Last Updated on February 1, 2023
Samkhya Yoga is one of the oldest and most influential schools of philosophy in Hinduism, with roots dating back to ancient India. It is also known as Samkhya-Yoga, Samkhya Darshana, or simply Samkhya. The term “Samkhya” means “enumeration” or “counting,” and refers to the system’s method of classification and analysis of the universe and the individual self.
Realizing the duality of Purusha (soul) and Prakriti (body) is central to Samkhya-Yoga. In the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna seeks to inspire Arjun by appealing to his sense of practicality, and this is explained in great detail. Then he goes into greater detail as he teaches Arjun about the “Science of Work.” He urges Arjun to do good things with no expectation of reward.
What Bhagavad Gita Say About Sānkhya Yoga?
In the Gita, Lord Krishna, who is considered to be a manifestation of the ultimate reality or supreme consciousness, explains to the warrior prince Arjuna the nature of reality and the path to self-realization.
According to the Gita, Samkhya Yoga is a path of knowledge and discrimination, which involves understanding the difference between the eternal and unchanging reality of the self (purusha) and the ever-changing reality of the material world (prakriti). The Gita teaches that the ultimate goal of Samkhya Yoga is to realize the true nature of the self, which is eternal, unchanging, and beyond the limitations of the material world.
The Gita also mentions the three gunas (sattva, rajas, and tamas) and the five mahabhutas (earth, water, fire, air, and space) as fundamental aspects of prakriti, and encourages the cultivation of sattva, or balance and harmony, as a way to move beyond the limitations of the material world and realize the true nature of the self.
The Gita presents Samkhya Yoga as a path of knowledge and discrimination that leads to self-realization and enlightenment. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the nature of reality and the individual self, and encourages the cultivation of balance, harmony, and detachment as essential steps on the path towards self-realization.
Anyways, one must understand that the main principles of Samkhya Yoga are based on dualism, the belief that there are two separate and distinct realities:
The eternal and unchanging reality of purusha (pure consciousness) and the ever-changing reality of prakriti (nature or material world).
According to Samkhya philosophy, these two realities are in a state of constant interaction and mutual influence, and the ultimate goal of Samkhya Yoga is to understand and transcend this duality.
The Three Gunas
Samkhya Yoga teaches that prakriti is made up of three fundamental qualities or forces, known as the gunas:
These gunas are present in all things and are in a constant state of flux, with one guna often dominating over the others.
Sattva is the quality of balance, harmony, and clarity. It is associated with goodness, truth, and purity.
Rajas is the quality of activity, energy, and passion. It is associated with desire, ambition, and action.
Tamas is the quality of inertia, dullness, and ignorance. It is associated with darkness, ignorance, and chaos.
The Five Mahabhutas
Samkhya Yoga also teaches that prakriti is made up of five fundamental elements, known as the mahabhutas: earth, water, fire, air, and space. These elements are not considered to be separate from Prakriti, but rather different modes or expressions of it.
The 25 Tattvas
Samkhya philosophy divides the manifest universe into 25 tattvas, or principles, which are grouped into three categories:
- The five mahabhutas (elements), which make up the physical world.
- The ten indriyas (senses), or sense organs and organs of action, which are responsible for perception and interaction with the physical world.
- The ten antahkaranas, or inner organs, which are responsible for the mental and emotional experiences of the individual.
The ultimate goal of Samkhya Yoga is to understand and transcend the limitations of the physical and mental experiences of the individual self, and to realize the true nature of purusha, or pure consciousness.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga
Samkhya Yoga also includes an eight-limbed path of yoga, known as the Ashtanga yoga, which is designed to help the individual progress on the path towards self-realization. The eight limbs of yoga are:
- Yama: ethical restraints or moral codes of conduct
- Niyama: personal observances or spiritual practices
- Asana: physical postures or poses
- Pranayama: control of the breath
- Pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses from external objects
- Dharana: concentration or focus
- Dhyana: meditation or contemplation
- Samadhi: absorption or union with the ultimate reality
The Practice of Samkhya Yoga
The practice of Samkhya Yoga involves both philosophical study and spiritual discipline. It is a holistic approach to self-development that aims to balance the mind, body, and soul through a combination of philosophical inquiry, physical asana practice, breath control, and meditation.
One of the central practices of Samkhya Yoga is the cultivation of sattva, or balance and harmony. This involves living a life of ethical conduct, practicing personal observances and spiritual disciplines, and engaging in physical and mental practices that promote balance and clarity.
Another important aspect of Samkhya Yoga is the cultivation of vairagya, or detachment. This involves letting go of attachments to the physical and mental experiences of the individual self, and focusing on the realization of the true nature of purusha, or pure consciousness.
Samkhya Yoga also places a strong emphasis on self-inquiry and the cultivation of knowledge. This involves a process of questioning and examining the nature of reality, and seeking to understand the underlying principles that govern the universe and the individual self.
Well, it’s apparent that Bhagavadgita’s Samkhya Yoga is identical to Kapila’s original Samkhya philosophy. Krishna’s Yoga philosophy is similar to Patanjali’s Yogasutras when it comes to principles like detachment, dispassion, sameness, focus, cultivation of sattva, etc.
As Krishna explains Prince Arjuna to control his mind, it is clear that Sankhya Yog is not the yoga of knowledge, but the yoga of mind and body which helps the spiritual seeker through deep understanding of his own true nature and mind.
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