Samkhya Karika 25

Samkhya Karika 25, Rajas guna fuels the Evolution of Prakriti


Sattvikah ekadasakah pravartate vaikrtad ahamkarat |

Bhutadeh tanmatrah sa tamasah taijasad ubhayam ||


Sattvikah – sattvika

Ekadasakah – eleven

Pravartate – evolve, emerge

Vaikrtad  Ahamkarat – evolution from the sattvic aspect of Ahamkara

Bhutadeh – elements from the tamasic aspect

Tanmatrah – subtle form of elements

Sa tamasha – with the presence of tamas

Taijasat – rajas, due to fire and light

Ubhayam – both


Samkhya Karika 25 explains the role of Rajas guna in the process of evolution of Prakriti. We have already known that Prakriti is composed of three gunas which exhibit different qualities, tendencies. As the evolutions begins from Mula Prakriti, where the three gunas are in a balanced state, also as consciousness (Purusha) begins to pervade each evolute with different degree depending on its location from Purusha in the hierarchy of evolution, each evolute emerges under the impact of a particular guna.  Most of the evolutes of Prakriti are either of Sattvik or Tamasic guna manifestation.  How does Rajas guna help in the process of evolution is explained in this Karika. 


Rajas is the Fuel which drives the Process of Evolution


The word Rajas is derived from its root ranj which stands for to be transformed, moved. It imparts the mobility thrust for the other two gunas , Sattva and Tamas, to manifest themselves. Both these gunas lack the transforming fuel from within themselves. Rajas guna is the fuel for all motion, change, and transformation taking place within the universe, and evolution of Mula Prakriti is in itself a huge transformation, movement of change fired by Rajas. 


Thus, Rajas guna is the force behind the action that causes the change, it itself doesn’t contribute to the creation of any of the evolutes from Mula Prakriti. Thus, just like a facilitator, it provides the thrust (action) of transformation to Ahamkara for its two aspects, Sattvik and Tamasic, to manifest themselves as entities embodying their respective qualities: from the Sattvik aspect of Ahamkara emerges the eleven sense faculties, and from the Tamasic aspect of Ahamkara evolve the five tanmatras. The evolution of the five elements from the five tanmatras was the subject of the previous Samkhya karika, whereas the emergence of the sense faculties will be explained in the next karika.


Sattvik Ahamkara (ego) embodies a reliable personality which generates a feeling that ‘I am something’ and ‘I am intelligence and consciousness’. The eleven senses which emerge out of it embody the power of discretion through the mind which can lead the bearer to realizing, or embracing the Sattvik aspect of buddhi which is present a hierarchical step above Ahamkara. On the other hand, tamasic aspect of Ahamkara (ego) manifest as heavier, non- intelligent material elements which lack the power of discretion within themselves. 


Both the kinds of transformation are brought about by the tendency (action) of Rajas guna. Tamasic Ahamkara manifests the darker, un-intelligent material world pursuing which can lead one to miserable depths. The purpose of Samkhya Philosophy is to enlighten one enough to be able to use one’s Sattvik intelligence (buddhi) to lift oneself above the ever changing (pain causing) material world. 


There is nothing like ‘Me’ and ‘Mine’ as dictated by Ahamkara, but everything is Prakriti embedded with consciousness (Purusha). One has to understand that both the forms Ahamkara manifests itself into are actually limiting oneself as individual entities: the eleven senses created from Ahamkara form the part of the body with which one identifies itself throughout one’s existence as an individual, separate from the larger whole of the Universal Prakriti and Purusha complex, and the five elements, again formed out of Ahamkara(tamasic aspect) help create this self-limiting (ego) and the material universe one identifies with, and remains caught in.


Learning to control one’s senses (emerged from and a part of Ahamkara) is the first step toward moving to realize the consciousness. As control of senses will dissipate the ego (Ahamkara) holding one as a separate entity, bound to the material world. Otherwise, the Buddhi embroiled in Ahamkara thinks like ‘ I am competent to do it’, ‘No body other than me can do it’.  Releasing Buddhi from the shackles of Sattvik as well as Tamasic aspects of Ahamkara can help one move beyond it for realizing the true consciousness (Purusha).