According to the Sankhya there are two principles of existence: both of them are original. These two principles are the principle of Purusha and Prakriti. All that we see in the world, the kṣetra, is nothing but a manifestation of Prakriti. By Prakriti is meant: ‘that which is moving’, pra means that which is moved forth, kṛti means that which is in action. Forward action is Prakriti. So, all that which is moving in the world can be described in one word, as Prakriti.
According to Sankhya the original condition is that of ‘quiescence’. The three Gunas, according to Sankhya are, as it were, jammed: the Tamas restrains action, Rajas pushes forward and Sattwa harmonises, but neither the inertia is complete, nor the movement of Rajas is complete, nor the movement of Sattwa is complete. Therefore normally they remain in a disequilibrium. A certain time can be reached when somehow, by combination of these three forces it may get jammed. Comment: But not equilibrated?
…not equilibrated, it may get jammed.
If this is Tamas and if this is Rajas, then both are moving in their own directions but there is a jam done, arrestation. So, if there is arrestation at a given spot, it may remain there perpetually like that unless something is introduced into it and disequilibrium again takes place. According to Sankhya, it is Purusha ‘glancing’ at Prakriti which produces this disequilibrium: the moment Purusha looks at Prakriti, that element is thrown into Prakriti by which the jam is dissolved. For the movement of Prakriti therefore, according to Sankhya, glancing of Purusha is indispensable. Prakriti does not unfold itself without Purusha glancing at it.
Question: When it is in a state of equilibrium and Purusha glances then the movement does not take place?
It should take place logically even then, but according to Sankhya, the Purusha does not get entangled into it. Prakriti goes on moving, but Purusha does not get entangled into it. In Sankhya there are propositions which are not all logically absolutely perfect. I am only expounding. Afterwards I should criticise it also. Your question is therefore very valid and I feel sorry how much it is valid, but for the moment I am only expounding what Sankhya says. Prakriti in the beginning is in a state of folding condition; it is not unfolding, not because there is absence of activity, but activity is jammed because of three forces acting against each other, they are in a state of arrestation. Then Purusha glances at it and Prakriti begins to unfold.
Question: Unfolding of Prakriti is creation?
You may use the word ‘creation’, but usually creation would mean bringing out something which does not exist at all, but the word which is used in Sankhya and in other philosophies is ‘manifestation’. It is not a ‘creation’, but a ‘manifestation’: Prakriti ‘manifests’, manifests in the sense, it manifests what is within itself. What is within itself is nothing but the play of Gunas. So, the whole world is nothing but the play of Gunas and all that is there in the Prakriti comes up.
So, apart from the Gunas there are 24 elements. So, these 24 elements come out of it: the pañca mahabhūta(s): that is earth, water, fire, air and ether; pañca tanmātrā(s), the essences of these five; then five senses of action and five sense of knowledge; then there is manas, ahaṅkāra and buddhi; and the Prakriti itself. These are all 24 elements. The whole world is nothing but manifestation of 24 elements.
Comment: So this ‘jamming’ and ’equilibrium’ is not to be confused?
No, you are right. So, Purusha when it glances at Prakriti, it not only bombards the arrestation of Prakriti, but something more also happens, it gets entangled into Prakriti. Not only is Prakriti released into action but Purusha itself gets entangled into the movements of Prakriti. There is a loss of its own selfhood, of the Purusha and gets identified with the movement of Prakriti. The only thing that remains of itself is the sense of enjoying. The only sense we have in which we say ‘I am not Prakriti’ is only in the status of enjoying. When you say ‘I enjoy’ or ‘I suffer’, both are enjoyments in the sense of Sankhya: even suffering I enjoy therefore I am suffering. All that you experience in this world is your enjoyment. So, as long as you feel you are suffering and you are enjoying, and this is our constant experience, this experience shows you that you are not merely Prakriti: you are different from Prakriti and as a result you are enjoying or suffering, you are in other words ‘in the sense of bondage’, you are bound to Prakriti. This is how you recognise yourself while in the play of Prakriti. You recognise yourself as the enjoyer or as the sufferer in the world and therefore you begin to battle with Prakriti. Prakriti may be recognised as circumstances, field of circumstances, kṣetra of circumstances and normally we are tied up with circumstances…