A text dealing with Ayurveda

Ferenc Ruzsa f_ruzsa at ISIS.ELTE.HU
Sat Apr 24 08:11:29 UTC 1999

Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:
>In the sAMkhya school, the
>transformations of material nature are for the
>sake of purusha (purushArtha), but never due to
>the desire of the purusha (purushecchA). The
>purusha is devoid of any agency, so that any
>desire or will would be ascribed by sAMkhya to
>a transformation of the internal organ.

Though this is the standard view, I think it is true only for the later
sAMkhya; it cannot be shown in the classical texts (the sAMkhya-kArikA and
its earlier commentaries). In the kArikA itself the puruSa is inactive
(akartR) in the crude material sense only - it is not yet kUTastha. It is
conscious (cetana), it experiences (bhoktR or draSTR), it exercises control
(adhiSThAna) over the body and it has two purposes (artha): experiencing the
world (darzana) and, later, isolation from it (kaivalya). It is clearly a
changing entity, the source of individually and temporally different
actions, for in SK 18 this fact is used as proof of the existence of many
a-yugapat pravRttez ca / puruSa-bahutvaM siddhaM.
A conscious motive source of our actions: I think it is fine to call it
'will' (the connotations of 'desire' could seem improper here).

>It is not right to ascribe a "sAMkhyan" origin to
>every passage that uses terms like tanmAtra,
>purusha, prakRti etc.

I feel that for early texts it *is* right, and later it is the first guess.
Though several sAMkhya _concepts_ proved to be very successful and were
imported by practically everybody (guNa-theory), still the concentrated use
of typical _terminology_ is suggestive of that tradition (to which the epic
and puraNic tradition is, of course, closely linked). So puruSa (not
Atman), prakRti (not mAyA or avidyA) can be indicatory marks.

Ferenc Ruzsa
assistant professor of metaphysics
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
e-mail: f_ruzsa at isis.elte.hu

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list