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The Rootless Root: A Commentary on Kapila's Sankhyadarsana

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Item Code: HAK107
Author: Uttara Nerurkar
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishing House, Delhi
Language: Sanskrit Text with English Translation
Edition: 2023
ISBN: 9789357600224
Pages: 408
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 480 gm
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Book Description
About The Book

Sankhyadarsana, one of the six seminal texts called Darsana Sastras that form the backbone of Indian philosophy, was written in the hoary past by the great sage Kapila. It provides logical proofs for subjects that are still reckoned to be outside the realm of reason, subjects such as the existence and nature of God, of souls, and of the inanimate matter that makes up the bulk of the Universe. It is most famous for laying down the sequence of transformation of matter from the original substrate to the world we see today. The arguments used to establish Kapila's principles are surprising and, of course, difficult! They have withstood the test of time and scientists would do well to consider them. Kapila has tried to make them as accessible to the reader as possible, providing multiple proofs and examples.

Come, discover this amazing treatise and be rewarded by great intellectual pleasure and remarkable insights!

Here is the essence of Yoga in the Yoga Vasishtha.

About the Author

UTTARA NERURKAR, a practising engineer and software professional from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, till 2001, gave it all up for the study and teaching of ancient Indian philosophical texts. She has developed her own insights based on her extensive reading, and brings a scientific perspective to bear on treatises that are not traditionally read that way. Her guiding light has been Swami Dayananda Saraswati of the Arya Samaj, who was blessed with the scientific vision of a true seer. Her interpretations have been appreciated by experts, with a number of her papers being presented in reputed journals and conferences. She is the author of four books on the Upanisads and Yogadarsana.


Darsana Sastras are the bedrock of Indian philosophy that have survived many millennia. Among the ancient texts, six seminal texts define six systems of philosophy. While these systems cover six aspects of Indian philosophy, they are completely complementary, just as Physics, Chemistry and Biology are to science.

Because of their antiquity, some parts of these texts are not well-understood today. I have highlighted these in my commentary. In Sankhya, these parts are not many. However, there are some Sutras that are contradictory to the rest of the text and have been demarcated as corrupt by certain scholars.

Sankhya is a text which logically establishes the various elements in the Universe, their order of the creation, their relationship with each other, and the rationale behind accepting some entities as eternal-those without a beginning, nor end. As is to be expected for the establishment of such difficult fundamental precepts, which are not considered within the ambit of logic even today, the reasoning applied is not of a simple type. The system of logic in India was very advanced in ancient times, the principles of which occupy a whole Darsana Sastra by itself - Rsi Gautama's Nyaya Sastra. Using the same system, Maharsi Kapila has presented some arguments that are very difficult to get one's head around in the first read. So, the reader must steel herself/himself for a difficult journey ahead in reading this book.


The Darsana Sastras Daršanas, or Darsana Sastras are ancient Indian philosophical texts that have been held in great reverence over millennia. They are considered essential for the study of the Vedas and form subordinate texts (Upangas) of the Vedas. They are six in number, viz. Nyaya, Vaisesika, Sankhya, Yoga, Purvamimamsa and Uttaramima?sa. Nyaya covers the establishment of truth through evidence. Vaisesika covers the nature of Matter. Sänkhya covers the origin of the Universe and the Soul's place in it. Yoga details the path to Moksa. Purvamimamsa explains how to interpret Vaidika hymns and, as a corollary, discusses the understanding of language. Uttaramimamsa is also called Brahmasutra, as it discusses Brahman in detail, as well as the Soul's relationship with it. As can be seen, the topics covered are complementary, and all of them discuss aspects of the subjects covered in the Vedas.

The word 'Darsana' typically means 'sighting or viewing', but here it means 'that by which reality is seen properly'. Thus, they discuss Creation, Matter, the Soul and Brahman through logic and reason. Such knowledge is considered essential for the achievement of Moksa, or liberation, the highest goal of life. That is why these subjects form part of all our spiritual texts, starting with the Vedas.

Some scholars believe that these texts are contrary to each other and even that some negate the existence of God, but these are views based on a limited reading of the texts. All of them are based on the Vedas and propound eternal principles. In fact, there is a substantial amount of science covered in these texts and I have found no contradiction with modern concepts so far. If anything, there is more to be discovered here, e.g., Euclid's method of proof, set out in his treatise Elements, is but a subset of the method given in Nyayadarsana.

The commonality between these set of Sastras is that all these texts are written in the form of Sutras, or aphorisms, or small statements, with a lot of carry- forward (and sometimes 'carry-backward') of words. This leads to a phenomenal compaction of material, which lends itself to easy memorization. However, there is an associated impact on readability, as may be expected. That is why the study of a commentary becomes inescapable for properly understanding the treatise proper. In the case of Sankhyadarsana, the most authoritative commentary was that of Bhaguri Muni, which was available a century back. However, it seems to be unavailable today. The oldest one available today is Aniruddha's Vrtti, but that is very brief and contradicts Kapila in some instances. This book is based on the commentaries of latter-day Acaryas like Pandita Udayvira Sastri and Acarya Anandaprakasa of Hyderabad, which themselves incorporated available knowledge to date. Based on the recommendation of the former, certain Sutras have been considered as corrupt and eliminated from this commentary.

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