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Sanskrit Resources > Triṁśikā > Vocabulary : Sāṅkhya
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Sāṅkhya

Sāṅkhya is the name of one of the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy. Tradition names the legendary sage Kapila as the author of the Sāṅkhya system, but no direct proof of that has been found. The Sāṅkhya-pravacana Sūtra attributed to Kapila dates to the 14th century A.D., and the earliest surviving text of the school is the Sāṅkhya-kārikā of Iśvarakṛṣṇa, a work of the third century A.D. (Radhakrishnan and Moore 1957:425-426).

Sāṅkhya and Yoga philosophy, as taught in the Yoga-Sūtras of Patañjali, are sister systems in India philosophy. Yoga is the practical aspect of Sāṅkhya, and Sāṅkhya is the theoretical aspect of Yoga. The two together constitute one unit.

Vasubandhu is said to have won a prize of 300,000 pieces of gold for his victories in debate with Sāṅkhyas (Anacker 2008:21, 27 note 62).

The Sāṅkhya system is dualistic, with two fundamental categories, puruṣa (the knowing subject, absolute conciousness) and prakṛti (the known object). Altogether there are twenty-five categories in this system developing through an evolutionary model with the following stages:

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