Samkhya Pravachana Sutra

The Samkhya Pravachana Sutra (Sanskrit: सांख्यप्रवचन सूत्र Sāṁkhyapravacanasūtra) is a collection of major Sanskrit texts of the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. It includes the ancient Samkhya Sutra of Kapila, Samkhya karika of Ishvarakrishna, Samkhya Sutra Vritti of Aniruddha, the Bhasya (commentary) of Vijnana Bhikshu, the Vrittisara of Vedantin Mahadeva, Tattva Samasa and commentary of Narendra, and works of Gaudapada, Vachaspati Mishra, and Panchashikha.[1]

The text provides foundational doctrines of one of the influential schools of Hindu philosophy, such as "nothing can come out of nothing, and nothing can altogether vanish out of existence" in its doctrine of Sat-Karya-Siddhanta,[2] a debate on the two theories for the origin of the world - the creationists (Abhava Utpatti) and the evolutionists (Vivarta, changing from one state to another),[3] the doctrine of Parinama (transformation),[4] among others.

Samkhya Pravachana Sutra is also known as Samkhya Sutra.[5]


It describes the philosophy of the Samkhya school. The edition that survives in modern times is dated to the 14th century.[5][6]

The text consists of six chapters. The first three describe core Samkhya doctrines, the fourth chapter describes stories for illustration of the doctrines, the fifth reviews arguments and challenge by rival Indian philosophies particularly Buddhism on one side and Theistic philosophy on the other side, then provides its analysis and answers to those challenges. The last chapter recapitulates its thesis, summarizes its main points and makes conclusions.[5][7] Major sections and thesis presented in the text include (not exhaustive):

  1. Samkhya is a Moksha Shastra
  2. Samkhya is the only true Advaita Shastra
  3. Samkhya is not in conflict with the Vedas
  4. The Samkhya plurality of Self (soul) versus the Vedanta unity of Self
  5. Definition of Supreme Good
  6. Thesis on Suffering - what it is, and why it happens
  7. Scripture is inadequate means to enlightenment
  8. Theory of bondage; Bondage is not natural
  9. Theory of Naimittika
  10. Purusha and Prakriti
  11. Theory and nature of Prakriti
  12. Theory of conjunction
  13. Theory of Vidya and Avidya
  14. The problem with Sunyavada, Theory of void and its criticism
  15. Theory of Aviveka
  16. Doctrines of Yoga and Vedanta
  17. Theory of learning and reasoning, limits of reason
  18. Theory of spiritual intuition
  19. Theory of Gunas
  20. Twenty five tattvas
  21. The enumeration theory of Samkhya and Garbha, Prasna and Maitreya Upanishads
  22. Theory of Tanmantras
  23. Ahamkara (ego) and its nature
  24. Roots of Samkhya: Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads
  25. Theory of prakriti evolution, objection of logicians
  26. The "root cause is rootless" doctrine
  27. The chain of causality and the primary causality
  28. Why Prakriti, not Purusha, is the material cause
  29. The "world is not unreal" doctrine
  30. The "why nothing come out of nothing" doctrine
  31. The "rituals can never become the cause of moksha" doctrine
  32. The "freedom from samsara is not the result of Karma" doctrine
  33. The "knowledge leads to release, and this is not perishable" doctrine
  34. Theory of "process of knowing" and three kinds of pramana (epistemology)
  35. Theory of existent effects, what is existence and what is non-existence
  36. The purpose of creation, the cause of successive creation
  37. The theory of space and time
  38. The theory of manas (mind), sensory organs, cognition, and human nature
  39. Sources of knowledge
  40. The rebirth doctrine
  41. The Jivanmukti doctrine (liberation while alive) and the theory of Viveka
  42. Fables
  43. Review of opposite theories and objections, the Samkhya answers

The most important commentary on the text is Vijñānabhikṣu’s Sāṁkhyapravacanabhāṣya (16th century). Other important commentaries on this text include Anirruddha’s Kāpilasāṁkhyapravacanasūtravṛtti (15th century), Mahādeva’s Sāṁkhyapravacanasūtravṛttisāra (c. 1600) and Nāgeśa’s Laghusāṁkhyasūtravṛtti.[8]


  1. Samkhya Pravachana Sutra NL Sinha, The Samkhya Philosophy, page i
  2. Samkhya Pravachana Sutra NL Sinha, The Samkhya Philosophy, page ii
  3. Samkhya Pravachana Sutra NL Sinha, The Samkhya Philosophy, page iii
  4. Samkhya Pravachana Sutra NL Sinha, The Samkhya Philosophy, page iv
  5. 1 2 3 SC Banerji (1989), A Companion to Sanskrit Literature, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120800632, page 315
  6. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore (1967), A Source Book in Indian Philosophy, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691019581, pages 426-452
  7. Samkhya Pravachana Sutra NL Sinha, The Samkhya Philosophy, Table of contents (Note: the actual text is missing in this archived version)
  8. Radhakrishnan, S. Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006, ISBN 0-19-563820-4, pp.253-56
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