Sankhyan Ontology

Purusa and Prakrti stand at the apex of Creation arises from these two principles coming together. Purusa is bewitched by Prakrti and Prakrti is only too eager to oblige by displaying her charms. The 1st product of creation is Mahat. Mahat is the highest principle; it is the intellect or Buddhi. From Mahat, arises Ego (Ahamkara) and then the mind (Manas.) Subsequently the 5 sense organs (Jnanendriyas,) 5 organs of action (Karmendriyas,) 5 objects of the senses (Tanmatras) and 5 gross elements (Pancabhutas) are created. This is creation. In dissolution, the process is reversed. We have accounted for 23 Tattvas here. The other two are Purusa and Avyakta, together forming the 25 Tattvas. It is this enumeration that earned the appellation Sankhya for this philosophical system.
Sankhya Epistemology: Sankhya system allows for only 3 sources of valid knowledge – perception (Pratyaksa,) inference (Anumana) and veridical testimony (Shabda.) See the article by Dr. Chandrasekharan Raman on Pramanas in the Paramartha Tattvam – Dec. 2011 for details on Pramana.
In Sankhya, direct perception is the most important and fundamental source of all knowledge. It is veridical. The sense organs feed the mind which in turn creates a representation of the objects of perception. The mind feeds this representation to the intellect which converts the representation into knowledge of the object. The intellect feeds this knowledge to the ego which personalizes it and ultimately feeds it to the self – Saksi or Purusa to create conscious awareness of the sensed object. When senses cannot directly perceive due to their limitations, inference is needed such as in philosophical disputations. The very existence of Purusa is possible only through inference. Testimony (Vedas) does not appear to play an important role but it is used as a last resort when neither perception nor inference will do. It is not clear exactly where the Vedas are invoked. Perhaps, the ideas of Karma and transmigration are derived from the Vedas. Release (Kaivalya):

Like in Buddhism, the chief concern in Sankhya is human suffering. Although temporary relief from suffering may be had from sense pleasures, Vedic sacrifices, etc. permanent release is possible only when the soul detaches itself from Prakrti. Prakrti tempts Purusa causing bondage. When Purusa is no longer beguiled by Prakrti, it realizes that the Purusa (soul) is not attracted to it and releases its grip over the soul. This state of release is called Kaivalya or a state of isolation from Prakrti. However in Sankhya there is no merging with the One Purusa. They are fundamentally many. Impact of Sankhya on later Philosophical Systems:

The main Sankhyan contributions to Indian Philosophy appear to be the 25 Tattvas and the 3 Gunas. As a speculative system, that undoubtedly had a big impact on the use of reasoning, rather than dogma, to arrive at an understanding of the cosmos, nature and the individual. The Pramanas considered by Sankhya were later augmented by other systems; not necessarily all. Sankhya explicitly states that the existence of a creator God as being unproven. Sankhya also hints at primordial ignorance as a cause of bondage. Sankhya philosophy appears to be a work in progress as there are a number of loose ends that are not nicely tied up into a whole. This may be a tall order for any philosophy! Sankhya has thus left a mark on later philosophies.


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