The Matsya Purana (critical study)

by Kushal Kalita | 2018 | 74,766 words | ISBN-13: 9788171103058

This page relates ‘Yoga philosophy’ of the English study on the Matsya-purana: a Sanskrit text preserving ancient Indian traditions and legends written in over 14,000 metrical verses. In this study, the background and content of the Matsyapurana is outlined against the cultural history of ancient India in terms of religion, politics, geography and architectural aspects. It shows how the encyclopedic character causes the text to deal with almost all the aspects of human civilization.

Part 4 - The Yoga philosophy

The Yoga system is allied to Sāṃkhya system. The word yoga is used in different senses.

“The word Yoga occurs in the Ṛg-veda in various senses such as yoking or harnessing, achieving the unachieved, connection and the like.”[1]

The word is generally derived from the root yuj which means union (yujir yoge) or concentration (yuj samādhan).[2] In the Gītā, The word is used in both the senses.[3]

Patañjali is regarded as the founder of Yoga system. The Yogasūtra of Patañjali is the first work of this system. On this work Vyāsa wrote a commentary called Vyāsabhāṣya. Other teachers of Yoga system are Vācaspati Miśra, Bhojorāja, Vijñānabhikṣu who contributed to its development.

Chandradhar Sharma points out that,

“According to Patañjali, Yoga does not mean union but spiritual effort to attain perfection through the control of the body, senses and mind, and through right discrimination between Puruṣa and Prakṛti.”[4]

Thus the term yoga here denotes separation (viyoga) between Puruṣa and Prakṛti.[5] Patañjali defines Yoga as cittavṛttinirodhaḥ,[6] i.e., Yoga is the cessation of the modifications of citta or mind. Vyāsa has also described Yoga as samādhi (concentration).[7]

It has already been mentioned that Sāṃkhya and Yoga systems are allied systems. The Yoga system mostly accepts the metaphysics and epistemology of Sāṃkhya system. In the Gītā, these two, i.e., Sāṃkhya and Yoga are mentioned together.

As Biswas points out,

“For all practical purposes Sāṃkhya and Yoga may be treated as the theoretical and practical sides of the same system.”[8]

Like the Sāṃkhya, the Yoga also holds that Prakṛti, which consists of three guṇas is the ultimate cause of the material world. The world evolves from Prakṛti, it comes in contact with Puruṣa. The Yoga philosophy also accepts the twenty five principles of Sāṃkhya philosophy and describes the evolution of the world slightly different from Sāṃkhya philosophy. According to Yoga, from Prakṛti is produced mahat. Mahat develops in two ways. From mahat, on the one side, originates ahaṃkāra or asmitā and the eleven organs and on the other side, are produced five tanmātrās, from tanmātrās five mahābhūtas are produced.[9] However, in addition to these twenty five principles, the Yoga philosophy accepts another principle, which is Īśvara. Īśvara is a special kind of Puruṣa who is pure, eternal, transcendent, omniscient, omnipotent and independent.[10] According to Vācaspati Miśra, Īśvara is the prime cause of the evolution or the world. Īśvara is responsible for bringing about the contact of Puruṣa and Prakṛti and for removal of the barriers of Prakṛti in its way to evolution.[11]

Footnotes and references:


Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume I, p. 226


Śaṃkarabhāṣya on Gītā, 6.23


C Sharma, A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, p.169


Cf., S. Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, Volume II, p.337


Yogasūtra, 1.2




Mukta Biswas, Sāṃkhya-Yoga Epistemology, p.34


Ibid., p.40


Tattvavaiśāradī on Yogasūtra, 1.29


Ibid., 4.3

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