Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sankhya vs. Yoga

In an earlier post, I had questioned why Sankhya was said to be inter-related with Karma Yoga in the Bhagwada Gita. While I haven't found anything on that, I have been able to find a discourse between Bhishma and Yudhishthira where Bhishma answers Yudhisthira on the difference between Sankhya and Yoga. This is from an unabridged version of the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata translated by Shri Kisari Mohan Ganguli.

Yudhishthira said: It behoveth thee to explain to me, O sire, what the difference is between the Sankhya and the Yoga system of philosophy. O foremost one of Kuru's race, everything is known to thee, O thou that art conversant with all duties!

Bhishma said: The followers of Sankhya praise the Sankhya system and those regenerate persons that are Yogis praise the Yoga system. For establishing the superiority of their respective systems, each calls his own system to be the better. Men of wisdom devoted to Yoga assign proper and very good reasons, O crusher of foes, for showing that one that does not believe in the existence of God cannot attain to Emancipation. Those regenerate persons, again, that are believers in the Sankhya doctrines advance good reasons for showing that one, by acquiring true knowledge of all ends, becomes dissociated from all worldly objects, and after departing from this body, it is plain, becomes emancipated and that it cannot be otherwise. Men of great wisdom have thus expounded the Sankhya philosophy of Emancipation.

When reasons are thus balanced on both sides, those that are assigned on that side which one is otherwise inclined to adopt as one's own, should be accepted. Indeed, those words that are said on that side should be regarded as beneficial. Good men may be found on both sides. Persons like thee may adopt either opinion. The evidences of Yoga are addressed to the direct ken of the senses those of Sankhya are based on the scriptures. Both systems of philosophy are approved by me, O Yudhishthira. Both those systems of science, O king, have my concurrence and are concurred in by those that are good and wise. If practised duly according to the instructions laid down, both would, O king, cause a person to attain to the highest end. In both systems purity is equally recommended as also compassion towards all creatures, O sinless one. In both, again, the observance of vows has been equally laid down. Only the scriptures that point out their paths are different.

Yudhishthira said: If the vows, the compassion, and the fruits thereof recommended in both systems be the same, tell me, O grandsire, for what reason then are not their scriptures (in respect of the paths recommended) the same?

I have quoted only the beginning of the conversation, the rest can be followed from here.