Samkhya karika 21, Purusha and Prakriti Union has a Purpose

Author: Randeep Singh / go to all Samkhya Karikas

Samkhya Karika 21 text:

Purushasya darshanaartham kaivalyaartham tathaa pradhanasya |

Pangva-andhavat ubhyorapi samyogh stat-kritah sargah ||                               

Purushasya – of the Purusha, soul /consciousness

Darshanaartham – for the sake of showing, revealing

Kaivalyaartham – for the purpose of liberation 

Tathaa – thus, therefore

Pradhanasya – of Pradhan or Mula Prakriti

Pangva – lame

Andhavat – blind

Ubhyo – both

Api – even, also

Samyogh – of coming together

Tat – kritah – from this act of union

Sargah – evolution of the material world

Purusha and Prakriti come Together for a Purpose | Samkhya Karika 21

According to Samkhya, this universe is the result of conjunction of two independent entities – Purusha and Prakriti. Each has its own role but is deficient without the other.

Like the example of a lame man and a blind man, who get isolated from their group in a forest and wander about haphazardly. In course of time, they encountered each other. The blind man mounted the lame man on his shoulder. Thus, the blind man was able to walk on the path as guided by the lame man. This union of theirs served the purpose of walking and seeing. 

Similarly, the Spirit (Purusha), like the lame man, has the power of contemplation but not of action and Prakriti, like the blind man, has the power of action but not contemplation. Moreover, it is this union which causes or brings about creation and lasts till their mutual objectives are achieved. With the union of the two, things happen but we are unable to understand all the situations and get disturbed. Only a few wise persons understand that whatever is happening has some meaning and is happening for good. Like certain scenes /acts are there in a movie or a play for a given purpose.

From the above description it looks like that the aim of coming together of the Purusha and the Prakriti is to create the material world, but as per this Samkhya Karika 21, Isvara krsna explains that the two form a union, and the ensuing evolution, so that Prakriti could reveal itself to the Purusha and thus the de-identification of one from the other takes place. This union provides experiences which enable both, Prakriti and Purusha to be in the state of who they are and independent from the influences of each other. 

Samkhya Karika 21

This clearly states that the experiences generated by Prakriti (material world) are for the spirit to see, understand their transitory nature, and ultimately de-identify itself with it. The ultimate aim of Samkhya and Yoga philosophies is to help release the spirit (Purusha) from the binding grip of prakriti, the material world. 

Why the Union when De-identification is the Purpose?

After listening to the explanation as presented above any average human who is endowed with an iota of intelligence would be prodded to think that if the ultimate aim of coming together of the Purusha and Prakriti is to separate them from each other than why do they come together in the very first place?

Isvara Krsna, the author of Samkhya Philosophy, doesn’t answer this question. The philosopher merely states that hey come together. No explanations are given, thereby not entering into an unanswerable controversy. The author wants us to concern ourself with the practical implications of the philosophy without venturing into the possible infinite regress. Though, one can assume some reasons, from the author’s perspective, of not clarifying on this very obvious interrogation one can lean towards.

Some questions may remain unanswered as looking for their answers can lead to unending arguments and debates leading to infinite regress. Or, it could be that everything in the world need not necessarily have answers at that point in time. Sometimes, reasonable explanations are not available for certain facts at a certain point in time, till they are actually subsequently discovered like the presence of the force of gravity was discovered much later after its effect had already baffled the scientists for centuries together.

Another of the explanation of the missing explanation could be that we being finite beings lack the capacity, intelligence, or the rationality to answer all the questions that arise in our minds which is itself a product of the evolution of Prakriti itself. Thus, the author of Samkhya Karikas merely states certain assumptions as starting points to move ahead and focusses on the final goal. It is advisable to not indulge in excessive intellectual reasoning with our limited instruments of perception in order to avoid complications in our daily living. 

The practical benefit of this Karika would be in understanding the fact that difficult situations do come in life (experiences presented by Prakriti) but they present themselves to enable us to do our rightful duty without getting entangled in them. The ultimate aim is to rid Purusha of all the entanglements, bindings of the material world, or Prakriti. There are very few persons who understand and apply this in life.