Samkhya, aka: Sāṅkhya, Saṃkhyā, Sāṃkhya, Saṅkhyā, Sankhya, Shankhya, Saṃkhya; 17 Definition(s)


Samkhya means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Buddhism, Pali, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Ayurveda (science of life)

Saṃkhyā (संख्या, “enumeration”).—One of the ten Parādiguṇa, or, ‘10 pharmaceutical properties’.—It is a Sanskrit technical term from Āyurveda (Indian medicine) and used in literature such the Caraka-saṃhitā and the Suśruta-saṃhitā. According to Caraka, these ten properties (guṇa) are the means to success in therapeutic treatment. Saṃkhyā refers to the determining of an amount, eg: the number of symptoms, doṣas, medicines, doses.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany

Sankhya means number (numerical figure or digit). It is one of the most ancient and fundamental philosophy in India. In English language, Sankhya means counting. The essence of Sankhya is to access the amount of a particular thing. Even though, it is related to numerical but it also acknowledges observation, deduction and proof as a way of information and awareness. Every one has this Sankhya guna but there are very few people who are able to accurately interpret it.

(Source): Pitta Ayurveda: Samanya Guna

Samkhya-guna has been mentioned by Charaka as ganita, i.e. ‘counting’. Gangadhara has added that all other Samkhyas except one are nothing but abhyasa / gunadhikya of one (eka-samkhya).

(Source): Shodhganga: Ayurveda siddhanta evam darshana
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.


Saṃkhyā (संख्या).—In ancient India digits up to 19 were in vogue. Bhāskarācārya the great mathematician, has in his work, "Līlāvatī", given the following names to the nineteen digits. 1 Ekam 10 Daśam 100 Śatam 1000 Sahasram 10000 Ayutam 100000 Lakṣam 1000000 Prayutam 10000000 Koṭi 100000000 Arbudam 1000000000 Abjam 10000000000 Kharvam 10000000000000 Trikharvam 1000000000000 Mahāpadmam 1000000000000 Śaṅku 1000000000 Jaladhi 100000000000000 Antyam 1000000000000000 Madhyam 100000000000000000 Parārdham 1000000000000000000 Daśaparārdham.

(Source): Puranic Encyclopaedia

Sāṅkhya (साङ्ख्य).—(Sāmkhyamukhya)—Śiva.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 30. 220. 97. 175.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Vaisheshika (school of philosophy)

Saṃkhyā (संख्या, “number”) is one of the seventeen guṇas (‘qualities’), according to the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras. These guṇas are considered as a category of padārtha (“metaphysical correlate”). These padārthas represent everything that exists which can be cognized and named. Together with their subdivisions, they attempt to explain the nature of the universe and the existence of living beings.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Vaiśeṣika
Vaisheshika book cover
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Vaisheshika (वैशेषिक, vaiśeṣika) refers to a school of orthodox Hindu philosophy (astika), drawing its subject-matter from the Upanishads. Vaisheshika deals with subjects such as logic, epistemology, philosophy and expounds concepts similar to Buddhism in nature

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Sāṃkhyā (सांख्या).—The philosophic system of Sāṃkhyā, “enumerationism”, undergirds the theology of Śaiva Siddhānta: among the thirty-six categories, twenty-five, beginning with puruṣa, are derived from Sāṃkhyā, to which eleven that are particular to Śaiva revelation are added to complete the system.

(Source): McGill: The architectural theory of the Mānasāra (shaivism)
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

Saṅkhyā (सङ्ख्या).—Number.

(Source): Shodhganga: Vaiyākaraṇabhūṣaṇasāra: a critical study

1) Saṃkhyā (संख्या).—A numeral such as एक,द्वि (eka, dvi) etc. In Panini Astadhyayi, although the term is defined as applicable to the word बहु, गण (bahu, gaṇa) and words ending with the tad. affixes वतु (vatu) and डति (ḍati), such as तावत्, कति (tāvat, kati) and the like, still the term is applied to all numerals to which it is seen applied by the people; cf M. Bh. on P. I. 1.23 also Pari. Sek. Pari. 9;

2) Saṃkhyā.—Numerical order; cf. स्पर्शेष्वेव संख्या (sparśeṣveva saṃkhyā) V. Pr. I. 49.

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Sāṃkhya (सांख्य).—A rule or a topic concerning number; cf. यदि तर्हि कृत्स्नः पदार्थोभि-धीयते लैङ्गाः सांख्याश्च विधयो न सिध्यन्ति (yadi tarhi kṛtsnaḥ padārthobhi-dhīyate laiṅgāḥ sāṃkhyāśca vidhayo na sidhyanti), M. Bh. on P. II. 2 24 Vart. 8,9.

(Source): Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
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Vyakarana (व्याकरण, vyākaraṇa) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyakarana concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Sāmkhya (सांख्य): A school of philosophy emphasising a dualism between Purusha and Prakrti, propounded by sage Kapila.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

Sāṅkhya — The system of non-theistic philosophy attributed to the sage Kapila. It is called Sāṅkhya because it enumerates twenty five Tattvas or various categories of reality beginning with Prakṛti or Pradhāna — primordial matter; and Puruṣa or Self. The conscious Self Puruṣa is passive and Prakṛti Active. Puruṣa becomes entangled in samsara and its attendant sufferings and is born again and again. A correct knowledge of the 25 categories will enable one to overcome ignorance and suffering and achieve liberation from samsāra.

(Source): Red Zambala: On the Salvific Activities of God

Sāṅkhya (साङ्ख्य).—Analytical discrimination between spirit and matter and the path of devotional service as described by Lord Kapila, the son of Devahūti in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam; analytical understanding of the body and the soul. Sāṅkhya-yoga-the process of linking with the Supreme by intellectually tracing out the source of creation; An analysis of matter and spirit taught by sage Nirīśvara Kapila. One of the six systems of Vedic philosophy.

(Source): ISKCON Press: Glossary

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Saṃkhyā (संख्या, “enumeration”).—What is meant by ‘numerical determination or just number’ (saṃkhyā)? Enumeration of the divisions /types of an entity is called number.

According to Tattvārthasūtra 1.8, “the categories and their details are undefrstood in detail in terms of existence, number (enumeration) (saṃkhyā), place or abode, extent of space touched (pervasion), continuity /time, interval of time, thought-activity, and reciprocal comparison”.

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 1
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

Discover the meaning of samkhya or sankhya in the context of General definition from relevant books on Exotic India

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

saṅkhyā : (f.) enumeration; calculation; a number; definition.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

Marathi-English dictionary

śaṅkhyā (शंख्या).—m (śaṅkha) An illiterate lout. 2 A luckless or forlorn wight.

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saṅkhyā (संख्या).—f (S) Number. 2 A number or a numeral. saṅkhyā mōjaṇēṃ To count the number of Ex. saṅkhyā mōjitāṃ jāhalē kitī || tēhī tujapratīṃ sāṅgatōṃ ||.

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sāṅkhya (सांख्य).—n m (S) One of the six Shastras,--the Sankhya system of philosophy. 2 m One that follows, or that is studying, this Shastra.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

saṅkhyā (संख्या).—f Number. A numeral. saṅkhyā mōjaṇēṃ Count the number of.

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sāṅkhya (सांख्य).—n m The Sankhya system of philosophy.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Saṃkhya (संख्य).—War, battle, fight; एकमुक्त्वार्जुनः संख्ये रथोपस्थ उपाविशत् (ekamuktvārjunaḥ saṃkhye rathopastha upāviśat) Bg.1.47; संख्ये द्विषां वीररसं चकार (saṃkhye dviṣāṃ vīrarasaṃ cakāra) Vikr.1.68. 7; Ve.3.25; Śi.18.7; Māl.8.9.

Derivable forms: saṃkhyam (संख्यम्).

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Saṃkhyā (संख्या).—2 P.

1) To count, enumerate, calculate, sum up; तावन्त्येव च तत्त्वानि सांख्यैः संख्यायन्ते (tāvantyeva ca tattvāni sāṃkhyaiḥ saṃkhyāyante) Ś. B.

2) Ved. To appear along with, be connected with.

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Saṃkhyā (संख्या).—1 Enumeration, reckoning, calculation; संख्यामिवैषां भ्रमरश्चकार (saṃkhyāmivaiṣāṃ bhramaraścakāra) R.16.47.

2) A number.

3) A numeral.

4) Sum.

5) Reason, understanding, intellect; उदारसंख्यैः सचिवैरसंख्यैः (udārasaṃkhyaiḥ sacivairasaṃkhyaiḥ) Bu. Ch.1.14.

5) Deliberation, reflection, exposition; धर्मसंख्या महाराज व्यवहार इतीष्यते (dharmasaṃkhyā mahārāja vyavahāra itīṣyate) Mb.12.121. 9.

7) Manner.

6) War, battle; संख्यासमयविस्तीर्णमभि- जातोद्भवं बहु (saṃkhyāsamayavistīrṇamabhi- jātodbhavaṃ bahu) Mb.12.98.21.

9) Appellation, name; ततो द्वापरसंख्या सा युगस्य समजायत (tato dvāparasaṃkhyā sā yugasya samajāyata) Rām.7.74.22 (com. dvāpara- saṃkhyā dvāpara iti nāma | pṛṣodarāditvāt sādhuḥ |).

1) (In geom). A gnomon.

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Sāṃkhya (सांख्य).—a. [saṃkhyayā nirvṛttam aṇ]

1) Relating to number.

2) Calculating, enumerating.

3) Discriminative.

4) Deliberating, reasoning, a reasoner; त्वं गतिः सर्वसांख्यानां योगिनां त्वं परायणम् (tvaṃ gatiḥ sarvasāṃkhyānāṃ yogināṃ tvaṃ parāyaṇam) Mb.

-khyaḥ, -khyam Name of one of the six systems of Hindu philosophy, attributed to the sage Kapila; (this philosophy is so called because it 'enumerates' twentyfive Tattvas or true principles; and its chief object is to effect the final emancipation of the twenty-fifth Tattva, i.e. the Puruṣa or soul, from the bonds of this worldly existence-the fetters of phenomenal creation -by conveying a correct knowledge of the twenty-four other Tattvas and by properly discriminating the Soul from them. It regards the whole universe as a development of an inanimate principle called Prakṛti q. v, while the Puruṣa is altogether passive and simply a looker-on. It agrees with the Vedānta in being synthetical and so differs from the analytical Nyāya or Vaiśeṣika; but its great point of divergence from the Vedānta is that it maintains two principles which the Vedānta denies, and that it does not admit God as the creator and controller of the universe, which the Vedānta affirms); सांख्यमिव कपिला- धिष्ठितम् (sāṃkhyamiva kapilā- dhiṣṭhitam) K.

-rūyaḥ 1 A follower of the Sāṁkhya philosophy; ज्ञानयोगेन सांख्यानां कर्मयोगेण योगिनाम् (jñānayogena sāṃkhyānāṃ karmayogeṇa yoginām) Bg.3.3; 5.5.

2) An epithet of Śiva.

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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