusion but - 'the  world as it is'. The universe that we experience cannot
come from mere existance but a variation in existance itself. (this is
called prana - energy - matter by modern science).

Hence words maya and prana are interchangeable. The only difference between
Samkhya and Advaita is in its conclusions. Let us look at these.

Advaita Vedanta is saying - variation in existance - how do you define
that - it defies description - there can only be existance - the variation
you see is a mixture of existance and non-existance (but non existance is
non existant anyway so there can only be unity - monism).  This is mental
gymnastics.  It is fine.  Most of analytic work had already been done by
Kapila. How you define the ultimate can be interpreted in many ways - you
are now reaching the edge of ability to grasp the ultimate.
Shankara himself will say it is beyond words and thoughts  - so this final
conclusion of Kapila not not that serious a blow.

The main thing that comes out through this disucssion is that the love of
spirituality is lost for the love of dogmas  (I only accept Shankara and no
contemporary approach - no sincere approach to spirituality is any good - as
it disturbs the dogmas I hold more dear than the love of the subject)

Do not underestimate the contribution of Kapila to this evolution of
spiritual thinking of ancient India.

Love Shankara as much as you like but do not throw mud at others you are
unable to understand.

Vivekananda Centre London

"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
List archives :

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list