Samkhya (Sanskrit: साङ्ख्य, IAST: sāṅkhya) is a dualistic āstika school of Indian philosophy, regarding reality human experience as being constituted by two independent ultimate principles, puruṣa (‘consciousness’ or spirit); and prakṛti, (cognition, mind and emotions, nature or matter)

Puruṣa is the witness-consciousness

It is absolute, independent, free, imperceptible, unknowable through other agencies, above any experience by mind or senses and beyond any words or explanations

It remains pure, “nonattributive consciousness”

No appellations can qualify purusha, nor can it be substantialized or objectified

Unmanifest prakriti is the primordial matter

It is inactive, and unconscious, and consists of an equilibrium of the three guṇas (‘qualities, innate tendencies’), namely sattva , rajas, and tamas

When prakṛti comes into contact with Purusha this equilibrium is disturbed, and Prakriti becomes manifest, evolving twenty-three tattvas, namely intellect (buddhi, mahat), ego (ahamkara) mind (manas); the five sensory capacities; the five action capacities; and the five “subtle elements” “modes of sensory content” (tanmatras), from which the five “gross elements” “forms of perceptual objects” (earth, water, fire, air and space) emerge giving rise to the manifestation of sensory experience and cognition

Jiva (‘a living being’) is that state in which purusha is bonded to prakriti

Human experience is an interplay of purusha-prakriti, purusha being conscious of the various combinations of cognitive activities

The end of the bondage of Purusha to prakriti is called liberation or kaivalya (Isolation) by the Samkhya school

Samkhya’s epistemology accepts three of six pramanas (‘proofs’) as the only reliable means of gaining knowledge, as does yoga

These are pratyakṣa (‘perception’), anumāṇa (‘inference’) and śabda (āptavacana, meaning, ‘word/testimony of reliable sources’)

Sometimes described as one of the rationalist schools of Indian philosophy, this ancient school’s reliance on reason was exclusive but strong

While samkhya-like speculations can be found in the Rig Veda and some of the older Upanishads, some western scholars have proposed that Samkhya may have non-Vedic origins, and developed in ascetic milieus

Proto-samkhya ideas developed from the 8th/7th c

BCE onwards, as evidenced in the middle Upanishads, the Buddhacarita, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Moksadharma-section of the Mahabharata

It was related to the early ascetic traditions and meditation, spiritual practices, and religious cosmology, and methods of reasoning that result in liberating knowledge (vidya, jnana, viveka) that end the cycle of dukkha and rebirth

allowing for “a great variety of philosophical formulations

" Pre-karika systematic Samkhya existed around the beginning of the first millennium CE

The defining method of Samkhya was established with the Samkhyakarika (4th c


The oldest strands of Samkhya may have been theistic or nontheistic, but with its classical systematization in the early first millennium CE the existence of a deity became irrelevant

Samkhya is strongly related to the Yoga school of Hinduism, for which it forms the theoretical foundation, and it was influential on other schools of Indian philosophy