This remarkable system of philosophy was founded by Kapila, and is the oldest in the world. It teaches that there are twenty-four elements, and that the twenty-fifth, if it can be so-called, is the Purusha or Atma (soul). The primary cause of the world is Prakriti, one of the twenty-four. Of itself, Prakriti is non-active, is, in fact, neither produced nor productive, but it becomes active by coming in contact with the Purusha.
The author holds that there are innumerable souls in the world, which fact constitutes one of its chief differences from the Vedanta. Sankhya says nothing of God, and on this account, some regard it as a system of scientific atheism: but that the system is theistic is proved by the fact that such a decided theist as Patanjali vindicates its character, and indeed supplements it by his own system, Yoga. Sankhya differs from Nyaya chiefly on the following two points: (1) According to Nyaya, Purusha is the agent, and he again is the legitimate party to enjoy the result of action (Karma): Sankhya, on the other hand, teaches that in its own nature Purusha has neither happiness nor misery. It has nothing to do with Karma and its results, but by coming into contact with _ Prakriti it takes upon itself the good or the bad results of Karma. This is our ignorance. Knowledge would make us shun good or bad results. We will then be happy. The second point is this: Sankhya teaches that there cannot be anything which has not existed before. We cannot make a body round unless roundness already exists in it. It may not be seen, but still there it is. Nyaya holds the opposite theory.
“Sankhya doctrine,” says Mrs. Manning, “is a very great effort at enravelling the deep mysteries of our existence. On the one side it exhibits the worthlessness of the perishable universe, including man with all his powers and qualities. On the other side it places the imperishable soul. The perishable portion of this division is fully and firmly dealt with, and has excited the admiration and interest of such men as Wilson, Ballantyne and others. But concerning the soul or the imperishable portion of his subject, one feels that the author is reserved, or that he has more thoughts than he chooses to express.”‘
The word Sankhya (sam = together and -khya reasoning) indicates that the system is based on synthetic reasoning.
Sir W. Hunter says: “The various theories of creation, arrangement and development were each elaborated, and the views of the modern physiologists at the present day are a return with new light to the evolution theory of Kapila, whose Sankhya system is the oldest of the Darsanas.”
1Manning’s Ancient and Medixval India, Vol. I, p, 153. 2Indian Gazetteer, “India,” p. 214
Without a knowledge of Yoga,’ one cannot reach the real depths of human nature, and can never fathom the hidden mysteries and Ithe realities of the heart, and know the nature of the soul and of God. True metaphysics is impossible without Yoga, and so is mental philosophy. Patanjali divides his work into four chapters. The first chapter, after discussing the nature of the soul and of Yoga, enumerates eight means or stages in the process by which Yoga can be accomplished. They are as under :-
After giving the above-mentioned sub-divisions
(1) Not doing injury to living beings.
(3) Avoidance of theft.
(5) Non-acceptance of gifts.
2. Niyama (Religious observance).
(1) External and internal purity.
(2) Cheerfulness or contentment.
(4) Chanting Vedic hymns.
(5) Devoted reliance on the Lord.
3. .:k sana (Postures).
There are 100 different postures of the body.
4. Pranftyawa (Regulation of the breath).
(3) Suspension (Khumbhaka).
PratfabUra (Restraint of the senses).
DhArna, (Steadying of the mind).
Sanandhi (Transportation of mind or unconsciousness).
“Al-Baruni translated Sankhya and Yoga into Arabic in the reign of Ithalif a Al-Mammum.”—Max Muller’s Science of Language, p. 165.
the author describes the nature of Samadhi and its two divisions. The second chapter describes in details the ways and means to perform Samadhi. The third chapter describes the powers developed in a Yogi, when he has reached the last stage of Yoga. Samadhi on different objects imparts different powers to the Yogi. Samadhi on the Moon gives one particular power, on the Jupiter another, and so on. The fourth chapter treats of Mokhsha. Patanjali declares that when a man becomes an adept at Samadhi, he gains a knowledge of the past and the future, a knowledge of the sounds of animals, of the thoughts of others, of the time of his own death, etc.
It would be difficult to conceive all this but for the unimpeachable testimony of European scholars and officers. In an instance recorded by Pro. Wilson’ a Brahmin appeared to sit in the air wholly unsupported and to remain so sitting on one occasion for twelve minutes and on another for forty minutes.
Colonel Olcott records an account of a yogi described to him by Dr. Rajendralal Mittra: “It is not known when this yogi went into Samadhi, but his body was found about 45 years ago quite lifeless. All manner of tortures were used to bring him back to consciousness, but all to no purpose. He was then touched by the hand of a female and he instantly came back to his senses.”2
‘Essays on the Religion of the Hindus, Vol. I, p. 209. See the description of the yogis given by Onisicritus, a follower of Alexander. Also the account of Calanus.
Col. Olcott’s lecture on “Theosophy, the scientific basis of religion,” p. 18.
in 1837. A fakeer who arrived at Lahore engaged to bury himself for any length of time shut up in a box, without either food or drink! Runjeet disbelieved his assertions, and determined to put them to proof; for this purpose the man was shut up in a wooden box, which was placed in a small apartment below the level of the ground. There was a folding door to the box which was secured by a lock and key. Surrounding this apartment there was the garden house, the door of which was likewise locked: and outside of this a high wall having the door built up with bricks and mud. Outside the whole there was placed a line of sentries, so that no one could approach the building. The strictest watch was kept for the space of forty days and forty nights, at the expiration of which period the Maharaja, attended by his grandson and several of’ his Sirdars, as well as General Ventura, Captain Wade, and myself, proceeded to disinter the fakeer.” After describing the condition of the fakeer after disinterment, in a few words, the author says: “When the fakeer was able to converse, the completion of the feat was announced by the discharge of guns and other demonstrations of joy; while a rich chain of gold was placed round his neck by Runjeet himself.
“Another gentleman of unimpeachable veracity describes the wonderful feat of a Lama who became his guest in September 1887 at Darjeeling. Af er describing his postures, etc., the eye-witness proceeds: ‘Suddenly he, still retaining his sitting posture, rose perpendicularly into air to the height of, I should say, two cubits (one yard), and then floated without a tremor or motion of a single muscle, like a cork in still water.’ The above are two out of numberless similar cases. In India not only these things but feats of a far more extraordinary nature are so common that they fail to evoke surprise at all.”‘
Fryer was quite astonished to see yogis who fixed their eyes towards the sun without losing their sight.
The Yoga philosophy is peculiar to the Hindus, and no trace of it is found in any other nation, ancient or modern. It was the fruit of the highest intellectual and spiritual development. The existence of this system is another proof of the intellectual superiority of the ancient Hindus over all other peoples.