Samkhya in yoga

Title: How coherently does Samkhya thought underpin yoga theory and practice?

There have been many efforts in human history to happen internal peace. This is accepted by many as the ground and generation of spiritual sentiment. Finding peace can be an elusive thing in universe filled with pandemonium. Nonetheless, many people claim to hold found something in their spiritual and devotional traditions that ( at least ) points towards some sort of inward peace. Yoga is one of those devotional traditions that seeks to transfuse interior peace in the fan. A perennial inquiry is: is Yoga a spiritual pattern or is it simply an subject ( like karate or jogging in the forenoon ) ? The reply is complex and multi-faceted. The simple reply is that it is both. Yoga is based on certain spiritual claims, nevertheless they are non needfully centered on Gods or God. For some traditions, such as Hatha Yoga, the method ranks much higher than the philosophical or spiritual claims. For other traditions, such as Mantra Yoga, the spiritual facet is of paramount importance in prosecuting in Yogic pattern. This paper will research, specifically, the relationship between Yoga and Samkhya thought. I will first supply some necessary background on both Yoga and Samkhya doctrine, and so get down to flesh out their connexion. In the decision, I will try to turn to how coherently Samkhya thought underpins Yoga theory and pattern.

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Background –Yoga

Majumdar defines Yoga as “the intelligent and self-aware attempt of adult male towards accomplishing cosmopolitan being ; that harmony between single and universe which nature, herself, is subconsciously endeavoring toward through test, mistake and waste.” [ 1 ] If you are lost already, don’t concern. I will, in the pages to come, interrupt down both Yoga ( and Samkhya thought ) in the easiest to understand manner possible. At the same clip, I will seek to make justness to these ancient patterns and doctrine. Yoga is best understood as a devotional tradition. It is devotional in that it requires subject and ( surprise! ) devotedness to certain ideals and patterns. It is a tradition in that it is historical ; it finds its roots in a history of Yoga leaders, sages, and devotees over about three millenary. These leaders have besides felt the demand to go through Yoga down from coevals to coevals as a method of self-betterment. Let me to spread out the definition one more of import manner: Yoga is a devotional tradition that strives towards ageless peace in the fan.

The job with seeking to specify a construct such as Yoga is that you come under immediate examination from all sides. Every subdivision of Yoga efforts to flex the significance of the tradition to function its ideological intents. I can venture, nevertheless, to state you foremost what Yoga is non. Yoga is non an exercising modus operandi or plan. It is non a faith either. Although Yoga does do certain religious/philosophical claims and it does hold prescribed patterns, it is neither of these entirely. Without seeking to confound the reader further, the renters of yoga ( when boiled down ) are instead simple. Yoga attempts to force the individual out of the bodily and stuff “world” into true release in the religious kingdom ( which is peace andtruecognition [ 2 ] ) .

Yoga is one of the six authoritative systems of Hindu Philosophy. There are besides assorted “systems” or traditions within Yoga itself. Assorted “systems” of Yoga are different from each other in the manner that they interpret what the ultimate is ( i.e. what one is seeking to be united with ) and the methods to make that ultimate kingdom. [ 3 ] The two most noteworthy systems, for our intents, are Bhakti Yoga and Hatha Yoga. Bhakti Yoga is spiritual Yoga that emphasizes spiritual pattern in, chiefly, Hinduism and self-denial. It is besides understood as “Love” Yoga, from one’s love of God she seeks integrity with the ultimate world of God. Hatha Yoga is rather the antonym. Hatha Yoga emphasizes the physical pattern of Yoga and sees it as the agencies in and of itself to accomplish ultimate world and withdrawal from the physical universe. Hatha Yoga is by far the most popular signifier of Yoga in the West.

Yoga can be traced back to the period of the Upanishads. The Upanishads are mystical Hagiographas that form a portion of the equivalent of Hindu Bible ( Veda ) . The Upanishads were written approximately between the 8Thursdayand 5Thursdaycenturies B.C.E. The patterns of Yoga were solidified and given a stronger philosophical background in theYoga Sutraby the bookman Patanjali who lived in and around the 2neodymiumcentury B.C.E. Patanjali is considered the laminitis of formal Yoga. Patanjali used Samkhya doctrine ( which is the oldest strain of Hinduism, but besides officially unbelieving ) and introduced the thought of God to it. It is of broad consensus that the presence of God or Gods is non built-in to Yoga, in fact, many believe the debut of God is in contradiction to the system itself. [ 4 ]

Yoga has enjoyed a rush of popularity in the West, peculiarly in the center of the 20Thursdaycentury onward. After the First and Second World Wars, Eastern Philosophy became a feasible option to the disenchantment experience by many with traditional Western doctrine. This is particularly the instance within academic and elect circles, where it became vogue to be, at least, casually interested in Eastern Philosophy. Yoga appealed to many people as a agency of taking them off from the hurting and anxiousness of the universe around them and turning their regard towards something far better. Today, many people who participate in Yoga in the West universe have done so based on advice given by fittingness experts who have stressed its health-giving properties. In India, Yoga continues to be one of the most powerful facets of Hinduism, being a basic of many people’s spiritual pattern. We have already mentioned in go throughing Samkhya idea in the work of Patanjali. In the following subdivision, I will try to specify and explicate Samkhya doctrine farther.

Background –Samkhya Philosophy

Samkhya doctrine, besides known as Sankhja, is one of the six Orthodox philosophies of doctrine (darshana) of Hinduism. In other words, it is one of the cardinal doctrines that undergird Hinduism as we know it. It is besides likely the most ancient of the sixdarshana. Its laminitis is said to be Kapila, who is estimated to hold lived during the 8Thursdaycentury B.C.E. ( 2900 old ages ago ) . [ 5 ] The earliest piece of composing specifically on Samkhya doctrine is theSankhya-Karikaby Isvara Krishna in the 3rdto 4Thursdaycentury B.C.E. [ 6 ] There is a general consensus on the basic dogmas of Samkhya idea. Life is characterized by two facets. The first is calledpurusha. Its best equivalent in modern twenty-four hours linguistic communication is spirit. The 2nd facet is calledprakriti. Its equivalent would be affair or physical nature. All of life can be explained through the lens of the interaction betweenpurushaandprakriti.

The spirit (purusha) is the true ego. However, it is bound by the organic structure and physical world (prakriti) . The spirit is free and discorporate, but is bound to the organic structure by the organic structure. The organic structure convinces the spirit that it is one and the same. The end of Samkhya is to liberate the spirit wholly from the organic structure to accomplish ultimate cloud nine. This is done via the chase of virtuousness and the methods of Yoga. For illustration, if we were to take a individual off the street and seek to steer them along the manner of Samkhya doctrine we would make several things. First away, we would explicate to them that their individuality is a combination of spirit and organic structure. Their end in life should be to liberate their psyche from their body—they will happen true peace if they can accomplish this. They might ask how they should travel about it. We would state them that they will hold to utilize their organic structure in certain patterns, viz. Yoga, in order to come to the cognition of the freedom of their spirit. Once they grow in this cognition of the dichotomy of their organic structure and spirit, they will get down to experience their spirit release from the material universe. They might come back a twosome old ages subsequently and state us that they are discouraged that they are unable to to the full disassociate their organic structure from their spirit. They might show their defeat over the fact that what happens to their organic structure ( i.e. illness, cold, pleasance ) still has a profound consequence on their spirit. We would guarantee them that it is rare that they would be able to see the supreme peace in this life-time. It is an evolutionary procedure. We would show hope that they might transmigrate into a Brahmin or some other degree much closer to concluding release. There they would get down to see the precursors to concluding release, viz. marvelous abilities ( such as indifference to trouble, ability to turn back clip, etc. ) that exhibit their spirit’s rebelliousness of the material universe.

The spirit’s bondage is, harmonizing to Samkhya idea, phenomenal. In other words, it is an semblance that the spirit (purusha )is bound within the organic structure (prakriti) . In order to come to the complete cognition of this fact, the spirit must work within the body/material universe in order to come to this cognition. The traditional metaphor for this relationship is the image of a unsighted adult male with certain picking with a feeble adult male with perfect seeing on his dorsum. The unsighted adult male would be the stuff organic structure (prakriti) and the square adult male would be the spirit (purusha) . [ 7 ] The spirit needs the organic structure to present it to its freedom. This leads us to one of the built-in facets of Samkhya philosophy—evolution. Before images of barbate Darwin Begin to start up in your caput, maintain in head that Samkhya thought day of the months back several millenary before Darwin even had a name.

The belief is that, in the primal or basic province of being, the spirit (purusha) and affair (prakriti) exist entirely apart from one another. All affair (prakriti) consists of three elements orgunasthat exist, ab initio, in perfect equilibrium. The three elements of all affair aresattva( be given towards the good ) ,rajas( towards activity and passion ) , andtamas( toward darkness and decay ) . [ 8 ] We will touch on this farther in the paper. Once the equilibrium of these three elements is broken, the procedure of development is necessary in order to convey back the order and equilibrium that was lost. The beginning of bondage is from the fact that people do non acknowledge the difference between (purusha) and affair (prakriti) . Samkhya thought expresses this thought via the metaphor of a rose behind a crystal ; the crystal seems like it is colored when truly it is the rose that colourss it. The organic structure seems like it is one and the same with the spirit, but this phenomenon is delusory. The intent of Yoga, so, is to rush the development of the organic structure (prakriti )to acknowledge the independency of the spirit. In other words, Yoga helps the organic structure become cognizant of the spirit’s independency from it. [ 9 ]

The chief philosophical job that Samkhya thought has ever had to face is: how did the spirit (purusha) get imprisoned in the stuff (prakriti) in the first topographic point? [ 10 ] You might hold picked up on this job in the account of the construct of development in the old paragraph. I wrote, “The beginning of bondage is from the fact that people do non acknowledge the difference between spirit (purusha) and affair (prakriti) .” Does the fact that people don’t acknowledge the dualism of psyche and organic structuretrulyhistory for the bondage of the psyche in the stuff universe? What happened so that affair must now germinate in order to liberate the spirit from its bondage? Something went incorrect, but Samkhya doesn’t history for what precisely went incorrect. Samkhya’s philosophical predicament is based on the fact that their system is unbelieving. Admiting any individual or agent “did” what went incorrect presupposes some sort of entity. However, what caused the disturbance of the original equilibrium is non truly addressed in a really hearty manner. What Samkhya stresses is, nevertheless, how to acquire back to the manner things were—freedom in both affair and spirit.

Let me to sum up before we move on to the other topics in respects to Samkhya and Yoga. Samkhya thought is based on a double vision of life—spirit (perusha) and affair (prakriti) . Somehow the spirit has become trapped within the material universe. It seems like, when we understand our ain personality, that spirit and organic structure are one in the same. Yet, this is an semblance. What we must make is acknowledge the world of the independency of the spirit from the organic structure. In order for this to go on the stuff must undergo development in order to acquire back to the original order that used to be. The spirit, so, relies on the organic structure to return it to its freedom. Through virtuousness and Yogic pattern the stuff evolves until the spirit can recognize true freedom, therefore true peace. In other words, the single discoveries peace by take parting in virtuousness and Yoga in order to subordinate their stuff being to the freedom of the spirit. The freedom of the spirit is the end and the beginning of true and complete peace.

Hatha Yoga and Samkhya Philosophy

We have already mentioned the “school” or system of Hatha Yoga. It is one of approximately six other systems of Yogic pattern. Others include Bhakti Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Raya Yoga. Hatha Yoga is clearly the closest to Samkhya doctrine in that it does non claim a God. It is unbelieving.

“The original significance of hatha yoga is the yoga of force or physical force, i.e. , the physical and critical control of the organic structure by physiological agencies for the intents of higher concentration. Subsequently on, the word hatha came besides to typify the the biomotor processes of the organic structure, the energy-consuming and the energy-acquiring, which are called severally the Sun (hour angle) and the Moon (tha) rules. Harmonizing to this account, hatha yoga aims to equilibrate and harmonise these two forces by agencies of breath control, which once more is accessary to higher contemplation.” [ 11 ]

Here you see the writer reference twice the main intent of Hatha Yoga—higher contemplation. The physical facets are perfected and fine-tuned in order to accomplish higher contemplation of the ego ( viz. the ego free from bodily restraints ) . The physical action and pattern of Yoga is extremely emphasized, but merely as it helps in the main terminal of the spirit’s realisation. “Proper attending to the organic structure is a religious act. It helps to liberate the head from physical bondage.” [ 12 ] This is evidently a spot self-contradictory. The physical subject of Hatha Yoga is dutifully pursued in order to liberate one’s self from its physical “bondage.” Let me remind you, nevertheless, of the metaphor of the surefooted blind adult male, with the well-seeing square adult male on his dorsum.

If Samkhya doctrine is the theoretical model of Hatha Yoga, which it seems to be, so this paradox makes sense. Hatha Yoga’s accent on the physical subject tantrums good in Samkhya thought within the construct of development. The stuff or organic structure is germinating in order to convey consciousness to the spirit. The physical act of Hatha Yoga, albeit an wholly physical action, has its full justification in conveying increasing consciousness to the spirit of its freedom. The organic structure is transporting the spirit to its freedom through the physical act of Yoga. Many fans of Hatha Yoga are contemptuous of more spiritualized versions of Yoga ( such as Mantra Yoga ) , that seem to disregard the evolutionary procedure by concentrating on conjurations or spiritual devotedness. This, for Hatha Yogis, [ 13 ] is a waste of clip. This gives many Hatha Yogis an interesting air of high quality over other Yoga traditions. They feel like their version of Yoga is more to the point, non to advert more empirical, practical, and ( even ) scientific.

The Senses and Samkhya Philosophy

The senses play an interesting function in Samkhya doctrine. In theBhagavad-gitawe get the authoritative differentiation between the material universe and the apprehender of that universe ( the psyche ) . However, there is a farther interruption down of the material universe in really distinguishable ways. First, the universe is divided between the five “gross” elements of Earth, air, H2O, fire, and ether. Beyond that it is divided between the self-importance, consciousness, and the unmanifest ( the not-yet of physical being ) . From here the physical universe in perceived through the coordinating sense, the senses of perceptual experience, and the senses of action. The coordinating sense is the head, through which the individual sifts through all their experiences. The senses of perceptual experience are hearing, touch, sight, gustatory sensation, and odor. The senses of action are address, grasping, motive power, elimination, and sexual intercourse. The senses, in both perceptual experience and action, are indispensable in the development of thePrakritito liberate thePurusa. The senses are the tools in which the psyche can understand itself as psyche, and be free and therefore released from metempsychosis. [ 14 ] Without the senses ( tamed through Yoga ) the feeble adult male does non hold sure-footing, but alternatively lurchs around in the darkness.

Ayurveda and the Gunas in and Samkhya Philosophy

Thegunasare best understood if we attempt to look at the natural kingdom with a fresh position. Very shortly we will get down to separate things that are good, good, and helpful. By making this we will besides get down to place things that are the rather the antonym. You have already begun to place nature within thegunas, so to talk. Like we mentioned earlier, there are threegunasthat form the footing of the account of nature both within the Yogic traditions and Hinduism. The first is thesattva, which is the nature that tends towards the good, helpful, and good. The 2nd is therajas, which is the nature that tends towards alteration and passion. The 3rd is thetamas, which is the nature that tends towards darkness, decay, and devastation. [ 15 ] These three are non ever sketched out in needfully moral footings, but sometimes in more mental dimensions—sattvabeing consciousness,rajasbeing change/flux, andtamasbeing conservative or mentally faineant. [ 16 ] Allow me to put this within the model of Samkhya thought—in the beginning phases of development towards freedom for the psyche, thegunasare indispensable in making increasedsattvain the individual viarajas. In this instance, the individual is seeking increased consciousness of the psyche in order to accomplish release. Yet, in the concluding phases of development one must even go indifferent to thegunaswholly in order to wholly disassociate the physical kingdom for the full consciousness of the spirit.

Ayurveda, or life-knowledge, is the spiritual-medicinal pattern of ancient Hinduism that is still practiced today. Ayurveda seeks to ordainrajasin order to accomplish increasedsattvato make healing by reconstructing natural balances in the organic structure. [ 17 ] It is Yogic in the sense that it seeks to utilize the organic structure mending in order to accomplish increased consciousness. The value of this increased consciousness and goodness is, so to talk, ageless in that it moves the individual closer and closer to his realisation of the spirit. It is besides noteworthy in that it is one of the really few traditional medicative traditions that involved surgery.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga and Samkyha doctrine

The eight limbs of Yoga are a patterned advance that leads to hone cognition. In the model of Samkyha doctrine, these eight would be a gradual procedure taking to hone cognition of spirit, affair and therefore release. This terminal of perfect cognition of psyche and organic structure underlies all of the eight limbs of Yoga, which will go clear as I explain the eight. It is best to understand the eight as a ladder taking to let go of. The first is self-denial, which involves truthfulness, abstention, non stealing, declining gifts, and non aching populating things. The 2nd round is spiritual observation ( which refers largely to Hindu pattern ) ; it includes assorted signifiers of rites, and spiritual temperaments such as contentment and poorness. The 3rd is positions, which include all the undermentioned rounds and centres around physical Acts of the Apostless. The 4th is keeping and commanding your breath. The fifth is the restraint of the senses, keeping oneself from the material universe. The 6th is the steadying of the head on a point to where it is unmindful to its milieus. The 7th is speculation upon some sort of ideal entirely, normally Brahma. The 8th and concluding phase is profound contemplation where one achieves thought beyond idea and becomes to the full illumined within. [ 18 ]

The patterned advance along the eight phases or limbs of Yoga is congruous with the principles of Samkhya doctrine. The lone exclusion to that is the second—religious observation, which presupposes a spiritual entity of some kind. These phases or rounds of the Yoga ladder show a clear patterned advance towards accomplishing release by recognizing supreme cognition of the spirit. [ 19 ] It follows a patterned advance from more material centered rounds to well more spiritually dominated rounds.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

The term sutra is a word that merely means yarn. Sutras are fundamentally a phrase or a sentence that ties many thoughts together. The sutras are supposed to be meditated and expanded upon separately by the pupil and/or fan. Sutras are really concise and are like lineations for future larning since they require amplification in order to understand their significances. The original purpose of the sutras was to supply an easy to memorise sum-up of cardinal Hindu philosophies, and in the instance of Yoga, during a clip when books were scarce or non-existent. [ 20 ] Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are the most influential sutras on Yoga, supplying the footing for most Yogistic pattern. They are divided into four books, divided into subdivision normally interspersed with commentary. The first book is called “The Aim, ” followed by “The Way” , so “The Method, ” and eventually by book four “Summary.” Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are connected to Samkhya doctrine through their deficiency of acknowledgment of God or Gods, and their changeless push towards seeking release from the psyche. God (Ishwara) in the Patanjali sutras, although mentioned on occasion, is viewed as a psyche whose destiny has been fortunate plenty to non be entangle in the physical universe. Once the single achieves release, she is merely like the Gods or God in that she has achieved the full freedom from her bondage to the material universe. Freedom is the concluding and ultimate point of Yogic pattern.

Another note on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is its miracoulous choices. For illustration, Sutra XXXVII states that “When ( the head has been ) loosened from the ( bodily ) causes of its bondage, and attained penetration into the procedures ( of bondage and release ) , it has ( the same penetration ) into the organic structures of others.” In other words one’s head is able to perforate the organic structures of those who are around them. During some periods of Yogic pattern this has been interpreted to intend that the advanced Yogi could travel from organic structure to organic structure. Sutra XXXIX “As a consequence of accomplishing flawlessness, ( the head is ) detached from and lifted beyond such things as H2O and clay and thorns.” [ 21 ] It is non certain what all of the concluding phases are thought to hold meant separately. But, it is clear that they represent the concluding phases before full release from the organic structure.

Conclusion—How coherentlydoesSamkhya thought underpin Yoga theory and pattern.

There has been extended treatment in the old pages about the interplay between Samkhya doctrine and Yoga. We have looked at what Yoga is and have outlined the dogmas of Samkhya idea. After that we went through different topics associating to Yoga and outlined the presence of Samkhya thoughts throughout these subjects. It is clear that Samkhya thought is the cardinal theoretical footing for Yoga. In other words, Samkhya thought signifiers the principle behind prosecuting in Yoga. Yoga has developed in a myriad of ways since its origin, but it has ever developed in visible radiation of the dogmas of Samkhya doctrine, even despite more theistic signifiers of Yogic pattern. Samhkhya thought is basically unbelieving, but it retains several cardinal doctrinal statements that remain in current looks of Yoga. Simply put, Samkhya doctrine seeks to liberate the psyche from the stuff universe through the battle of Yogic pattern. It forms the footing of a devotional tradition ( Yoga ) that seeks to liberate its disciples from their stuff restraints in order to accomplish higher cognition, which is acknowledgment of the spirit as free and therefore achieve ageless peace and release from material bondage. The Samkhya construct of development coincides with the eight limbs/stages of Yogic pattern that both attempt to indicate the individual off from material restraints towards perfect cognition of the psyche. Samkhya doctrine is by far the most consistent with Hatha Yoga. This is chiefly due to Hatha Yoga’s accent on bodily activity in order to accomplish the ultimate every bit good as Hatha Yoga’s godlessness which is straight derived from the ancient thoughts Samkhya doctrine. Yoga may non be a faith as such, but it has its spiritual elements as a derived function of ancient Hinduism. Does a individual have to believe in God in order to genuinely prosecute in Yoga? From what we can see from our analysis of Samkhya doctrine and Yoga the reply is clearly a “no.” However, Yoga does ask for you to follow a peculiar universe position. Without following this worldview Yogic pattern is simply physical exercising or stretching. This is non, and ne’er has been, the purpose of any Yogi leaders or sages. The purpose of Yoga is to accomplish what Samhkhya doctrine promises—peace through acknowledgment of one’s double nature. And for many, this sort of peace is deserving prosecuting, even if it takes multiple life-times to accomplish.


Bahm, Archie J.Yoga: Union with the Ultimate. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. , 1961.

Basham, Arthur Llewellyn.The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism. ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Friedrichs, Kurt, et Al.The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion.Boston: Shambala, 1994.

Lochtefeld, James G.The illustrated encyclopaedia of Hinduism. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2002.

Majumdar, Sachindra Kumar.Introduction to Yoga Principles and Practices. New York: University Books, 1964.

Resse, William L.Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion. Ottomans: Harvester Press, 1980. “Yoga, ” “Ayurveda.”Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2006, hypertext transfer protocol: //


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