Samkhya karika 33, 10 External Senses are Objects of 3 Internal SensesSamkhya karika 33

Author: Randeep Singh / go to all Samkhya Karikas

Samkhya Karika 33 text:

Antah-karanam trividham dashadha baahyam trayasya vishayaakhyam |

Saampratakaalam baahyam trikaalam aabhyantaram karanam ||

Antah-karnam – internal sense organs

Trividham – three fold

Dashadha – ten fold

Baahyam – external

Trayasya – of the three

Vishaya – objects

Akhyam – called

Saampratakaalam – at the present moment / time

Baahyam – external

Trikaalam – at three times

Aabhyantaram – internal

Karanam – sense organs, instruments

Samkhya karika 33 further delves deeper into the functions of the sense organs: 10 external, and 3 internal.  This karika is part of the group of Samkhya karikas which are trying to clarify the real, and obvious functions of the sense organs.

 Each karika from this group attempts to throw some light on the sense organs from a different angle. All the 13 sense organs, as explained in the previous karikas, are being so much stressed upon because these are the instruments which enable Purusha, Buddhi to experience the external material world, or the universe primarily made of Prakriti, or the three gunas.

The 10 external sense instruments perceive, or read the external world for the internal three – buddhi, ahamkara, and the manas (mind) – which interpret and try to comprehend these signals so received based on their own quality, or the guna that is dominant in them at that time. External senses are the windows through which the internal senses film the outside material world and show it to the Purusha. 

External sense Organs are Objects of Internal sense organs

As the elements of the material world, e.g. flowers, furniture, plants, are the objects of the external sense organs (eyes, nose, ears etc.), likewise, in turn, the external sense organs are the objects of the three internal sense organs: buddhi, ahamkara, and manas (mind). This is because the internal sense organs receive the information about the elements of the universe indirectly from the external sense organs. 

Samkhya Karika 33

The internal sense organs process and translate the sensory data received from the external sense organs into some form of knowing, or knowledge. For example, the eyes, through the function of sight sees an object – say a rose – and send the associated sensory data to the mind and buddhi (intellect). It is the mind which in conjunction with the intellect determine that the object is red or blue, have petals of what shape and size and so forth.  Ahamkara combines its “I sense factor,” or ‘knowing by an individual” sense to this interpretation of the object and add a perceiver of the knowledge, so established by the mind and intellect as, “I see the rose.”  Knowledge so created by the mind and the intellect cannot exist without someone (I sense) knowing it.

Thus, the external sense organs become the instruments of collecting raw data from the worldly elements, which is interpreted by the internal sense organs for the individual to know. The external sense organs are the channels through which the three internal organs operate. 

External Sense Organs act in real time, Internal sense organs all the time

The action of external senses is time bound, or their action limited to the time at which they read the sensory data from the object. The eye can see a rose only till the time it is present in front of it, once the rose is removed from the sight, it no longer stays within the eye, and so the eye stops collecting sight data from it. The role of the external sense organs is in operation only in the present moment, so long as the contact with the object stays.

On the other side, the action, or functions of the internal organs keep happening all the time, they do not need the presence of the object or continuous input of the stream of sensory data coming from the external sense organs. Once the knowledge about an object has been gained, in the past, by the internal sense organs it stays there in the present, and future as well.

Incase the external sense organs again come in contact with a rose, the internal senses will know from the memory of the rose from the past, that it is a rose (relate to the past), and will also do the same if a rose comes within the sight again in the future. 

Thus, it is said that the internal sense organs function at all three times: past, present, and future. The interna; sense faculties collect and store all the sensory data from different external sense faculties, collate it, and generate a composite experience of the object. This Samkhya karika, is in a way, establishes the superiority of the internal sense organs in perceiving the external material world. The external senses collect factual sensory data from the object, but the internal sense organs if trained in the right direction, can be an aide to the highest conscious experiences.

The potentials of the inner faculties are infinite. This karika makes us realize that the sense organs are not mere biological apparatus for performing some biological functions alone, but have a purpose that transcends these ordinary biological activities. They are faculties that can enable comprehension of something much larger, of dormant potentialities that must be awakened to realize the world of subtle objects, sensations, and experiences. 

The difference between a Rama ( Lord Rama of Ramayana) and Ravana only lies in the difference between the quality of their internal sense organs – buddhi, ahamkara, and manas. We have left our external organs open to the outside world and get involved in whatever we see. We indulge and become lazy. We seldom do things we resolve to do and fall in to the same vicious circle every morning. 

We may not be able to work things out by seeing and getting involved in things in an ordinary way. We have to develop an awareness and understanding by linking our internal organs with our past experiences. We have to take decisions after complete understanding, to go into the subtle and not just dwell on the gross. We can slowly and gradually learn to control our senses and not allow the mind to wander.