The Samkhya Philosophy.
An extract from chapter 291 of the Srimad Bhagavatam.
“In the beginning Brahman was, and nothing else. Brahman the soul of all
souls, the Lord of Prakriti, the cause and the effect blended into one. He
was the Seer and, in the beginning there was nothing to be seen. The
Brahman was self-luminous. Prakriti was in Him. The power of the
Manifest Himself was in him.
In the beginning, the Gunas (attributes), Sattva (truth), Rajas (passion) and
Tamas (ignorance) were perfectly balanced. They were in equilibrium.
Another powerful aspect of the Brahman is Kāla, time. Now, because of the
passage of time, the balance in the Gunas was upset, disturbed. There was a
throb of unrest and this disturbance had in it, the germ of creation.
The power because of which the Purusha (Spirit) creates the universe is
called Prakriti (Ādi Shakti), the active aspect of the Brahman which is all
This consciousness manifested itself in the form of Universe ruled by the
three gunas and their sway. The original soul, the Universal Spirit altered its
appearance, meaning, it became the cause as well as the effect, the Seer as
well as the seen, the Doer as well as the Deed.
The disturbance in the equilibrium of the Gunas was the cause of the
manifestation of Prakriti. Out of Prakriti was evolved the Mahat-tattva
(=buddhi,’intellect”). Mahat is all light. It swallowed the darkness which
had enveloped everything during the great annihilation, the great Deluge
during the previous Kalpa.
The Mahat tattva became transformed into the
Aham-tattva (sense of individuality, ego).
Aham-tattva is Kriya Shakti, the power of action.
Aham-tattva is seen to have three aspects:
Sattvic Aham-tattva which is also called Vaikārika (subject to change),
Rajas Aham-tattva which is also called Taijasa (brilliant),
Tamas Aham-tattva which is also called Tamasa (darkness).
Out of the Sattvic Aham-tattva is born the mind, Manas.
Out of the RājasicAham-tattva are born the Indriyas, the sense organs.
Out of the Tamasic Aham-tattva are born the five Maha-bhutas (material
The essential features of the Aham-tattva are again three:
Karya- action itself because of the Tamasic aspect.
Kartutva- the power of becoming a performer of action, as a result of the
Karanatva- causing the performance of the action which is the result of the
Peace, which is Shānti, anger which goes by the name Raudra, ignorance
which is named Avidya, are again three more characteristics of Sattvic,
Rājasic and Tamasic Aham-tattvas.
Because of the Sattvic Aham-tattva the mind begins to function. The power
to think is there and out of it are born perception and desire.
The Karmendriyas, the organs of action, and the Gñyanendriyas, the
organs of perception are born of the Rājasic Aham-tattva. Out of the
Tamasic Aham-tattva are born the Maha-bhutas, the elements, and the
Tan-matras (objects of the senses).
The first is the Shabda matra, sound, the subtlest of the five: in association
with it is born Ākāsha, the sky, ether.
Ether conducts sound and it is, like sound, all-pervading.
Sparsha Tan-matra occurs next: the sense of touch, and in association with
it, Vāyu, the air which, again, permeates everything. Sparsha has in it the
quality of Shabda also. Vāyu conveys sound as well as touch, both these
sensations. Incidentally, the air is slightly more tangible than the ether, and to that extent, it is grosser than ether.
Then is formed Rūpa Tan-matra: what can be perceived since it will have a
form. With this Tan-matra, in association with it was born Fire or Light.
Rūpa Tan-matra now has three qualities, Shabda, Sparsha and Rūpa. It is
evidently more gross than air as it is more tangible.
The next Tan-matra is to be formed is Rasa Tan-matra and complimentary
to it, water. Water has four qualities: Shabda, Sparsha, Rūpa and Rasa.
The last and the grossest of them all is formed last. Gandha Tan-matrā, the
sense of smell, and with it is born the Earth. The Earth has all the five
qualities in it, Shabda, Sparsha, Rūpa, Rasa and Gandha.
Prakriti is also known as Saguna Brahman (having attributes) as against
the Nirguna Brahman (attribute-less) which is the Brahman in the
absolute form. The power underlying the five Mahābhūtas is collectively
known as Dravya Shakti; the power lying in the Indriyas is known
collectively as Kriya Shakti, the power of Prakriti and the Ishwara
presiding over this is known as the Gñyāna Shakti.
Prakriti is made up of:
Priťhvi Earth }
Āp Water }
Tejas Fire or light } The five Mahā-bhūtas (gross elements)
Vāyu Air }
Ākāśh Ether or sky }
Gandha Smell }
Rasa Taste }
Rūpa Sight } The five Tan-matras (subtle elements)
Sparśha Touch }
Śhabda Sound }
Śhrotra Ears }
Tvach Skin }
Chakshus Eyes } The corresponding Indriyas (senses)
Rasana Tongue }
Ghrana Nose }
Vāk Speech }
Pani Hands }
Padam Foot } The Karmendriyas (5 organs of action)
Upastham Generative organ}
Payu Excretory organ }
The Antah-karana (internal organs) is of four kinds: Manas, Buddhi,
Ahamkāra and Chitta. These twenty-four features namely the five Mahabhutas,
the five Tan-matras, the five Indriyas, the five Karmendriyas
along with the four Antah-karanas comprise the Saguna Brahman.
Kāla, time, is also considered as the twenty-fifth feature. Some thinkers
deem Kāla to be that ultimate end of which men are frightened, men who are
ignorant of the glory of Ĩshwara and who are caught up in the web spun by
Prakriti, men who are deluded by the ego which manifests itself and
Ĩshwara who is without the Gunas who is the cause of the manifestation of
Prakriti is the twenty-fifth feature. With His Māyā and with the help of
Kāla, Ĩshwara inhabits every living and every created being: the living
beings as Purusha and the outside as Kāla which is the end of everything
and the beginning too.
The supreme aspect of the Antah-karana is reflected in the Mahat-tattva
which is all light. Purursha is ever found in the Mahat. This is to be
worshipped as Vāsudeva (Shri Krishna), the highest Purusha. Ananta, the
thousand headed, who pervades the Bhūtas, the Manas and the Indriyas
has to be worshipped Sankarshana (Shri Balarāma) in the Aham-tattva
Sankarshana has to be worshipped since he is the Ahamkāra in its absolute
form: the Ego before any transformation takes place.
Manas Tattva is the power of thinking, particularly in the field of feelings,
Kāma or desire, likes and dislikes, mental bondage and similar feelings.
This aspect of the Aham-tattva is worshipped as Aniruddha (Krishna’s
grandson), dark and charming like a blue lotus, flowering during the season,
autumn when the skies are blue and not marred by the rain-bearing clouds.
Chitta is the Buddhi which functions through the brain of created beings.
This is more intellectual than emotional and Pradyumna is the form in which
the Chitta is worshipped.
The Adhishtata, the controlling power, for the
Mahat-tattva which is worshipped as Vāsudeva is Kshetra-gñya. For
Ahamkāra worshipped as Sankarshana, the Adhishtata is Rudra.
Chandra (moon) is the Adhishtata for Manas which is worshipped as
Aniruddha while Brahmā is the Adhishtata for the Chitta or Buddhi
which is worshipped as Pradyumna (God of Love, Krishna’s son).
Vāsudeva is also said to represent the Vishva (intellectual faculty),
Sankarshan, the Taijasa (life energy, spirit, power),
Pradyumna, the Prāgñya (intelligence), and
Aniruddha, the Turiya (the fourth state of pure spirit).”