SAmkhya and VedAnta

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 16 14:01:37 CST 1999

>If Prakriti cannot be known, how does one know through SAnkhya that
>exists and can be realized ? As far as this post goes, again there
seems to
>be little difference between Maya and Prakriti. Only difference is that
>Kapila says Prakriti is real but unknown whereas Shankara says it(Maya)
>unreal, mithya.

Ashish, don^Òt confuse yourself with concepts and what they may mean. All
philosophy and metaphysics is only based on our lives, which in most
part we can relate to.

OK, if you take knowledge, it implies two entities - the subject which
knows and the object that is known. You are the subject. That which you
know about, generally the empirical world is the object.

So in short you are Purusha and the empirical world is Prakriti.

But the shruti says that the Purusha is the changeless eternal, which is
not subject to pain or pleasure. But do you feel the same way about
yourself? We all experience pleasure and pain. So how can the shruti say
you^Òre the Purusha?

So Samkhya brings in the concept of superimposition. It says YOU as you
know yourself are actually prakriti plus purusha. Prakriti is the body +
the mental faculties. Purusha is you in the innermost sense - the Self.
Samkhya says you confuse yourself with your mind and body and think
you^Òre the doer and hence the sufferer. So separate yourself from
prakriti and there^Òs you - the changeless eternal - moksha.

So what^Òs prakriti?

Samkhya says it^Òs matter in it^Òs most primal form - which is formless,
attributeless etc So how did it become into the world that we see?
Samkhya says prakriti has three qualities to it - sattvam, rajas and
tamas. But then if there^Òre three qualities and purusha was once primal,
how did they first act upon each other and become the world that we see?
So Samkya says when prakriti comes in contact with purusha, the three
qualities get to work and hence creation occurs.

So we^Òve prakriti and innumerable purushas, since each of us have a

This is the basic philosophy as taught by Ishvara Krishna (KAlidhAsA?)
in his SAmkhya KArikAs.

>The issue seems to be with Purusha. Why should there be multiple

Why should only you have a soul? Why not me too? :-)

>Which could lead us to asking whether there is an Antaryamin that
>all these Purushas.

How would you ever get such a thought?

Because the shruti tells us so. The shruti says  :
1.  There^Òs Brahman, the changeless eternal.
2.  We^Òre the Atman and are also eternal.
3.  Everything that we see in the world is Brahman.
4.  The Atman is also Brahman.

So here we have the prakriti and purushas of the SAmkhya all rolled into
one and the same thing - Brahman.

Which is monism. So early Vedantists postulated the world as a single
whole entity. To accommodate the changes that we see in the world they
said the changes occur in the whole. But the shruti also says that whole
is always whole. The Vedantists said there^Òs no contradiction because,
whatever changes happen inside the whole, it still doesn^Òt affect the
wholeness of the whole.

By now the nAstikas had become smarter. They proved by logic that you
cannot claim something is absolute and still accept change.

The shruti also defines brahman as the absolute - how can you say that
brahman is absolute and still accept the changes which the world

There^Òre numerous passages in the shruti, which says Brahman is One
without a second, which doesn^Òt experience any change etc

So it^Òs understood that in the ultimate state (nirvAna or moksha)
there^Òs just being, no becoming.

So from the ultimate point of view there can be no difference or
changes. So GaudapAda says all this difference is unreal and only an
illusion. There^Òs just being and nothing else.

And there you^Òve Advaitam.

Important points :

SAmkhya :

Prakriti - evolving matter
Purusha - Eternal Changeless Self
Moksha - seperation of purusha from prakriti

Earlier Vedanta :

Brahman = evolving prakriti + Changeless purusha

Advaitam :

Changeless Brahman alone is real. All change is an illusion.
NOTE : This has to be viewed from the ParamArtika end.

Hope this makes it clearer.

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