Contribution of Vachaspati-Mishra to Samkhya System

by Sasikumar. B | 2017 | 35,637 words

This page relates ‘Epistemological and Ontological Concepts (Introduction)’ 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.

Chapter 3 - Epistemological and Ontological Concepts (Introduction)

[Full title: Contribution of Vācaspati Miśra to Epistemological and Ontological Concepts in Sāṅkhya System (Introduction)]

Sāṅkhya is undoubtedly one of the oldest Systems of Indian Philosophy. Sāṅkhya System occupies a prominent place in all the śāstras, since this is either supported or controverted by every philosophical System. Therefore, the importance of this śāstra is recognized by all the systems.

Śrī Śaṅkara says

“The doctrine, stands somewhat near to the Vedanta doctrine since, it admits the nondifference of cause and effect, and it, moreover, has been accepted by some of the authors of the dharmasūtras. For all these reasons we have taken special trouble to refute the Pradhāna doctrine.”[1]

So also in the Mahābhārata it is said:

“There is no knowledge like that of Sāṅkhya, no power like that of Yoga. You should have no doubt as to Sāṅkhya being the highest knowledge.”[2]

John Devis observes:

“The system of Kapila called the Sāṅkhya or Rationalistic, in its original form and its theoretic development by Patañjali, contains nearly all that India has produced in the department of pure philosophy.”[3]

Richard Garbe, an eminent critic of Sāṅkhya opines:

“In Kapila’s doctrine, for the first time in the history of the world, the complete independence and freedom of the human mind, in full confidence in its own powers, were exhibited. It is the most significant system of philosophy that India has been produced.”[4]

Yoga is intimately allied to Sāṅkhya. Patañjali is the traditional founder of the Yoga system. Yoga means spiritual action and Sāṅkhya means knowledge. Sāṅkhya is theory, Yoga is practice. For all practical purposes Sāṅkhya and Yoga may be treated as the theoretical and practical sides of the same system.

Footnotes and references:


sa ca kāryakāraṇānanyatvābhyupagamātpratyāsanno vedāntavādasya| devalaprabhṛtibhiścaściddharmasūtrakāraiḥ svagrantheṣvāśritaḥ, tena tatpratiṣedhe yantro'tīvakṛto nāṇvādikāraṇavādapratiṣedhe|
Brahmasūtraśāṅkarabhāṣya, I.4.28


Śantiparva, 316. 2


John Davis: Hindu philosophy, preface.


Richard Garbe: Philosophy of Ancient India, p.30

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