Gita Rahasya -Tilak 189

Karma Yoga Sastra -Tilak


One comes across such classification in treatises later than the Upanisads, but it is different from the Samkhya classification mentioned above. The total number of elements is twenty-five. As sixteen elements out of these are admittedly Vikrtis, that it, as they are looked upon as created from other elements, even according to Samkhya philosophy, they are not classified in these treatises- as prakrti or fundamental substances. That leaves nine elements :-(l) Spirit, (2) Matter, (3-9) Mahat, Ahamkara and the five subtle elements (Tanmatras). The Samkhyas call the last seven, after Spirit and Matter, 'prakrti-vikrti. But according to Vedanta philosophy, Matter is not looked upon. as independent. According to their doctrine, both Spirit and and Matter come out of one Paramesvara (Absolute Isvara). If this proposition is accepted, the distinction made by Samkhya philosophers between fundamental Prakrti and prakrti-vikrti comes to an end ; because, as Prakrti itself is looked upon as having sprung from the Paramesvara, it cannot be called the Root, and it falls into the category of 'prakrti-vikrti'. Therefore, in describing the creation of the Cosmos, Vedanta philosophers say that from the Paramesvara there spring on the one hand the Jlva (Soul), and on the other hand, eight-fold Prakrti (i. e., Prakrti and seven prakrti-vikrtis, such as Mahat etc.,) [1]. That is to say, according to Vedanta philosophers, keeping aside sixteen elements out of twenty-five, the remaining nine fall into the two classes of 'Jiva ' (Soul) and the ' eight-fold Prakrti '. This classification of Vedanta philosophers has been accepted in the Bhagavad- gita; but therein also, a small distinction is ultimately made. What the Samkhyas called ' Purusa ' is called ' Jlva ' by the Gita, and the Jlva is described as being the ' pam-prakrti' or the most sublime form of the Isvara, and that which the Samkhyas call the 'fundamental Prakrti' is referred to in. the Gita as the ' apara ' or inferior form of the Paramesvara [2]. When in this way, two main divisions have been made, then, in giving the further sub-divisions or kinds of the second main division, namely, of the inferior form of the Isvara, it becomes necessary to mention the other elements which have sprung from this inferior form, in addition to that inferior form. Because, the inferior form (that is, the funda- mental Prakrti of Samkhya philosophy) cannot be a kind or sub-division of itself. For instance, when you have to say how many children a father has, you cannot include the father in the counting of the children. Therefore, in enumerating the sub-divisions of the inferior form of the Paramesvara, one has to exclude the fundamental Prakrti from the eight-fold Prakrti mentioned by the Vedantists, and to say that the remaining seven, that is to say, Mahan, Ahamkara, and the five Fine Elements are the only kinds or sub-divisions of the fundamental Prakrti; but if one does this, one will have to say that the inferior form of the Paramesvara, that is, fundamental Prakrti is of seven kinds, whereas, as mentioned above, Prakrti is of eight kinds according to the Vedantists. Thus, the Vedantists will say that Prakrti is of eight kinds, and the Gita will say that Prakrti is of seven kinds, and an apparent conflict will come into existence between the two doctrines. The author of the Gita, however, considered it advisable not to create such a conflict, but to be consistent with the description of Prakrti as ' eight-fold '.


References And Context

  1. (Ma. Bha. San. 306. 29, and 310. 10)
  2. (G-I. 7, 4, 5.)