(Sample Material) UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit "Indian Philosophy (The Kapila and The Patanjala Samkhya (Yoga)"

Sample Material of UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit

Topic: Indian Philosophy (The Kapila and The Patanjala Samkhya (Yoga)

A Review

THE examination of the two ancient Nastika schools of Buddhism and Jainism of two different types ought to convince us that serious philosophical speculations were indulged in, in circles other than those of the Upanisad sages. That certain practices known as Yoga were generally prevalent amongst the wise seems very probable, for these are not only alluded to in some of the Upanisads but were accepted by the two nastika schools of Buddhism and Jainism. Whether we look at them from the point of view of ethics or metaphysics, the two Nastika schools appear to have arisen out of a reaction against the sacrificial disciplines of the Brahmanas. Both these systems originated with the Ksattriyas and were marked by a strong aversion against the taking of animal life, and against the doctrine of offering animals at the sacrifices.

The doctrine of the sacrifices supposed that a suitable com bination of rites, rituals, and articles of sacrifice had the magical power of producing the desired effect a shower of rain, the birth of a son, the routing of a huge army, etc. The sacrifices were enjoined generally not so much for any moral elevation, as for the achievement of objects of practical welfare. The Vedas were the eternal revelations which were competent so to dictate a detailed procedure, that we could by following it proceed on a certain course of action and refrain from other injurious courses in such a manner that we might obtain the objects we desired by the accurate performance of any sacrifice. If we are to define truth in accordance with the philosophy of such a ritualistic culture we might say that, that alone is true, in accordance with which we may realize our objects in the world about us; the truth of Vedic injunctions is shown by the practical attainment of our It is interesting to notice that Buddhism and Jainism though probably born out of a reactionary movement against this artificial creed, yet could not but be influenced by some of its fundamental principles which, whether distinctly formulated or not, were at least tacitly implied in all sacrificial performances. Thus we see that Buddhism regarded all production and destruction as being due to the assemblage of conditions, and defined truth as that which could produce any effect. But to such a logical extreme did the Buddhists carry these doctrines that they ended in formulating the doctrine of absolute momentariness 2 . Turning to the Jains we find that they also regarded the value of know ledge as consisting in the help that it offers in securing what is good for us and avoiding what is evil; truth gives us such an account of things that on proceeding according to its directions we may verify it by actual experience. Proceeding on a correct estimate of things we may easily avail ourselves of what is good and avoid what is bad. The Jains also believed that changes were produced by the assemblage of conditions, but they did not carry this doctrine to its logical extreme. There was change in the world as well as permanence. The Buddhists had gone so far that they had even denied the existence of any permanent soul. The Jains said that no ultimate, one-sided and absolute view of things could be taken, and held that not only the happening of events was conditional, but even all our judgments, are true only in a limited sense. This is indeed true for common sense, which we acknowledge as superior to mere a priori abstrac tions, which lead to absolute and one-sided conclusions. By the assemblage of conditions, old qualities in things disappeared, new qualities came in, and a part remained permanent. But this common-sense view, though in agreement with our ordinary experience, could not satisfy our inner a priori demands for finding out ultimate truth, which was true not relatively but absolutely. When asked whether anything was true, Jainism would answer, “yes, this is true from this point of view, but untrue from that point of view, while that is also true from such a point of view and untrue from another.” But such an answer cannot satisfy the mind which seeks to reach a definite pro nouncement, an absolute judgment.

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The main departure of the systems of Jainism and Buddhism from the sacrificial creed consisted in this, that they tried to formu late a theory of the universe, the reality and the position of sentient beings and more particularly of man. The sacrificial creed was busy with individual rituals and sacrifices, and cared for principles or maxims only so far as they were of use for the actual perform ances of sacrifices. Again action with the newsystems did not mean sacrifice but any general action that we always perform. Actions were here considered bad or good according as they brought about our moral elevation or not. The followers of the sacrificial creed refrained from untruth not so much from a sense of personal degradation, but because the Vedas had dictated that untruth should not be spoken, and the Vedas must be obeyed. The sacrificial creed wanted more and more happiness here or in the other world. The systems of Buddhist and Jain philosophy turned their backs upon ordinary happiness and wanted an ultimate and unchangeable state where all pains and sorrows were for ever dissolved (Buddhism) or where infinite happiness, ever unshaken, was realized. A course of right conduct to be followed merely for the moral elevation of the person had no place in the sacrificial creed, for with it a course of right conduct could be followed only if it was so dictated in the Vedas. Karma and the fruit of karma (karmaphald) only meant the karma of sacrifice and its fruits temporary happiness, such as was produced as the fruit of sacrifices ; knowledge with them meant only the knowledge of sacrifice and of the dictates of the Vedas. In the systems how ever, karma, karmaphala, happiness, knowledge, all these were taken in their widest and most universal sense. Happiness or absolute extinction of sorrow was still the goal, but this was no narrow sacrificial happiness but infinite and unchangeable happi ness or destruction of sorrow ; karma was still the way, but not sacrificial karma, for it meant all moral and immoral actions performed by us ; knowledge here meant the knowledge of truth or reality and not the knowledge of sacrifice.

Such an advance had however already begun in the Upa- nisads which had anticipated the new systems in all these directions. The pioneers of these new systems probably drew their suggestions both from the sacrificial creed and from the Upanisads, and built their systems independently by their own rational thinking. But if the suggestions of the Upanisads were thus utilized by heretics who denied the authority of the Vedas, it was natural to expect that we should find in the Hindu camp such germs of rational thinking as might indicate an attempt to harmonize the suggestions of the Upanisads and of the sacrificial creed in such a manner as might lead to the construction of a con sistent and well-worked system of thought. Our expectations are indeed fulfilled in the Samkhya philosophy, germs of which may be discovered in the Upanisads.

The Germs of Samkhya in the Upanisads. It is indeed true that in the Upanisads there is a large number of texts that describe the ultimate reality as the Brahrnan, the infinite, knowledge, bliss, and speak of all else as mere changing forms and names. The word Brahman originally meant in the earliest Vedic literature, mantra, duly performed sacrifice, and also the power of sacrifice which could bring about the desired re sult 1 . In many passages of the Upanisads this Brahman appears as the universal and supreme principle from which all others de rived their powers. Such a Brahman is sought for in many passages for personal gain or welfare. But through a gradual process of development the conception of Brahman reached a superior level in which the reality and truth of the world are tacitly ignored, and the One, the infinite, knowledge, the real is regarded as the only Truth. This type of thought gradually developed into the monistic Vedanta as explained by aiikara. But there was another line of thought which was developing alongside of it, which regarded the world as having a reality and as being made up of water, fire, and earth. There are also passages in veta- svatara and particularly in MaitrayanI from which it appears that the Samkhya line of thought had considerably developed, and many of its technical terms were already in use 8 . But the date of MaitrayanI has not yet been definitely settled, and the details found there are also not such that we can form a distinct notion of the Samkhya thought as it developed in the Upanisads. It is not improbable that at this stage of development it also gave some suggestions to Buddhism or Jainism, but the Samkhya-Yoga philosophy as we now get it is a system in which are found all the results of Buddhism and Jainism in such a manner that it unites the doctrine of permanence of the Upanisads with the doctrine of momentariness of the Buddhists and the doctrine of relativism of the Jains.

Samkhya and Yoga Literature

The main exposition of the system of Samkhya and Yoga in this section has been based on the Samkhya kdrikd, the Sam khya sutras, and the Yoga sutras of Patafljali with their commen taries and sub-commentaries. The Samkhya kdrikd (about 200 A.D.) was written by Is”varakrsna. The account of Samkhya given by Caraka (78 A.D.) represents probably an earlier school and this has been treated separately. Vacaspati MiSra (ninth century A.D.) wrote a commentary on it known as Tattvakaumudi. But before him Gaudapada and Raja wrote commentaries on the Samkhya kdrikd*. Narayanatlrtha wrote his Candrikd on Gauda- pada s commentary. The Samkhya sutras which have been com mented on by Vijftana Bhiksu (called Pravacanabhasya) of the sixteenth century seems to be a work of some unknown author after the ninth century. Aniruddha of the latter half of the fifteenth century was the first man to write a commentary on the Samkhya sutras. Vijftana Bhiksu wrote also another elementary work on Samkhya known as Sdmkhyasdra. Another short work of late origin is Tattvasamdsa (probably fourteenth century). Two other works on Samkhya, viz. Slmananda s Sdmkhyatattvavivecana and Bhavaganesa s Sdmkhyatattvayathdrthyadlpana (both later than Vijftanabhiksu) of real philosophical value have also been freely consulted. Pataftjali s Yoga sutra (not earlier than 147 B.C.) was commented on by Vyasa (400 A.D.) and Vyasa s bhasya commented on by Vacaspati Misra is called Tattvavaisdradl, by Vijftana Bhiksu Yogavdrttika, by Bhoja in the tenth century Bhojavrtti, and by Nagesa (seventeenth century) Chdydvyakhyd.

Amongst the modern works to which I owe an obligation I may mention the two treatises Mechanical, physical and chemical theories of the A ncient Hindus and \he Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus by Dr B. N. Seal and my two works on Yoga Study ofPatanjali pub lished by the Calcutta University, and Yoga Philosophy in relation to other Indian Systems of Thought which is shortly to be published, and my Natural Philosophy of the Ancient Hindus, awaiting publi cation with the Calcutta University.

Gunaratna mentions two other authoritative Samkhya works, viz. Mdtharabhasya and Atreyatantra. Of these the second is probably the same as Caraka s treatment of Samkhya,.for we know that the sage Atri is the speaker in Caraka s work and for that it was called Atreyasamhitd or Atreyatantra, Nothing is known of the Mdtharabhasya.

An Early School of Samkhya

It is important for the history of Samkhya philosophy that Caraka s treatment of it, which so far as I know has never been dealt with in any of the modern studies of Samkhya, should be brought before the notice of the students of this philosophy. According to Caraka there are six elements (dhdtus\ viz. the five elements such as akaSa, vayu etc. and cetana, called also purusa. From other points of view, the categories may be said to be twenty-four only, viz. the ten senses (five cognitive and five conative), manas, the five objects of senses and the eightfold prakrti (prakrti, mahat, ahamkara and the five elements) 2 . The manas works through the senses. It is atomic and its existence is proved by the fact that in spite of the existence of the senses there cannot be any knowledge unless manas is in touch with them. There are two movements of manas as indeterminate sensing (uhd) and conceiving (vicdra) before definite understanding (buddhi) arises. Each of the five senses is the product of the combination of five elements but the auditory sense is made with a preponderance of akaSa, the sense of touch with a preponderance of air, the visual sense with a preponderance of light, the taste with a preponderance of water and the sense of smell with a preponder ance of earth. Caraka does not mention the tanmatras at all 1 . The conglomeration of the sense-objects (indriyarthd) or gross matter, the ten senses, manas, the five subtle bhutas and prakrti, mahat and ahamkara taking place through rajas make up what we call man. When the sattva is at its height this conglomeration ceases. All karma, the fruit of karma, cognition, pleasure, pain, ignorance, life and death belongs to this conglomeration. But there is also the purusa, for had it not been so there would be no birth, death, bondage, or salvation. If the atman were not regarded as cause, all illuminations of cognition would be without any reason. If a permanent self were not recognized, then for the work of one others would be responsible. This purusa, called a\so#aramdtman, is beginningless and it has no cause beyond itself. The self is in itself without consciousness. Consciousness can only come to it through its connection with the sense organs and manas. By ignorance, will, antipathy, and work, this conglomeration of purusa and the other elements takes place. Knowledge, feeling, or action, cannot be produced without this combination. All positive effects are due to conglomerations of causes and not by a single cause, but all destruction comes naturally and without cause. That which is eternal is never the product of anything. Caraka identifies the avyakta part of prakrti with purusa as forming one category. The vikara or evolutionary products of prakrti are called ksetra, whereas the avyakta part of prakrti is regarded as the ksetrajfia (avyaktamasya ksetrasya ksetrajnamrsayo viduk). This avyakta and cetan are one and the same entity. From this unmanifested prakrti or cetana is derived the buddhi, and from the buddhi is derived the ego (ahamkara) and from the ahamkara the five elements and the senses are produced, and when this production is complete, we say that creation has taken place. At the time of pralaya (periodical cosmic dissolution) all the evolutes return back to prakrti, and thus become unmanifest with it, whereas at the time of a new creation from the purusa the unmanifest (avyakta) all the manifested forms the evolutes of buddhi, ahamkara, etc. appear. This cycle of births or rebirths or of dissolution and new creation acts through the influence of rajas and tamas, and so those who can get rid of these two will never again suffer this revolution in a cycle. The jnanas can only become active in asso ciation with the self, which is the real agent This self of itself takes rebirth in all kinds of lives according to its own wish, undeter mined by anyone else. It works according to its own free will and reaps the fruits of its karma. Though all the souls are pervasive, yet they can only perceive in particular bodies where they are associated with their own specific senses. All pleasures and pains are felt by the conglomeration (rdsi), and not by the atman pre siding over it From the enjoyment and suffering of pleasure and pain comes desire (trsna) consisting of wish and antipathy, and from desire again comes pleasure and pain. Moksa means complete cessation of pleasure and pain, arising through the association of the self with the manas, the sense, and sense-objects. If the manas is settled steadily in the self, it is the state of yoga when there is neither pleasure nor pain. When true knowledge dawns that “all are produced by causes, are transitory, rise of them selves, but are not produced by the self and are sorrow, and do not belong to me the self,” the self transcends all. This is the last renunciation when all affections and knowledge become “finally extinct. There remains no indication of any positive existence of the self at this time, and the self can no longer be perceived*. It is the state of Brahman. Those who know Brahman call this state the Brahman, which is eternal and absolutely devoid of any characteristic. This state is spoken of by the Samkhyas as their goal, and also that of the Yogins. When rajas and tamas are rooted out and the karma of the past whose fruits have to be enjoyed are exhausted, and there is no new karma and new birth, the state of moksa comes about. Various kinds of moral en deavours in the shape of association with good people, abandoning of desires, determined attempts at discovering the truth with fixed attention, are spoken of as indispensable means. Truth (tattva) thus discovered should be recalled again and again and this will ultimately effect the disunion of the body with the self. As the self is avyakta (unmanifested) and has no specific nature or character, this state can only be described as absolute cessation (mokse nivrttirnihsesd).

The main features of the Samkhya doctrine as given by Caraka are thus: I. Purusa is the state of avyakta. By a conglomera- of this avyakta with its later products a conglomeration is formed which generates the so-called living being. The tanmatras are not mentioned. Rajas and tamas represent the bad states of the mind and sattva the good ones. The ultimate state of emancipation is either absolute annihilation or characterless abso lute existence and it is spoken of as the Brahman state ; there is no consciousness in this state, for consciousness is due to the con glomeration of the self with its evolutes, buddhi, ahamkara etc. 6. The senses are formed of matter (bhautika).

This account of Samkhya agrees with the system of Samkhya propounded by Paftcasikha (who is said to be the direct pupil of Asuri the pupil of Kapila, the founder of the system) in the Mahabharata XII. 219. Pancasikha of course does not describe the system as elaborately as Caraka does. But even from what little he says it may be supposed that the system of Samkhya he sketches is the same as that of Caraka. Paflcasikha speaks of the ultimate truth as being avyakta (a term applied in all Samkhya literature to prakrti) in the state of purusa (purusd- vasthamavyaktam). If man is the product of a mere combination of the different elements, then one may assume that all ceases with death. Caraka in answer to such an objection introduces a discussion, in which he tries to establish the existence of a self as the postulate of all our duties and sense of moral responsibility. The same discussion occurs in Paflcasikha also, and the proofs for the existence of the self are also the same. Like Caraka again Paficasikha also says that all consciousness is due to the conditions of the conglomeration of our physical body mind, and the element of “cetas.” They are mutually independent, and by such independence carry on the process of life and work. None of the phenomena produced by such a conglomeration are self. All our suffering comes in because we think these to be the self. Moksa is realized when we can practise absolute renunciation of these phenomena. The gunas described by Paftcaikha are the different kinds of good and bad qualities of the mind as Caraka has it. The state of the conglomeration is spoken of as the ksetra, as Caraka says, and there is no annihilation or eternality; and the last state is described as being like that when all rivers lose themselves in the ocean and it is called alinga (without any characteristic) a term reserved for prakrti in later Samkhya. This state is attainable by the doctrine of ultimate renuncia tion which is also called the doctrine of complete destruction (samyagbadha).

Gunaratna (fourteenth century A.D.), a commentator of Sad- darsanasamuccaya, mentions two schools of Samkhya, the Maulikya (original) and the Uttara or (later) 1 . Of these the doctrine of the Maulikya Samkhya is said to be that which believed that there was a separate pradhana for each atman (maulikyasdmkhyd hydtmdnamdtmdnam prati prthak pradhdnam vadanti). This seems to be a reference to the Samkhya doctrine I have just sketched. I am therefore disposed to think that this represents the earliest systematic doctrine of Samkhya.

In Mahabharata XII. 318 three schools of Samkhya are mentioned, viz. those who admitted twenty-four categories (the school I have sketched above), those who admitted twenty- five (the well-known orthodox Samkhya system) and those who admitted twenty-six categories. This last school admitted a supreme being in addition to purusa and this was the twenty-sixth principle. This agrees with the orthodox Yoga system and the form of Samkhya advocated in the Makubkzrata. The schools of Samkhya of twenty-four and twenty-five categories are here denounced as unsatisfactory. Doctrines similar to the school of Samkhya we have sketched above are referred to in some of the other chapters of the Makdbhdrata (xil. 203, 204). The self apart from the body is described as the moon of the new moon day; it is said that as Rahu (the shadow on the sun during an eclipse) cannot be seen apart from the sun, so the self cannot be seen apart from the body. The selfs (saririnaK) are spoken of as manifesting from prakrti.

We do not know anything about Asuri the direct disciple of Kapila 1 . But it seems probable that the system of SSmkhya we have sketched here which appears in fundamentally the same form in the Mahdbhdrata and has been attributed there to Paft- caikha is probably the earliest form of Samkhya available to us in a systematic form. Not only does Gunaratna s reference to the school of Maulikya Samkhya justify it, but the fact that Caraka (78 A.D.) does not refer to the Samkhya as described by Isvarak- rsna and referred to in other parts of Mahdbhdrata is a definite proof that Ivarakrsna s Samkhya is a later modification, which was either non-existent in Caraka s time or was not regarded as an authoritative old Samkhya view.

Wassilief says quoting Tibetan sources that Vindhyavasin al tered the Samkhya according to his own views 8 . Takakusu thinks that Vindhyavasin was a title of IsVarakrsna 8 and Garbe holds that the date of ISvarakrsna was about 100 A.D. It seems to be a very plausible view that IsVarakrsna was indebted for his karikas to another work, which was probably written in a style different from what he employs. The seventh verse of his Kdrikd seems to be in purport the same as a passage which is found quoted in the Mahabhasya of Patanjali the grammarian (147 B.C.) 1 . The subject of the two passages are the enumeration of reasons which frustrate visual perception. This however is not a doctrine concerned with the strictly technical part of SSmkhya, and it is just possible that the book from which Pataftjali quoted the passage, and which was probably paraphrased in the Arya metre by Isvarakrsna was not a Samkhya book at all. But though the subject of the verse is not one of the strictly technical parts of Samkhya, yet since such an enumeration is not seen in any other system of Indian philosophy, and as it has some special bearing as a safe guard against certain objections against the Samkhya doctrine of prakrti, the natural and plausible supposition is that it was the verse of a Samkhya book which was paraphrased by Isvarakrsna.

The earliest descriptions of a Samkhya which agrees with Isvarakrsna s Samkhya (but with an addition of Isvara) are to be found in Patafljali s Yoga sutras and in the Mahdbhdrata ; but we are pretty certain that the Samkhya of Caraka we have sketched here was known to Pataftjali, for in Yoga sutra I. 19 a reference is made to a view of Samkhya similar to this.

From the point of view of history of philosophy the Samkhya of Caraka and Paflcasikha is very important ; for it shows a transitional stage of thought between the Upanisad ideas and the orthodox Samkhya doctrine as represented by Isvarakrsna. On the one hand its doctrine that the senses are material, and that effects are produced only as a result of collocations, and that the purusa is unconscious, brings it in close relation with Nyaya, and on the other its connections with Buddhism seem to be nearer than the orthodox Samkhya.

We hear of a Sastitantrasastra as being one of the oldest Sam khya works. This is described in the Ahirbudhnya Samhita as containing two books of thirty-two and twenty-eight chapters*. A quotation from Rajavdrttika (a work about which there is no definite information) in Vacaspati Misra s commentary on the Samkhya kdrika(j2) says that it was called the Sastitantra because it dealt with the existence of prakrti, its oneness, its difference from purusas, its purposefulness for purusas, the multiplicity of purusas, connection and separation from purusas, the evolution of the categories, the inactivity of the purusas and the hveviparyyayas, nine tustis, the defects of organs of twenty-eight kinds, and the eight siddhis.

But the content of the Sastitantra as given in Ahirbudhnya Samhitdis different from it, and it appears from it that the Samkhya of the Sastitantra referred to in the Ahirbudhnya Samhitd was of a theistic character resembling the doctrine of the Paflcaratra Vaisnavas and the Ahirbudhnya Samhitd says that Kapila s theory of Samkhya was a Vaisnava one. Vijflana Bhiksu, the greatest expounder of Samkhya, says in many places of his work VijndndmrtaBhasya that Samkhya was originally theistic, and that the atheistic Samkhya is only a praudhivdda (an exaggerated attempt to show that no supposition of Isvara is necessary to explain the world process) though the Mahdbhdrata points out that the difference between Samkhya and Yoga is this, that the former is atheistic, while the latter is theistic. The discrepancy between the two accounts of Sastitantra suggests that the original Sastitantra as referred to in the Ahirbudhnya Samhitd was sub sequently revised and considerably changed. This supposition is corroborated by the fact that Gunaratna does not mention among the important Samkhya works Sastitantra but Sastitantroddhara (revised edition of Sastitantra)^. Probably the earlier Sastitantra was lost even before Vachaspati s time.

If we believe the Sastitantra referred to in the Ahirbudhnya Samhitd to be in all essential parts the same work which was composed by Kapila and based faithfully on his teachings, then it has to be assumed that Kapila s Samkhya was theistic 2 . It seems probable that his disciple Asuri tried to popularise it. But it seems that a great change occurred when Paflcasikha the disciple of Asuri came to deal with it. For we know that his doctrine differed from the traditional one in many important respects. It is said in Samkhya kdrika (70) that the literature was divided by him into many parts (tena bahudhdkrtam tantram). The exact meaning of this reference is difficult to guess. It might mean that the original Sastitantra was rewritten by him in various treatises. It is a well-known fact that most of the schools of Vaisnavas accepted the form of cosmology which is the same in most essen tial parts as the Samkhya cosmology. This justifies the assump tion that Kapila s doctrine was probably theistic. But there are a few other points of difference between the Kapila and the Patafljala Samkhya (Yoga). The only supposition that may be ventured is that Paflcasikha probably modified Kapila s work in an atheistic way and passed it as Kapila s work. If this supposition is held reasonable, then we have three strata of Samkhya, first a theistic one, the details of which are lost, but which is kept in a modified form by the Patafljala school of Sam khya, second an atheistic one as represented by PaftcaSikha, and a third atheistic modification as the orthodox Samkhya system. An important change in the Samkhya doctrine seems to have been introduced by Vijflana Bhiksu (sixteenth century A.D.) by his treatment of gunas as types of reals. I have myself accepted this interpretation of Samkhya as the most rational and philosophical one, and have therefore followed it in giving a connected system of the accepted Kapila and the Patafljala school of Samkhya. But it must be pointed out that originally the notion of gunas was applied to different types of good and bad mental states, and then they were supposed in some mysterious way by mutual increase and decrease to form the objective world on the one hand and the totality of human psychosis on the other. A systematic explana- nation of the gunas was attempted in two, different lines by Vijftana Bhiksu and the Vaisnava writer Venkata 1 . As the Yoga philosophy compiled by Patafljali and commented on by Vyasa, Vacaspati and Vijflana Bhiksu, agree with the Samkhya doctrine as explained by Vacaspati and Vijflana Bhiksu in most points I have preferred to call them the Kapila and the Patanjala schools of Samkhya and have treated them together a principle which was followed by Haribhadra in his Saddarsanasamuccaya.

The other important Samkhya teachers mentioned by Gauda- pada are Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatana and Vodhu. Nothing is Known about their historicity or doctrines. 

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