[INDOLOGY] all-pervasive puruṣa in classical Sāṃkhya

Lubomír Ondračka ondracka at ff.cuni.cz
Sun Jun 17 21:42:12 UTC 2018

Dear colleagues,

I have  a small group of students interested in the Sāṃkhyakārikā and we have a seminar where we interpret this text with the help of classical (pre-Kaumudī) commentaries (mainly Yuktidīpikā). When reading SK 10, we encountered a problem which I could not answer.

SK 10 defines vyakta and says that avyakta has opposite characteristics. One of these characteristics is non-pervasiveness (avyāpi… vyaktam viparītam avyaktam). Almost all commentaries are clear and say that vyakta is not all-pervasive, but avyakta and puruṣa are.

avyāpi – asarvagam ity arthaḥ / yathā pradhānapuruṣau sarvagatau naivaṃ vyaktam /

Māṭharavṛtti is almost the same.

pradhānapuruṣau sarvatra pṛthivyām antarikṣe divi ca vyāpnutaḥ / mahadādi kāryantu na tathā / asarvagamatatvāt, tasmāt prakṛtivibhinnam /

avyāpi – na vyāpi mahadādi liṅgam asarvagatam ity arthaḥ / yathā pradhānapuruṣau divi bhuvi cāntarikṣe ca vartete [tathā] tanmahadādi liṅgaṃ na vartante / kiñcānyat avyāpi vyaktam asarvagatatvāt / vyāpi pradhānam, kasmāt, sarvagatatvāt /

Sāṃkhyasaptativṛtti is similar.

Yuktidīpikā is unfortunately missing for this passage, but I think that in other part (ad SK 19 on puruṣa’s akartṛbhāva) it also subscribes to the concept that puruṣa is all-pervasive. It says that since pradhāna is all-pervasive and creative, all-pervasive puruṣa should be also creative. This possibility is of course denied (vibhutvād iti cet / syād etat / yathā vibhutve sati pradhānasya sakriyatvam evaṃ puruṣasya sati vibhutve sakriyatvena bhavitavyam iti / tac ca naivam / Wezler-Motegi, p. 180).

Now, Jayamaṅgalā says this:
avyāpi vyaktam, vyāpy avyaktam / puruṣo'pi vyāpī yadā prakṛtyā muktaḥ / yuktaś cet vyaktena sadṛśo  na pradhānena / hi sarvadā devādiṣu pravartate /

This is surprising. According to this commentary, puruṣa is all-pervasive only when liberated, otherwise he is not all-pervasive and in this sense similar to vyakta. I cannot answer the question of my students how could puruṣa (who is absolutely passive etc.) change itself so dramatically? And where does this concept occur in classical Sāṃkhya? Could you please help me with these answers? I am not a specialist in Sāṃkhya, we have this seminar just for fun, so I probably missed something in Sāṃkhya teaching on puruṣa. I promised to my students that I will ask this learned forum to get the right answers.

Many thanks
With best regards

Lubomír Ondračka
Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies
Faculty of Arts, Charles University
Nam. J. Palacha 2, Praha 1, 116 38
e-mail: ondracka at ff.cuni.cz

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list