[Advaita-l] Difference between Sankhya and Advaita

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 15 12:55:10 CDT 2011

Dear friends,

As to the history of the Yoga shastra Lord Krishna told us that he taught Yoga to Hiranyagarbha. The Dattatreya Yoga shastra, which is the original Yoga shastra,states all this clearly at the end.  Dattatreya yoga Shastra is still extant and I was fortunate to get an old  copy of that some years ago. Patanjali had somewhat elaborated the Yoga shatra in the form of his Yoga sutra but being a Sutra literature it had to be concise. Vyasa  had composed the Bhashya on it and it is believed that the Vivarana on that was by none other than Adi Sankaracharya. It is also believed that Adi Sankaracharya's guru Govindapada was an incarnation of Patanjali. 

In the Ashtanga Yoga the eight limbs of yoga are given and these are important as Yama and Niyama are the personal rules and the societal rules one has to observe to live a healthy and harmoniopus life. The Asana is required for providing the required exercise of the limbs and to make the body supple as well as to enable one to sit for a prolonged period for dhyana without any physical discomfort. These asanas are best learnt under supervision and are to be done  in a particular order. For example if one does the Sarvanga asana aor Viparita karani or even the Shirshasna that has to be immediatelky followed by Tadasana. The positions like Padmasana, or Siddhasana or even the Sukhasana make a prolonged sitting any of these postures comfortable  for the practitioner for doing Dhyana. The lower extremitiesare kept closer to the heart so that the heart has to do less work for pumping blood all the organs of the body and that is helpful during dhyana. Next
 one has to to do the Pranayama and that is also  best learnt under supervision and practised in some order. One has to control the senses by controlling the desire for the sense objects and this Pratyahara is needed before one can really concentrate the mind. Usually people say that Pranayama is required for controlling the mind but in fact all the Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara are all required to remove any distraction of mind and remove all guilt-complexes before one can concentrate on one's goal. At that time or stage the mind is controlled or left behind. All these earlier stages are required for preparing one for the Rajayoga ie. the next stages of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. One learns to concentrate in Dharana and then in the Dhyana one fixes the mind on the goal and in the Samadhi state one gets absorbed in the Dhyana. This is what the Yoga in a nutshell. The Shiva Samhita tells us that the Hathayoga and the Rajayoga are
 indispensable to each other. 

Patanjali does mention the need for Svadhyaya , Vivekakhyati and Isvara-pranidhana as he knows that the Dhyana leading to Samadhi has to be undertaken with proper scriptural knowledge (Svadhyaya), Proper intellectual analysis (Vivekakhyati or knowledge of Sankhya) and Ishvarapranidhana (Submission to Ishvara). Thus one can call Yoga process for achieving one's goal or leading one to one's goal or uniting one with one's goal. 

Coming to the Manonasha of  Buddhism one has to know the background of Lord Buddha and none has given that better than Ashvaghosha. According to Ashvaghosha Lord Buddha learnt Sankhya from Alara Kalama. He found that the Sankhya knowledge did not have any lasting effect. Alara Kalama taught him yoga but later on Lord Buddha went to an advanced Yogi to learn Yoga. He did learn Yoga but the Plurality of the purushas haunted him and none of the gurus could help him on that. He knew that the mind belongs to prakriti and has to be left behing or discarded but without sorting out what happens to the purushas, which are freed from the clutch of Prakriti the real goal cannot be achieved. After six years of meditation he realised that there is no separate Ishvara nor there are separate purushas. There is also unity and no separateness anywhere in the ultimate sense and that there is the one and only Brahman, which the he Tevijja sutta talks about. That is also
 the Buddha-awareness. That is also the reason Lord Buddha encouraged free enquiry to reach the goal as he himself was a beneficiary of that. In Kalama Siutta he encouraged free enquiry. To my mind Adi Sankaracharya was the only acharyas out of the many, who understood Lord Buddha well but he did not like the later intellectualization process of Dignaga and Dharmakirti and others. Lord Buddha kept things simple and clear. 


Sunil KB

From: Srikanta Narayanaswami <srikanta.narayanaswami at yahoo.com>
To: "advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 6:13 AM
Subject: [Advaita-l] Difference between Sankhya and Advaita

Yoga means to unite. One should not forget that apart from Pratyahara and Dhyana the Yoga also includes Svadhyaya (studies), Vivekakhyati (Sankhya-analysis) and Ishvara-pranidhana (Bhakti and surrender to the Ishvara). The Yoga does not explain the nature of unification of the freed Jiva and Ishvara, ie. it does not say what happens to the Jiva when it concentrates on Ishvara or OM and getsseparated from the Prakriti. It is left to the Vedanta to say that unification is achieved with Ishvara and that is the same as the realization that the Jiva is not separate from Ishvara. That is the stage when  the  idea of separate individualism of the Jiva (cultivated under the influence of Prakriti) disappears. This is the state of the dissolution of the Avidya or acquisition of the true Vidya. One who is fastidious about language may like to argue on the meanings of the individual words or sentences used for these expressions but I think that one must choose the
essence and need not worry about the absolute correctness of the literary expressions. It is not easy to produce writing, which can substitute direct learning from the guru. 


Sunil KB
Yoga darshana  has 6 dimensions,Yama,niyama,asana,pranayama,pratyahara,dhyana,dharana,samadhi.The yama,niyama,asana takes care of the control of the body.The pranayama takes care of the breath which is connected to the Prana,the life force.The dhyana part refers to the mind.The mind has its vacillations(cancalata).This is controlled by pratyahara,i.e withdrawal.The Dharana refers to the holding of the mind
after the pratyahara.The samadhi pada refers to the elevation of the mind to the higher plane of conciousness.The ashtanga Yoga marga doesnot include Ishwara pranidhana,as it was not included in the original dharshana.It was ioncluded later as part of the Saishwara vada.There is no mention of Bhakthi and Ishwara darshana in the Yoga marga.This can be verified.Further,the Yoga darshana is dualistic(dvaita darshana).It maintains the individualistic 'jiva notion"as it has started from there.The yoga darshana is complete in itself,as far as its definition goes.But,Yoga marga is strenuous.1)The body has to be controlled by Yoga methods by asanas.2)yama is observance of the suppressing of the mind including taking right kind of food,i.e.diet.3)Niyama is observance of punctuality in ones 
feelings which is generated by food,ones taste etc.-this is outer control4)The pranayama controls the mind inwardly
by the free flow of Prana shakthi5)Pratyahara follows after that by the withdrawal of the mind by by Nirodha shakthi-supression of the passions and creating sublimity.Dhyana is obervance of the body to see whether it contains any residue-i.e Kashaya.Dharana is holding the mind after filtering all the dirt the mind has,in the previous step.The last limb is samadhi.(samadhi-samyak dhiyate)It is the lifting of the conciousness to the higher plane.This Prajna is called -Rithambhara prajna.After this the Jiva still maitains his identity.This itself is the highest vision.(This is the last part of the Yoga.
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