Vijnanabhiksu occupies a place of honour in the arena of Indian philosophy. His contribution to Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta, specially his unique efforts for synthesizing these three systems can never be underestimated. Besides, the detailed commentaries on the Samkhyasutras and the Yogabhasya as also the Brahmasutras [available to us] he has presented Samkhya and Yoga in the summary from in the Samkhyasara and the Yogasara Samgraha, respectively.
The Samkhyasara is small in size but deep in import. It is very important for the beginners as also the advanced scholars of Samkhkya as it contains a thorough information about Samkhya in measured words. The highest significance of this work lies in its explanation of the Samkhya concept of soul which is now where else presented in such an exhaustive form.
The present volume contains the text of the Samkhyasara along with its English translation and explanatory notes. The introduction brings out the contribution of Vijnanabhiksu, especially to the Samkhya concept of soul.
Samkhya is one of the oldest systems of Indian philosophy. It proposed a rational and realistic approach to the problem of reality. Thus, it has served a background for other systematists to try new lines of thought in the formulation of their own philosophy. The Samkhya system had found a place of honour in ancient Indian literature too. The Mahabharata attached the supreme importance to Samkhya as a system of philosoph. It remarks there is no knowledge like that of Samkhya. Even Sankaracarya the chief critic of Samkhya, describes it as the chief opponent [pradhanamalla], which suggests that the Samkhya is esteemed as occupying the highest place in all the systems criticised by him.
The term Samkhya is derived from the word Samkhkya which in turn is derived from sam+khya. The word Samkhya denotes number; philosophical investigation or the knowledge arised from such a philosophical investigation. Consequently, the term Samkhya comes to mean a system which analyses the facts of experience by means of enumeration of categories or a system dealing with the consideration of twenty five categories, or, the knowledge of pure soul as disctinct from the Prakrti, Gunaratna, however, thinks that the term Samkhya is read as Samkhya and is called so, because it is founded by Samkha.
It become the full-fledged system before the other systems, yet we seldom come across some ancient authentic work which could have the original form. Up to the Samkhyakarika of Isvarkrsna, we know only some names of Samkhya teachers along with a scattered reference to their theories. We can postulate the beginning of the Samkhya record in the Upanisads and the earlier or pre-classical Samkhya in the Mahabharata and its contemporary literature. After Isvarakrsna and before Vacaspati Misra, there was a big gap in literary continuity. We have only the Yuktidipika and a few other commentaries on the Samkhyakarika. There is again a gap of centuries till come to Aniruddha and Vijnanabhiksu. Thus the latter presents a landmark in the history of Samkhya philosophy. We never come across any powerful author of Samkhya after Vijnanabhiksu.
The literature available is very scanty. The earliest systematic record of Samkhya is found in the Samkhyakarika. A large number of commentaries on it suggest the importance of this t ext. there are other two important works, viz., Tattvasamasasutra and the Samkhyasutra. The latter is commented upon by Aniruddha and Vijnanabhiksu. Vijnanabhiksu, however, could not incorporate all his ideas in the above commentary and gives theessentials of the Samkhya doctrines in his Samkhyasara. He lived in the latter half of the 16th century and presents the latest form of Samkhya doctrines available to us. His writings show his erudition as also a wide range of knowledge. His knowledge, however, never makes his writings =clumsy or difficult to understand. He presents the facts in a direct way, simple language and small sentences. He must have been an aspirant of a high rak as he remarks that his findings are based upon his experience of truth. He was not a believer in dogmatism and was always trying to reconcile with the Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta. At the most of the places,he differs from Sankaracarya’s interpretation of the Vedanta Sutras and severely criticizes him.
Vijnanabhiksu is believed tohave written Tivaragitabhaasya, Upadearatnamala, Brihmadarsa and a commentary called Aloka on the following Upanisads: Kathavalli, Kaivalya,Maitreyi,Manudkya, Mundaka, Prasna, Taittiriya and Svetasvata. The latter set of his works are yet unpublished.
The Samkhyasara is a work of matured mind. It expounds the complicated problems in a lucid style and brevity. The saraprabha [commentary by Sri Kalipada Tarkacarya is utilised here specially for drafting notes. In this text, his chief aim is to expound the concept of self, as he believes, it is not sufficiently explained in other Samkhya texts, specially the Samkhyakarika. The work is being divided into two parts: Purvardha and Uttarardha or Earlier half and latter half.
Vijnanabhiksu’s chief contribution lies in interpreting the Samkhya on the line of te Upanisads, and toalleviate thecontradiction of the Samkhya withtheUpanisadic Sruti. Vijnanabhiksu’s zeal forreconciliation of Samkhya with the Upanisas is more conspicuous in his interpretation of thenature of self. The early Samkhya texts deduce thenature of self on the basis of its contrast from the manifest objects and self on the basis of its contrast from the manifest objects and the Prakrti. It is found that like Prakrti, the Purusa is without cause, eternal omnipresent, immobile, non-component, non-merging, impartite and independent. This differentiates the Purusa from themanifest objects. However, it is further deduced thatthePurusa is witness, isolated,indifferent, spectator and non-agent.. Vijnanabhiksu also does not deviate from this general trend but his approach is different and unique. He does not solely relyi upon the inference and descry es the nature of the atman and Brahman.
Upanisads describe the Brahman as real, intelligent and infinite or joy to mark out his essential nature as existence [sat], intelligence [cit] and joy [Ananda] for which Vijnanabhiksu interprets them in the framework of Samkhya. Sat, as such, implies that the Purusa is the only ultimately existing reality while everything else is opposite. Purusa. He is the example of considering subtle element of water as the cause of the earth as the latter rests in the former. Vijnanabhiksu takes the Purusa as a lo cus of thePrakrti in the sense of physical locus. Such a surmise, however, is not corroborated by any other Samkhya text. The Samkhyas explain the concept of adhisthana as a controller through its mere presence. Had both of them be eternal and all-pervasive, no p upose is being survived by considering one as the parasite of the other.
**Book's Contents and Sample Pages**
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