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Bhagavad Gita Does Not Promote Samkhya Yoga | Sankhya Yoga in Bhagavad Gita

Do you read Bhagavad Gita?

Most readers of the Bhagavad Gita somehow assume that wherever the word “Samkhya” occurs in the Gita, it stands for the Samkhya System of philosophy as founded by Maharshi Kapila. However this does not appear to be a reasonable view. In three consecutive verses (Chapter 13, Verses 19-21) the Gita uses the words “Purusha” and “Prakriti” in tandem, which also happen to be the central theme “words” of the Samkhya philosophy as established by Sage Kapila. Thus without getting into the nitty gritty of the terms, people conclude that the Gita upholds the doctrine as taught by Sage Kapila. Parallel to the word “Samkhya”, the word “Yoga” also appears frequently in the Gita and subconsciously the general population believe that the word Yoga is related to the study of the Ashtanga Yoga system as established by Maharshi Patanjalis.

At the beginning of Chapter 5, and at many other places the words “Sankhya” and “Yoga” have been used together. Thus among the common folk, there is this fundamental assumption that “Sankhya Yoga” somehow represents the philosophical Yoga systems as established by the two sages Kapila and Patanjalis respectively. If one were to apply common sense or were to deliberate with reason, this view appears to be far from being true. One may consider the following statements to do a reality check on the words “Samkhya Yoga” as is used in the Gita by the Supreme Lord.

(1) The Samkhya system is essentially an atheistic system that refuses to recognize God as conceived and promoted by the Gita.

(2) Although the word “Prakriti” occurs at several places in the Gita, there is no meeting point of the word “Prakriti” as used in the Samkhya system of philosophy and the word “Prakriti” as it occurs in the Gita. According to sage Kapila, “Prakriti” denotes a state of equilibrium among the three Gunas namely Satva, Rajas and Tamas. But the word “Prakriti” of the Gita, is the very cause of the three Gunas. Prakriti here represents the primeval deity from which the three Gunas proceed.

(3) The Samkhya philosophy recognizes Prakriti as without beginning and essentially eternal whereas the Prakriti according to the Gita, does hold it to be beginningless but definitely not eternal (Chapter 13, Verse 19)

(4) Similarly there is a great difference between the “Purusha” as conceived by the Gita and the “Purusha” of the Samkhya philosophy. The expressions of Purusha can have millions of individual centers and hence can exist as many manifestations, in accordance with the Samkhya philosophy. But the Gita talks about only One omniscient, omnipresent Purusha (Chapter 13, Verse 22, 30; Chapter 18, Verse 20)

(5) The conception of Mukti in the Gita, widely differs from the Mukti as professed by the Samkhya System. In the Samkhya system, Mukti simply means cessation of sorrow. However in the Mukti of the Gita, there is not only cessation of sorrow; in addition to this, there is also realization of God, the very body of Supreme Bliss (Chapter 6, Verses21, 22). How can Samkhya philosophy profess about God, it being an atheistic school of thought?

(6) Now in the Yoga system of sage Patanjalis, Yoga actually means the cessation of the functions of the mind. In the Yoga of the Gita, it actually stands for Karma, Jnana and Bhakti with its final culmination consummating in God-realization. The Yoga system of Patanjalis simply refers to “Grace” of God, but only deals with the technical aspects of mind control and cessation of mental activities. The scope of Yoga in the Gita far exceeds the reach of Patanjalis’ Yoga system. There can be no comparison here whatsoever.

The scope of Gita is the entire Vedas, Vedanta and the very basis of Vedic thought. Samkhya Yoga definitely does not indicate “Samkhya” or “Yoga” attributed to the two great rishis Kapila and Patanjalis. The words used in the context of Gita are deep and profound and although it reflects aspects of certain small areas of consciousness as covered in the Samkhya and Yoga systems, its profundity is of much greater scope and far-reaching. The Yoga of the Gita is intended towards purely theistic intentions, although the journey apparently is from non-believing to development of staunch and immaculate faith in the Supreme Being. No branch of the old Vedic Scientific study can be compared to the magnanimity of the Bhagavad Gita. If the study of the six philosophies as propounded by the enlightened sages of Vedic India is compared to the raw materials for constructing a bridge such as bricks, mortar, metallic frames etc, the Bhagavad Gita is like the finished monument of the bridge. The raw materials are very useful and primary to the construction of the Bridge, yet the Bridge has nothing in common with the raw materials, from the point of view of the passer-by who uses the bridge to get across to the other side.

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