what is sankhya yoga

What is Sankhya Yoga – Sankhya Yoga in Bhagavad Gita

If you are looking for information about Sankhya Yoga or Samkhya Yoga, then this is the right place for you. In this article, you will learn about the philosophy behind this form of Yoga and What is Sankhya Yoga. In addition, we will discuss the benefits and elements of Sankhya Yoga.

what is sankhya yoga

What is Sankhya Yoga/Samkhya Yoga?

Sankhya is a Sanskrit word that says “to count, count, calculate, reasoning by numeric enumeration or relating to the numbers.” The Sankhya system specifies the twenty-five principles, also known as the twenty-five elements or Prakriti, which affect the ultimate liberation of the soul, also known as the Purusha.

Founded by Sage Kapila, Sankhya aims to overcome suffering through discrimination and to separate the soul from the matter in which the soul entangles. Purusha is the essence or pure consciousness of life beyond time.
Scholars have noted that the practice is non-theistic and independent of any specific religious tradition.

In the Sankhya, the buddhi function is specified as adhyavasaya, or “definite conceptual knowledge”. In Advaita Vedanta, this function is the locus of cognition, emotion, and moral judgment. It is also the locus of the intellect.

Purusha is pure consciousness, soul, self, or knower. It is not substance but rather essence, beyond time and activity. Prakriti is matter, the finite realities of nature or the tattvas that are transformed into many combinations to produce the diversity of worlds, beings and objects.

Thus, the philosophical tradition behind Sankhya Yoga is studying the nature of spirit and matter. Its ultimate purpose is to clarify the nature of the divine energy within us. This self is our true self, which creates, dissolves, and manifests everything. The practice of Sankhya Yoga helps us recognize the distinction between matter and spirit.

The roots of Sankhya Yoga are long back in history. It flourished till the end of 1575 C.E. It is also known as the “one-book school” because its text is essentially a book. The Sankhya-Karika is the oldest complete text of the system. It has a definite order and is considered the standard for the study of Sankhya.

what is samkhya yoga

Sankhya Yoga philosophy

The philosophy of Sankhya Yoga focuses on two different principles that govern the experience of being human. These principles are based on the dualistic view of Sankhya, an Indian philosophical school. Sankhya teaches that reality comprises two independent principles: the individual and the divine or the Supreme Soul.

Ultimately, Sankhya focuses on examining the metaphysical structure of the universe to reveal its ultimate cause of suffering. It states that the only way to achieve ultimate freedom is to cut the roots of rebirth, which is the primary source of suffering. The Sankhya philosophy explains that the human condition and the physical world are the results of a series of countless rebirths and that the only way to truly escape from suffering is to cut off the source of the recurring rebirth.

The philosophy of Sankhya traces its roots to early Hinduism, which was considered a representative philosophy two millennia ago. Its classical formulation is found in the Sankhya-Karika, a treatise by Isvara Krishna. It is a strong example of metaphysical dualism. It is also an atheistic system.

The Sankhya Yoga philosophy focuses on the premise that we are all afflicted by suffering and that there is only one way to attain final emancipation from this suffering – by cutting through the root of rebirth. In other words, to achieve liberation, you must understand how the universe works.

The Sankhya philosophy was developed at the beginning of the eighth century. The first masters of Sankhya were Asuri and Kapila, two persons who lived during the antiquity period. These two men were considered to be the founders of Sankhya and believed to be the fathers of philosophy. The later masters of Sankhya, such as Isvara krishna, compiled the Sankhya-Karika.

The philosophy of Sankhya describes the psychology behind Yoga and how to move from the abstract to the concrete. The philosopher of Sankhya, Kapila, is often referred to as the first psychologist in history.

Sankhya describes all the essential elements that make the gross and subtle worlds of human existence. Along with the gross elements that form the mind, body and spirit, Sankhya explains the subtle elements, which are the consciousness and the mind.

This explanation from the Sankhya about each element and its functions clarifies its relation with respect to other elements making it an effective map of the human being. Understanding relativity makes human lives more rejuvenated and relatively more enlightened.

sankhya yoga

Principles of Sankhya yoga / Samkhya Yoga

Kapila described the basic principles of Sankhya Yoga. This system was conceived to bring about the complete stillness of the mind, which is the highest goal of Yoga. This system consists of four main principles: Prakriti (material nature), Atma (the subconscious mind), and Paramatma (super energy).

The primary goal of Sankhya Yoga is to bring about the complete stillness of mind, which is possible only when all four basic principles are observed in a spiritually disciplined environment.

First, we must understand that everything we see is the effect of fundamental causes. We can know these causes and effects only when we understand them correctly. This understanding of causality is the basis of the Sankhya philosophy. This understanding can be applied to the physical world.

The Sankhya system explains the nature of the universe and its relationship to Prakrti and the purushas. The principles of Sankhya yoga are based on the idea that the two are interdependent. This understanding means that the two can work together and be separate or the same at the same time.

Features of Sankhya Yoga / Samkhya Yoga

The main features of Sankhya Yoga are the emphasis on concentration and the gradual withdrawal of the senses from the objects. Sankhya Yoga is an essential form of Yoga because, without proper knowledge, Yoga cannot eliminate the miseries of life. This is why the Sankhya Yoga system is crucial to its practice.

In addition to devotional service, Sankhya Yoga includes practising the analytical study of the elements of material nature. It also emphasizes the concentration of the mind on the divine. The goal of Sankhya-yoga is to achieve this goal. It is based on the ancient philosophy of non-dualism.

Sankhya-yoga combines the analytical study of the material world with direct contact with the Supreme. It is a powerful practice for anyone aspiring to become a first-class yogi.

The goal of Sankhya Yoga

Sankhya-yoga is a practice that combines the activities of the body and the soul. It is a form of devotional Yoga or Bhakti Yoga. The goal of Sankhya-yoga is to achieve union with the Supreme Being. Through this practice, we can become more aware of our spiritual nature.

The sage Kapila first developed the philosophy of Sankhya. The system consists of several core concepts that explain creation without destruction. The two main aspects of Sankhya are Purusha (pure consciousness), or Self, and Prakriti (nature), or matter. Purusha is the real essence of all things, whereas Prakriti is the power of manifestation in the world of objects.
The ultimate goal of Sankhya Yoga is the liberation of the seeker from suffering. According to the philosophy, ignorance is the root cause of bondage and suffering. Because of ignorance, people identify with the physical body and, therefore, with inner manifestations. These false identifications must be set free to experience true liberation.

Who can practice Sankhya Yoga

Sankhya Yoga is a meditative form of yoga practice. This form of yoga aims to improve the mind and body. This is accomplished by developing a strong sense of awareness of one’s inner and outer being. This awareness is derived from the buddhi or the intellect function, which is defined as adhyavasaya (definite conceptual knowledge).

This function is divided into eight different forms and is responsible for cognition, emotion, and moral judgment. The buddhi function is directly connected to the Purusha or intellect and is weakened by the tamas or lower-class consciousness.

The history of Sankhya is long and varied, but its roots are much more profound than its textual traditions. Its earliest extant text is the Sankhya-Karika, which is widely considered to be the definitive text of this practice. It is a unique and authoritative work based on the order of topics, arguments, and tenets of the Sankhya philosophy.

Elements of Sankhya/ Samkhya Yoga

The Sankhya states that 25 elements in a person progressively evolve from each other. Two of the 25 elements are the sources from which the universe develops. These are Pure Consciousness, i.e. Purusha, and nature, i.e. Prakriti.
There are three fundamental forces within Nature or Prakriti: Maha-Gunas or trigunas.

sankhya yoga elements

These Mahagunas are sattva meaning balance or knowledge, rajas meaning desire or movement and tamas, meaning inertia and decay. In addition, the three elements of the mind that develop from Nature or Prakriti are Buddhi, which means intelligence; the intuitive or intellectual mind; Manas, which connects consciousness to the outside world through the senses. Ahamkara represents the false ego in the space between the intellect and the psyche.

20 more elements are described in Sankhya.

• The five sensory organs called the jnanendriyas: eyes, nose, ears, tongue and skin;
• The five organs of action are called as the karmendriyas: , hands, legs, tongue, reproductive organs, and excretory organs;
• The five senses are called as the tanmatras: sight, taste, sound, smell and touch; and
• The five gross elements of nature are called as mahabhutas: earth, air, fire, water and ether.

Sankhya Yoga in Bhagvad Gita

Chapter two of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita by sage Kapila blends vital elements of the Sankhya philosophy but includes the existence of a Supreme Being. The Sankhya Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita mentions the Ishvara Tattva (Ishvara), the Atma Tattva (Atman), the body, the senses, the mind, the ego and the intellect.

The Ishvara Tattva and Atma tattva are considered pure and eternal reality, while the rest are considered impure and limited. This chapter also briefly mentions those qualities of nature that govern living beings’ behaviour, attitude and actions.


To conclude, understanding the concept of Sankhya or Samkhya as Purusha and Prakriti, and studying its elements in detail can help practitioners reach a deeper level of awareness in their holistic yoga practice.

This understanding of matter’s intellectual and analytical level is considered the most suitable path for those who wish to understand the world and proceed on their spiritual journey through a deeper understanding of yoga and its philosophy.


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Rajat Maheshwari

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