Samkhya Karika 10, Nature of Manifest and Unmanifest Prakriti

Author: Randeep Singh / go to all Samkhya Karikas

Samkhya Karika 10 text:

Hetumad anityam avyaapi sakriyam anekam aashritam lingam |

Saavayavam paratantram vyaktam vipareetam avyaktam ||

Hetumad – based on a cause

Anityam – perishable, non-eternal

Avyaapi – not all pervasive, finite

Sakriyam – with activity

Anekam – many, Multi, plentiful

Aashritam – dependent upon

Lingam – mark, characteristic, the word

Saavayayam – of parts

Paratantram – Dependent on other, subservient

Vyaktam – the manifest

Vipareetam – opposite or reverse of

Avyaktam – the unmanifest

Samkhya Karika 10 is talking about the difference between the Vyakta ( manifest) and Avyakata (unmanifest) states of Prakriti. It is very important to gain a clear understanding of the nature and characteristics of Prakriti, from which all evolution takes place, when it is in its unmanifest state, also known as Mula (root) Prakriti, and when it manifests itself as its evolutes. Having a proper understanding of the two fundamental entities of Samkhya philosophy, Purusha and the Prakriti, right in the beginning is very crucial to gaining the proper knowledge of the construct and characteristics of the cosmos around us.

Purusha and Prakriti in its unmanifested state are not engaged in any action and are also not subject to destruction as they have not been born out of anything. Both these entities are supposed to have always existed from eternity, much before the evolution even began. Purusha never evolves into any sub entities, it remains witness to the interplay of entities which are produced from Prakriti, also known as Pradhan. 

Even if everything gets destroyed Purusha and Prakriti will still exist, and evolution to take place both of them are required to be together. For Mula Prakriti to start producing its evolutes – making of the universe – needs a previous cause. What ever is manifest is because of some previous cause which necessitates its manifestation.  This karika thus describes the characteristics of the elements, entities which are manifest, or are born out of Prakriti.

Nature of Manifested State (the universe as we see it) of Prakriti

Here we discuss the characteristics the manifested state of Prakriti display.

Anityam – The term means perishable or something that doesn’t last forever. Everything that emerges out of Prakriti- the raw material from which the universe is created – has to end or die one day. All the evolutes of Prakriti, beginning from Mahat to the grosser Mahabhutas ( basic elements of which matter is made of), have an ending, they are not eternal or exist for ever. Everything in the world is subject to change, and change means destruction of what existed before to give way for the new. This is true for all material elements the universe is made up of like the human body.

Avyapi – Tthe manifested form of Prakriti is not all pervasive or present in and around everything. The entities formed from Prakriti are finite in expanse and presence, they are limited by a shape and size.  In contrast to this Purusha or the consciousness is all pervasive or is present everywhere, even in the seemingly empty spaces within the cosmos. In fact, both Purusha and Mula Prakriti in its unmanifest form pervade every space and element of the perceptible and non-perceptible parts of the cosmos. What is perceptible to human senses of cognition is what has been limited to a form of a certain shape and size as it manifests itself out of the unmanifest Prakriti. 

Samkhya Karika 10

Even the subtlest evolute of Prakriti, Budhi, is finite in nature.

Sakriyam – or active – One of the main characteristics of manifested form of Prakriti is that it is action oriented. All the evolutes of Prakriti like Budhi, Ahamkara, Mind, and the senses are meant to be in active state or engage in some action. The intellect is always evaluating, the mind is always  busy with interpreting the pieces of information which it receives from the senses which in turn are always busy scanning their objects. Though, later in Sankhya karika 20 we will discover that these evolutes of Prakriti are not active by their own choice but their activity is guided by the Purusha.

Anekam – The manifested form of Prakriti has appears in multiple forms in the world. All the visible forms, from minutest to the largest, are the evolutes of Prakriti which manifest itself in various entities.

Aashritam – The presence of all the effects, elements as created by Prakriti, in the world depend on the cause which is inherent in the Mula Prakriti, or the Prakriti in its unmanifest form. The reason behind the multiple manifestations of the Prakriti has been residing within the Mula prakriti from which it has taken effect. 

Lingam – Mula Prakriti  in its unmanifest form cannot be distinguished by any mark, sign, name, or symbol as its presence is beyond these limiting factors. On the other hand all the evolutes and forms of manifested Prakriti can be addressed by a distinct name, sign, mark, or symbol like stone, earth, mind or Budhi.

Savayam – All the multiple manifested forms, effects, of Prakriti are interrelated to each other in some way, or they are made up of parts of a whole.

Paratantrum – For any effect, element, to be manifested the role of Mula Prakriti ( unmanifested form of Prakriti) is important. All the effects are dependent on their causes which are inherent in the Mula Prakriti. 

These are the characteristics of everything that emerges out of Mula Prakriti when it goes under mutation due to a specific cause. These effects are visible or experienced in the manifested world. Even the human body is one of the effects inclusive of the mind and the Budhi (intellect). Everything apart from consciousness is Prakriti.

Nature of Unmanifested State of Mula Prakriti

This karika further says that the opposite of whatever has been described as the nature, or characteristics of the manifested form of Prakriti is true of the unmanifest, or Mula Prakriti. That means that the unmanifest prakriti  is not an effect of any cause which existed prior to it, it has no cause and is the first cause of everything.  It is eternal, has no known beginning ( anadi) or end ( anant). It exists in a state of equilibrium or samya avastha. 

Prakriti in its manifest state exists both as gross elements like wood, iron, and earth as well as subtle elements like the Budh and Ahamkara. The grosser elements can be known through perception and the subtle elements can only be known via inference. 

One has to understand that whatever is manifest is destructible and nothing is permanent. Still, we do not understand this simple truth given by Samkhya philosophy and we keep getting disturbed by disagreeable situation, events and people.  Once one understands the crux of the Samkhya karika 10 one would never feel miserable rather would face every situation with awareness and equanimity.

Here one is advised to understand and accept the circumstances as they are. A lot of Yoga practices help one to become more accepting of the circumstances which are not in one’s control. Samkhya tell us what is eternal and what is not, one must not waste time and effort for things which are perishable, but should strive for something that is eternal in nature. 

One has to understand that all material gains and desires are the real cause of suffering because they are not permanent.