Contribution of Vachaspati-Mishra to Samkhya System

by Sasikumar. B | 2017 | 35,637 words

This page relates ‘Klesha or Viparyaya (afflictions) in Sankhya’ 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 4.2b - Kleśa or Viparyaya (afflictions) in Sāṅkhya

Kleśas or viparyayas are five in varieties. They are called:

  1. tamas (ignorance),
  2. moha (delusion),
  3. mahāmoha (extreme delusion),
  4. tāmiśra (gloom) and
  5. antatāmiśra (blind gloom).

The sub-divisions of the major forms of viparyayas are about sixty-two. It is divided as the eight forms of tamas, eight forms of moha, ten of mahāmoha, eighteen form of tāmiśra, and another eighteen for antatāmiśra. Vācaspati Miśra identifies the five kinds of misconception are the same as the five afflictions i.e., avidyā, asmitā, rāga, dveṣa and abhiniveśa which are enumerated in the Yogasūtra.[1] Self-centeredness and the other attributes share the characteristics of the main quality that is viparyaya because they are born from the viparyaya. It may be so that after something has become an error, then it might be that the quality of egotism and the other qualities have arisen. This might have led the famous scholar Vārṣagaṇya to say that “Ignorance is five-pointed”.[2]

Tamas or Avidyā

In Sāṅkhyakārikā tamas is of eight kinds. The variety comes from identifying the self with one or other of the principles like intellect, individuation, the mind and the five subtle elements.[3] Vācaspati Miśra points out that the tamas or ignorance, there are eight forms which has the idea of Puruṣa in connection with Prakṛti, buddhi, ahaṃkāra and the Pañcatanmātras.[4] The eight forms are not pertaining to Puruṣa. Tamas is not identical with the non-discrimination which is the cause of creation, because prior to the creation there exists non-discrimination which is the cause of saṃyoga between Puruṣa and Prakṛti. Tamas is one of the dispositions of buddhi, which is a product of Prakṛti.

Another form of tamas is the recognition of purity in impure things. For example, the body is impure, but one thinks that it is beautiful and very pure of merit or puṇya. The third kind of tamas is the recognition of pleasure in pain. In Sāṅkhya and Yoga, all the experiences are pain for one who possesses the discriminative knowledge. The fourth kind of avidyā is the recognition of the self in the not-self. This is taking the body for the Puruṣa.[5]

In Yogatattvavaiśāradī Vācaspati Miśra speaks of avidyā as a condition of mistaken identity.[6] The transient or the fleeting is regarded as eternal, the impure or the compounded is regarded as pure and that which is unreal is regarded as real. In the course of time, Man builds up an acquired nature. This is the product of mind’s reactions and resistances.

Moha or Asmitā

Vācaspati Miśra explains that moha is the identity of blending together of the power of consciousness with the power of cognition.[7] This is the identification of the Puruṣa with matter, or that of the reality Puruṣa, with the body. This kind of moha arouses the false notion that the very great achievements in the world and in heaven through dharma, etc. are the ultimate aim of life. Asmitā is of eight kinds characterized by love of eight attainments such as aṇimā, laghimā, garimā, mahimā, prāpti, prākāmyā, vaśitvā, kāmāvasāyitā.[8] The gods in heaven have the powers of aṇima, etc, and these attainments are also the mahāsiddhis of the Yogins.

Here one should remember that Sāṅkhya rejects dharma, vairāgya and aiśvarya also, because they are hindrances to attain Apavarga. Jñāna alone is the aid for it.[9] One gets even the position of gods and the eight attainments, aṇima etc. through dharma, vairāgya and aiśvarya. Vācaspati Miśra says that they are only the sāttvika bhāva of buddhi.

In Yogatattvavaiśāradī , Vācaspati Miśra explains asmitā as the conception of identity between dṛkśakti and darśanaśakti i.e., the seer and the seeing.[10] In other words the Sanskrit words are used in the sense of perceiver and the instrument of perception respectively. The act of perception is, indeed, the act of interpretation by the mind. When the perceiver is identified with the instrument of perception then what comes into being is asmitā. Truly speaking asmitā is nothing else but man’s identification with his mind.

Mahāmoha or Rāga

This is said to be the attachment to the objects of senses.[11] The attribute rāga is said to have tenfold powers. The rāga is referred to as attachment to the substances of senses like sound, odour, etc., which forms the earthly as well heavenly planes and has five forms each. Thus the rāga is said to be tenfold.

Vācaspati Miśra explicates mahāmoha in ten kinds, five divyā and five adivyā.[12] The enjoyment of a person can be divided into two, the human and the divine. The enjoyment of the worldly objects through the five senses results in the five human varieties of mahāmoha, and that of the divine object results in the five divine kinds of mahāmoha. These together constitute the ten varieties of rāga. Rāga is said to be the cause of saṃsāra.

In Yoga also this is defined as the attraction towards any person or object when any kind of pleasure is derived from that person or object.[13] The experiences of pleasure through the sense organs bring attraction towards the object of experience. Rāga stands for deep desire for happiness and its means. This is a desire which is preceded by the memory of happiness. This is also called mahāmoha in Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī

Tāmiśra or Dveṣa

Rāga naturally leads totāmiśra which is also called dveṣa. Tāmiśrais said to have an eighteen-fold forms.[14] The eighteen-fold forms are the ten objects pertaining to sense, sound, etc. and the eight attainments like aṇimā, laghimā etc. The quality of the objects of sense is suppressed and the path which leads to the accomplishment of the powers is obstructed by those sense objects.

In Yoga, dveṣa is the repulsion which accompanies pain.[15] Dveṣa, on the other hand, is the desire to relinquish sorrow and its means. This is preceded by the memory of sorrow. Rāga and dveṣa are the expressions of the pleasure principle which is at the root of man’s entire process of psychological becoming. To avoid pain is also a part of the seeking of pleasure. In rāga and dveṣa one seeks pleasure, whether positively or negatively. Attachment is the positive search for pleasure, while a version is negative seeking of pleasure, that is, by avoiding pain.

Andhatāmiśra or Abhiniveśa

Andhatāmiśra is also eighteen folds and it relates to the same objects as tāmiśra. According to Vācaspati Miśra the eighteen forms of abhiniveśa which is also meant clinging are the eight attainments aṇimā, laghimā etc. and the ten forms of the sense objects divyā and adivyā. Here the eight attainments aṇima, laghimā etc. and the objects are always in the fear of the demons or Rākṣasas. This fear is named as abhiniveśa.[16]

In Yoga abhiniveśa is the deep rooted experience of the fear of death.[17] The kleśa which is reduced to their root level is eradicated by dhyānayoga which is called as prasaṅkhyāna. The accumulation of karma is rooted in kleśas. The result of this karma is jāti, āyus, and bhoga (birth, life and experience). Patañjali uses the word ‘svarasavāhi’ which means something that is sustained by its own force or something that is automatic. This urge to live or a desire for continuity is so all pervading that it dominates even those who are learning. So abhiniveśa is an effort to put the dynamic into a framework of the static; it is an effort to impart a quality of continuity to that which is discontinuous.

Aśakti or Infirmity

The second subjective evolution is the aśakti. Vācaspati Miśra explains the twenty-eight forms of aśakti in 49th Kārikā. The grievances of the eleven-organs along with the seventeen forms of buddhi are declared to make the twenty-eight fold forms of disability. The injuries of the buddhi are seventeen in number resulting from the failure of nine complacencies and the eight-attainments. The injuries caused to the organs are the hearing disability, dumbness, blindness, disability of the tongue, the lack of feeling, of the olfactory nerves, the paralysis of the intestines, the inability to move hands, lameness, stupidity, impotency etc. is the eleven forms mentioned earlier.[18] These inabilities indirectly affect the intellect. But the other seventeen inabilities are directly affecting the intellect. They are called atuṣṭis and asiddhis.[19]

The nine atuṣṭis are connected with Prakṛti, upādāna, kāla, and bhāgya which are internal and to the five objects of sense. Atuṣṭis arise as one thinks that Prakṛti, upādāna, etc. are not able to bring about Apavarga. The abstinence from the five objects of the senses is due to the perception of defects in the process of sense-organs and their-sensesenjoyments. Inability to acquire the absence of attachments to objects of sense organs is the cause of the five varieties of external atuṣṭis.

Tuṣṭi or Contentment

The tuṣṭis are of two kinds internal and external. There are four kinds of contentment arising from within ourselves. These are called internal contentments. They are named prakṛti, upādāna, kāla and bhāgya.[20] The external contentment’s are five in number which are pertaining to the five objects of the senses. Thus altogether there are nine contentments.

Vācaspati Miśra names the internal tusṭis as: ambha, salila, ogha and vṛṣṭi respectively, and the external ones as pāra, supāra, Pārāpāra, anuttamāmbha and uttamāmbha.[21]


The Contentment is known as ambha which involves the sense of fulfillment when the aspirant comes to know that the discriminative wisdom is in reality the amendment of the Prakṛti. This happens in everyone’s life, there is no need to take efforts like meditation, etc.


The author says that wisdom cannot be attained through the natural or ordinary course of nature. One must renounce everything and also has to discard the practice of meditation and this kind of Contentment is called salila.


The next type of contentment is the ogha which says that only by renunciation one cannot achieve emancipation. Only at the specific time will the renunciation gives out the result.


The next form of contentment vṛṣṭi says that discriminative wisdom and luck is needed for emancipation.

The four kinds of internal contentment are due to the intellectual indolence manifested in four forms. One thinks that Prakṛti is sure to bring about Apavarga by her own efforts and also does not try further to acquire the discriminative knowledge.[22] Thus there are people who think that upādāna or vairāgya, kāla and bhāgya are enough to bring about Apavarga.

The five external forms of Contentment are which results from the abstinence of the sense organs. These are known as external as they assume the subsistence of the Puruṣa without knowing the essence of it and they are appertained to what that is not Puruṣa. To be content one has to be detached from everything. This abstinence is fivefold.


The pāra is the contentment which results from being not attached to those objects of senses which are troublesome.


When one acquires wealth, it causes great concern and he discards the amassing of wealth. This concern is called supāra.


The amassed wealth gives rise to the fear of being spent, so the person abstains from amassing wealth. This is the pārāpāra.


The attachment to sense organs increases pleasure and also the seeds of desires sprout up. When these desires remain unfulfilled the person discards the desire. This form of contentment is called anuttamāmbha.


The animals killed for enjoyment and once the cruelty behind this enjoyment knows one abstains from it and this leads to the fifth form of contentment known as the uttamāmbha.

These are the four kinds of internal tuṣṭis and five kinds of external tuṣṭis which are explained by Vācaspati Miśra.[23]

In short, this abstinence is caused by five reasons. They are the pain of acquiring wealth, that of keeping it safe, the fear of the wealth being spent up, the non-fulfillment of the increasing desire for pleasure due to the continuous enjoyment and the notion that there can be no enjoyment of a thing without killing the animals.

The siddhi has been classified as having eight forms. The most important among the forms of siddhi is the suppression of pain which is said to be threefold. The other forms like the reasoning, oral instruction, study acquisition of friends and purity are the means to attain this suppression of pain. These are also well explained underontology.

The causes of kleśas

After the explanation of kleśas their causes are discussed. The Puruṣa which is conscious is said to undergo pain. The cause of which is decomposition and demise. This happens because there is no discriminatory knowledge about the Puruṣa and body. All the things in the nature are subjected to pain. The body, which is one among the physical things, is attracted to different forms of pleasure. In spite of these pleasures there is the pain of decay and death. This pain combined with fear is common to all living beings. Death is the one which causes both pain and fear. [24] The Sāṅkhya says that the pleasures and pain are the material things and it is also the properties of the buddhi. Puruṣa is connected with the buddhi and its adjuncts and so the Puruṣa is said to be connected with pleasure and pain. The Puruṣa which cognizes its non difference from the body and it misunderstands the ebb and flow of the body as its own.

Footnotes and references:


Jayamaṅgalā on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


Gauḍapādabhāṣya on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


"tasmānnānumānātpramāṇāntaramarthāpattiriti siddham|" Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


Anima Sen Gupta: Clasical Sāṃkhya, A Critical Study, p.57


evamabhāvopi pratyakṣameva| na hi bhūtalasya pariṇāmaviśeṣāt kaivalyalakṣaṇādanyo ghaṭābhāvo nāma|
Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


Clasical Sāṃkhya A critical Study, P.59


Jayamaṅgalā on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


Māṭharavṛtti on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


Gauḍapāda bhāṣya on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


sambhavastu, yathā-khāryāṃ droṇāḍhakaprasthādyavagamaḥ| sa cānumānameva| khārītvaṃ hi droṇādyavinābhūtaṃ pratītaṃ khāryāṃ droṇādisatvamavagamayati||
Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


Jayamaṅgalā and Māṭharavṛtti on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


Gauḍapāda bhāṣya on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


yaccānirdiṣṭapravaktṛkaṃ pravādapāramparyamātraṃ’ iti hocurvṛddhāḥ,-ityaitihyam, yathā’ iha vaṭe yakṣaḥ prativasati’ iti, na tat pramāṇāntaram, anirdiṣṭapravaktṛkatvena sāṃśayikatvāt| āptavaktṛkatvaniścaye tvāgama eva| ityupapannam "trividhampramāṇam" iti||
Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


Māṭharavṛtti on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


Gauḍapāda bhāṣya on Sāṅkhyakārikā 5


Indian Philosophy of Religion, p.198


tatra kā prakṛtirityuktam "mūlaprakṛtiravikṛtiḥ" iti| prakarotīti prakṛtiḥ pradhānam, satvarajastamasāṃ sāmyāvasthā, sā avikṛtiḥ, prakṛtirevetyarthaḥ| kuta ityuktam-"mūleti" mūlañcāsau prakṛtiśceti mūlaprakṛtiḥ| viśvasya kāryasaṃghātasya sā mūlam,na tvasyā mūlāntaramasti, anavasthāprasaṅgāt| na cānavasthāyāṃ pramāṇamastīti bhāvaḥ|
Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī 3


Contribution of Vācaspati Miśra to Indian Philosophy, p.147


Sāṅkhyakārikā 3 and also Ibid, p.148


J.N. Sinha: Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, p.11


Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī on Sāṅkhyakārikā 14


The Sāṃkhya-Tattva-Kaumudī (trans.), p.70


Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī on Sāṅkhyakārikā 14


kāraṇe sat kāryamiti sthitam| tathā ca yathā kūrmaśarīre santyevāṅgāni niḥsaranti vibhajyante - ’idaṃ kūrmaśarīraṃ, etānyetasyāṅgāni- ’ iti; evaṃ niviśamānāni tasmin avyaktībhavanti|
Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī on Sāṅkhyakārikā 15

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: