Contribution of Vachaspati-Mishra to Samkhya System

by Sasikumar. B | 2017 | 35,637 words

This page relates ‘Psychological, Phenomenological and Ethical 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 4 - Psychological, Phenomenological and Ethical Concepts (Introduction)

As discussed earlier the contribution of Vācaspati Miśra to Sāṅkhya System has been divided into five major divisions. With them the epistemological and ontological concepts have already been discussed. The Psychological, Phenomenological and Ethical concepts are the main content of the present chapter.

[1a. Psychology]

[1b. Evolution of Prakṛti (introduction)]

[1c. Pratyayasarga (Psychical evolution)]

[1d. Bhautikasarga (Physical evolution)]

[2a. Phenomenology]

[2b. Kleśa or Viparyaya (afflictions)]

[3. Ethics]


The order of evolution according to Sāṅkhya has two stages, pratyayasarga and bhautikasarga. Buddhi, ahaṃkāra, and the eleven organs appear in the pratyayasarga. Buddhi is the first among the evolutes of Mūlaprakṛti. Ahaṃkāra is the evolute of mahat. Ahaṃkāra is of three kinds according to the predominance of the three guṇas, sattva, rajas and tamas and they are called vaikṛta, taijasa and bhūtādi respectively. The mind has the function of determinate perception. The senses of cognition apprehend objects vaguely and indefinitely. So they have only the function of indeterminate awareness. Sūkṣmabhūtas, sūkṣhmaśarīra, sthūlabhūtas and sthūlaśarīra are included in the bhautikasarga. The five subtle elements emanate from the tāmasa ahaṃkāra and are called aviśeṣas or indeterminate. The basic fundamental elements are said to be in the subtle form. The five gross fundamental elements arise from the five subtle elements. The three kinds of specific objects are the subtle bodies, those born of parents and the gross elements. The gross elements are the last evolutes of Prakṛti. They are called viśeṣas.The forms of bhautikasarga are eight forms of celestial, five for animals, and only one for the human being.

In the Phenomenological level Vācaspati Miśra indicates five misconceptions of the intellectual creation viz. tamas, moha, mahāmoha, tāmiśra, and andhatāmiśra. They are equivalent to the five afflictions of the Patañjala Yoga System. In every system of thought the object of ethical training is to overcome evils and errors. Sāṅkhya also suggests the ethical practice as the means to attain the discriminative knowledge, on the way to Apavarga. Among the four dispositions viparyaya, aśakti, tuṣṭi and siddhi, the first three are considered as evils and errors because they are hindrances to Apavarga. The removal of these errors implies the ethics in this system. The ideas expressed in Sāṅkhyakārikā are more powerful and clear through Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī

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