Samkhyan terminology (was Re: A text dealing with Ayurveda)

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 29 07:25:16 UTC 1999

Ferenc Ruzsa <f_ruzsa at ISIS.ELTE.HU> wrote:

>I am well aware of the need of a major reinterpretation. Actually I have
>already attempted something of the kind, but of course you cannot possibly
>know of it, as it is in Hungarian.

Oh, perhaps a translation, to reach a broader audience, can be
published somewhere?

>> In verse 7.4, the BhG only lists the five (subtle) elements along with
>> manas, buddhi and ahaMkAra, as constituting the eight-fold lower prakRti.
>> Samkara's commentary sounds more "sAMkhyan" than the verse he is
>> commenting upon.
>Another way of looking at this fact is that zaGkara's commentary at this
>point *is* sAMkhyan. He identifies in the BG the sAMkhya theory of the eight
>prakRtis, and explains it according to the standard sAMkhya text, the SK 3.
>(He actually quotes it at ZB 1.4.11.)

Well, the peculiar nature of what is called "sAMkhya" in Sankara's
gItAbhAshya has to be taken into account. In 3.3, sAmkhya-buddhi is
associated with those paramahaMsa-parivrAjakas who have renounced all
karma and have resorted to the saMnyAsASrama from the brahmacaryASrama
itself. In chapter 18, the sAMkhya-yoga is described akin to what is
called parisaMkhyAna in the third prose chapter of his upadeSasAhasrI.

However, in 7.4, there is an advaita vedAntic twist to his usage of
sAMkhyan terms - manaH iti manasaH kAraNam ahaMkAra tattvam. buddhir
iti ahaMkAra kAraNam mahat tattvam. ahaMkAra iti avidyA-samyuktam-
avyaktam. Note the explicit reference to a samyoga between avidyA and
avyakta. So this is not classically sAMkhyan after all. Also note that
the comments on 7.4 and 7.5 anticipate chapter 13, the kshetra-
kshetrajna yoga, and it is in his comments on 13.2 where Sankara comes
closest to discussing the locus of avidyA, and gives his
characteristic answer to the problem.

Larson and Bhattacharya, in their volume on sAMkhya (Encyclopedia of
Indian Philosophies, gen. ed. Karl Potter), have referred to the
"wholesale and shameless" borrowal of sAMkhya by vedAnta. I, however,
think that terms that are typically thought to be of "sAMkhyan" origin
have a common prehistory that is shared by other darSanas.


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