From the jacket
Samkhya is one of India’s oldest philosophical systems, and this volume of the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, coedited by Gernald James Larson and Ram Shankar Bhattacharya, and under the general editorship of Karl H.Potter, traces the history of the system from its beginnings in the third or fourth century. The volume includes a lengthy Introduction (written by G.J. Larson) which discusses the history of the system and its philosophical contours overall. The remainder of the volume includes summaries in English of all extant Sanskrit texts of the Samkhya system. Many of the summaries are of texts that have never been edited, translated of studied before, most notably extensive treatments of the Yuktidipika, the samkhyavrtti and the Samkhyasaptativrtti. The volume is designed for philosophers, cultural historians and students of comparative studies generally. In addition, since the volume contains so much material that also prove to be of interest to area specialists, Indologists and Sanskritists.
Gerald James Larson is professor of the history of religions, Department of religions studies, university of California, Santa Barbara, USA. He is the author of Classical Samkhya: An Interpretation of its History and meaning (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1979; revised second edition); Myth in Indo-European Antiquity (coedited with C.scott Littleton and J. Puhvel, University of California press, 1974); and In her Image (coedited with P. Pal and R. Gowen, regents of the University of California, 1980); and numerous articles on Indian philosophy and religion.
Ram Shankar Bhattacharya is editor of the journal Purana; senior research scholar in the all India Kashiraj Trust, Fort Ramnagar, Varanasi; and was for some years in the research department of Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi, he is the author of numerous editions, translations and studies of original Sanskrit texts in Hindi, Bengali, Sanskrit and English.
Many years ago when I met the great Gopinath kaviraj for the first time in Varanasi, he inquired about my word. I commented that I was working on one of the ancient systems of Indian philosophy, namely, the Samakhya. He impatiently waved his hand to interrupt me. "Samkhya," he said, "is not one of the systems of Indian philosophy. Sankhya is the philosophy of India!" He was referring, of course, to the ancient period, but he also went on to stress the remarkable influence that Samkhya has had on almost every phase of Indian culture and learning. Philosophy, mythology, theology, law, medicine, art, and the various traditions of Yoga and Tantra have all been touched by the categories and basic notions of the Samkhya. This is not at all to claim that these various areas of learning and cultural practice have accepted the dualist metaphysics of Samkhya or its overall classical systematic formulation. To the contrary, there have been intense polemics over the centuries against the Samkhya position. What is striking, however, is the ubiquitous presence of the Samkhya network of notions, functioning almost as a kind of cultural “code” (to use a semiotics idiom) to which intellectuals in every phase of cultural life in India have felt a need to respond.
The present volume of the Encyclopedia of Indian philosophies attempts to trace the history and to interpret the meaning of Samkhya philosophy from its beginnings in the ancient period to the present time, a period of some twenty- five hundred years. As might well be imagined, it has not been an easy task to accomplish this in one volume. Ram Shankar Bhattacharya and I have had to make some difficult editorial decisions by way of limiting the boundaries of our undertaking. One such decision concerned the manner in which we would treat ancient and/or "popular" (Nontechnical) Samkhya passages. For a time we considered the possibility of including summaries of Samkhya passages in the Upanisads, the Mahabharata (including the Bhagavadgita), the Puranas, the medical literature, and so forth. As we proceeded in our work, however, it became clear that these passages could be best treated in the Introduction to the present volume. More than that, it became clear that these passages represent what could be called "Proto-Samkhya" and should be clearly distinguished from what we are calling in the present volume "Pre-Karika-Samkhya." "karika-samkhya," "Patanjala- samkhya," "Karika-Kaumudi-samkhya," "Samasa-Samkhya," and "sutra-samkhya" (and see Introduction).
A second editorial decision concerned the manner in which we would deal with the extensive number of passages in Indian philosophical literature that criticize Samkhya from the perspective of other traditions, passages, for example, from Nyaya, vaisesika, Buddhist Jaina, Mimamsa, and Vedanta works. Again, for a time we considered the possibility of including at least some of these passages, but we ultimately determined that such passages appropriately belong in their own respective volumes in the Encyclopedia series and not in the Samkhya volume itself.
A third editorial decision concerned the manner in which we would deal with the issue of the literature of Yoga. Our own view is that "Patanjala-Samkhya" is an important type of samkhya philosophy and deserves to be treated as such, but we encountered the practical difficulty of some seventy Sanskrit texts on Yoga that should be considered. The only sensible solution appeared to be, therefore, to prepare a separate volume of the Encyclopedia series for the Yoga materials with appropriate cross-references in both the samkhya and Yoga volumes. Eventually, then, when both volumes are published, they can be used in tandem.
Apart from such external editorial decisions, that is to say, what to exclude from the volume, we also had to make a number of decisions regarding the internal boundaries of the volume. It was obvious from the beginning, for example, that three of our texts required special treatment, namely, the Samkhyakarika, the Tattvasamasasutra, and the Samkhyasutra. These are the three fundamental and primary texts of the tradition upon which most other texts are based, and each presented a unique problem. Because the Samkhyakarika is the oldest systematic text available, we thought it appropriate to present an extensive treatment of it. Indeed, the so-called "summary" of the Samkhyakarika in the volume is considerably longer than the original text itself! In our view, however, since our task was not that of translation but, rather, that of presenting an overview of te systematic philosophical arguments in the text, we felt justified in taking some liberties in unpacking those arguments. Regarding the Tattvasamasasutra, the problem was the reverse. The tattvasamasa is not really a text in any sense. It is a checklist of topics upon which several commentaries have been written. We have, therefore, presented it in its entirety as a checklist. The samkhyasutra, as is well known, is a late compilation, and there is no authoritative tradition either for the sequence of sutras or their interpretation apart from the reading and interpretation offered, first, by Aniruddha, and then later by Vijnanabhiksu (who generally follows Aniruddha, throughout). We have, therefore, presented the sutras themselves in a bare, outline form. We have, therefore, presented the sutras themselves in a bare, outline form. We have, then, presented a full summary of Aniruddha’s reading and interpretation followed by a shorter summary of Vijnanabhiksu’s reading and interpretation (stressing only those views of vijnanabhiksu that clearly differ from Aniruddha).
In three instances in the volume we have presented unusually detailed summaries, namely, those for the Samkhyavrtti, the samkhyasaptativrtti, and the Yuktidipika. The former two texts are those recently edited by Esther A. Solomon, and because they have been unknown in Samkhya studies until now, we invited Professor Solomon to prepare full treatments of both. The latter text, the Yuktidipika, is undoubtedly the most important text for understanding the details of the Samkhya system, but until now no translation has been available. We thought it appropriate, therefore, to include as full a treatment of it as possible. The summary of the Yuktidipika in this volume is not by any means exhaustive, but it does provide a wealth of information that has until now been unavailable.
Dr. Ram Shankar Bhattacharya and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who helped to bring this volume to completion. First, of course, our thanks to the many contributors (see list of contributors) who prepared the published summaries. Second, a special word of thanks and acknowledgement to those who prepared summaries of passages that could not be included in the final published version of the volume- passages, for example, from Jaina, Buddhist, or epic literature that, based on our final editorial decisions, finally fell outside of the boundaries of the volume, or summaries in which it became apparent that a particular text was simply repeating what had been said earlier in terms of philosophical interpretation. In this regard, we would like to thank and acknowledge the help of Dr. Biswanath Bhattacharya (Calcutta Sanskrit college), Dr. Sabhajit misra (university of Gorakhpur), Dr.R.K.Tripathi (Banaras Hindu university), and Dr. S.P. Verm a (kuruksetra university).
Several research assistants have helped us in our work along the way, and we would like to thank and acknowledge them as well: Dr. Jayandra soni, formerly of Banaras Hindu University and currently at Mcmaster University in Ontario, Canada; Dr. James McNamara, former doctoral students in religious studies at the University of California, santa Barbara. Also, a special word of thanks for the research assistance of Dr. Edeltraud Harzer, of the Unirersity of Washington, seattle. Our thanks, furthermore, to the American Institute of Indian studies and the Indo-U.S. Subcommission for Education and culture for financial assistance to our various contributors and to the coeditors, and, finally, our thanks and appreciation to Karl H. potter for his continuing patience, encouragement, and help in his capacity as general editor of the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies.
For the nonspecialist reader of the volume, it should be noted that the Index provides brief definitions of many technical Samkhya terms before listing page numbers and may be used, therefore, as a glossary for those unfamiliar with the Sanskrit terminology of the Samkhya system. An additional glossary for classical Samkhya terminology may also be found in Gerald J.Larson, Classical samkhya (2nd edition, Delhi: motilal Banarsidass, 1979), pp. 237-247.
Full diacritical marks are given only for all primary entries of texts and authors in the volume. In the case of modern Indian scholars, namely, authors of secondary work, summarizers, and other contributors, names are cited without diacritical marks, in accordance with current convention in modern India, Likewise, the names of modern Indian cities are given without diacritical marks.
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