Samkhya philosophers in India (832 Words)


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Theory of Causation—Satkaryavada

The Samkhya philosophers in India presented a lofty metaphysics, which in spite of its serious limitations, has been given very much importance by other Indian philosophers.

Thus it occupies a unique place among the sue systems of Indian philosophy. Samkhya philosophers have particularly concentrated upon the prob­lem of creation.


According to Samkhya philosophy, that which does not exist cannot come into existence, and that which is existent cannot be absent. The effect before it is produced is concealed in the cause. In this way, creation means the manifestation of that which is hidden, and destruction implies the conealment of that which is manifest. In this way, both creation and destruction indicate the discarding of one form or quality and adoption of another form or quality.

The difference between the cause and the effect is only one of quality or form. The effect exists in its cause. This view is called satkaryavada i.e., the theory of the presence of the effect in the cause prior to its manifestation. Because of their refusal to recognize the distinct existences of the cause and the effect, the followers of this view are also called ‘asahisnuabhedavadi’.

Prakriti Parinamavada:

Even among those who accept the theory of the reality of the effect, as stated above, there are two points of view, viz., parinamavada and vivartavada. Accord­ing to parinamavada, the cause is really changing into the effect while according to vivartavada this changing of the cause into the effect is not real but only illusory.

Clay turning into pot is an example, of parinamavada while the rope appearing as a snake is an example of vivartavada. In this way, according to parinamavada, the cause and effect is the same while according to vivartavada the two are different or separate.


The Samkhya philosophers believe in the theory of parinamavada while the Vedanta philosophers accept the theory of vivartavada. In this way according to Samkhya, all creation is the manifestation of its cause while all destruction is its concealment. The distinction between cause and effect has been maintained only for practical purposes.

Being only two different states of the same object, there is no difference between them. Ramanuja, like the Samkhya philosophers, accepts parinamavada. But according to Ramanuja, the universe is the result of Brahman while according to Samkhya the universe is the result of Prakriti. Hence, Samkhya view is known as Prakriti parinamavada.

Proofs of Satkaryavada:

Iswara Krisna has inserted the above verse in the ‘Samkhya Karika’ to prove the theory of satkaryavata.

The ideas contained in it may be explained as follows:


1. Asadkaranat:

That which has no existence does not possess the capacity to create. That which does not exist cannot be the cause. Thus if the effect is not previously or potentially present in the cause it is like the horns of a rabbit or the lotus in the sky which can never create anything. If the effect does not exist in the cause then the cause may never manifest the effect.

2. Upadana grahanat:

A material cause is necessary for the creation of an object. If the effect is not present in the material cause, the latter can never create the effect. Hence, the effect is the manifestation of the material cause because it is inevitably related to it.


3. Sarvasambhavat:

If the effect is not related to the material cause, then any cause could manifest any effect. But experience does not bear this out. Hence, the effect is present in the cause before its manifestation.

4. Saktasya Sakyakarnat:

Creation is the manifestion of the concealed potential or power. A cause produces only that effect which it has the potentiality to produce and no other. If this were not true, one could get oil from sand. For this reason, the effect is present in an unmanifest or potential form in its cause before it is produced.


5. Karanbhavat:

There is identity between cause and effect. When the obstacle is removed from the path of manifestation, the effect is revealed by the cause. Hence, the effect is present in the cause even before it is manifested.

Distinction between material and efficient cause:

In Samkhya philosophy, a distinction has been made between the efficient and the material cause. The material cause enters into the effect while the efficient cause acts from without. Despite the fact that the effect is hidden in the cause before it is manifested, an efficient cause is needed to make it manifest.

It is necessary to crush the seeds in order to obtain oil. In the absence of this co-operating power of energy, the effect cannot be made manifest. Hence, the absence of the effect in the cause is dependent upon certain conditions. According to Vyasa, these conditions are space, time, form and shape. When the internal quality of an object is transformed, it is cabled the qualitative effect but when only the eternal manifestation is changed it is called apparent result.

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