Six Schools of Indian Philosophy, Part 4

BY: HAREKRSNA.COM


Apr 25, CANADA (SUN) — A six-part summary of the primary schools of classic Indian philosophy.


The Sankhya School

"There are actually two Kapilas: one Kapila, the son of Kardama Muni, is an incarnation of God, and the other is an atheist of the modern age. The atheistic Kapila is often misrepresented to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead who appeared as the son of Kardama Muni during the time of Svayambhuva Manu. Lord Kapila, the incarnation of Godhead, appeared long, long ago; the modern age is the age of Vaivasvata Manu, whereas he appeared during the time of Svayambhuva Manu."

Krsna Book, Chapter 87

"The aim of the analytical study of the material world is to find the soul of existence. The soul of the material world is Visnu, or the Supersoul. Devotional service to the Lord entails service to the Supersoul. One process is to find the root of the tree, and the other is to water the root. The real student of Sankhya philosophy finds the root of the material world, Visnu, and then, in perfect knowledge, engages himself in the service of the Lord. Therefore, in essence, there is no difference between the two because the aim of both is Visnu. Those who do not know the ultimate end say that the purposes of Sankhya and karma-yoga are not the same, but one who is learned knows the unifying aim in these different processes."

Bhagavad-gita 5:4 Purport

"Similarly, there are Sankhya philosophers, metaphysicians or material scientists who study this cosmic manifestation by their invented scientific method and who do not recognize the supreme authority of God as the creator of the cosmic manifestation. Rather, they wrongly conclude that the reaction of material elements is the original cause of creation. The Bhagavad-gita, however, does not accept this theory. It is clearly said therein that behind the cosmic activities is the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This fact is corroborated by the Vedic injunction sad va saumyedam agra asit, which means that the origin of the creation existed before the cosmic manifestation. Therefore, the material elements cannot be the cause of material creation. Although the material elements are accepted as material causes, the ultimate cause is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. The Bhagavad-gita says, therefore, that material nature works under the direction of Krsna.

The conclusion of the atheistic Sankhya philosophy is that because the effects of the material world are temporary or illusory, the cause is therefore also illusory. The Sankhya philosophers are in favor of voidism, but the actual fact is that the original cause is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and this cosmic manifestation is the temporary manifestation of His material energy. When this temporary manifestation is annihilated, its cause, the eternal existence of the spiritual world, continues as it is, and therefore the spiritual world is called sanatana-dhama, the eternal abode. The conclusion of the Sankhya philosopher is therefore not valid."

Krsna Book, Chapter 87

"Atheistic Sankhya philosophers like Kapila analyze the material elements very scrutinizingly and thereby come to the conclusion that material nature is the cause of everything. They do not accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the cause of all causes."

Caitanya-caritamrta, Madyam lila 25:56

"According to the Nirukti, or the Vedic dictionary, sankhya means that which describes phenomena in detail, and sankhya refers to that philosophy which describes the real nature of the soul. And yoga involves controlling the senses. Arjuna's proposal not to fight was based on sense gratification. Forgetting his prime duty, he wanted to cease fighting because he thought by not killing his relatives and kinsmen he would be happier than by enjoying the kingdom by conquering his cousins and brothers, the sons of Dhrtarastra. In both ways, the basic principles were for sense gratification. Happiness derived from conquering them and happiness derived by seeing kinsmen alive are both on the basis of personal sense gratification, for there is a sacrifice of wisdom and duty. Krsna, therefore, wanted to explain to Arjuna that by killing the body of his grandfather he would not be killing the soul proper, and He explained that all individual persons, including the Lord Himself, are eternal individuals; they were individuals in the past, they are individuals in the present, and they will continue to remain individuals in the future, because all of us are individual souls eternally, and we simply change our bodily dress in different manners. But, actually, we keep our individuality even after liberation from the bondage of material dress. An analytical study of the soul and the body has been very graphically explained by Lord Krsna. And this descriptive knowledge of the soul and the body from different angles of vision has been described here as Sankhya, in terms of the Nirukti dictionary. This Sankhya has nothing to do with the Sankhya philosophy of the atheist Kapila. Long before the imposter Kapila's Sankhya, the Sankhya philosophy was expounded in the Srimad-Bhagavatam by the true Lord Kapila, the incarnation of Lord Krsna, who explained it to His mother, Devahuti. It is clearly explained by Him that the purusa, or the Supreme Lord, is active and that He creates by looking over the prakrti. This is accepted in the Vedas and in the Gita. The description in the Vedas indicates that the Lord glanced over the prakrti, or nature, and impregnated it with atomic individual souls. All these individuals are working in the material world for sense gratification, and under the spell of material energy they are thinking of being enjoyers. This mentality is dragged to the last point of liberation when the living entity wants to become one with the Lord. This is the last snare of maya or sense gratificatory illusion, and it is only after many, many births of such sense gratificatory activities that a great soul surrenders unto Vasudeva, Lord Krsna, thereby fulfilling the search after the ultimate truth.

Arjuna has already accepted Krsna as his spiritual master by surrendering himself unto Him: sisyas te 'ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam. Consequently, Krsna will now tell him about the working process in buddhi-yoga, or karma-yoga, or in other words, the practice of devotional service only for the sense gratification of the Lord. This buddhi-yoga is clearly explained in Chapter Ten, verse ten, as being direct communion with the Lord, who is sitting as Paramatma in everyone's heart. But such communion does not take place without devotional service. One who is therefore situated in devotional or transcendental loving service to the Lord, or, in other words, in Krsna consciousness, attains to this stage of buddhi-yoga by the special grace of the Lord. The Lord says, therefore, that only to those who are always engaged in devotional service out of transcendental love does He award the pure knowledge of devotion in love. In that way the devotee can reach Him easily in the ever-blissful kingdom of God.

Thus the buddhi-yoga mentioned in this verse is the devotional service of the Lord, and the word Sankhya mentioned herein has nothing to do with the atheistic sankhya-yoga enunciated by the imposter Kapila. One should not, therefore, misunderstand that the sankhya-yoga mentioned herein has any connection with the atheistic Sankhya. Nor did that philosophy have any influence during that time; nor would Lord Krsna care to mention such godless philosophical speculations. Real Sankhya philosophy is described by Lord Kapila in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, but even that Sankhya has nothing to do with the current topics. Here, Sankhya means analytical description of the body and the soul. Lord Krsna made an analytical description of the soul just to bring Arjuna to the point of buddhi-yoga, or bhakti-yoga. Therefore, Lord Krsna's Sankhya and Lord Kapila's Sankhya, as described in the Bhagavatam, are one and the same. They are all bhakti-yoga. He said, therefore, that only the less intelligent class of men make a distinction between sankhya-yoga and bhakti-yoga.

Of course, atheistic sankhya-yoga has nothing to do with bhakti-yoga, yet the unintelligent claim that the atheistic sankhya-yoga is referred to in the Bhagavad-gita.

One should therefore understand that buddhi-yoga means to work in Krsna consciousness, in the full bliss and knowledge of devotional service. One who works for the satisfaction of the Lord only, however difficult such work may be, is working under the principles of buddhi-yoga and finds himself always in transcendental bliss. By such transcendental engagement, one achieves all transcendental qualities automatically, by the grace of the Lord, and thus his liberation is complete in itself, without his making extraneous endeavors to acquire knowledge. There is much difference between work in Krsna consciousness and work for fruitive results, especially in the matter of sense gratification for achieving results in terms of family or material happiness. Buddhi-yoga is therefore the transcendental quality of the work that we perform."

Bhagavad-gita 2:39 Purport


Kapila Rsi's Hermitage


Kapila's Sankhya Philosophy

"The Sankhya philosopher Kapila has connected the different elementary truths according to his own opinion. Material nature, according to him, consists of the equilibrium of the three material qualities, goodness, passion and ignorance. Material nature produced the material energy, known as mahat, and mahat produced the false ego. The ego produced the five objects of sense perception, which produced the ten senses (five for acquiring knowledge and five for working), the mind and the five gross elements. Counting the purusa, or the enjoyer, with these twenty-four elements, there are twenty-five different truths. The nonmanifested stage of these twenty-five elementary truths is called prakrti, or material nature. The qualities of material nature can associate in three different stages, namely as the cause of happiness, the cause of distress and the cause of illusion. The quality of goodness is the cause of material happiness, the quality of passion is the cause of material distress, and the quality of ignorance is the cause of illusion. Our material experience lies within the boundaries of these three manifestations of happiness, distress and illusion. For example, a beautiful woman is certainly a cause of material happiness for one who possesses her as a wife, but the same beautiful woman is a cause of distress to a man whom she rejects or who is the cause of her anger, and if she leaves a man she becomes the cause of illusion.

"The two kinds of senses are the ten external senses and the one internal sense, the mind. Thus there are eleven senses. According to Kapila, material nature is eternal and all-powerful. Originally there is no spirit, and matter has no cause. Matter itself is the chief cause of everything. It is the all-pervading cause of all causes. The Sankhya philosophy regards the total energy (mahat-tattva), the false ego and the five objects of sense perception as the seven diverse manifestations of material nature, which has two features, known as the material cause and efficient cause. The purusa, the enjoyer, is without transformation, whereas material nature is always subject to transformation. But although material nature is inert, it is the cause of enjoyment and salvation for many living creatures. Its activities are beyond the conception of sense perception, but still one may guess at them by superior intelligence. Material nature is one, but because of the interaction of the three qualities, it can produce the total energy and the wonderful cosmic manifestation. Such transformations divide material nature into two features, namely the efficient and material causes. The purusa, the enjoyer, is inactive and without material qualities, although at the same time He is the master, existing separately in each and every body as the emblem of knowledge. By understanding the material cause, one can guess that the purusa, the enjoyer, being without activity, is aloof from all kinds of enjoyment or superintendence. Sankhya philosophy, after describing the nature of prakrti (material nature) and purusa (the enjoyer), asserts that the creation is only a product of their unification or proximity to one another. With such unification the living symptoms are visible in material nature, but one can guess that in the person of the enjoyer, purusa, there are powers of control and enjoyment. When the purusa is illusioned for want of sufficient knowledge, He feels Himself to be the enjoyer, and when He is in full knowledge He is liberated. In the Sankhya philosophy the purusa is described to be always indifferent to the activities of prakrti.

The Sankhya philosopher accepts three kinds of evidences, namely direct perception, hypothesis and traditional authority. When such evidence is complete, everything is perfect. The process of comparison is within such perfection. Beyond such evidence there is no proof. There is not much controversy regarding direct perceptional evidence or authorized traditional evidence. The Sankhya system of philosophy identifies three kinds of procedures--namely, parimanat (transformation), samanvayat (adjustment) and saktitah (performance of energies)--as the causes of the cosmic manifestation."

Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana, in his commentary on the Vedanta-sutra, has tried to nullify this conclusion because he thinks that discrediting these so-called causes of the cosmic manifestation will nullify the entire Sankhya philosophy. Materialistic philosophers accept matter to be the material and efficient cause of creation; for them, matter is the cause of every type of manifestation. Generally they give the example of a waterpot and clay. Clay is the cause of the waterpot, but the clay can be found as both cause and effect. The waterpot is the effect and clay itself is the cause, but clay is visible everywhere. A tree is matter, but a tree produces fruit. Water is matter, but water flows. In this way, say the Sankhyites, matter is the cause of movements and production. As such, matter can be considered the material and efficient cause of everything in the cosmic manifestation. Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana has therefore enunciated the nature of pradhana as follows:

"Material nature is inert, and as such it cannot be the cause of matter, neither as the material nor as the efficient cause. Seeing the wonderful arrangement and management of the cosmic manifestation generally suggests that a living brain is behind this arrangement, for without a living brain such an arrangement could not exist. One should not imagine that such an arrangement can exist without conscious direction. In our practical experience we never see that inert bricks can themselves construct a big building.

"The example of the waterpot cannot be accepted because a waterpot has no perception of pleasure and distress. Such perception is within. Therefore the covering body, or the waterpot, cannot be synchronized with it.

"Sometimes the material scientist suggests that trees grow from the earth automatically, without assistance from a gardener, because that is a tendency of matter. They also consider the intuition of living creatures from birth to be material. But such material tendencies as bodily intuition cannot be accepted as independent, for they suggest the existence of a spirit soul within the body. Actually, the tree or the body of a living creature has no tendency or intuition; the tendency and intuition exist because the soul is present within the body. In this connection, the example of a car and driver may be given very profitably. The car has a tendency to turn right and left, but one cannot say that the car itself, as matter, turns right and left without the direction of a driver. A material car has neither tendencies nor intuitions independent of the intentions of the driver within the car. The same principle applies for the automatic growth of trees in the forest. The growth takes place because of the soul's presence within the tree.

"Sometimes foolish people take for granted that because scorpions are born from heaps of rice, the rice has produced the scorpions. The real fact, however, is this: the mother scorpion lays eggs within the rice, and by the proper fermentation of the rice the eggs give birth to several baby scorpions, which in due course come out. This does not mean that the rice gives birth to the scorpions. Similarly, sometimes bugs are seen to come from dirty beds. This does not mean, however, that the beds give birth to the bugs. It is the living soul that comes forth, taking advantage of the dirty condition of the bed. There are different kinds of living creatures. Some of them come from embryos, some from eggs and some from the fermentation of perspiration. Different living creatures have different sources of appearance, but one should not conclude that matter produces such living creatures.

"The example cited by materialists that trees automatically come from the earth follows the same principle. Taking advantage of a certain condition, a living entity comes from the earth. According to the Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad, every living being is forced by divine superintendence to take a certain type of body according to his past deeds. There are many varieties of bodies, and because of a divine arrangement a living entity takes bodies of different shapes.

"When a person thinks 'I am doing this,' the 'I am' does not refer to the body. It refers to something more than the body, or within the body. As such, the body as it is has neither tendencies nor intuition; the tendencies and intuition belong to the soul within the body. Material scientists sometimes suggest that the tendencies of male and female bodies cause their union and that this is the cause of the birth of the child. But since the purusa, according to Sankhya philosophy, is always unaffected, where does the tendency to give birth come from?

"Sometimes material scientists give the example that milk turns into curd automatically and that distilled water pouring from the clouds falls down to earth, produces different kinds of trees, and enters different kinds of flowers and fruits with different fragrances and tastes. Therefore, they say, matter produces varieties of material things on its own. In reply to this argument, the same proposition of the Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad--that different kinds of living creatures are put into different kinds of bodies by the management of a superior power--is repeated. Under superior superintendence, various souls, according to their past activities, are given the chance to take a particular type of body, such as that of a tree, animal, bird or beast, and thus their different tendencies develop under these circumstances. The Bhagavad-gita (13.22) also further affirms:

purusah prakrti-stho hi
bhunkte prakrti-jan gunan
karanam guna-sango 'sya
sad-asad-yoni-janmasu

"The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil among various species.' The soul is given different types of bodies. For example, were souls not given varieties of tree bodies, the different varieties of fruits and flowers could not be produced. Each class of tree produces a particular kind of fruit and flower; it is not that there is no distinction between the different classes. An individual tree does not produce flowers of different colors or fruits of different tastes. There are demarcated classes, as we find them among humans, animals, birds and other species. There are innumerable living entities, and their activities, performed in the material world according to the different qualities of the material modes of nature, give them the chance to have different kinds of life.

"Thus one should understand that pradhana, matter, cannot act unless impelled by a living creature. The materialistic theory that matter independently acts cannot, therefore, be accepted. Matter is called prakrti, which refers to female energy. A woman is prakrti, a female. A female cannot produce a child without the association of a purusa, a man. The purusa causes the birth of a child because the man injects the soul, which is sheltered in the semen, into the womb of the woman. The woman, as the material cause, supplies the body of the soul, and as the efficient cause she gives birth to the child. But although the woman appears to be the material and efficient cause of the birth of a child, originally the purusa, the male, is the cause of the child. Similarly, this material world gives rise to varieties of manifestations due to the entrance of Garbhodakasayi Visnu within the universe. He is present not only within the universe but within the bodies of all living creatures, as well as within the atom. We understand from the Brahma-samhita that the Supersoul is present within the universe, within the atom and within the heart of every living creature. Therefore the theory that matter is the cause of the entire cosmic manifestation cannot be accepted by any man with sufficient knowledge of matter and spirit.

"Materialists sometimes give the argument that as straw eaten by a cow produces milk automatically, so material nature, under different circumstances, produces varieties of manifestations. Thus originally matter is the cause. In refuting this argument, we may say that an animal of the same species as the cow--namely, the bull--also eats straw like the cow but does not produce milk. Under the circumstances, it cannot be said that straw in connection with a particular species produces milk. The conclusion should be that there is superior management, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (9.10), where the Lord says, mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram: 'This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings.' The Supreme Lord says, mayadhyaksena ('under My superintendence'). When He desires that the cow produce milk by eating straw, there is milk, and when He does not so desire it, the mixture of such straw cannot produce milk. If the way of material nature had been that straw produced milk, a stack of straw could also produce milk. But that is not possible. And the same straw given to a human female also cannot produce milk. That is the meaning of the Bhagavad-gita's statement that only under superior orders does anything take place. Matter itself has no power to produce independently. The conclusion, therefore, is that matter, which has no self-knowledge, cannot be the cause of the material creation. The ultimate creator is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

"If matter were accepted as the original cause of creation, all the authorized scriptures in the world would be useless, for in every scripture, especially the Vedic scriptures like the Manu-smrti, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is said to be the ultimate creator. The Manu-smrti is considered the highest Vedic direction to humanity. Manu is the giver of law to mankind, and in the Manu-smrti it is clearly stated that before the creation the entire universal space was darkness, without information and without variety, and was in a state of complete suspension, like a dream. Everything was darkness. The Supreme Personality of Godhead then entered the universal space, and although He is invisible, He created the visible cosmic manifestation. In the material world the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not manifested by His personal presence, but the presence of the cosmic manifestation in different varieties is the proof that everything has been created under His direction. He entered the universe with all creative potencies, and thus He removed the darkness of the unlimited space.

"The form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is described to be transcendental, very subtle, eternal, all-pervading, inconceivable and therefore nonmanifested to the material senses of a conditioned living creature. He desired to expand Himself into many living entities, and with such a desire He first created a vast expanse of water within the universal space and then impregnated that water with living entities. By that process of impregnation a massive body appeared, blazing like a thousand suns, and in that body was the first creative principle, Brahma. The great Parasara Rsi has also confirmed this in the Visnu Purana. He says that the cosmic manifestation visible to us is produced from Lord Visnu and sustained under His protection. He is the principal maintainer and destroyer of the universal form.

"This cosmic manifestation is one of the diverse energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As a spider secretes saliva and weaves a web by its own movements but at the end winds the web within its body, so Lord Visnu produces this cosmic manifestation from His transcendental body and at the end winds it up within Himself. All the great sages of the Vedic understanding have accepted that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the original creator."

Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 6:14-15


Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.



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