Prakriti and Purusha

Question: I have studied Sankhya very briefly as part of another course I took at the Hindu University.  But, I have been very interested in it ever since.  I have read about it and have learned some and been confused some.  Your lesson notes are very clear and helpful.  Of course, being from the Western mind-set and not knowing Sanskrit, I’m very challenged in this study. I have some questions regarding Lesson 12:

1. The lesson says:  “The appearance of an effect is only its passage from potentiality to actuality.  It needs some helping conditions (sahakari karana) and a sentient person (nimitta karana) to transform.  Is this suggesting that effects only happen when a sentient being is involved?  It seems that such changes occur without the intervention of sentient beings.  What am I missing?

Answer: According to Sankhya, change happens when prakriti and purusha (person) come together. Without purusha there is no modification in prakriti. So no change can occur without purusha who is sentient.

Question: 2. You describe change: “When any change is in a potential state it is called future, when the change is manifest it is called present, when it become latent again it is called past.  Sankhya does not admit the existence of time as an independent entity.”  I do not understand the second sentence.  Does this mean that time is not moving independently of the changes that are occurring?  In other words, if change stops, time does also?  “Time” is really just a way to talk about the constantly changing universe?

Answer: Time does not move, but we feel it by the change in prakriti. In Sankhya time is not an independent entity. It is the change in prakriti. If you do not perceive change you do not perceive time. That is why we can percieve time differently. In a happy situation time seems to pass quickly.  If you cannot sleep at night, times seems as if it is not passing. For our mutual dealings we have standardized time, not just depending on our feelings. As you know, the basis for time on earth is its movement in relation to the sun.

Question: 3. I do not understand what you say about Buddhism.  Buddhism holds to the theory of an ever changing universe.  “But their change has no background.  Every change is absolutely a new one.  And when the change is in the past, the next moment the change is lost absolutely.  There are only passing manifestations of forms and qualities.  There is no underlying substance.”   Does “substance” in this last sentence mean “matter?”  Are we talking “mind only” school here?  And, “evey change is absolutely a new one…” does this mean that Buddhism does not believe in the barriers that keep changes from happening in random ways?

Answer: Buddhism has problems in its theory. If everything is changing every moment then how can you remember the change? Unless there is some unchanging experiencer, there is noone to observe the change.

Comments ( 1 )
  1. purushottam das

    Very enlivening discussion about two main entities, time is still not fully understood because we have made it linear by eliminating feelings. It is the major dimension in all perceptions. It should be explored more under this type of discussion.
    I congratulate the inquirer to bring forth these beautiful questions. And of course, answers are clear and concise.

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