Samkhya Principles of Reality

30th August 2019 // By Dhyan Praveshika Team // HomeArticles

Purusa (soul) and Prakriti (matter), are two main principles of the universe according to the Samkhya philosophy. Purusa is the observer, inactive, and cannot change; While Prakriti is matter, and subject to change. Prakriti has three Gunas - Sattva (lucidity), Rajas (activity), and Tamas (inertia), when the three gunas become unbalanced, the material world folds into manifestation.

The 25 Tattvas, which are the attributes of Prakriti, are known as principles of reality in the Samkhya philosophy. These attributes unfold out of Prakriti when the gunas are imbalanced and does not affect the Purusa, it still remains neutral and unchanged, making it an observer.

Prakriti has 25 Tattvas which are as follows:-
1 - Purusa - which is the Transcendental Self
2 - The Unmanifested - Prakriti, material world
3 - Buddi - Spiritual awareness, intellect
4 - Ahamkara - the ‘i-consciousness, responsible for the ego
5 - Manas - the mind
6-10 - Cognitive instruments, such as hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, and smelling.
11-15 - Action organs, such as speaking, grasping, moving, eliminating and procreating.
16-20 - Subtle elements such as sound, touch, sight, taste and odour.
21-25 - Gross elements such as fire, water, earth, wind, vibration energy.

Tattva number 3, the Buddhi is divided into bhavas, meaning states of being. The bhavas are either sattvic (illuminating) or Tamasic (dark); Dharma (virtue), Jnana (knowledge), Viraga (non-attachment) and Aishvarya (power) are sattvic bhavas; Adharma (nonvirtue), Ajnana (ignorance), Anaishvarya (weakness) and Raga (attachment) are tamasic bhavas. These states shape one's view of the world and the kind of actions one decides to execute.

In Samkhya, all the tattvas represent the totality of the universe and of each human being. Tattvas 6-25 form a group called panch-bhutas (a group of five elements). The world of these five elements is supposed to encompass the entire world of sense perception and is referred to as the objective or the phenomenal world.

Samkhya assumes two bases for human identity - Ahamkara and Purusa. As humans, we can either identify with the infinite of purusas as self or as an individual. In the former case the human is a truly free force and in the latter, the human is a slave of the body and of its experiential nature.

The suffering and pain of human reality, Samkhya recognizes three types of pain:-
1. Adhyatmik pain is caused by harming the self which causes discord in the physical body.
2. Adhibhautik pain is caused by other beings, such as social and political injustice.
3. Adhidaivik pain is caused by things beyond one's control.

Identification of the self with the higher consciousness promises freedom from all kinds of suffering.

Dhyan Praveshika Team