The Sankhya Philosophy talks about Purusha and Prakriti, or consciousness and nature. This is the dualistic concept but unifies to one so that the ‘Purusha + Prakriti = Whole. If you have seen an image of Lord Shiva in Ardhanarishwara form in which half of his part is male and half of its part is female, you are on right track to understanding Sankhya philosophy.
Sankhya is talked about in books like Bhagawat Geeta and Samkhya Karika of Ishvara Krishna. However, the former book talks about it through the Yoga perspective and another one through the metaphysics aspect of the reality. The founder of Sankhya is believed to be Sage Kapila.
The metaphysical aspect of Sankhya Philosophy is all about elements.
In Indian Philosophy, symbolisms are widely used to interpret complex things into a reductionist view. However, the Sankhya Philosophy directly tries to interpret reality through the elements. The book Samkhya Karika talks about 24 elements that make the whole reality. In other symbolic interpretation, Ardhanarishwara Shiva is a representation of the complete whole metaphysical reality.
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‘Purusha’ the consciousness is treated as male and Prakriti is treated as a female in the Ardhanarishwara. Here are how these elements are united.
- The Prakriti or nature is the combination of Pancha Mahabhutas, namely Aakash ( Sky ), Vayu ( Air), Agni ( Fire/ Energy), Jal ( Water ), Prithivi ( land )
- To understand all these five senses are required like Eye (chakshu), Ear(srotra), Skin(tvak), Nose(ghrana), and Tongue(rasana)
- The direct language of nature is not understood by the human mind so there is a need for a medium. They are Ras ( wetness or emotions), Rup (image), Gandha (smell), Shabda ( Sound), Sparsha( feeling of touch)
- To complete the Karmic process through the mediums five ‘Karmendriyas’, ( Working organs like Hand(pani), Legs(pada), Mouth for speech(vak), Excretion(payu), and Reproduction(upastha) are required.
- The whole Karmic Process is stored in the Manas ( memory )
- Manas have all the attributes of indriyas and karmendriyas is controlled by Buddhi ( intelligence) which is all enveloped in a physical identity called Ahamkara.
- This Ahamkara or ego is when won, then only there is the feeling of completeness. The Purusha + Prakriti (Pradhan) is achieved.
This is called Sankhya Yoga. The union of the numbers which makes the reality talked by Shri Krishna during Mahabharata.