The Evolutes (Sankhya)

The Evolutes (Sankhya)

The Evolutes (Sankhya)>>The  first product of the evolution is called Mahat, the Great. It is the germ of this vast world of objects including intellect, ego and mind.

It is cosmic in its nature. But it has a psychological aspect also in which it is called buddhi or intellect. Buddhi is distinguished from consciousness. Purusa alone is pure consciousness. Buddhi or intellect, being the evolute of Prakrti, is material. It is made of finest matter and is thus capable of reflecting clearly the consciousness of the Purusa, like a wireless set capable of receiving the aerial waves. On account of the reflection of the Purusa in it, it becomes apparently conscious and intelligent. The senses, the mind and the ego function for buddhi or intellect which functions directly for the Purusa. Its functions are said to be ascertainment and decision. It arises when Sattva predominates. Its original attributes are virtue (dharma), knowledge (jnana), detachment (vairagya) and power (aishvarya). When it gets vitiated by tamas, these attributes are replaced by their opposites. Memories and recollections are stored in buddhi.     

                    Mahat produces Ahankara. It is the principle of individuation. Its function is to generate self-sense (abhimana). It produces the notion of the T and the ‘mine’ . It is the individual ego-sense. Purusa wrongly identifies himself with this ego and knows himself as the agent of actions, desirer of desires and striver for ends, and possessor and enjoyer of ideas, emotions and volitions and also of material objects. Ahankara is said to be of three kinds:

(1) Vaikarika or sattvika, when Sattva predominates. Viewed as cosmic, it produces manas and five sensory organs and five motor organs. Viewed as psychological, it produces good deeds.

(2) Bhutadi or tamasa, when tamas predominates. Viewed as cosmic, it produces the five subtle elements (tan-matras). Viewed as psychological, it leads to indifferent acts or to idleness and sloth.

(3) Taijasa or rajasa, when a raja predominates. Viewed as cosmic, it supplies the energy by which the Sattvika and the Tamasa produce their respective evolutes. Viewed as psychological, it produces evil deeds.

                    Manas or mind which arises from the Sattvika Ahankara is the subtle and central sense-organ. It can come into contact with the several sense-organs at the same time. According to the Nyaya-Vaishesika School, manas is eternal and atomic and cannot come into contact with several senses simultaneously. According to Sankhya, it is neither eternal nor atomic. It is made up of parts and so can come into contact with the different senses simultaneously. Sankhya assigns to manas the important function of synthesizing the sense-data into determinate perceptions, passing them on to the ego, and carrying out the orders of the ego through the motor organs.                                                                                                                               

                    The   sattvika Ahankara produces, besides manas, the five sensory and the five motor organs. The five sensory organs (jnanendriya) are the functions of sight, smell, taste, touch and sound. According to the Nyaya-Vaishesika, the five sensory organs are derived from the five gross physical elements. But according to the Sankhya, the five senses are the functions of the mind and are derived from Ahankara. The five motor organs (karmendriya) are the functions of speech, prehension, movement, excretion and reproduction.                                                                         

                    Buddhi, ahankara and manas represent the three psychological aspects of knowing, willing and feeling or cognition, conation and affection respectively. Sankhya calls them material and derives them from Prakrti. They shine through the light of the Purusa and are apparently conscious. All the three are called the internal organs or antahkarana and vital breaths (pranas) are said to be their modifications. The five sensory and the five motor organs together are called the ten external organs or bahyakarana. These are the thirteen karanas or organs of the Sankhya.

                    From the Tamasa Ahankara arise the five subtle essences which are called Tanmatras or ‘things-in-themselves’. These are the essences of sight, smell, taste, touch and sound. Unlike the Nyaya-Vaishesika ones, they are not derived from the gross elements. Rather the gross elements themselves arise out of these. They are neither the qualities nor the differentia of the gross elements nor the functions which are the sensory organs, but the subtle essences which produce the gross elements as well as their qualities, From the essence of sound (shabdatanmatra) arises the clement of ether (akasha) together with the quality of sound. From the essence of touch combined with the essence of sound, arises the element of air together with the qualities of sound and touch. From the subtle essence of colour or sight combined with those of sound and touch, arises the element of fire or light together with the qualities of sound, touch and colour. From the essence of taste combined with those of sound, touch and colour, arises the element of water together with the qualities of sound, touch, colour and taste. And lastly, from the essence of smell combined with those of sound, touch, colour and taste, arises the element of earth together with the qualities of sound, touch, colour, taste and smell. Evolution is the play of these twenty-four principles which, together with the Purusa who is a mere spectator and outside the play of evolution, are the twenty-five categories of Sankhya. Out of these twenty-five principles, the Purusa is neither a cause nor an effect; Prakrti is only the cause and not the effect; Mahat, Ahankara and the five subtle essences are both causes and effects; while the five sensory and the five motor organs and the five gross elements and manas are effects only. This may be depicted by the following table:





(5-9)Sensory organs

(10-14)Motor organs

(15-19)Tan matras

(20-24) Mahabhutas

(The 25th is  the Purusa, untou

                       The evolution is teleological. Everything works to serve the purpose of the Purusa though unconsciously. Just as non-intelligent trees grow fruits, or water flows on account of the declivity of the soil, or iron-filings are attracted towards a magnet, or milk flows through the udders of the cow in order to nourish the calf, similarly everything unconsciously tends to serve the purpose of the Purusa, whether it is enjoyment or liberation. Prakrti is the benefactress of Purusa. Though Purusa is inactive and indifferent and devoid of qualities, yet the virtuous and the generous Prakrti which is full of qualities and goodness ceaselessly works through various means in a spirit of detachment for the realization of the Purusa, without any benefit to herself. Prakrti works to liberate the Purusa. There is immanent  teleology in Prakrti. Though Purusa is neither a cause nor an effect, yet relatively it is he who should be regarded as the efficient cause as well as the final cause of evolution though Sankhya regards Prakrti as both the material and the efficient cause. He is like Aristotle’s God, the unmoved mover who is beyond evolution. God, the pure intelligence, like the Purusa, does not actively participate in evolution. He is the end towards which the creation moves. And the creation moves by His mere presence. The gunas, which mutually differ and yet always co-operate, work like the oil, wick and flame of a lamp and illuminate the entire purpose of the Purusa and present it to the buddhi or the intellect. All the organs work for the realization of the Purusa’s end and for no other end. The subtle body too works for the sake of the Purusa’s end. Thus the whole creation unconsciously tends towards the realization of the purpose of the Purusa. And creation will continue till all the Purusas are liberated. The entire evolution of Prakrti, therefore, right from the first evolute, the Mahat, up to the last evolutes, the gross elements, is for the purpose of liberating each individual Purus.