A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 1

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1922 | 212,082 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of samkhya and yoga literature: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the third part in the series called the “the kapila and the patanjala samkhya (yoga)”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 3 - Sāṃkhya and Yoga Literature

The main exposition of the system of Sāṃkhya and Yoga in this section has been based on the Sāṃkhya kārikā, the Sāṃkhya sūtras , and the Yoga sūtras of Patañjali with their commentaries and sub-commentaries. The Sāṃkhya kārikā (about 200 A.D.) was written by Iśvarakrṣṇa. The account of Sāṃkhya given by Caraka (78 A.D.) represents probably an earlier school and this has been treated separately. Vācaspati Miśra (ninth century A.D.) wrote a commentary on it known as Tattvakaumudī. But before him Gauḍapāda and Rājā wrote commentaries on the Sāṃkhya kārikā[1].

Narāyaṇatlrtha wrote his Candrikā on Gauda-pāda’s commentary. The Sāṃkhya sūtras which have been commented on by Vijñāna Bhikṣu (called Pravacanabhāṣya) of the sixteenth century seems to be a work of some unknown author after the ninth century. Aniruddha of the latter half of the fifteenth century was the first man to write a commentary on the Sāṃkhya sūtras. Vijñāna Bhikṣu wrote also another elementary work on Sāṃkhya known as Sāṃkhyasāra. Another short work of late origin is Tattvasamāsa (probably fourteenth century).

Two other works on Sāṃkhya, viz. Ṣimānanda’s Sāṃkhyatattvavivecana and Bhāvāgaṇeśa’s Sāṃkhyatattvayāthārthyadīpana (both later than Vijñānabhikṣu) of real philosophical value have also been freely consulted. Patañjali’s Yoga sūtra (not earlier than 147 B.C.) was commented on by Vyāsa (400 A.D.) and Vyāsa’s bhāṣya commented on by Vācaspati Miśra is called Tattvavaiśāradī, by Vijñāna Bhikṣu Yogavārttika, by Bhoja in the tenth century Bhojavṛtti, and by Nāgeśa (seventeenth century) Chāyāvyākhyā.

Amongst the modern works to which I owe an obligation I may mention the two treatises Mechanical, physical and chemical theories of the Ancient Hindus and the Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus by Dr B. N. Seal and my two works on Yoga Study of Patanjali published by the Calcutta University, and Yoga Philosophy in relation to other Indian Systems of Thought which is shortly to be published, and my Natural Philosophy of the Ancient Hindus , awaiting publication with the Calcutta University.

Guṇaratna mentions two other authoritative Sāṃkhya works, viz. Mātharabhāṣya and Ātreyatantra. Of these the second is probably the same as Caraka’s treatment of Sāṃkhya, for we know that the sage Atri is the speaker in Caraka’s work and for that it was called Ātreyasamhitā or Ātreyatantra. Nothing is known of the Māṭharabhāṣya[2].

Footnotes and references:


I suppose that Rājā’s commentary on the Kārikā was the same as Rājavārttika quoted by Vācaspati. Rājā’s commentary on the Kārikā has been referred to by Jayanta in his Nyāyamañjarī, p. 109. This book is probably now lost.


Readers unacquainted with Sāṃkhya-Yoga may omit the following three sections at the time of first reading.

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