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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

This compromise cannot be found in the Sa@mkhya karika


but this is a mere conjecture. There is no reason to suppose that the Sa@mkhya doctrine found in the sutras differs in any important way from the Sa@mkhya doctrine as found in the _Sa@mkhya karika_. The only point of importance is this, that the _Sa@mkhya sutras_ hold that when the Upani@sads spoke of one absolute pure intelligence they meant to speak of unity as involved in the class of intelligent puru@sas as distinct from the class of the gu@nas. As all puru@sas were of the nature of pure intelligence, they were spoken of in the Upani@sads as one, for they all form the category or class of pure intelligence, and hence may in some sense be regarded as one. This compromise cannot be found in the _Sa@mkhya karika_. This is, however, a case of omission and not of difference. Vijnana Bhik@su, the commentator of the _Sa@mkhya sutra_, was more inclined to theistic Sa@mkhya or Yoga than to atheistic Sa@mkhya. This is proved by his own remarks in his _Samkhyapravacanabha@sya, Yogavarttika_, and _Vijnanam@rtabhasya_ (an independent commentary on the Brahmasutras of Badarayana on theistic Sa@mkhya lines). Vijnana Bhiksu's own view could not properly be called a thorough Yoga view, for he agreed more with the views of the Sa@mkhya doctrine of the Pura@nas, where both the diverse puru@sas and the prak@rti are said to be merged in the end in Is'vara, by whose will the creative process again began in the prakrti at the end of each pralaya. He could not avoid the distinctively atheistic arguments
of the _Sa@mkhya sutras_, but he remarked that these were used only with a view to showing that the Sa@mkhya system gave such a rational explanation that even without the intervention of an Is'vara it could explain all facts. Vijnana Bhik@su in his interpretation of Sa@mkhya differed on many points from those of Vacaspati, and it is difficult to say who is right. Vijnana Bhik@su has this advantage that he has boldly tried to give interpretations on some difficult points on which Vacaspati remained silent. I refer principally to the nature of the conception of the gu@nas, which I believe is the most important thing in Sa@mkhya. Vijnana Bhik@su described the gu@nas as reals or super-subtle substances, but Vacaspati and Gau@dapada (the other commentator of the _Sa@mkhya karika_) remained silent on the point. There is nothing, however, in their interpretations which would militate against the interpretation of Vijnana Bhik@su, but yet while they were silent as to any definite explanations regarding the nature of the gu@nas, Bhik@su definitely


came forward with a very satisfactory and rational interpretation of their nature.

Since no definite explanation of the gu@nas is found in any other work before Bhik@su, it is quite probable that this matter may not have been definitely worked out before. Neither Caraka nor the _Mahabharata_ explains the nature of the gu@nas. But Bhik@su's interpretation suits exceedingly well all that is known of the manifestations and the workings of the gu@nas in all early documents. I have therefore accepted the interpretation of Bhik@su in giving my account of the nature of the gu@nas. The _Karika_ speaks of the gu@nas as being of the nature of pleasure, pain, and dullness (_sattva, rajas_ and _tamas_). It also describes sattva as being light and illuminating, rajas as of the nature of energy and causing motion, and tamas as heavy and obstructing. Vacaspati merely paraphrases this statement of the _Karika_ but does not enter into any further explanations. Bhik@su's interpretation fits in well with all that is known of the gu@nas, though it is quite possible that this view might not have been known before, and when the original Sa@mkhya doctrine was formulated there was a real vagueness as to the conception of the gu@nas.

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