Patanjali Yogasutras Web Series – Samkhya Evolution Chart
Patanjali Yogasutras – Introduction to Indian Philosophy – (Also Watch Video 1)
‘Philosophy’ is a Greek word composed of two words ‘philo’ (love) and ‘sophia’ (wisdom). Therefore, ‘Philosophy’ is ‘love of wisdom’. Yoga has its foundation in Sāṃkhya philosophy. It is thus important to have a brief understanding of Indian Philosophy, to appreciate Yoga.
Indian philosophy is divided into 2 main sub divisions:
1. Nāstika (Unorthodox):
Nāstika branch consists of philosophies which do not believe in the authority of the Vedas. The main Nāstika philosophies are Buddhism, Jainism and Cārvākism.
2. Aāstika (Orthodox):
Aāstika branch consists of 6 philosophies which believe in the authority of the Vedas. These six philosophies are together called as Ṣaḍ Darśana (6 visions/ insights). They are studied as twin systems, one being the theory and the other emphasizing on practice:
a. Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika,
b. Sāṃkhya and Yoga,
c. Mīmāṁsā (also called as Pūrva Mīmāṁsā) and Vedānta (also called as Uttara Mīmāṁsā).
Sāṃkhya is more theoretical and provides the philosophical foundations for the practice of Yoga. Yoga is more practical and assists the realization of the objective projected by Sāṃkhya. Hence, Sāṃkhya and Yoga together makes it a holistic system.
Each of the six Orthodox Philosophies has a sutra text and a propounder:
Nyāya Sūtras of sage Gautama,
Vaiśeṣika Sūtras of sage Kaṇāda
Sāṃkhya Sūtras of sage Kapila
Yoga Sūtras of sage Patañjali
Mīmāṁsā Sūtras of sage Jaimini
Brahma Sūtras of sage Bādarāyaṇa (sage Veda Vyāsa),
1. Nyāya Sūtras – is the foundational text of Nyāya school of Indian philosophy composed by Sage Akṣapāda Gautama, sometime in between 6th century BC and 2nd-century AD. The text includes 528 Sūtras (5 chapters each with 2 sections). It focuses on knowledge, logic and the process of reasoning. It is also called as Tarka Śāstra. Doubt is considered as a pre – requisite for philosophical inquiry. Consciousness is the quality of Ātma. The state of liberation is devoid of consciousness, knowledge and bliss. Liberation is achieved by negating both illusion and unhappiness via knowledge of 16 categories. Commentaries on Nyāya are provided in Nyāyavarttika of Uddyotakara (6-7th century), Vācaspati Miśra’s Tātparyaṭīkā (9th century) etc.
2. Vaiśeṣika Sūtras – is the foundational text of the Vaiśeṣika school of Indian Philosophy, dated between 6th century BC and 2nd century BC, authored by sage Kaṇāda. It has a total of 370 Sūtras (10 books, of which 8 are further divided into 2 sub sections), and it aphoristically teaches non-theistic naturalism, metaphysics and epistemology. Vaiśeṣika philosophy emphasizes on the atomic theory of evolution. Liberation in Vaiśeṣika follows the cessation of action. Commentaries on Vaiśeṣika Sūtras are provided by Praśastapādas Pādarthadharma Saṅgṛha (5th century) etc.
3. Sāṃkhya Sūtras – is the foundational text of the Sāṃkhya school of Indian Philosophy authored by Sage Kapila. It is claimed that the Sāṃkhya Sūtras were lost in time. The surviving authoritative text on classical Sāṃkhya philosophy is the Sāṃkhya Kārikā (350 AD – 450AD) of Īśvarakṛṣṇa (72 Kārikās). Bondage is due to non-discrimination and liberation is possible when right discrimination is made between Self and non-Self. The main Commentaries on Sāṃkhya Kārikā are by Gaudapāda Bhāṣya, Vācaspati Miśra’s Sāṃkhya Tattva Kaumudī etc.
4. Yoga Sūtras – Complied by Sage Patañjali it contains 195 Sūtras (4 chapters) on Yoga. It is a compact form of knowledge on Yoga found in the older traditions. The Yoga Sūtras are supposed to have been compiled by sage Patañjali around 350 to 500 BC. Liberation is attained by the separation of Puruṣa and Prakṛti and the state of liberation (Kaivalya) is devoid of bliss. Main commentaries on Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are the Yoga Bhāṣya by sage Vyāsa, Tattvavaisāradi by Vācaspati Miśra etc.
5. Mīmāṁsā Sūtras – is the foundational text of the Mīmāṁsā school of Indian philosophy, authored by sage Jaimini, and it emphasizes rituals as means to salvation. The text of Mīmāṁsā Sūtra contains twelve chapters with nearly 2700 Sūtras (longest of the Sūtra works) which is divided into 60 Pādas / sections. It pursues freedom through action and hence deals with the Karma Kāṇḍa portion of the Vedas. Mokṣa is devoid of Dharma, Adharma, Pāpa and Puṇya.
Heaven is where there is freedom from sorrow and suffering. Commentaries on Mīmāṁsā Sūtra are written by Śābara Swami, Kumārila Bhaṭṭa, Prabhākara Miśra, etc.
6. Brahma Sūtras (or Vedānta Sūtras) – were composed by Sage Bādarāyaṇa, and came into written form sometime in between 450 BC to 200 AD. The text contains 555 Sūtras in four chapters (Adhyāyas) that summarize the philosophical and spiritual ideas in the Upaniṣads.
Vedānta is Jñāna Kāṇḍa (section of the Vedas that deals with knowledge). Absolute Reality according to Advaita is Non dual and the world is only apparent reality. In that reality there is absence of suffering and presence of bliss. Sat-Cit-Ānanda are the inherent qualities of Ātman attained by Śravaṇa, Manan and Nididhyāsana. The method to attain liberation is by removing Avidyā. Commentaries on Brahma Sūtras gave rise to Vedānta philosophies
like Śaṅkarācārya’s – Advaita Vedānta, Rāmānujācārya’s – Viśiṣṭādvaita and Mādhavācārya’s -Dvaita