The Sankhya View of the Manifestation of Cosmic Existence

In the Sankhya view, what we experience and recognise as conscious intelligence is not an aspect of Purusha, the unmoving witness consciousness, but rather, aspects of Prakriti, manifest Nature and constitutes one of the 24 principles of creation that Sankhya enumerates. These 24 principles together constitute the objective and the subjective aspects of all existence.

The first of these principles is Prakriti as the basis or substratum of all manifest existence in its undifferentiated form, with the 3 gunas (modes or qualities) as the mechanism of further manifestation.

Next come the 5 primordial “elements” which are the subtle basis of what we know as the external world. They are ether, air, fire, water and earth. Sri Aurobindo reminds us, in this context, that “…it must be remembered that they are not elements in the modern scientific sense but subtle conditions of material energy and nowhere to be found in their purity in the gross material world. All objects are created by the combination of these five subtle conditions or elements.”

The next 5 principles are the “subtle properties of Energy or Matter, sound, touch, form, taste and smell, which constitute the way in which the mind-sense perceives objects.”

Together the five subtle elements and their respective five properties lead to the evolution of the “objective aspect of cosmic existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 8, Sankhya and Yoga, pp. 66-67,

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