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The wave is essentially water. A sea is likewise.

Yukteswar's Samkhya Philosophy


The underlying unity of the Seven Seas is salt water. The "underlying unity" of differtent scriptures is likewise, like salt water. Or better: it is paper or parchment, presumably with ink and similar on it, as attempts to describe things.

Adi [the first] Shankara:

When the Great Reality [Brahman] is not known, the study of the scriptures is fruitless. When the Great Reality is known, the study of the scriptures is also fruitless. - Shankara

Yukteswar accepts the Supreme Being, called Parabrahman, in his study. But the Self is not to be found through discrimination, says many scriptures, since it is beyond classification [cf. Hos 21-22 too]. Yukteswar describes or indicates Self/God anyway, by use of theistic Samkhya philosophy.

To seek to do the impossible, is it wholly fruitless?

Granting that a text that sets out to describe the Indescribable contains little basic wisdom when it comes to its basic approach, the abstract on such a text may not be worth much study either. One might as well write an abstract on the Easter Bunny. And that is what Wikipedia does:

The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a folkloric figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. Originating among German Lutherans . . . [T]he Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy, and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus . . . as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holidays. . . . (WP, "Easter Bunny")

However, because of the fun of trying to describe the undescrible - not exactly the wisdom of it - here is a little more on Yukteswars treatise Kailvalya Darsanam: The Holy Science:

Yukteswar says, in essence, that Eternal, Real Substance, so to speak, cannot be comprehended by common man, but the divine man can when he comes to understand he is "nothing but a mere idea" [Hos 21-22, 96], the one who becomes united with that Supreme Being as "Isolated, Aloof" in Kaivalya. Thereby common people cannot understand that man well either, just as God cannot be understood by them.

Further, the outer world, which common man comprehends, is nothingness to Yukteswar and three other gurus he is associated with, and this "nothingness" consists of 25 said "building blocks" of a sort (tattvas, principles). - From nothingness to the ordinarily Incomprehensible there is a way, he teaches further - and the Way from utter nothing and upwards is aligned to the particular building blocks (tattvas).

Yukteswar grants (above) that an idea can understand - a joke! But no, a being can understand. The Kaushitaki Upanishad (3:8): "It is not thought which we should want to know: we should know the thinker." [In Mascaró 18]

To put it straight: There are other old philosophies of India than Samkhya (Sankhya). And then there is the fun of Yukteswar.

The "Eternal and Real" is beyond mere words - that is an ancient alert

Yukteswar stands for "From a wedding ring to loneliness (kaivalya)." If you read that terse summary, you get an idea that loneliness fulfils marriage. [Cf. Ssi 78]

However, the Main Thing is beyond words and phrases, beyond great-sounding concepts, according to several Upanishads and Vedanta. Granted that, you don't really need Yukteswar words and concepts about it. Better understand "words are weariness". [Cf Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.4.21]

Compare Bhagavad Gita sayings in Swami Sivananda's fine translation:

Whatever being (and objects) that are pure, active and inert, know that they proceed from me. They are in me, yet I am not in them. (7:12)

Deluded by these Natures (states or things) composed of the three qualities of Nature, all this world does not know me as distinct from them and immutable. (7:13)

. . .

The wise man comes to me, realising that all this is Vasudeva (the innermost Self); such a great soul (Mahatma) is very hard to find. (3:18)

"They proceed from me, are in me, yet I am not in them" looks like a paradox. That the seeker of wealth actually worships God" is in the Bhagavad Gita (7:16) too. It suggests rightly won or had Mammon is not so bad. This might be the hanging rope of hope to many. Who knows? "The steadfast, realising wise one is dearest to God and comes to God" is better (Ibid.) -

Now, how is all that to be understood - and by whom? One should wake up to (realise) how the subtle Self is.

The old teaching: It is good to know your Self above and beyond wearisome words. One does what one can -.

The Samkhya of Yukteswar

Here is some more around and about Yukteswar's little treatise:

Theistic tendencies [in Samkhya] are developed in the later tradition and the sixteenth-century theologian Vijnanabhiksu, while acknowledging that the system does not need it, argues that the idea of a Lord is not irreconcilable with the earlier Samkhya view. [Gavin Flood, Ith 235]

The Holy Spirit. According to Yukteswar, "the Holy Ghost is "Kutastha Chaitanya . . . Purushottama" [Hos 26]. This Sanskrit compound has several meanings, like "standing on the peak, pervading all - seeing Lots of Light - the Supreme Being" (figuratively). The Holy Ghost of the New Testament has other hallmarks, such as making people speak in tongues. People have done so from long before the advent of Christianity, for example in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece. [Speaking in tongues]. — [The Holy Spirit according to the Bible]

In meeting with Yukteswar's bridging attempt between "Holy Spirit" or "Great Spirit" - and Kutastha Chaitanya . . . Purushottama it could be good to see what the Gospel of John says about the New Testament's Holy Spirit too. [The Holy Spirit in John].

At the end of Yukteswar's treatise his conclusion comes: Man can fully comprehend the Eternal Spirit when he has comprehended that his Self is nothing but a mere idea, a vain idea. It comes very close to saying, "When you are nothing, then you are dissolved and can really see!" - that is, then the bright one

fully comprehends Eternal Spirit, the Father, the only Real Substance, as Unit, the Perfect Whole, and his Self as nothing but a mere idea resting on a fragment of the Spiritual Light thereof. Man, thus comprehending, abandons altogether the vain idea of the separate existence of his own Self and becomes unified with Him, the Eternal Spirit, God the Father. This unification with God is Kaivalya, the ultimate goal of man, as explained in this treatise. [Hos 96]

Unfortunately, though:

If you lose yourself, there is at the "last stage" only a vain idea left of you to do the uniting. It could be good to think twice about such blatant folly.

1. Through direct realisation, an actual experience, the individual soul perceives the Supreme Self as itself, says Shankara in Self-Knowledge. "The unconditioned self should be understood as "I am Brahman." [Ibid, v. 31]

So Shankara and Advaita Vedanta with him hold another view than Samkhya. Not one of uniting, but of waking up. Advaita teaches that the self and the Whole (Brahman) is the Same. From self to Self is an awakening, then. Sankara calls the goal Atmabodha and Atmajnana. They mean awakening to Self (Atman), and gnosis of Atman (Self). [WP, "Advaita Vedanta"]

2. "Nothing comes from nothing," holds Parmenides. A vain idea cannot see. A seer sees. It takes someone to see something, in other words.

3. Besides, Kaivalya, great aloneness, is not exactly what Yukteswar knocked into his disciple Yogananda either, so that he experienced his Self. (Autobiography of a Yogi, Chap. 14, An Experience in Cosmic Consciousness). The concepts of kaivalya and of Self-Realisation seem much different. But Yogananda ended up very disappointed with the over 150.000 men he taught kriya yoga during his thirty years in America, for he said all but one had disappointed him (Praver xxx). One should learn to consider and reconsider one's methods and expectations long before it comes to that. However, even when living much alone near a Californian desert, he did not feel alone, but that

4. The New Testament does not say that man is nothing or should seek to become nothing. "What is man . . .? You made him a little lower than God [the heavenly beings]; you crowned him with glory and honour and put everything under his feet." [Psalm 8:4-6]. The same verse appears in Hebrews 2:6-8 with "You made him a little [or for a little while] lower than the angels".

A COMPARISON: That to be put right with God is better than being wiped out in hell and so on, is a cornerstone in a gospel message of Jesus: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell [Matthew 10:28]." To become a dissolved vain idea and to become destroyed in hell, look awfully similar - and like tricky things too.

Yukteswar's First Sutra

The first Sanskrit sutra (literally: thread, i.e., aphorism) of Yukteswar in Chapter 1 runs like this in translation: "Parambrahma (Spirit or God) is everlasting, complete, without beginning or end. It is one, invisible Being [Hos 21]." The translation has been provided by SRF [Hos 21n].

Some clarifications could do good:

We are into an exposition of Samkhya (also: Samkhya) philosophy, where traditionally "the existence of a god is not hypothesized" [EB, "Samkhya"]. Yukteswar's orientation is of theistic Samkhya. The theistic Samkhya variant is not discernible from orthodox Yoga philosophy. Theistic Samkhya says "There is room for a God", and Yoga says "There is a God, a Lord of Light (Isvara)." By that, Yukteswar's Samkhya is Yoga philosophy as well [Wo 39,42 passim]. God of the Yoga system (of Patanjali) is Ishwar (Iswara), "Light-God."

"[Yoga philosophy] mostly accepts the epistemology and the metaphysics of the Samkhya with its twenty-five principles, but admits also the existence of God." [Wo 43]

Samkhya got its classical form and expression in the Samkhya-karikas by Isvarakrisna (c. 3rd century CE). Samkhya enumerates proposed constituents of the cosmos, and Samkhya-like speculations are found in early Jain, Buddhist and Hindu texts that some call brahmanical speculations. These and medical speculation are thought to arise out of a common ideological context where samhkya-like enumeration of the categories (of the cosmos) is central, writes Gavin Flood [Ith 232].

Flood also finds there are striking parallells between the later Samkhya philosophy, medical systems of Ayurveda, and Buddhist systems. And the earliest enumeration of cosmic principles in the brahmanical tradition comes with the Chandogya Upanishad. The enumeration of categories is also found in the Katha Upanishad and Svetasvatara Upanishad. Also, presystematic listings of elements of experience and world are found in the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavad Gita, which forms a part of the Mahabharata [Ith 233-34].

Flood further writes:

Samkhya is also an an atheistic system, whereas the yoga darsana [philosophical Yoga system] admits of the idea of God or the Lord (Isvara) as a special kind of self (purusa) which has never been entangled in prakriti [matter, the universal and subtle (i.e., unmanifest) matter, or nature] . . . These theistic tendencies are developed in the later tradition and the sixteenth-century theologian Vijnanabhiksu, while acknowledging that the system does not need it, argues that the idea of a Lord is not irreconcilable with the earlier Samkhya view. [Gavin Flood, Ith 235]

Orthodox Yoga philosophy adapts to the Samkhya enumerations of tattvas, elements, adds room for the God concept, and says how Being is attained. Yukteswar's treatise is thus a work of Yoga philosopy too, by another name. Yukteswar enumerates twenty-five elements (principles, tattvas) from the Samkhya philosophy, and accepts a God, a Supreme Being, which the Yoga system of philosophy does as well. [See WP, "Samkhya"]

Is Kaivalya, Aloofness, His Goal?

There are depths and subtleties in Indian philosophies.

The title and last part of Yukteswar's book show that liberation is "aloneness", or "aloofness" kaivalya, which is a Samkhya term. The kaivalya (separatedness) means liberation from "the wheel of transmigration" in Patanjali's yoga system [Ith 97].

Yet in Samkhya, kaivalya (liberation) is

the discriminative knowledge that pure consciousness is eternally distinct from primordial matter; there is only a proximity between them . . . Discrimination allows consciousness to distinguish the self from what is not the self, and so to perceive that the self was never actually bound to matter. This self is transcendent, the silent witness behind the embodied subject of first-person predicates . . . in the Samkhya system the dualism is between the self (purusha) and matter which embraces what in traditional western philosophy has been called 'mind' . . . the true self is beyond. [Gavin Flood, Ith 234]

Since the self defined above is utterly outside the realm of the world and its definitions, discrimination will have nothing to work on to get into the self. That may be assented through logic. Flood overlooks or ignores this sweet and neat little point; that discrimination lacks the needed conditions or premises and stuff to accomplish what old thinkers maintained it could.

Yukteswar presents kaivalya (the soul's "divorce" from the universe) as liberation. But: "The one religious consequence of the Samkhya-Yoga is an emphasis on austere asceticism . . . Though they continue to remain as an integral part of the Hindu faith, no major religious order thrived on the basis of these philosophies. [EB "Indian philosophy"]"

What is beyond concepts, what transcends them, may not be well caught by them, although it may be experienced. Higher yoga aims at that.


Yukteswar book, the holy science, Literature  

Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Man's Eternal Quest. SRF. Los Angeles, 1975.

Alk: Beck, Thomas: Astrologisk leksikon. Teknologisk forlag. Oslo, 1993.

Aso: Asimov, Isaak: Om tall. Dreyer. Oslo, 1980.

Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946. Online.

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Yearly.

Ha: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Autobiography of a Yogi. 12th ed. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). Los Angeles, 1981.

Hom: Berne, Eric: What Do You Say After You Say Hello? The Psychology of Human Destiny. Bantam. New York, 1973.

Hos: Yukteswar, sw: The Holy Science. 7th ed. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), Los Angeles, 1972.

Mas: SRF: Self-Realization Fellowship: Golden Anniversary. SRF. Los Angeles, 1970.

Maso: Mayo, Jeff: Astrology. Rev ed. Hodder and Stoughton. Sevenoaks, 1979.

Mux: Bühler, G. tr: The Laws of Manu. Banarsidass (Reprint from Oxford University's 1886-edition). Delhi,1984.

Pa: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). Los Angeles, 1971.

Phi: Zimmer, Heinrich Robert. Philosophies of India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951.

Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Sayings of Yogananda. Self-Realization Fellowship. Los Angeles, 1958.

Scf: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Scientific Healing Affirmations. Self-Realization Fellowship. Los Angeles, 1958.

Scp: Yogananda, Paramahansa: The Science of Religion. Self-Realization Fellowship. Los Angeles, 1953.

Sob: Self-Realization Fellowship: Paramahansa Yogananda in Memoriam. SRF. Los Angeles, 1958.

Ssi: Müller, Fritz Max. Six Systems of Indian Philosophy; Samkhya and Yoga; Naya and Vaiseshika Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2003.

Tu: Mascaró, Juan, tr. The Upanishads. London: Penguin Books, 1965.

Viom: Jolly, Julius tr: The Institutes of Vishnu. Banarsidass. Delhi, 1965.

Ysl: Bhattacharya, Jogesh Chandra. Yogiraj Shri Shri Lahiri Mahashaya. Kadamtala, Howrah: Shrigurudham (Ghosh), 1964.

Whip: Yogananda, Paramahansa: How You Can Talk with God. SRF. Los Angeles, 1969.

Wo: Chatterjee, Satischandra, and Dhirendramohan Datta. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. 7th ed. Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1968.

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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