Difference between Samkhya & Advaita-Vedanta

Samkhya Philosophy

Sage Kapila was the founder of the Samkhya (सांख्य) Philosophy.

The word ‘samkhya’ which means ‘number’. The school specifies the number and nature of the ultimate constituents of the universe.

Samkhya is dualistic school, according to it there are two ultimate realities: Prakriti ( matter ) and Purusha (Self )

Than there are 24 elements :

अंत:करण (4) : मन, बुद्धि, चित्त, अहंकार

ज्ञानेन्द्रियाँ (5) : नासिका, जिह्वा, नेत्र, त्वचा, कर्ण

कर्मेन्द्रियाँ (5) : पाद, हस्त, उपस्थ, पायु, वाक्

तन्मात्रायें (5) : गन्ध, रस, रूप, स्पर्श, शब्द

महाभूत (5) : पृथ्वी, जल, अग्नि, वायु, आकाश

Difference between Samkhya and Advaita Vedanta

Samkhya says that Prakriti is the main material cause of the world. Prakriti is the first and ultimate cause of all gross and subtle objects.

Prakriti is the without Consciousness & unintelligible and gets greatly influenced by the Purusha (Atman). It can only manifest itself as the various objects of experience of the Purusha

Vedanta is non-dualistic philosophy because there is only a single Atman which is real

Difference in the Causation :

There is a concept called Satkaryavada (सत्कार्यवाद् ) – the pre-existence of the effect in the cause

There are two different interpretations of Satkaryavada – Parinamavada (परिणामवाद) and Brahma-vivartavada ( ब्रह्म – विवर्तावाद् )

Samkhya believes on the Parinamavada which suggests that the effect is the transformation due to the cause. Like milk becoming curd after transformation

Vedanta believes on the Brahma-vivartavada which says that the effect is a distorted appearance of the cause. Vedanta says that there is no actual transformation, it is only Mithya belief, as the Brahman is the only true cause and the world is a distorted appearance of the cause.

Creator of this world :

According to Samkhya , the efficient cause of the world is Purusha and the material cause is the Prakriti. Purusha is neither produced nor does it produce. Prakriti is not produced but it produces this world.

Whereas Advaita Vedanta says that Atman alone is the cause & the creator of this world.

Samkhya consider non-conscious matter ( Prakriti ) as cause of this world, which is not possible as per Vedanta. Vedanta says that an inert object ( like Prakriti ) cannot create anything.

Means of Knowledge (pramanas ) :

Samkhya accepts three sources of valid knowledge: Pratyaksha (Perception), Anumana (Inference) and Sabda ( its own text written by Kapila )

Advaita accepts all six pramanas as means of knowledge – Pratyaksha (Perception), Anumana (Inference), Upamana (Comparison), Arthapatti (Postulation), Anupalabdhi (Non-apprehension), and Sabda ( Vedas , texts )

Bondage and Liberation

Both Vedanta & Samkhya regards ignorance as the root cause of bondage and suffering. According to them, the self is eternal, pure consciousness, but due to ignorance, the self identifies itself with the physical body.

Once the self becomes free of this false identification and the material bonds, the liberation is achieved.


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