Samkhya Karika 1, Three fold sufferings of life and the desire to be free of pain


Dukkah trayaabhi ghaataat jijnasaa     tadapghaatake hetau |

Dhriste saa aparthaa chet naikanta atyantatou abhavat


Dukkah traya – The three main sufferings, sorrows, miseries

Abhighataat – misery, grief, anguish, suffering due to pain

Jijnasa – desire, longing

Tadapghaatake  - removing, killing that pain and misery

Hetau -  Cause, methods of

Dhriste – are known, seen

Saa – it, with

Apartha – superfluous, redundant, unnecessary

Chet – and if it may be said

Na – not so

Ikanta – no surety that the pain will be removed

Atyantatou – nor that they will not occur again

Abhavat – abscence of


A very common and natural reaction to experiencing pain in one’s life is, why is this happening to me? Why me? Experience of suffering jolts our mind to strive for finding a permanent cure for it. Pain and suffering is an integral part of life, right from the moment a child is born the discomfort of sarriving into the physical  world from the comforts of the womb is evident in its cry. From that very moment the child begins to experience the relay of changes  -  physical, mental, and material – each change encountered  further subjects it to anguish, misery and suffering. 


The first karika of Isvar krisna talks about how the existence of three fold pain and suffering in the world triggers the desire in the being to find a permanent cure for it. In the face of pain, one keeps on wondering why is one suffering, is it because one’s own actions, due to actions of the others, bad luck,  or is it one’s destiny.  


What are the three fold Sufferings of life?


The three fold pain that we endure during the course of our lives are detailed here.


Adhibhoutika -  These are those miseries which are caused to us by other beings of this world. The mosquito  bite leading to malaria. Sometimes one encounters the ferocity of a dog while walking unsuspectingly on the street, or rushing to a meeting, in the form of a rabid, painful bite.  The people one trust the most betrays one’s trust in them at the very moment when one needs it them the most. 


Adhidaivika -  These are the forms of miseries the cause of which we cannot figure out by applying simple logic. Natural calamities like floods and hurricanes which cause unfathomable suffering to millions across the globe every year. The stress, and anguish caused as one is told that one is suffering from cancer and has limited time to live are all situations where misery is experienced by one due to causes and situations which are out of one’s  control. 


Adhyatmika – The pain one experiences due to the wrong working of one’s own mind and the body. Lack of positive thinking can cause one to succumb to failures and inabilities  in life which can be very traumatic at the mental level. A lot of time one does not have major spiritual goals of attaining peace, this state of one’s mind is the basic reason behind one lacking faith, tolerance, and psychological endurance. This kind of suffering is also known as self-induced misery. Sometimes lack of general IQ ( intelligent quotient) can smudge one’s understanding and evaluation of general life situations leading to loss of possible benefits related to the same.


Sankhya Karika 1 is a positive statement of Purpose 


Though  life is meant to be a joyous experience our attachments, likes and dislikes turn it into sorrow and pain. With experience and age one learns to relegate the mental and physical suffering, monotony of life in the background  of our thoughts in the name of managing them but they lurk their infinitely till a slight triggers  puts them in the forefront once again. One realises that it is just impossible to permanently get rid of these miseries of life, or stop the new one’s from emerging incessantly. The remedies available to one in this world are inadequate and short lived in their effect. Medicines and drugs can temporarily create relief from certain ailments but cannot guarantee complete non occurrence of the maladies in the future. One can even get addicted to the drugs 


That is the reason one is compelled to find a permanent solution to these pains. The moment one is born one’s connect to the supreme consciousness is severed by the attachments which emerge due to contact with the material world.  As one grows one continues to entangle with the ever  intensifying web of material attachments, this web of entanglements keep one away from realising the divinity present within one self. Realising this divinity within oneself , or the supreme consciousness is the only permanent solution to all miser of human life. 


As per Samkhya philosophy  human intellect has the capability to analyse its shortcomings and accordingly change its course  which can alter the actions necessary for walking the path of realising one’s real self, pure consciousness. Realising one’s real self is the permanent cure for all sufferings. As suffering has its root in acquiring wrong knowledge, getting to know the means and instruments for acquiring right knowledge is the first step to healing all pain.



Isvar krisna through Samkhya karika 1  discusses the subject matter of one’s enquiry about seeking permanent ways of eradicating suffering and achieving freedom from them for good. Certain experiences, though traumatic, are necessary for our mental and spiritual growth. The idea is to pass through these experiences with understanding and forbearance.  Here the author indirectly depicts  that its only because the pain and suffering are present in the world that one decides to get rid of them. The suffering provides the strength and power to make the necessary effort required for  permanently eradicating pain by following the path of understanding the causes and reasons behind these sufferings.


The Samkhya principles of 25 elements help one attain this understanding. One is able to apply the right perspective to the causes of pain by applying these principles of  Samkhya philosophy. Isvar Krisna  establish the eligibility of the seeker of this knowledge  by inserting the word “ Jijnasa” into the karika.  By mentioning it he clearly defines the genuineness, aptness  expected of the seeker in order to achieve his goal of finding permanent cure of all suffering prevalent in the world, the seeker has to have a intense quest, passion in order to achieve this. 

With this strong urge to find the ultimate remedy for all three categories of  miseries of life one must progresson the path of Samkhya Philosophy. 

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