Advaita Vs Sankhya

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Jul 20 12:17:16 CDT 1999

There was a thread about this a couple months ago which maybe of some
help.  (Or maybe not, one of the participants didn't always make a lot of
sense.)  But it's in the archives anyway.

Samkhya is dualistic.  The two primordial entities are purusha--the
neutral observer (sakshi) and prakrti -- primordial nature which at the
srshti becomes the three gunas and hence the rest of the physical
universe.  You can see a slight resemblance to Vedanta but this doesn't
hold up to scrutiny.  Purusha is eternally distinct from prakrti and both
are equally real whereas Brahman and Maya are actually the same thing and
Maya is an illusionary projection on Brahman.

Both accept the authority of the Vedas but Vedanta following the
Mimamsakas say the Vedas are apaurusheya or impersonal and the Rshis
merely "saw" the mantras.  Whereas Samkhya/Yoga maintains the Rshis
actually are the authors of the Vedic mantras which were written through
their mystical "yogic vision."

 It has been suggested that Samkhya is the oldest of the astika darshans
and Vedanta simply took over a lot of its teachings lock stock and barrel.
While it is true that in later times Samkhya was completly "Vedantized"
and absorbed this doesn't IMO mean Vedanta derived from Samkhya.  First of
all both share common source material--the Vedas.  While it can be claimed
that some Vedic passages describe Samkhya teachings, this isn't the
full-blown samkhya system but a kind of proto-samkhya.  One could just as
easily claim evidence of proto-vedanta.  Samkhya and Yoga and related
terms are also used in old texts such as Gita, Arthashastra, Mokshadharma,
etc.  But there it is possible that they only generically mean "theory"
and "practice" rather than specific philosophical doctrines.  And Maharshi
Kapila is a revered figure in all of the astika tradition not just

Nowadays like I said, samkhya and especially yoga have been assimiliated
into Vedanta and scarcely exist as seperate darshans.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

On Tue, 20 Jul 1999, Ganesh Deivashikamani wrote:

> Dear Advaitains
> Can anyone please list out the difference between Advaita and Sankhya
> philosophy or rather how different is Sankhya philosophy from Advaita.
> >From what I understand is Sankhya was propounded by Kapila.
> And is philosophy of analytical study, maintains that the material nature is
> the cause of the cosmic manifestation is this true ?.
> Some say Gita also is part of Sankhya philosophy is this true ?
> I am Sorry if this is out of context of the list.
> thanks
> Ganesh Deivasikhamani
> _______________________________________________________________
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