The Essence of Sankhya

Sri Aurobindo provides a succinct overview of Sankhya: “Sankhya is the analysis, the enumeration, the separative and discriminative setting forth of the principles of our being of which the ordinary mind sees only the combinations and results of combination.”

In that sense, it has actually a lot in common with the history of Western science of the last few centuries, although science has focused primarily on matter and material energies, what Sankhya would term “Prakriti”, while Sankhya focuses on the essential principles of life, existence and action, encompassing both the immutable Existence, and the action of Nature (Prakriti).

“…it explains existence not by one, but by two original principles whose inter-relation is the cause of the universe,–Purusha, the inactive, Prakriti, the active. Purusha is the Soul, not in the ordinary or popular sense of the word, but of pure conscious Being, immobile, immutable and self-luminous. Prakriti is Energy and its process. Purusha does nothing, but it reflects the action of Energy and its processes; Prakriti is mechanical, but by being reflected in Purusha it assumes the appearance of consciousness in its activities, and thus there are created those phenomena of creation, conservation, dissolution, birth and life and death, consciousness and unconsciousness, sense-knowledge and intellectual knowledge and ignorance, action and inaction, happiness and suffering which the Purusha under the influence of Prakriti attributes to itself although they belong not at all to itself but to the action or movement of Prakriti alone.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 8, Sankhya and Yoga, pp. 64-65,

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