SAmkhya and VedAnta

Vivekananda Centre vivekananda at BTINTERNET.COM
Mon Feb 22 08:10:19 CST 1999

Original Message-----
From: Giridhar <giridhar at CHEMENG.IISC.ERNET.IN>


                At the outset, samkhya and vedanta have lot of differences,
as Nanda and
Jaldhar have pointed out. There are
differences between various schools of samkhya itself. For example,
samkhya can be of two types : nirishvara-samkhya and sesvara-samkhya,
depending on the theistic affliation. Further, one may note that the
sankhya-pravacana-sutra of Kapila, with subsequent bhashya by Vijnanabhiksu
and vritti by Aniruddha differs from Ishvara's Samkhya-Karika.

To make a SHORT list of differences:

1. Samkhya recognizes only three pramanas. Vedanta recognizes six.
2. For Satkarya-vada, Samkhya does not use vivarta vada at all. Vedanta
3. There are multiple Purushas (Self), according to Samkya. Vedanta
recognizes only
one Self.
4. Prakriti is real and apart from Purusha, says Samkhya. Prakriti when
apart from Brahman is mithya, according to Vedanta.
5. Purusha "causes" Prakriti in Samkhya. Self does not act to cause
something, in

What is Samkhya is dualistic realism
(dualistic, in the sense of multiple Purushas and a separate Prakriti).
Vedanta is

BTW, by vedanta, I mean only advaita vedanta.

Re: the analogy used: snake in rope. It is used to explain why we see
names and forms in the world. If it is unreal, how do we see them ? There
are like the snake we see, though there is only the rope. The snake has
never existed, except in the subject's mind. Once he sees the rope, he is
not confused again.
                The snake-rope analogy is given to explain superimposition
of the
world on Brahman. This is to make clear that the world as we see it (with
names and forms) are unreal and only the substratum (i.e., Brahman) is
real. Now, we should not carry this analogy too far by asking "Can
Brahman been seen as a object, like a rope ?" Brahman is not an object.
Every analogy has its limitations, but this analogy explains superimposition
very nicely.
                The reason Shankara is accepted as the authority of advaita
is because he almost explains everything there is about advaita vedanta and
a study of His works contains all the essentials that needs to be known
regarding the philosophy as well as its practice.

AUM shaantiH
Response from jay of Vivekananda Centre London

Namaste revered Sir,
Thank you for offering your kind and considered views on the matter. I had
stopped posting on the Samkhya and Vedanta theme some time ago since I
received some personal quips which did not do justice to the dignity of this
list. I have been reading your earlier postings which have been excellent;
hence I request you to answer.

Samkhya and Vedanta:
(1) The thread we have is called samkhya and vedanta not samkhya vs vedanta.
Being so why is it that you have made a list of just the differences between
the two darshanas? The fact that they belong to two separate darshana means
that there are differences.
(2) As you are so well versed in this subject may I request you to also make
a list of any possible similarities between the two darshanas.
(3) Do you think that these two darshanas are so far apart and have not had
any influence on each other ever? Do you confirm that there is not any
evidence that Samkhya which can be dated to pre-Vedanta period did not make
the slightest (even one percent!) contribution towards the evolution of
Vedantic philosophy? Did Vedanta philosophy begin on a Tabula rasa basis?

I wish to respond to the points you have raised but I am first waiting to
see the postings of some of the other learned members on this theme.


your quote:" The reason Shankara is accepted as the authority of advaita
is because he almost explains everything there is about advaita vedanta and
a study of His works contains all the essentials that needs to be known"

I agree with you in most respects. Shankara is considered to be a master
scholar - no post Shankara spiritual giant of India has denied this. We have
a great deal to learn from him including the requisite of humility for our
spiritual progress. There is one part which I am not clear about in your
you have said he "almost" explains everything there is about adviata
vedanta. So may I ask in all reverence how much do you think is possibly
"left out"?  And how much is "almost"  would you say about 90 percent?
Please bear in mind what is the subject matter we are handling.

Vivekananda Centre London

"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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