Classical PHILOSOPHY OF
Yoga and Ayurveda
SAMKHYA SUTRAM of Kapil Muni
Translated, interpreted and commented by
Bapuji Kiran Vyas (Tapovan, France) and Dr. Govind Rajpot (AUP)
Yoga and Ayurveda come from Vedic culture. In India, people begin their lives as children in the atmosphere of this culture and their minds are influenced by this culture. That makes it easy for them to study Ayurveda and Yoga when they are 15 or so, the time when the ego is undergoing great development. When people come later in life to education about Ayurveda and Yoga, they can definitely learn about it, but it is more difficult for them to comprehend it, because their own egos interfere. Between the ages of five and 15, if a person has not practiced aspects of Vedic culture (by singing folk songs, absorbing different stories, etc.) then it is difficult for them. There is a great gap between Western scholars and Indian scholars because of their different acculturations. Western culture is based on promotion of the ego and the use of logic. Using logical reasoning we can make up for Western scholars' lack of acculturation in Vedic thought. This is the reason that the University of Ayurveda, Prague and Tapovan in Normandy have decided to present the Samkhya philosophy and others to scholars of Ayurveda and Yoga in a comprehensible way. Understanding this philosophy, which is the basis of Ayurveda and Yoga, is crucial, including in India. When a person is mature enough to study Samkhya and Vaishesheka, a grasp of this philosophy will make it easier to understand Ayurveda and Yoga, and without that grasp it will be difficult. This work on the Samkhya sutra was done by a team and we decided it would be most appropriate to do the work in English with our editor from California, Gwendolyn Albert, who has edited the English so that it can be translated from English into other languages. The work has also been checked by A Czech Ayurvedic teacher Lukas Tomek, in real time, spending time together online to develop these translations and commentaries. The English here is being simultaneously translated into Czech by Julia Honysova, a third-year Ayurveda student, and the same is being done by Isabelle Langois, a yoga teacher and scholar of Ayurveda, into French. We have attempted to make the commentaries as original as possible. It is sometimes impossible to translate the Sanskrit well into modern European languages, but we have attempted to convey the spirit of the original. This work was inspired by Bapu Ji, the founder of Tapovan in France, to create this in both online and printed versions so that those who are interested in Ayurveda and Yoga education could access it easily. Without the help of this team it would not have been possible to present this work.
The Samkhya sutra is a collection of discourses delivered by the philosopher Kapila in ancient times. Some of the basic tenets of Vedic philosophy are presented here (nothing comes from nothing, the importance of cause and effect, etc.). The Samkhya sutras were developed after the period of the Upanishads and are influenced by them. The Isha Upanishad, which begins with the mantra for peace (OM punamadam ...), which is known by all yogis, states that the Cosmos is full and from that fullness, each individual identity in the universe is created. This spirit is reflected in the sutras discoursed by Kapila to his students and captured here. Western scholars are of the opinion that these sutras originated in the 14th century AD (or CE), but that does not seem logical. The age of the Mahabharata is not known, for example, but it is believed to predate the Indus Valley civilization, and in its third chapter and third verse Krishna says there are two kinds of people: Those who believe in knowledge and live their life in the light of knowledge, who are called Samkhya yogis following the system of knowledge (also called gyana yoga or jyana yoga), and the second type of people are karma yogis, who follow action. This means the Samkhya sutras predate the Mahabarata and must be at least 10 000 years old. The text of the Samkhya sutra consists of six chapters, and the first three describe the core Samkhya doctrine. The first chapter is presented here, which explains life and its basic factors. The fundamental factor of life is the life force. Without that energy, nothing lives. The material and spiritual realms are differentiated here and one can infer the meaning of the "I", that the individual existence is a composite of the spiritual and the material. The first chapter contains 164 verses and by explaining them, or understanding the sutras, one can comprehend the Vedic view of how life begins and what its fundamental factors are. The word Samkhya means a kind of count or enumeration where the number of distinct entities are inferred, though never seen - like life itself. What we see is the morphology of things, but what we infer is the number of individual parts of the morphology. These inferences are so powerful that we believe them. The verses are in Sanskrit and explain how we can understand different phenomena. This approach of drawing the inferences and enumerating the distinctions is called "Samkhya" and the work of writing them down is the "sutras". Originally this was done orally, because at the time these works arose, education involved the understanding of self, yoga. Today it is difficult for us to recapture the spirit of this, although to this day in India students in villages still learn beneath a tree with minimal equipment other than a dedicated teacher. Scholars of Ayurveda and Yoga are recommended to read the Bhagavad-Gita. Vedic culture is a culture for all of humanity, not just for India.
Welcome to India, welcome to Bharata Shakti, the energy of India. When one is born in India, one receives the heritage of that great nation's samskaras and its mystic and spiritual energy. We in the West are much influenced by our minds, by our logical way of thinking and believing. To study Samkhya we have to let go of the mind and we must just imbibe the original energy which is in the Sanskrit text.
One has to just receive this gift without thinking, and I would say, to receive it even without understanding. One needs to absorb and let the consciousness capture those Sanskrit words without getting into the logic, or the meaning, or the impressions they create. In fact one needs to create a sort of a silence, a tabula rasa, so that something can be put into that virgin mind-consciousness.
We know this experience from the time we spend in nature. Sometimes we just sit in a forest, or on the seashore, and we close our eyes and rest - we are not sleeping, we are relaxing without thinking. When we open the eyes, we restart the ego. One certainly has this experience of joy, because this is where we learn what beauty is.
The writings of Samkhya in fact are almost mathematical thinking, but this mathematics is the mathematics of the infinite. We are always living and thinking at the level of finite things, and therefore we need to open our consciousness to the other dimension that can take us from the finite to the infinite.
This new dimension comes slowly. It takes courage not to believe our own minds, not to believe our heart and emotional feelings, but to go within towards the spiritual opening. This opening is sure to come in all human beings with yogic practice and meditation. This dimension also comes by staying either in a place or with a person or persons who have this knowledge and this opening.
If this is not possible, then one just needs to go within oneself and this light, this master or guru, will be found in your own self, in your own inner being. The most important thing is to let the knowledge come and let the vibration come, whether it is with understanding, half-understanding, or no understanding.
The second point, which is equally important, is that instead of repeating the translated words, you should repeat and let flow in your own mind the Sanskrit words, and those words will do their work. A friend of mine, who is a neuroscientist, has done a certain experiment with MRI imaging and she found that Sanskrit words, just listening to the sound of Sanskrit verses, was changing the brain pattern and creating new faculties within the brain. Therefore, we should let the Sanskrit words do their work.
The third, but not the last thing, is you must have the courage to be peaceful and develop the silence within. New worlds will open up.