Samkhya

In 2010, I wrote a blog post called Going back to the temple. A recent reading of the ISKCON’s version of Bhagvad Gita As It Is, felt like a push towards a non-questioning worship of Lord Krishna and it’s interpretation of the Gita felt like an effort to turn people towards the ISKCON movement rather than to enlighten people about the Gita itself.

I have also been reading the Stoics lately. I have read about them in Tim Ferriss’ videos on YouTube, Ryan Holiday’s newsletter called the Daily Stoic, a book on the Stoic Philosophy – William Irvine’s book on Stoicism.

These made me wonder about Indian systems of philosophy. This led me to this wonderful Wikipedia page. This further led me to Samkhya. Many have called Samkhya the philosophical backing for Yoga.

Like most Indian philosophical schools, the original works are lost. These seem to have either been not taken forward as an oral tradition at some point. There is likely to have been misinterpretations as these have passed down centuries.

I was comparatively reading two translations of Samkhya Karika, which survived since there was a Chinese translation from the 6th century that survived. The two are –

  1. The Samkhya Karika by Ishwara Krishna – An Exposition of the Sytem of Kapila – John Davies [PDF link]
  2. Samkhya Karika – Brahmrishi Vishvatma Bawra

The second book led me to this website of Brahmrishi Vishvatma Bawra. The site does not appear to have been updated since 2015.

It led me to look for modern Samkhya teachers. This led to a book called Modern Samkhya by D E Osto

This is where I am at learning about a rationalist and atheistic school of Hindu thought. Since, today is Buddha Pournima, I thought linking to this blog post which compares the study of Buddhism and Samkhya might be a good addition. The parallels are striking.

As D E Osto writes on his website about the book:

The ancient philosophy of Sāṃkhya can be applied to modern life in a number of valuable ways. Rather than becoming overly concerned with the metaphysics of the system, Sāṃkhya can be seen as a psychological tool to overcome suffering. Through rigorous philosophical and psychological analysis, a person can learn to detach or disassociate from the psychophysical entity, and realize witness consciousness or what I refer to as the transcendental subject.

D E Osto, Modern Samkhya

The parallels to Stoicism is striking to me.

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