Samkhya yoga- Introduction

Yoga is an ancient art, that was developed for the all over well-being of the humans. The ancient art was developed thousands of years ago and now today has grown to be multidimensional field. Today what most people know about yoga is that it is an exercise, some posture, and some breathing forms. Is that all there to yoga? What most people do not know is that yoga is vast as ocean and very few know its depth.

Yogi and sages spend their lifetime to master the true secrets, and even then, most cannot. There are many types of yoga, many forms, techniques, methods, and they are being further diversified and further increasing. Among many awesome yoga types and techniques there is Samkhya yoga.

Mahadev in his Aadi yogi form created yoga and then distributed its knowledge to the human beings. He explained yoga in the true and godly form. At first due to meditation and Dhyan he formed the yogic principles and mastered it.

There were people who watched Mahadev as he performed yoga meditation and other yogic activities. They asked Mahadev to teach them whatever he is doing. However, Lord Shiva refused them straight forward. With the disapproval and harsh rejection some got sad and decided to go back to their daily activities.

Time and time passed, more people who wanted to learn the mystic arts started to give up and return to their livelihood. Like these years passed still Shiva refused to teach them, more gave up and left. After a long time only seven reman. Instead of convincing Shiva they themself started to meditate and never gave up.

Lord Shiva now was extremely impressed with their dedication and decided to teach them what he had discovered. The seven people became the seven celestial sages (Saptarishi) and were taught by shiva himself. Then Shiva ordered the celestial sages to disperse the knowledge to the world. According to legend that’s how humans got the eternal knowledge of Yoga.

Samkhya yoga

Samkhya yoga is an ancient tradition in Hinduism. It is one of the six astika. Samkhya yoga is the base of yoga as we know today. Many of the popular yoga that we know today and even the yoga classics such as yoga sutra by Patanjali was inspired by the Samkhya yoga.  

Samkhya yoga describes six Pramanns as the reliable means of gaining knowledge.

  • Pratyksa
  • Anumana
  • Upamana
  • Arthapatti
  • Anupalabdi
  • Sabda

 Another important aspect of Samakhya yoga is its two realities:

  • Purush
  • Prakriti


Purush is the male element of the universe. Purush is another half of prakriti, the female energy. They are contemporary to one another and complete each other.

Purusha is a very wide and complex concept. It is a universal energy as well as sometime depicted as the male energy. Purusha is the aspect of energy which will not change, it may be today, tomorrow or after thousands of years Purush will never change nor will ever change. Purusha is universal, unchanging, and undiscriminating to all and everything. It is also depicted as a universal cosmic force which is indestructible, without a fixed form and everlasting. Purush provides a base or acts a pillar to uphold reality. It is Purusha which acts in the form of natural laws and principle due to which the world function as it is today.

Hindu mythology says that Mahadev (Shiva) is the Purush element of the universe. All the purushotwo originates from himself.


Prakriti is the feminine element of the universe. It is the other half of Purush, the male energy.
Prakriti is also a universal energy and is omnipresent. Prakriti is the nature of the things, the physical aspect of the universe. Prakriti is a physical universe in its germinal phase, it is eternal and omni present. Prakriti is considered feminine energy and is a misconception that it only exists within females.

The Prakriti (Eternal feminine energy) is the building block of the universe itself. Without Prakriti the universe cannot be born. Prakriti is made up of three Gunas which are omnipresent in every life. Samkhya yoga says that prakriti exists in the universe but is only active state. The prakriti cannot experience neither observe. When the prakriti has spirit within it then only it can observe and experience.

Hindu mythology says that Parvati is the feminine element of the universe. All the femineity and female energy Prakriti originate from her.

Life -How Purush and Prakriti give life?

Our earth is filled with life. Life exists everywhere we lay our eyes from. There is life in ocean, the forest, human settlements everywhere life is existing and flourishing. Here, life existing in all forms and sizes. Some forms are similar in manner whereas some are very distinct from each other. Some with the size of mountains compared to the other beings. Some so vast that large spaces appear minute to them, some so minute that they can fit in our fingertip. Some ale to touch the skies, some so deep in the ocean they never see the light. But what is life, how did life inside all of them. How are they alive?

According to Hindu mythology and Samkhya yoga, when the Purush and prakriti meets and become one life is formed. Every living being that we see in our surrounding is the product of the physical matter of the universe meeting with the spiritual matter. Your physical body existed in this universe long before you were born. In the beginning your body was part of sun and stars, then maybe it belonged to someone else or even were non-living. To the point it existed here in one form or other. When it met with Purusha life arose from within it and you were born. This is the ultimate truth of every life in the universe as per Hindu mythology.

When Purusha and prakriti separates from one other the life ceases to exist. Then the purusha exists the body and only physical prakriti remains. Then the prakriti itself gets integrated into the universe.

The universe we know of is made of the five elements. First when a universe is born, Purush and prakriti are the first things to be born. Then after this the 5 elements of human body ( Also called Panchamahabhut) are born. Earth, water, fire, air and space. Everything is made from them. Not just the living beings but even the non-living things and objects are the indirect products of the 5 elements. In the Hindu mythology the five elements are called as Pancha Bhootas.

 These five elements have three natures which in inherited by everything created by the mixture of these five elements.

Samkhya yoga and philosophy describe is as the three characters of life itself they are:

Tamas Guna

Tamas is one of the three gunas described by the Samkhya yoga. Tamas is the vital component of life itself. Tamas is the quality of inactiveness, dullness and in rest without movement.

Tamas exists in all living beings. With some Tamas is in very less amount while with some Tanas is in extremely high amount. Tamas is the vital element of life itself. Without the presence of Tamas in the body one cannot rest, one cannot go to sleep. Tamas describes the rest and resuscitation part of life. Every living being needs rest and sleep. However, Tamas to the limit is ok and advantageous, if it becomes too much then problem arise.

Tamas more than needed makes the person dull, inactive, and lazy. The person derives away from all the things in life and moves towards rest and inactivity.

Rajas Guna

Rajas is another one of the three gunas described by the Samkhya yoga. Rajas is also the vital component in life itself. Everybody created with the five elements have certain level of Rajas in them according to Samkhya yoga. Rajas is responsible for the action and activity. The activity of the mind and body from minute to big is all due to presence of Rajas in the body. If the Rajas element is absent in the body the body looks like a dead being. Neither can its brain function nor can its body function. Even the minute thought and minute movement of the finger is due to Rajas.

Rajas more than needed also can be harmful, Rajas present in amount more than needed causes many things in the body. It causes restlessness of the body and mind. People will have more desire and will do more without stopping, the mind thinks too many thoughts and the body wants to go in too much action. With extreme Rajas people also will feel disbalance of their emotions. Either they are so happy or too sad, either too extreme or too low nothing in between.

Sattva Guna

Satva is the last of the three characters described by the Samkhya yoga. Like the other two gunas sattva is also the character that arises when the five elements create something. Everyone alive have Sattva present in all of them, the amount may vary but it is there. Satva is the element of enlighten knowledge, balance, harmony, positivity, and goodness.

Satva provides the knowledge to the person and is the cause of the conscious in everyone. A body of Rajas and Tamas only cannot operate until the presence of sattva operates it. Sattva is the only character that enhances positivity and goodness when present in high amount. The sages and rishis, perform meditation Yagya’s and Tapasya’s to enhance the Sattva element within them. When Sattva is present in high amount than others then the person will feel bliss, balance, harmony and the perception of the world, God and existence becomes clear.

The three characters are omnipresent according to Samkhya yoga. Everyone alive has these three. However, a unique thing about these characters is that at one time only one character can become dominant. If for example Sattva becomes dominant in the body the person will be sattvic and only the effects of Sattva will be dominant will show the characters of Sattva.

The other characters will also be within him, but they will be present in background and only function is base level. Even the most holy and knowledgeable person need rest, which is given by Tamas, and even he/she need to act through his mind or body which is done by Rajas. Similarly, the other two characters also can be dominant within a body and the person will show similar characters.

The Samkhya yoga believes in the existence of two types of bodies. One is the body that perishes with death and is the physical one. After death due to human ritual or after some time nature itself perishes it. Samkhya yoga describes the body that perishes with time is called subtle body. Whereas the body that does not is the temporal body.

Buddhi, Ahamkara, manas and prana is the characters that are shared by the subtle body. Which are described as follows:


Buddhi is the intelligence within everyone, says Samkhya yoga. Buddhi is the thing that gives birth to consciousness. Everyone has buddhi within themselves. All have it but the amount of buddhi and intelligence within them makes the difference in consciousness and enlighten. Buddhi is the thing that separates, human from all the other living beings in the world.


Ahamkara is the second stage of buddhi according to Samkhya yoga. Purusha once was in pure level of intelligence, consciousness, and enlightenment now becomes attracted with Prakriti. Which exists outside of itself. From this event the buddhi evolves to ahamkara, self-obsession and ego.


Manas is the rationality of the mind. A person experiences world with his sense organs. The eyes watch for him, the nose smell for him, the ear hears from him and the skin senses for him. Manas is the rationality which process this information and gives it to buddhi.


Prana is the subtle life within all the living beings. It is the air element which flows through the nose and into the body to give life. Not just Samkhya yoga but many yoga forms and techniques use the power of prana to enhance the body and heal. Samkhya yoga describes prana as the vital force, which is within the person from birth, until he/she take their last breath. Sankhya yoga, elaborates Pranayama as the medium through which one gains full control of the prana within them.