Contribution of Vachaspati-Mishra to Samkhya System

by Sasikumar. B | 2017 | 35,637 words

This page relates ‘Preface’ of the research on the Sankhya [Samkhya] school of Indian philosophy with special reference to the contribution of Vachaspati-Mishra. The study includes concepts such as Epistemology (validity and worth of knowledge), Ontology (theory of being or reality), Psychology (science of behavior and mind), Phenomenology (the philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness) and Ethics (the removal of errors), all forming an essential part of Samkhya philosophy.

Sāṅkhya philosophy is the earliest among the various systems of Indian philosophy which contributed much to all other systems. Sāṅkhyakārikā of Īśvarakṛṣṇa is the oldest extant work in Sāṅkhya System. Vācaspati Miśra’s Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī is the oldest available commentary on Sāṅkhyakārikā. Vācaspati Miśra was a versatile scholar who wrote commentaries on some of the most authentic treatises in orthodox systems of Indian philosophy. There are some studies already done on the contribution of Vācaspati Miśra to Indian philosophy within this time. For example, a research work done by S.Ranganath bearing the title ‘Contribution of Vācaspati Miśra to Indian Philosophy’ published in 1999. There is another comparative study done by Dr.Preethi Sreevasthava on the title ‘Sāṅkhyayog mem Vācaspati Miśra evam Vijñanabhikṣu’. That work is published in the year 2008. There are some other minor works done on the same topic within this time. But a closer look into these works reveals that these were done in a general purview. Thus, it is vivid that there is no serious research work is done on the ‘Contribution of Vācaspati Miśra to Sāṅkhya System’, till date. That is the relevance of the present study.

The study is divided into five chapters. The first chapter forms an Introduction. In this chapter a general introduction to Sāṅkhya System is given. The brief account of the origin and development of Sāṅkhya System, a brief survey of Sāṅkhya literature, prominent works and authors, radical principles of the system etc. are dealt with.

Vācaspati Miśra’s life, date and works are dealt with in the second chapter. Vācaspati Miśra was a versatile genius. He belongs to 8th century C.E. He has authored around nine scholastic treatises which belong in commentaries and independent works. All these matters are well explained in this chapter.

The ‘Contribution of Vācaspati Miśra to Epistemological and Ontological Concepts in Sāṅkhya System’ is dealt with in the third chapter. For a rational understanding of his essential contribution to Sāṅkhya System, the major topics are classified under five heads as Epistemology, Ontology, Psychology, Phenomenology and Ethics. The validity and worth of knowledge is the main concern of Epistemology. The three main steps of the foundation on which Sāṅkhya holds strong are perception, inference and valid testimony. The dualism of Prakṛti and Puruṣa can also be explicated on the ontological perspective of the Sāṅkhya philosophy.

The ‘Contribution of Vācaspati Miśra to Psychological, Phenomenological and Ethical Concepts in Sāṅkhya System’ forms the content of chapter fourth. The creation, according to Sāṅkhya is of two stages viz., buddhisarga and bhautikasarga. These are included under psychology and physiology. The three varieties of the buddhi viz., viparyaya, aśakti and tuṣṭi are explained in phenomenology. While dealing with the ethics of Sāṅkhya System Vācaspati attempts to correlate Sāṅkhya meditation techniques with the Vedānta triad viz., śravaṇa, manana and nididhyāsana. The ethical acumen of the Sāṅkhya System is high as they discard indirectly the killing of animals, even in the name of the sacred purpose of sacrifice.

The fifth chapter comprises the researcher’s observations and conclusion of the study. By elaborating and establishing the doctrine of Sāṅkhya, Vācaspati suggestively presents the rival theories also. His explanation is always logical. In each and every topic his discussions are exemplified with suitable examples and they help to convey the deep thoughts of Sāṅkhya System. Vācaspati’s keenness of observation is vivid in the whole body of the text.

I undertook this research study under the supervision of Dr.S.Sureshkumar, Associate Professor, Department of Vedanta, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. It is my pleasure in expressing deep felt gratitude to him for his valuable guidance and ready help at every stage in the preparation of this thesis.

I also express my deep sense of gratitude to Dr.B.Chandrika, Dean, Professor and Head, Department of Vedanta, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady for her timely help and compassionate encouragements.

I am grateful to Dr.P.Chithambaran, my former guide, formerly professor and Head, Department of Vedanta, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady for his kind advice and scholarly encouragements.

Thanks are also due to the Teachers of the Department of Vedanta, for the encouragement and help they have provided throughout my research work.

My sincere thanks are due to the authorities of the Library, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, and the regional centres at Trivandrum and Panmana.

I am extremely thankful to the authorities of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady and to the staff of the University for providing me with all necessary facilities.

I convey my thanks to Sri.M.Prasannakumar, Karunagappally for his efforts and assistance in this thesis setting.

I express my deep sense of gratitude to my friends. I thank one and all for the noble services rendered to me.


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