Samkhya Philosophy | Wisdom of Ayurveda | Indian Philosophy | Basis Ayurveda


. As the foundation of
both Yoga and Ayurveda, Samkhya
Philosophy is one of the most notable of the six orthodox schools. It explains
how a Universal Spirit evolved into the material reality we see around us, and
offers an explanation why Spirit requires the existence of Matter in the form
of a basic dualism. Though it has virtually ceased to be a doctrine of faith in
its own right, the explanation it provides of the creation of the physical
world has formed the basis of other philosophical systems, and remains a strong
presence in Shaivite and Tantric philosophy.

Samkhya – The Indian Philosophy of Dualism.

Samkhya establishes a basic dualism between Consciousness or Self(Purusa) and Matter (Prakriti). Prakriti might
be likened to the creative power of Maya
of the Vedanta school ? it manifests
a material world in order that pure Consciousness may have something to
experience or witness. As in Vedanta, the Knower requires a Known in order to
realize itself, and it is often said that there is an inherent need of Soul to
rediscover its true identity. This, in many spiritual texts, is the reason for
the formation of body and sense organs, so that the Soul may fulfill its desire
to be the Experiencer.

Prakriti, the creative power of the universe and first cause of creation, evolves
by the vehicle of the three gunas, Sattva(light, translucent matter), Rajas (the catalyst of creation) and Tamas(heavy, obscuring matter). The
products of evolution on the Sattva path
include the subtler objects of mind and sense organs, and the products on the
path of Tamas lead to the five gross
elements: ether, air, fire, water and
earth. The relevance to Indian
spiritual practice is clear; Hatha Yoga is concerned with working with the three
gunas to achieve a Realization of
Consciousness; Tantric practices work with the five elements on their subtle
and esoteric levels; and Ayurveda works with the five elements on their
grossest level, in the form of the three Ayurvedic doshas. Though Samkhya
philosophy may have lost its status as a doctrine or religion in its own right,
it remains absolutely fundamental to the spiritual and health practices that
form the highest achievements of the Vedic tradition.

Samkhya Philosophy ? The Basis of Ayurveda.

The Tamasice volutes of Prakriti form the gross elements of ether, air, fire, water and
earth ? but are also present in the subtler objects of the mind ? the sense
organs. All manifestations in material reality include matter drawn from both Sattvaand Tamas,therefore the five elements are always present in their
grossest forms as well as in subtle forms with a higher predominance of Sattva:

Ether/space element = sense of

Air element = sense of touch

Fire element = sense of sight

Water element = sense of taste

Earth element = sense of smell

In working with the three doshas;
, air and ether; Pitta, fire
and water; and Kapha, water and
earth, Ayurveda addresses the evolutes of Prakriti in both their subtle and gross
forms. This is the reason that it offers a holistic approach to health, without
distinguishing between ?mental? and ?physical? aspects.

Additionally, Ayurveda stays true to Samkhya?s
Theory of Causation, Karykaranavada, which
states that the effect is always inherent in the cause. A sound, materialist
doctrine perfectly acceptable to materialist science, this is taken very
literally in the practice of Ayurveda. For example, bitter food will be
prescribed to promote Pitta in the
body, as Pitta too has the quality of
bitterness. This is no minor example, as the Ayurvedic approach to diet is
central to its practice, and recommendations made largely on the basis of

The Legacy ofSamkhya Philosophy.

Though Samkhya failed to
survive as a doctrine in its own right, the success of the systems it has
produced prove that it was the product of incredible intuition about the nature
of Reality. It remains the best explanation of how Matter evolved from Spirit,
despite the fact that later theological systems expand the idea of Spirit to
encompass all matter, without duality. As the mother of the highest spiritual
practices known to man, there is truth to be found in Samkhya, and its method of approaching reality has given us the
incredible spiritual sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda.

For more on the relationship of Yoga, Ayurveda
and Samkhya Philosophyclick

Yoga?s resident Philosophy Teacher Emily
scheduled retreats and tailor-made courses at The Ayurvedic Healing Village in

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